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Flexible solar panels


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#51 syohana

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Posted 20 January 2020 - 03:07 PM

I bought 8 panels from AA solar. They promised a 5% bulk discount on the whole v order but when I turned up to collect the panels they refused to give the discount on the other charge regulators and cabling, just the panels themselves.
 
They did state that these panels tended to fail and had no warranty, but they also said they were no worse than any other flexible panel.
 
I installed them glued down with Sikaflex to the coachroof and they were never bent or stepped on.
 
Within a couple of months the first panel failed - one cell got so hot that it burnt right through the top of the panel, then water got in the burnt hole and destroyed the rest of the panel.
 
Within a year about half the panels had failed in the same manner. The top surface of the panels was already getting rough and not transparent any more. The few intact panels were producing a fraction of their rated power.
 
I removed all the panels and discovered to my horror that the fibreglass below them was burnt black and the foam core had melted under the failed cells. Huge repair job and lucky the boat didn't catch fire.
 
 
I contacted AA solar and said warranty or not, these are not fit to be sold and demanded a refund under consumer guarantees act. They refused. I filed a claim in the disputes tribunal. They failed to turn up at the tribunal, made excuses, got it delayed. Second time they were a no-show again and the tribunal ordered a full refund. They took a while to pay but eventually coughed up when the court bailiff was threatened.
 
So... AA solar are a bit dodgy in my view. They knowingly sold a faulty product and although they have some warnings they also claimed their panels were no worse than others. I happen to know plenty of people whose semi flexi panels didn't burn through the deck!
 
The law says if you sell something which is not fit for purpose you must give a refund. Full stop. Warranties are supposed to be an extra, bonus protection. Saying "no warranty" doesn't excuse you from your legal responsibilities.
 
So...  I repaired the coachroof at my own cost and installed some big heavy cheap glass panels which look ugly but they still work after a year.

Edited by syohana, 20 January 2020 - 03:10 PM.

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#52 Island Time

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Posted 20 January 2020 - 03:30 PM

When was that syohana? AA solar changed hands a while back...

 

Also, part of the issue with solar panels is heat - nowhere for it to go if fixed to a deck directly, so that could be part of any issue. Even mounted on canvas with air flow under them they still get damn hot. No excuse, just thinking out loud...


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There is nothing, absolutely nothing, half so much worth doing, as simply messing about in boats


#53 syohana

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Posted 21 January 2020 - 03:51 PM

I purchased the panels in about may 2016 and got the tribunal hearing in july 2017, got the refund a couple of months after that. The guy I dealt with at AA solar was called Pierre. Quite possible ownership could have changed.

Soon after losing at the tribunal they stopped selling flexi panels, having learnt that you can't just opt out of refunding for faulty goods by stating "no warranty" on the invoice!

Everyone who bought these dodgy panels from any NZ seller for non-commercial use was and is legally entitled to a full refund. AA tried to wriggle out of paying by saying we were a charter yacht but we had luckily already stopped commercial work and gone out of survey when the panels were fitted.

They are not just faulty, they are dangerous and can start fires. AA very much understated the fault, which they were fully aware of.

Not all flexi panels are bad but it's so hard to know what you've got that I wouldn't risk buying them again. You could pay a lot more and still get the same rubbish.

Lensun panels seen to have a good reputation at a reasonable price. I nearly went for those but decided not to risk it.

Regarding the heat, I installed them exactly as AA recommended. If they are not stuck down then they will flex and the cells will crack. Best option to dissipate heat would be too stick them to a sheet of aluminium and mount it above the deck with an air gap. If you're doing that then you might as well get an aluminium framed panel in the first place!

Edited by syohana, 21 January 2020 - 03:53 PM.

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