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Frameless Flexible Solar Panel  RSS feed

 
S Bengi
Posts: 1359
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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I found some frameless, flexible 400W solar panel going for $174 (44cent per watt), they are going for 1/3 the price of a regular solar panel per watt.
http://sunelec.com/solar-panels/sun-395-watt-monocrystalline-solar-panel.html
My only problem is how do I install them?
What are the challenges with these panels?
Would love to hear your thoughts/experience with them.
 
chad duncan
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I don't understand the point of a flexible panel. All this is going to do is ensure that at least some of the panel is never perfectly facing the sun. If a part of it is facing the sun directly, then the rest of the curve will not be. Having the full face of the panel looking directly into the sun is important, this is why people pay attention to degrees of elevation regarding the sun when they mount their panels.

I only know what I have read on the topic and so I look forwarsd to some other opinions on this.
 
Todd Parr
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Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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My understanding is that they are flexible, and so are less susceptible to breaking. I have seen them used on very slightly curved surfaces, but I think the idea is to install them flat, they are just easier to work with because they flex. The advantages would be that they are easier to work with, cheaper, easier to transport, lighter, etc. That being said, I haven't used them.
 
frank li
Posts: 207
Location: Michigan
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Here is the common industry rep. response to how to mount.

(John Williamson, engineering manager for Array Technologies Inc. 
Array Technologies Inc. (ATI) manufactures fixed-mounting and tracking systems. The company recently developed a new design for both its DuraTrack HZ tracker and DuraRack fixed rack to accommodate frameless modules.

SB: Did Array need to redesign its systems for frameless modules?
JW: Array designed a custom tracker structure, including a brand-new racking system designed especially for frameless modules. The racking system was extremely rigid to prevent module damage. However, it included a well-thought out assembly system that allowed rapid deployment and installation on-site and minimized materials as much as possible using custom-designed rails and clips to keep structural costs down, and assembly tools to reduce installation time on-site.

Frameless modules show installed on an Array Technologies tracking system

SB: How does securing frameless modules differ from traditional modules? 
JW: Though the backbone of the tracker structure remains the same, ATI uses a completely different system for racking both kinds of modules. Framed modules don’t require special supports and custom designed clips for attachment to a structure. Frameless modules require special clips to support them at specific locations. To install these at the lowest possible price point, custom racks must be designed for the individual frameless module to support them properly.)


Manufacturers are trying to push the adoption of frameless modules as an effort to reduce the productoin cost and embodied energy involved. The idea is that prices will be lower and unit sales higher. There is also an aesthetic point to losing the frames for some people.

I am satisfied with the frames we have.

Flexible modules are shatter resistant, flexible and light weight. This makes them suitable for many solutions, being inexpensive makes them suitable for small budgets even when the the other aspects are not desired.

These type of modules are are great for areas subject to petty vandalism, worksites, campsites and remote expeditions, onboard boats and other vehicles, mailing/shipping watts, installations with major structural flex or vibration, etc.

Basically they are rugged, and easily transportable (when they are not 96" long!!!) and are able to follow rounded contours, they make a great educational tool for kids, imagine being the kid who's go kart or mini bike has an endless fuel supply or that tree fort we built had lights and wifi!

https://www.google.com/search?q=solar+panel+golf+cart&client=ms-android-verizon&source=lnms&prmd=svin&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi-zsLb-NfLAhXkvIMKHUPjDcsQ_AUICSgD&biw=640&bih=360#imgrc=erAD7bMB8E87EM%3A

I will hopefully have an electric pontoon boat and it would have exactly that type of module. At that cost, if the install is permanent you can mount them with adhesive goo or velcro, or double side pressure sensitive tape (not the thick foamy stuff that didnt keep things in place on your dashboard or anywhere else for very long) you could also batten them down with strips of rigid nylon, polyethylene aluminum or wood. If you can keep wind from under them, they could slide into a top and bottom rail with,a groove like a good drawer bottom. Shingles are an issue if you are using adhesive.

What i have done in the past for uni solar modules that we didnt want to stick on (that butyl is nasty at 100 deg. F!) Because the system was temporary or the person wanted a mobile setup, is to stick them onto an appropriate color aluminum coil stock and screw them to roofs or walls, or roll'em out on the ground flat. Uni solar modules are only 15" wide so 4' is a job if you cannot source sheet aluminum in this size. 2' wide aluminum coil stock is inexpensive and common. Heavy plastic in ridgid sheets would probably work great but if you dont have cheap access, then it could rival the cost of racking manufactured or home made/modifiedto do the job with structural aluminum.

