When our supplier told me they had a new high output marine solar panel that was flexible I was skeptical. The specifications seemed just to good to be true. So I ordered some to test. Well, I was pleasantly surprised.
These panels are very well constructed and they have a power generation comparable to our hard panels. These panels can be flexed to 30 degrees so can conform to most boat curved surfaces. The 100+ watt panels have an electrical box on the front (not shown in the picture) which contains two blocking diodes. The 50 watt panel has one blocking diode. The base material is very sturdy and strong. Each panel has grommets for attaching the panel.
I have tested the output of these panels under various weather conditions and their susceptibility to shading. Below is a quick comparison of output of our three mid-range panels laying flat at mid day on a mostly sunny day measured with a meter:
Flexible 100 watt Rigid 105 watt Rigid 100 watt
Monocrystalline Monocrystalline Polycrystalline
Short Circuit Current (Isc) 5.48 amps 5.50 amps 5.26 amps
Open Circuit Voltage (Voc) 19.2 volts 19.7 volts 20.5 volts
Computed Power (not rated power) 105 watts 108 watts 108 watts
Additional information is available on our solar panel page.
We haven't been just sitting around waiting to the water to soften up here in the Midwest. We've been working on enhancing our products and finding the latest and greatest technology.
Our 90 watt solar panel had been such a popular high performer that we went back to our supplier to see if they could provide us with a higher wattage panel for our top-of-pole mounting system. We specified a solar panel that was Class A-9 quality polycrystalline with an efficiency of 16.5% efficiency or higher, sealed and robust for the rigors of marine use, a nearly square shape for our top-of-pole application, and at a cost our customers could afford. They met our request and came up with a 140 watt polycrystalline high performance panel that measures roughly 39 X 39.5 inches and uses the same design and construction technology as our 90 watt panel. We have them on order with an expected delivery date of early May.
We anticipate that the 140 watt panel will perform about as well as our popular 130 watt monocrystalline panel in full sun and outperform our 130 on a cloudy day or when partially shaded. This will make the panel ideal for northern climates where those sunny days just don't happen every day. We plan on publishing a complete analysis by mid to late June.
Also stay tuned for our introduction of several new LED lights.
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.