Ultimate Flexible Solar Panels - successes and warranty replacements

RC Pilot Jim

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 19, 2010
Messages
1,545
Location
San Diego Calif
We are about 10 months out and owners are starting to share their experiences with flexible solar panels. This topic will be a repository of links on that subject and I volunteer to monitor and keep post current.

Please send me a PM when you post something with its title and what folder its in and I will add the link.

Our 100 watt Renogy panel is now 10 months old. Before mounting it I tilted it toward the sun and verified the amp out put of 5.8 amps. So far with the battery is never below 80% full. The maximum amp out put I've seen is 3.7 amps between 11:00 - 2:00 pm (July 2015). Once battery reaches 90% full - amps drop to under 1.0 and the voltage completes the charge to 100%.

Renogy put up the following Reply # 106 page 11 (8/2015) on "Electrical Confusion" post:

"Dear all,

Renogy would like to apologize for any issues that have been experienced with our bendable units. We have been working diligently on figuring out a solution on how to fix them. They were put out of stock temporarily while we did more research.

From what we have gathered, it is likely that excessive bending is causing issues in the panels. The bend can crack the solar cell which builds local heat on the crack, especially when it gets too hot. This can potentially lead to a failure in the panel. Another reason for failure can be caused by lack of air circulation under the panel.

We are bringing our new design to the market that will prevent any of these issues. As for those that currently have a unit currently, things should be fine as long as you have air circulation and do not bend the module too much.

Thank you,

Renogy Team"





Links:

Flexible Solar - Still Going vs Dead - 8/12/2015

"Electrical Confusion"

"Removing Electrical Solar Panels"

Bendable Solar panels "and compressor refrigerators"

How much Solar is to much

Adding a second (flexible) portable solar panel

My 2013 Hawk solar upgrade

Solar panel adapter plug

2017 Ideas
Flexible Solar mount Installation by Zirdu


Failures/Replacements

"Electrical Confusion"

"Removing Electrical Solar Panels"
 
Ether I added a problem section and changed the title.
Reviewing the failure reports, Renogy is addressing the failures in a timely fashion.
 
RC Pilot Jim said:
Ether I added a problem section and changed the title.
Reviewing the failure reports, Renology is addressing the failures in a timely fashion.
Jim - other than replacing panels do you know what they are doing to address the failures? Have they actually fixed anything? They have implied they did, and my new panels look different, but I'm sure curious what the cause of failure is and what the fix is. Some reassurance would be good.

While they seem to be replacing the panels, its still a big hassle. Failed trips, lost food, lots of hours involved in the swap out. For me, even with free replacement panels, its still a big "cost".
 
DonC said:
Jim - other than replacing panels do you know what they are doing to address the failures? Have they actually fixed anything? They have implied they did, and my new panels look different, but I'm sure curious what the cause of failure is and what the fix is. Some reassurance would be good.

While they seem to be replacing the panels, its still a big hassle. Failed trips, lost food, lots of hours involved in the swap out. For me, even with free replacement panels, its still a big "cost".
When you include blood pressure into the mix the cost is indeed high. Mine spiked every time the fridge cycled on this last trip. No way to get away from it all.

Alan
 
They told DonC that they did make a change. I think they said it was to the plastic part that sticks up. DonC is also trying to get his panels off the roof and said he will allow me to do some destructive testing.
 
I have not contacted Renogy. I don't know if they manufacture them or are a distributor of a Chinese made panel.

Don you said your new panels look different? Could you describe in the way they look different? Including pictures of the new and bad one would be great.
 
I'd be very interested to see this as well. I haven't bought anything yet still in the homework stage. I really want to use the fex style panels.

Good for them if they are fixing and upgrading. Solar is super competitive right now. I would think it's a perform or die market for most makers.
 
