I have recently conducted seminars at boat shows on the West Coast. I am often asked who manufacturers our solar panels? Also, what is unique about our marine solar panels? These questions have several facets.
Our panels are manufactured to our stringent specifications by one of the most respected solar panel manufacturers in China. (China makes 87% of the world's solar panels) The company is a joint venture with a US company. The solar cells used in our panels are made by Bosch (German), Qcell (German) and SunPower (USA). Some of the sealants and backing materials are also made in the USA.
The history of our solar panel manufacturer search:
After considerable research and years of using solar on our Ericson 38 cruising for 6 weeks at a time, I developed a specification for how a marine solar panel should be made and for what qualities and features it should have. I then spent over a year searching for a US company to manufacture the panels for us. Unsuccessful, I then looked for a company overseas and found 4 companies in Asia who had good reputations and would manufacture the panels with the solar cells we wanted in the relatively low quantities we required. We purchased samples from all four companies, benchmarked them, put them on boats, tested them and selected the manufacturer with the best products. We have been working with this manufacturer for over four years now.
As you can see from our CUSTOMER COMMENTS page, our diligence has paid off. Many of our customers report panel performance up to 30% higher than the label specification. Why? Because we use the highest grade of solar cell in our panels. Solar panel specifications are based on performance under an industry standard artificial light. When the panels are exposed to the full spectrum of sunlight, the cells generate more that their rated output. Quality solar cells are a bit more expensive but they really pay off for we cruisers who have limited on board space.
Selecting a marine solar panel supplier isn't easy. Here are some ideas. Compare our solar panel performance specifications with others, read our customer comments to validate our quality, read my blog where I report on actual experience with the panels and look at price/performance/size ratios. Then, call me if you have additional questions or concerns. We are proud of our CMP solar panels but we recognize that our limited selection may not meet your exact needs so we will suggest alternative solutions where appropriate.
Thomas Trimmer has been cruising with his Ericson 38 sailboat on the Great Lakes for over 20 years. He has pioneered the use of solar energy for wilderness cruising. He is continually designing and building equipment to simplify and enhance the cruising experience.