seeking affordable, flexible, high watt PV panels for class C motorhome

Hi. I'm upfitting a 23' class C for a 12 month road trip in South America. Weight and vertical spacing (due to cargo shipping) is critical, so I'm looking for a flexible (or semi flexible) panel solution to get about 450-550 watts on the roof; maybe 3 panels. My current intent is to stick then directly onto the roof, if feasible. I sniffed around the internet, but only found 100 watt panels. Evidently, flexibility kills the power potential; don't know. I'd like to find panels that are around 23-25" wide by 55-60" long in the 160-180 watt range. Does such a thing exist?

Comments

  • BB.BB. Posts: 27,354Super Moderators admin
    I would suggest that you avoid any flexible or semi-flexible solar panels--If at all possible. Even if all goes well, they may only function for 2-5 years (at best). Here is one person that purchased custom semi-flex panels that failed a couple years down the road (so to speak):

    http://forum.solar-electric.com/discussion/8737/balanced-mppt-system/p1 (system design--long thread)
    http://forum.solar-electric.com/discussion/18445/crazy-weird-no-volts/p1 (failing panels)

    You can find panels without aluminum frames (may save on weight/volume from mfg/source). Add frames when you get them.

    Otherwise, find locally sourced/warehoused panels and mount them to RV? If height of RV is issue--Some folks have mounted panels on side of RV and tilt them up/out when camping (use like an awning).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • John_SJohn_S Posts: 9Registered Users ✭✭
    Hi Bill, Good to know; thanks. For this trip, I'm ok with 2-3 years, unless the price is $600 per panel. I'm familiar with RV panels; got 6 on my fifth wheel. This "flexible" need is mission specific. I just didn't know if these exist for a couple hundred bucks a panel in power ratings comparable to typical panels; evidently not. In addition to size and weight, petty theft off RVs in South America is common, so a flex stuck down might stay with me. I'm still looking, but all I see are 100watt panels. Don't think I have that much real estate to get up to 5-6 panels. Still looking :-)
  • opticalmikeopticalmike Posts: 20Registered Users ✭✭
    wondering which panels you settled on?
  • outwestboundoutwestbound Posts: 15Registered Users ✭✭
    wondering which panels you settled on?
    Hey. I went with typical glass panels. My research lead me to believe that they would fail. A failure is bad enough, but this South American trip requires reliable panels. Having said that, I couldn't find one I'd be even if I was staying in the US. Maybe someone will figure a way to deal with the heat and other issues. 
  • softdownsoftdown Posts: 1,802Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    A "rigid" panel that could flex in ~three places would solve a lot of problems.
    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) 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
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