Can anybody identify this really old module?

littleharbor2littleharbor2 Solar Expert Posts: 640 ✭✭✭✭

I have been trying to identify this Solar panel for a while now. It has very unique cells with radial traces. There is no Mfg. info anywhere to be found. The cells are about 2 1/2".  The back of it is aluminum. The glass is textured. It still works. My guess is that is pre-Arco and possibly early 70's vintage. The radial traces on the cells seem to be pretty hi tech compared to most early cells of its time.

 I have inquired with Home Power magazine. This info was published but no replies. Any info would be helpful.

Many thanks, Mike

2.1 Kw Suntech 175 mono, Classic 200, Trace SW 4024 ( 15 years old  but brand new out of sealed factory box Jan. 2015), Bogart Tri-metric, 700 ah @24 volt AGM battery bank. Plenty of Baja Sea of Cortez sunshine.

Comments

  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 4,201 ✭✭✭✭
    Mike, I'd guess early 70's as well, I have some 1979-80 vintage Photowatt panels that have 'prism glass'. As I recall from my feeble mind, prism glass was expected to improve off angle light absorption. I think, at that time, low iron prism glass might have cost more than todays panels.
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, ForkLift battery. Off grid for @13 of last 14 years. 1000 watts being added to current CC, @2700 watts to be added with an additional CC.
  • littleharbor2littleharbor2 Solar Expert Posts: 640 ✭✭✭✭
    edited October 2015 #3
    I think identifying the cells would be the key to unlocking this mystery. I've handled a lot of vintage modules and never seen anything like them. Photowatt did have some unique cells in their panels though. Not sure if this image can be enlarged but if so the unique photowatt cells might be seen. I'll get a close up and update in a day or so.

    2.1 Kw Suntech 175 mono, Classic 200, Trace SW 4024 ( 15 years old  but brand new out of sealed factory box Jan. 2015), Bogart Tri-metric, 700 ah @24 volt AGM battery bank. Plenty of Baja Sea of Cortez sunshine.

  • inetdoginetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,121 ✭✭✭✭
    FWIW I tried an image search on Google for the cells and came up blank too.
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • littleharbor2littleharbor2 Solar Expert Posts: 640 ✭✭✭✭
    edited October 2015 #5
    I appreciate your efforts. Someday I may get this mystery solved. The thrill of the chase continues....  I have noticed there have been 64 views already. That's great, the more eyes on this the better.

    2.1 Kw Suntech 175 mono, Classic 200, Trace SW 4024 ( 15 years old  but brand new out of sealed factory box Jan. 2015), Bogart Tri-metric, 700 ah @24 volt AGM battery bank. Plenty of Baja Sea of Cortez sunshine.

  • sridharTSsridharTS Registered Users Posts: 33
     IS grid tied inverters is used for Off grid system.
    If so used, in grid tied inverter mppt tracking is installed already y it can be used in off grid system,since in off grid we use  mmpt charger controller for battery.

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators Posts: 26,768 admin
    Sridhar,

    Can you please keep all of your questions about inverters to one thread... This is going to make conversations "confusing".

    -Bill "moderator" B.
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • littleharbor2littleharbor2 Solar Expert Posts: 640 ✭✭✭✭
    sridharTS said:
     IS grid tied inverters is used for Off grid system.
    If so used, in grid tied inverter mppt tracking is installed already y it can be used in off grid system,since in off grid we use  mmpt charger controller for battery.


    ????????

    2.1 Kw Suntech 175 mono, Classic 200, Trace SW 4024 ( 15 years old  but brand new out of sealed factory box Jan. 2015), Bogart Tri-metric, 700 ah @24 volt AGM battery bank. Plenty of Baja Sea of Cortez sunshine.

  • deyountedeyounte Registered Users Posts: 0
    Did a little looking around for the cells. Here is a link with a picture of a single cell that is for sale.

    http://www.advantagesolar.com/solarcells.htm
  • littleharbor2littleharbor2 Solar Expert Posts: 640 ✭✭✭✭
      Deyounte, So cool You were able to find this info. Being that this company was manufacturing these calls for Satellites and the space industry helps to solve the age mystery here. The link you provided appears to be pretty old and possibly defunct. It does however give me a starting point to track down more info, Thanks

    2.1 Kw Suntech 175 mono, Classic 200, Trace SW 4024 ( 15 years old  but brand new out of sealed factory box Jan. 2015), Bogart Tri-metric, 700 ah @24 volt AGM battery bank. Plenty of Baja Sea of Cortez sunshine.