I just checked the Renogy web site to verify the optimum operating current on the bendable panels and noticed this at the bottom of the specs:
Please try to mount the panel so that there is minimal direct contact between the panel and the surface it is to be mounted to, to avoid hot spots.
It is recommended that there be at least a half inch of space between the solar panel and the surface to allow for air circulation, if the application allows for this.


This didn't used to be there when I bought my original panels last Sept. This supports my belief that temperature issues played a factor in the degradation and eventual demise of my two panels and perhaps many, if not most of the other problems our community has seen. Fortunately, I had already mounted my replacements on an aluminum framework that meets these instructions. Sadly, this takes away one of the biggest selling points of these panels ie: the ability to just glue them to a surface and not deal with a support structure.

Alan
 
I called Renogy for more information on that last statement - " "hot spots" and ....if the application allows for this."

Renogy tech answers to above questions and a few more

1. Hot Spots cause a voltage drop. The operating voltage spec is 17.7 . Hot spot will drop it to 15 - 16 volts.
2. The warranty is in affect if the panel is glued onto the roof.

One conclusion: not raising the panel half to one inch above roof may lower the efficiency of one panel. In my case its not an issue as my amp usage is minimal; And my application calls for keeping the roof as light as possible.

3. Renogy manufactures the bendable panel
4. To date they have experienced less than a 5% failure rate
5. To date they don't know reason the panels failed - Testing is still going on.
 
I'm sorry to hear of people having an issue with these panels. I've personally had 3 of them on my roof for over 1.5 years without an issue.
I did not buy them through Renogy but I own several other panels from them.
I really enjoy my setup and with our types of campers think this is an excellent option still.

I personally would not hesitate to do it again. I've enjoyed nonstop power for my camper with this setup.

However, FWC now offers a much better option in solar at 160 watts which would cover most people fair adequately. It is worth considering on a new build.
 
And using the "speaker Lift" inside or the external struts would negate the weight issue lifting the roof for those owners with bad backs or folks of slight build.

Thanks for reminding all of us Dr J that gluing a panel on the roof is only one option.
 
The solar power generated from a 160 watt panel should be close to 9-10 amps charging at full sunlight.
That would be enough power to both charge your batteries and run the compressor fridge at the same time.

One of the most common mistake people make is not having enough solar to charge and run their system at the same time.

Although I am always a fan for more solar, FWC is finally up to a reasonable amount of solar with this setup.

I believe this is the setup they are using (but not 100% sure):

http://www.zampsolar.com/product/160-watt-rv-solar-kit-zs-160-30a/
 
My 160 watt panel will only do 9-10 amps at certain times due to certain conditions and I've only seen that once. It generally does 6-8 amps.
 
Point of interest: One of two Renogy 100W flexible solar panels arrived dead out of the box. Be sure to test before installation. Renogy replaced it right away. Called customer service first and was transferred to tech support to troubleshoot. Once they were satisfied it was dead the replacement process was initiated. All in all pretty efficient even though they have to receive the failed panel before shipping the replacement.
 
"Down here" - close to Mexico we have r-e-a-l-l-y been experiencing hot weather (last 3 days the temp here 8 miles east of the Ocean has been averaging 97* - Thank goodness for air conditioning).

The day I reported my battery was at 73% I parked the rig in full sun (to charge the battery) After about 4 hours i checked the voltage from the panel - through the 12 gauge wire to the input side of the "MorningStar" controller at 17.7 volts. Maybe my white aluminum roof is helping to keep the roof temp down.
 
2015-07-04 10.25.10.jpgI picked up a used Hawk last fall and installed a trimetric and 2-100 watt renogy flexible panels on the roof this spring. Worked great in spring and early summer but now they don't work at all. Didn't have a chance to use the camper in July and August but keep it parked in a carport.

Don't really have time to troubleshoot or deal with this now but I am kinda bummed. spent a lot of time and money on this......plus I glued them to the roof with silicone caulk....lot's of it! I am new to this and thought solar panels were reliable!
 
Back
Top Bottom