Mounting Flexible Solar Panels
As we sell more and more Flexible Solar Panels the obvious questions that comes from our customers is:
"How do we mount them?"
A lot of people simply cover the backside of them with sikaflex and whack them onto the roof. This is the quick and easy way to do it. Is this the best way though?
Lets have a look in detail at how solar works.
All solar panels operate best at around 25˚C. That is just the nature of the beast. for every one degree that a solar panel goes above or below that 25˚C mark it loses efficiency. This is called Temperature Coefficient. If you look at any solar manufacturer's data sheet you will see a term called "temperature coefficient Pmax". For example the temperature coefficient of an iTechworld Flexible solar panel is –0.48%. What this means is that for each degree over 25˚C the maximum power of the panel is reduced by 0.48%. Now 0.48% does not seem like a big number at all. We live in Australia though. Its exceptionally hot especially in summer as you all know. So if our new flexible Solar Panel got hot enough to be at 45˚C then it actually loses 10%. Incredible!
I had a customer come into the store and he advised that he used the iTechworld Amp Meter to test his solar panel amperage output. He wasn't impressed with what he seen, he then sprayed them with cold water with his garden hose and ABRACADABRA the amperage jumped up. Why? Because the water got the solar panels back closer to the 25˚C mark.
So when we go to mount flexible solar panels onto our roof we should take into consideration how hot a caravan or vehicle roof actually gets. If your roof gets up to 60˚C or 70˚C then you are losing close to 20% efficiency from your solar panel. That is a massive drop.
Talking to different people on a daily basis in the shop means I get to hear some amazing ideas and solutions for mounting these panels that will keep them cool. My favourite suggestion so far was to mount them on multi layered, vented poly carbonate sheets. You can buy this type of material from most large scale hardware stores (where they do sausage sizzles every Saturday and Sunday) cut it to shape, mount the flexible panel to it, then mount that to the roof. This will give you an air gap underneath the solar panel and keep it much cooler than mounting it directly to the vehicle roof. It also keeps the weight factor down as well. WIN WIN.
So my question is how have you mounted your flexible solar panels? Have you noticed any performance drop by having them mounted directly on the roof? Please leave some feed back in the comments section below.