Author Topic: How long do solar panels really last?  (Read 311 times)

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Offline DaleReid

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How long do solar panels really last?
« on: July 30, 2022, 12:07:34 PM »
I have an older, well really old Davis Pro (a 'one' but was never called that) which still is putting out partial data every now and then.  I know the only source of power is the dinky little solar panel, mounted on the vertical, so the efficiency even when new wasn't optimal.  I'm guessing it is at least 10 years old, since the Pro 2 didn't come out for several years after I put this one up.

A bunch of questions, which I'm not sure there are any firm responses to, but maybe someone has read or has good knowledge of what technical responses might be.

How long does a solar panel of that vintage last?

Has solar panel technology changed, so that newer ones do better, both in longevity and efficiency (I'd guess yes with all the research, but just asking).

For those with newer types of solar powered PWS setups, have the companies like Davis updated the kind of panels they use, or still using the original spec?

How does solar panel type or technology compare to say the expensive and non-serviceable panels that satellites use, and once up there seem to last for decades or more?  Are NASA quality panels different (other than expense and testing) in technology or something?  I understand that the sunlight radiation is more intense up there around the earth.  I know that the Mars stuff gets covered with dust, but once you are out at Cassini (Saturn) range, they used plutonium powered thermal generators to produce power since panels wouldn't be up to the task, say nothing of the Voyager units.

Anyway, just curious.  I might take down the old Vantage Pro but since it is not bothering anything, and it gets looked at occasionally, I might leave it up as an observational experiment.  I know that water, bugs, hail and just exposure can do a number on things, including the support plastic housings and all.  And up here on the 45th parallel, the intensity is less than say down south.  I recall during the bus tour of Cape Canaveral installation how many of the older installations from decades ago had very faded paint and while salt spray may have affected it too, things like aluminum sheets wrapped over pipes and stuff were getting dull and what looked like pitted.

Thanks for any thoughts.  Just curious and trying to be educated and learn something.
Dale
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Offline DaleReid

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Re: How long do solar panels really last?
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2022, 12:09:19 PM »
PS, sorry about the italics, the only word I wanted was 'really' italicized but attempts to turn it off lead me on a gobblydegook and I just left it.  Dale
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Offline broadstairs

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Re: How long do solar panels really last?
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2022, 12:36:07 PM »
Dale I had my Davis Pro(1) from 2005 untill early 2021 when I finally gave it up. I had issues some years ago with power and luckily as the ISS was mounted close to my shed (with power) I used my Davis power pack from the console to power it and ran the console off another 3rd party PSU. I'm guessing that was after about 10-11 years so I'd say your solar panel is probably at end of life. Can you power the ISS easily from mains using a Davis PSU??

Stuart
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Offline davidmc36

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Re: How long do solar panels really last?
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2022, 01:01:14 PM »
..........Can you power the ISS easily from mains using a Davis PSU??

Stuart

The power port on the ISS board is labled "AC Adapter" in the user manual.

https://www.wxforum.net/index.php?topic=17837.msg172481#msg172481

Offline Aardvark

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Re: How long do solar panels really last?
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2022, 01:20:23 AM »
the panels stay good, it is the plastic cover over the solar cells that cloud over .  I have replaced mine a few times, because of the clouding

Offline DaleReid

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Re: How long do solar panels really last?
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2022, 09:24:24 AM »
Aardvark:  Thanks for the personal experience.

And thanks to others for pointing out that there are ways to power an ISS from a wall wart if one is close enough.

I thank this forum for all the information, collective knowledge and of course the sharing of that.
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Offline ocala

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Re: How long do solar panels really last?
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2022, 01:47:10 PM »
..........Can you power the ISS easily from mains using a Davis PSU??

Stuart

The power port on the ISS board is labled "AC Adapter" in the user manual.

https://www.wxforum.net/index.php?topic=17837.msg172481#msg172481
I'm impressed. A 9 year old thread. Good find.
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Offline miraculon

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Re: How long do solar panels really last?
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2022, 08:15:09 AM »
the panels stay good, it is the plastic cover over the solar cells that cloud over .  I have replaced mine a few times, because of the clouding

I have been able to make a temporary improvement in the appearance of the clouded up solar panels with ArmorAll or Plexus. I learned about Plexus on WxForum, so just do a search and you will find it.

I am not sure how much the clouding actually affects the panel efficiency. It might not be that much of a problem, although it doesn't look nice...

Greg H.


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