  • littleharbor2littleharbor2 Solar Expert Posts: 640 ✭✭✭✭
    I think identifying the cells would be the key to unlocking this mystery. I've handled a lot of vintage modules and never seen anything like them. Photowatt did have some unique cells in their panels though. Not sure if this image can be enlarged but if so the unique photowatt cells might be seen. I'll get a close up and update in a day or so.

    Close up of Photowatt cell detail and The newly identified "Tecstar Inc." aerospace cells. Thanks to all who have taken the time to help.

    2.1 Kw Suntech 175 mono, Classic 200, Trace SW 4024 ( 15 years old  but brand new out of sealed factory box Jan. 2015), Bogart Tri-metric, 700 ah @24 volt AGM battery bank. Plenty of Baja Sea of Cortez sunshine.

  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 1,498 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November 2015 #12
    Aerospace panels are extremely expensive and clearly built to last. I think they may currently use gold when making NASA type panels. Don't be shocked if it has gold instead of copper. A gold/copper blend of course....I would think.

    From: http://www.spacedaily.com/news/solarcell-98j.html

    "TecStar Inc. was founded in 1954 as the country's first supplier of space solar cells."

    The web site seems to be dated at 1998. How is it still alive?


    "The company maintains an unblemished on-orbit performance on over 400 satellites from Vanguard, the first satellite powered by solar cells in the late 1950's,"

    Your panel could be old indeed.


    Back in 1998:
    "TECSTAR Claims 26.1% Solar Cell Efficiency"      .http://www.spacedaily.com/news/solarcell-98h.html.......................

    EDIT: Just read that they use a lot of silver in solar panels. So aerospace panels are highly likely to have gold instead of silver. Gold alloys I am sure. Alloys make the gold stronger....and cheaper.





    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 150 watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • kwmanagementkwmanagement Registered Users Posts: 1
    I had just acquired 8 vintage modules a month or so ago and have a similar module but half the size of the 72 Square cell module pictures, The cell structure looks identical but it has 36 cells (3 columns of 12)to the module, The label and transfer Memo indicating that it is from Mongolia and is dated to late 1998 / 1999 when it was sent to Spire solar and NREL for testing. The label also indicates "Post and Telecom Authority, Mongolia, 19cm Mutlicrystalline Si. The back surface is a white Tedlar type sheet with a Black J-box for wiring and aluminum frame. Consistent with a more modern module. most of the other modules I acquired have labels and some have serial numbers with manufacturing dates back to 1981.
  • EquinoxEquinox Registered Users Posts: 1
    I am pretty sure the panel with the 2" round cells is made by Silicon Sensors.
    The one with square cells is definitly made by Photowatt. These cells were made till appr. 2000.


  • littleharbor2littleharbor2 Solar Expert Posts: 640 ✭✭✭✭
    Equinox said:
    I am pretty sure the panel with the 2" round cells is made by Silicon Sensors.
    The one with square cells is definitly made by Photowatt. These cells were made till appr. 2000.



    Thanks I'll look them (Silicon Sensors) up. No doubt on the Photowatt panels. I have a bunch of them, some 24 volt and some 12/24 volt. The date codes show 1st. quarter of 2002.





    2.1 Kw Suntech 175 mono, Classic 200, Trace SW 4024 ( 15 years old  but brand new out of sealed factory box Jan. 2015), Bogart Tri-metric, 700 ah @24 volt AGM battery bank. Plenty of Baja Sea of Cortez sunshine.

  • littleharbor2littleharbor2 Solar Expert Posts: 640 ✭✭✭✭
    Equinox, Can you point me to anything  online about Silicon Sensors? I found only one page mentioning them being the first commercial PV Mfg. beginning in 1960.

    2.1 Kw Suntech 175 mono, Classic 200, Trace SW 4024 ( 15 years old  but brand new out of sealed factory box Jan. 2015), Bogart Tri-metric, 700 ah @24 volt AGM battery bank. Plenty of Baja Sea of Cortez sunshine.

  • ScottKScottK Registered Users, Users Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 1

    I have been trying to identify this Solar panel for a while now. It has very unique cells with radial traces. There is no Mfg. info anywhere to be found. The cells are about 2 1/2".  The back of it is aluminum. The glass is textured. It still works. My guess is that is pre-Arco and possibly early 70's vintage. The radial traces on the cells seem to be pretty hi tech compared to most early cells of its time.

     I have inquired with Home Power magazine. This info was published but no replies. Any info would be helpful.