I hope this will not muddy up the water. Module clamps are available for traditional mounting of frameless modules, but it looks like you will still have to stiff-back certain unsupported spans or use multiple rails (needs 3 rails across short-ways to support anyhow).

Imagine a ladder mounted on your roof sideways...made of light weight 3/4"-1" square aluminum tubing topped with pressure sensitive double sided tape. It could work, but we are back to high cost, labor intensive mounting. I like the module slot, like the letters on a store event sign except in landscape orientation (long side horizontal) or adhesive if you are not worried about scars from peeling them off at some time. They would probably make a great shade structure if integrated as roofing panels. Oh man, im writin a book in here.




 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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minimum order quantity of 15!

The space efficiency is not as good as a standard panel. You need 20-25% more sq ft of panel to get the same watts. May be a big deal to you, may not.

That is the going price of made in China panels of untested quality. They may be a bargain, they may be expensive shingles.

 
frank li
Posts: 207
Location: Michigan
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Shucks! I called Sun Electronics (great long-time source of components for off grid and solar projects) the flexible module line they had is discontinued. The cover melted!.

I wonder if it was from mounting direct to surfaces and maybe the resulting lack of air cooling?

There are other manufacturers of flexible modules,but the price of those was interesting.
 
dave lannen
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S Bengi wrote:I found some frameless, flexible 400W solar panel going for $174 (44cent per watt), they are going for 1/3 the price of a regular solar panel per watt.
http://sunelec.com/solar-panels/sun-395-watt-monocrystalline-solar-panel.html
My only problem is how do I install them?
What are the challenges with these panels?
Would love to hear your thoughts/experience with them.
Resize-of-6.JPG
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Here is how i mounted my frameless modules
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frank li
Posts: 207
Location: Michigan
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Nice work! Sometimes, somebodys gotta just go ahead and do it.
 
Joseph Johnson
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Location: Sierra Blanca, TX
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I just got10 305 watt framless panels for 129.00 each. 1500.00 for all with shipping. They are not really that flexible but the are working great. My frame is similar to the one above but standing up instead of sideways. I had my sister seal the frames with deck stain/sealer and they look sharp. I currently have 6 of them working because the midnite classic 200 can't handle all ten so I have to order another charge controller. I am using 14 12v 115 ah batteries wired as 24v. And we are producing 8-10 kW per day in Sierra Blanca, TX. The key to using these panels is airflow. My frames are 2x4 notched and assembled like a picture frame. Only 3/4 inch of the panel edges are on the boards and the backs are left exposed. With temps hitting 109 we have had no issues with heat build up. I used clear silicone to glue them to the frames and started to use pieces from the notching to secure them but the fit was so tight, I started removing the slats. We where surprised at the size (78x39) but with 105 acres re have lots of room lol.
3055.jpeg
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Solar
 
dave lannen
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Joseph Johnson wrote:I just got10 305 watt framless panels for 129.00 each. 1500.00 for all with shipping. They are not really that flexible but the are working great. My frame is similar to the one above but standing up instead of sideways. I had my sister seal the frames with deck stain/sealer and they look sharp. I currently have 6 of them working because the midnite classic 200 can't handle all ten so I have to order another charge controller. I am using 14 12v 115 ah batteries wired as 24v. And we are producing 8-10 kW per day in Sierra Blanca, TX. The key to using these panels is airflow. My frames are 2x4 notched and assembled like a picture frame. Only 3/4 inch of the panel edges are on the boards and the backs are left exposed. With temps hitting 109 we have had no issues with heat build up. I used clear silicone to glue them to the frames and started to use pieces from the notching to secure them but the fit was so tight, I started removing the slats. We where surprised at the size (78x39) but with 105 acres re have lots of room lol.


Great Job Joseph Looks Good.
 
Michael Bushman
Posts: 144
Location: Sacramento, CA
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The cost of solar panels increases with the density of the wattage, not the total.   Sounds counter intuitive till you think about it.   A 300 watt panel that is the size of a sheet of paper is NASA level stuff and is insanely expensive, a 300 watt panel that is only 60 cells is going to be more expensive than a 300 watt panel that is 72 cells because the 60 cell panels is smaller and you can fit more on a given roof.

For example, we sell 60 cell SolarWorld 300 watt US made panels for $.90 a watt for almost 20% less  you can buy the larger 72 cell QCell 315s for only $.69 a watt.

If you are doing a groundmount and space doesn't matter, using larger sized panels with lower density cells saves a HUGE amount of money.

An important consideration to look for when buying panels are the rate of degradation as that varies widely.
 
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