TRIPLE INSULATED SOLAR ON KIMBERLEY KRUISER OR KARAVAN
TRIPLE INSULATED SOLAR PANEL
FOR KIMBERLEY KRUISER and
This technical article is designed to give value to the reader through more knowledge on purchasing Triple Insulated Solar Panels for Kimberley Kruiser or Kimberley Karavan.
Having to do a solar panel recall several years ago was painful both for customers and financially for me. But we completed it. It took some time to figure out the root cause of the problem. In designing a new solar panel system, the goal, of course if to completely address this root cause without compromise to the benefits of lightweight solar.
Root Cause of the Flexible Solar Panel Failures
Firstly, they didn't fail because of the quality of the solar cells. Neither did they fail because of the design of the panels. They failed because of instalation. There were two major problems with the instalation:
- The panels were fixed directly to the roof of the off-road caravan with an abundance of Sika. So much Sika, carefully snaked over the back of the panel, that when the off-road caravan roof expanded with heat, the panel stretched and tore the fine inter-cell connections apart. This was the major problem.
- The panels had remote connectors/diodes with the connecting cable passing through the roof of the off-road caravan. Heat and cooling of the interconnecting cable from the hot underside of the panel caused a pumping action of moisture to travel through the connecting cable sheath from the underside up to the panel and short the circuit.
Some people insisted on replacing with traditional glass panels. The problem with glass panels is:
- Heavy weight on top of the van just where you dont want weight: impacts towing stability.
- Glass panels are on average 10degC hotter than Triple Insulated, causing a drop in peak performance.
- The heat from the glass panels radiates back onto the roof of the caravan INCREASING the temperature inside. (Top of glass panel will reach 65 deg C, underside 58 deg c)
- Front edge of panels is a vertical raise, impacting higher drag when towing.
After a year of research, we have solved all of these problems with a 70W panel that is the same physical size as the previous 55W solar panel installed by Kimberley.
1. INSULATION OF SOLAR FROM CARAVAN ROOF
Using a Triple Insulated UV rated Polycarbonate sucessfully separates expansion and contraction of the caravan roof from the solar panel.
The Triple Insulation has these benefits:
- There are 3 layers of insulation. The UV rated polycarbonate has an R factor of 3. This means it transmits 1/3 of the heat compared to not having it in place.
- The black polycarbonate colour sucks the heat from the back of the panel and is then cooled with cross ventilation through the open cells.
- The inside temperature of the caravan will reduce significantly.
2. SOLAR PANEL CONNECTOR/OPTIMIZER CONCEALED UNDER PANEL
- The optimizer is not disturbed as manufactured.
- It is installed under the panel and concealed with the major benefit of reducing damage from overhead tree braches running accross the top.
- It also allows for the inter-panel cabling to pass through the cavity containing the optimizer so adjacent panels can have their cabling concealed on the roof.
3. INSTALLATION ALLOWS FOR FLEXIBILITY AND EXPANSION
- The polycarbonate is attached to the solar panel with two simple runs of SikaFlex 252 and additional placement to secure the end caps. The SikaFlex locks over a routed strip with the vertical fingers exposed for maximum hold. This unique way of fixing allows an independent payer between the solar panel and the roof, allowing the two to expand and flex independently without fear of cracking.
- The specially extruded alloy front and rear leading edges both clamp the solar panel and offer general protection.
4. INSTALLATION ON KIMBERLEY KRUISER OR KIMBERLEY KARAVAN
- The Leading and trailing edge extrusions were specially designed to have a 3mm recess so that the new panel can be placed ontop of a failed panel without disturbing the roof. This is carefulled designed to exactly cover the 55W panels in a Kimberley Kruiser of Kimberley Karavan.
- This means the tropical roof of the Kimberley Kruiser does not need to be replaced.
5. INCREASE IN SOLAR PERFORMANCE BY 27-40%
- Replacing the 55W panels with 70W panels is a straight 27% increase in capacity for exactly the same physical size.
- The reason for this increase is the Sunpower cells are ultra performance with a higher producing output.
- The temperature of the solar panels will be approx 10 degC cooler than the white base flexible solar provided by Kimberley and much more cooler than the black optima solar. See our separate article on temperature. This increases efficiency by an absolute 5% or more.
Photo below shows the Triple Insulated Solar installed on top of a Kimberley black optima panel on a Kimberley Kruiser tropical roof.
PHOTO BELOW IS AFTER A MONTH OF TRAVELING
6 x70W = 420W on Kimberley Karavan replacing original 330W instalation.
Read the Details in this 28 page eBook
- 1 x SikaFlex 252 Tube for DIY installers
- Outback Automotive, Morayfield Queensland.