    Many thanks, Mike


  • littleharbor2littleharbor2 Solar Expert Posts: 640 ✭✭✭✭
    edited September 27 #18
    ScottK said:

    I have been trying to identify this Solar panel for a while now. It has very unique cells with radial traces. There is no Mfg. info anywhere to be found. The cells are about 2 1/2".  The back of it is aluminum. The glass is textured. It still works. My guess is that is pre-Arco and possibly early 70's vintage. The radial traces on the cells seem to be pretty hi tech compared to most early cells of its time.

     I have inquired with Home Power magazine. This info was published but no replies. Any info would be helpful.

    Many thanks, Mike



    Scott, Thanks for the info and inquiry. I am in the solar business and keep this panel for informational purposes. It has a lot of miles on it and still works. At this time I'd have to say NFS.
    LH2


    2.1 Kw Suntech 175 mono, Classic 200, Trace SW 4024 ( 15 years old  but brand new out of sealed factory box Jan. 2015), Bogart Tri-metric, 700 ah @24 volt AGM battery bank. Plenty of Baja Sea of Cortez sunshine.

  • SuperSolarSuperSolar Registered Users Posts: 1
    I have a mysterious old panel too. But I'd say yours is certainly the most magnificent looking mono palel I've seen. Remarkable! I could go for some ideas on this one if anyone has any.
  • littleharbor2littleharbor2 Solar Expert Posts: 640 ✭✭✭✭
    edited September 28 #20
    SuperSolar, Thanks. If you look at the traces (ines on surface of the cells) you can tell the sophistication that was put into the aerospace cells, compared to the cells on your module. Hard to believe they are of similar vintage. Yours looks like a pair original Arco Solar modules. They had 33 and 36 cell versions. The 33 cell versions proved to have too low of voltage output for 12 volt battery charging when hot. 

    2.1 Kw Suntech 175 mono, Classic 200, Trace SW 4024 ( 15 years old  but brand new out of sealed factory box Jan. 2015), Bogart Tri-metric, 700 ah @24 volt AGM battery bank. Plenty of Baja Sea of Cortez sunshine.

  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 4,201 ✭✭✭✭
    I have a mysterious old panel too. But I'd say yours is certainly the most magnificent looking mono palel I've seen. Remarkable! I could go for some ideas on this one if anyone has any.
    They look similar to the Photowatts I have, the glass does appear 'pebbly' is the backing sheet yellow? Does it just have 2 posts on the back one positive and one negative that stand about 3/4" off the back? Mine have a label. I'll try to grab some pic's tomorrow.

    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, ForkLift battery. Off grid for @13 of last 14 years. 1000 watts being added to current CC, @2700 watts to be added with an additional CC.
  • SuperdupersolarSuperdupersolar Registered Users Posts: 4
    edited September 30 #22
    New to forums lost password, used to be supersolar now I'm superdupersolar. Here's my junction boxes. The backing sheet is white. 3inch cells. Thanks for your help!
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 4,201 ✭✭✭✭
    Here are some pictures of my 1980 vintage Photowatt panels, I couldn't read the info on this one, I think they were spec'd as 55 watt panels, or perhaps that is what they were sold to me as about 2000.

    Sorry for the flash photography, It was at dusk. Try to get an overall view and maybe more label info tomorrow.

    Junction box? Who needs a stinking junction box? The prism glass went away soon after, I think. The claim was it allowed better production from off angle light. Not cheap, but back then These were around $10-15 a watt.

    I bought 3 and got the pre-drilled aluminum mounting rails (for 4 panels), They are actually very heavy 'U' channel, particularly when compared to the ultra thin short sides.


    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, ForkLift battery. Off grid for @13 of last 14 years. 1000 watts being added to current CC, @2700 watts to be added with an additional CC.
  • SuperdupersolarSuperdupersolar Registered Users Posts: 4
    edited October 1 #24
    Who needs junction boxes indeed! Too cool. I love the diversity in pv panels. Nice to see more spiffy circular cells out there. Does anyone have or know of web pages showcasing vintage PV collections? I've been finding it quite difficult to locate many pictures of older panels on the web. I haven't tested these panels yet and should probably wait until I install new wires to replace the cracking and paper-insulated old ones. I'm new to tinkering with solar, and don't want to wreck anything! But eventually I'd like to put these panels to use; perhaps with an articulating mount, on a pole, to supplement power to my RV's horizontal roof panel. I feel like the traces on the cells in my panels are like fingerpaintings compared especially to the space panel belonging to LH2. I'm so curious to see if these work. Look to be in fine shape. Between the cells the wire is in a mesh shape, but still they are pretty elementary for sure.
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