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Author Topic: Flexible Solar Panels  (Read 2984 times)

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Paulus

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Re: Flexible Solar Panels
« Reply #15 on: December 19, 2016, 12:29:35 PM »

You might take a look at this web site.  Some interesting reading.

http://www.custommarineproducts.com/marine-solar-panels.html
Like Noah, I am no expert on solar panels. From my reading SunPower is the or one of the leading companies in manufacturing solar cells.  They have various cells, depending on efficiency.  According to Solbian's web site, they are using a SunPower cells that rates at 23% efficiency.  My understanding is that SunPower will soon be out with a 25% efficient solar cell.  I am just putting this out there for more discussion.

Paul
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mainesail

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Re: Flexible Solar Panels
« Reply #16 on: December 20, 2016, 04:15:56 AM »

You might take a look at this web site.  Some interesting reading.

http://www.custommarineproducts.com/marine-solar-panels.html
Like Noah, I am no expert on solar panels. From my reading SunPower is the or one of the leading companies in manufacturing solar cells.  They have various cells, depending on efficiency.  According to Solbian's web site, they are using a SunPower cells that rates at 23% efficiency.  My understanding is that SunPower will soon be out with a 25% efficient solar cell.  I am just putting this out there for more discussion.

Paul

The key to using SunPowerŽ cells is in using "A" graded cells (note SunPower does not use the term "A" grade but I would need to look up my document which I don't have time to do right now) which cost insanely more than "D" grade cells (lower grade SunPower cells). Low grade cells are what most of the Chinese manufacturers are using, often SunPower Bin-D, but they can even be lower..  If one of them claims "A" grade SunPowerŽ ask for clarification of this from the manufacturer. While they may be able to provide this it does not mean the panels you got are made with "A" graded/(best quality) SunPowerŽ.

In one investigation a premium panel maker found only 1 single shipment, of SunPower premium cells grade cells to a Chinese manufacturer claiming "A" grade SunPowerŽ. All the other shipments were "D" graded cells. "D" grade (Bin-D) are cells that none of the legitimate branded manufacturers (Gioco, Solbian, Solara, Aurinco etc.) manufacturers are willing to use.

So yes both premium panels and some knock-off panels can claim "SunPowerŽ" cells but you'll be very hard pressed to find many, if any, of Chinese manufacturers using anything close to SunPowers premium quality cells.. You'll find a lot that may claim "A" grade but then substituting much lesser grades.... This is likely why so many of them fail to meet spec.

As Noah said some of them are even knocking off the SunPowerŽ cells (fake Sun-Power cells vs SunPowerŽ) and still claiming they are SunPowerŽ cells when in fact they are not.

A lot of US companies are pretending to be manufacturers and slapping a name brand (sticker) on them when in-fact these panels are most often no better quality than a panel direct from China off eBay. Just look at the horrible mess Renogy got themselves into by slapping a Renogy sticker on cheap Chinese semi-flexible panels. They have now discontinued semi-flexible panels under the Renogy brand.

Can cheap Chinese panels work? Sure they can, but you may go through quite a few before you find ones that can meet spec.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2016, 09:35:39 AM by mainesail »
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Paulus

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Re: Flexible Solar Panels
« Reply #17 on: December 20, 2016, 06:24:41 AM »

Thanks mainsail.
If you were to buy a panel from Solbian.  Does it state on the panel that it is a "A" grade cell. 

Thanks,
Paulus
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Jon W

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Re: Flexible Solar Panels
« Reply #18 on: December 20, 2016, 08:02:52 AM »

Thanks mainesail. Do rigid panels have the same grade and manufacturer issues? For example what about Kyocera?
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mainesail

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Re: Flexible Solar Panels
« Reply #19 on: December 20, 2016, 09:31:27 AM »

Thanks mainsail.
If you were to buy a panel from Solbian.  Does it state on the panel that it is a "A" grade cell. 

Thanks,
Paulus

As I mentioned SunPower does not use standard industry grading, but the cells are graded. I just looked up my document on this and they have 10 grades of cells they offer all the way down to Bin-X "Chipped or Cracked Cell". Oh and yes they do have pricing and plenty of buyers for Bin X cells.....

Solbian & Solara use SunPower cells called; Ultra High Performance. Most of the Chinese manufacturers are using SunPower cells marked Bin-D. The price increase Solbian pays over a Bin D cell, and their Ultra High performance cells, is 514% based on 2015 pricing.

This is why folks often think Solbian is "ripping them off" when in fact the cells Solbian is using cost them 514% more than what the seedy Chinese vendors give you. Of course both are using "SunPower" cells so the consumer automatically assumes they are the same......

You simply can't buy the raw cells Solbian or Solara use for the price the Chinese sell a complete panel for.
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Paulus

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Re: Flexible Solar Panels
« Reply #20 on: December 20, 2016, 11:16:21 AM »

Thanks Mainesail, this was very helpful.  I am going to try and find out in which category my SunPower cells fall into.  Is there anyway to correlate the efficiency of a cell with the grade of  the cell?  i.e.  Would the Ultra High Performance cell be 23% efficient?   I am starting my 4th season and will eventually want to replace the panel.
Thanks,
Paulus
« Last Edit: December 20, 2016, 11:44:36 AM by Paulus »
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