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Offroad Camping | Solar Panel Comparison

This Guide will help you understand the features of different solar panel technology for your comparison

Practical comparison on the Solar Technologies used for portable solar panels

Monocrystalline Solar Panels

The most common because they are a very reliable technology and a great watts/square metre.

Polycrystalline Solar Panels

Cheaper version of crystalline panels, and a little less efficient. Kimberley don’t sell Polycrystalline panels.

 

CIS Thin-film Solar Panels

A new technology and performance wise they compare favourably to crystalline panel technologies, with some improved performance in higher heat.
(Typical maximum size sold is 62W, brand Brunskill).

If however, partial shading occurs, an amorphous panel , should be considered, as these panels perform much better in partial shade.

 

Amorphous Solar Panels

A soft flexible lightweight material (we call them our “Superlight” solar panels). They produce a lower amount of power per square meter than Crystalline panels BUT the greatest advantage of amorphous panels, when compared to the other types of solar panels, is their shade tolerance. This is due to bypass diodes being integrated into every silicon layer in each cell.

To compare the output of the different types of panels used, the amount of sunshine, temperature, orientation and atmospheric conditions need to be taken into consideration.

This is a third party assessment of the panels in a hot environment like Cairns in North Queensland.
As a guide, a [100W] solar panel installed in an unobstructed sunny position in Cairns will produce an average daily output , shown in ascending order of performance:

 
Solar Array Type Power Output / Day
Polycrystalline 0.40kWh / day
Monocrystalline 0.42kWh/day
Amorphous 0.49kWh/day

So in this practical test, the panel technology with the theoretical lowest efficiency percent produces more power because of the temperature and partial shade from passing cloud cover.

The “thin film” CIGs technology was not tested above but would fall in this range.

 

The one problem with some of the CIGs solar panels is exposure to high heat in a dark environment. It is not uncommon to store a thin-film panel in a dark place such as a protective case, rear of a car, or camper trailer box. Exposure to HIGH HEAT in DARK environments has a short term detrimental impact on the CIGs panel performance. It is typical for a CIGs panel to require "Light Soaking" after dark, hot storage conditions before it can be used.

It can often take as much as 72 hours of direct exposure to sunlight for a CIGs panel to regain its rated power generating capabilities. Unlike CIGs thin film, the amorphous silicon panel will produce its rated power immediately after exposure to high heat and dark conditions. It's ability to operate at rated capacity is NOT degraded after high heat exposure in dark environments. This is a critical factor in most camping applications where power may be demanded at a moment's notice. For this reason we do not sell the CIGs solar panel technology.