PowerFilm F15-1200 Portable Solar Power for Ham Radio

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by OH8STN, Oct 8, 2017.

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  1. WN2C

    WN2C Ham Member QRZ Page

    Pretty expensive for a 20 watt panel. It take it that it is light weight and make it easier to take with you backpacking remote ops.
    If it were me, (and I don't do the back packing thing) I would just buy the Harbor freight one at 100 watts for less $$ than the 20 watt.
    OH8STN likes this.
  2. W5HEH

    W5HEH XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    very gud article tnx,,

    has anyone here tried to make there own flexible Panel ?
    seen some flex cells for sale ,would be interesting to diy and glue to canvas or some foldable material .
    73s have fun
  3. OH8STN

    OH8STN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks for the feedback. I've also got one of the 120 watt panels on the way. To be honest I didn't think one could run a refrigerator off of it, that sounds pretty awesome.
    The next battery pack build is a 5 amp hour lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) using A123 26650 cells. From a size perspective, it's probably not very interesting to you, but it's the first pack on the channel that will be a protected parallel 4S2P configuration. That's the learning bit.
    In the springtime I hope to do a large lithium iron phosphate battery build. Depending on the funding, it could be a 40 amp hour or 96 amp hour protected lithium iron phosphate pack for an emergency field ststion. Kind of a diesel generator replacement to run a QRO station. That's what the 120 watt panel is for.
    Thanks for commenting and for the kindness.

    W5KV likes this.
  4. OH8STN

    OH8STN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yeah the light weight, waterproof, and zero pack size all costs. Another thing which costs is actually getting the 1.2 amps out of it compared to other panels. In my experience when I put an amp meter on the output of the panel, the PowerFilm actually gives you the amps specified. With my Harbor Freight folding suitcase, I don't get anywhere near the amps specified in full sunlight. So I'm wondering if it's just a number written on the box.
    The other thing is the weight of the Harbor Freight folding suitcase. I carried it up a hill on a radar challenge a couple of years ago, and decided never to do that again.
    Anyway I would agree with you, if I could actually get the specified amps out of the Harbor Freight, it would be nice to deploy from a car.

  5. OH8STN

    OH8STN Ham Member QRZ Page

    I didn't see if anybody commented but this is an excellent question. I saw that the individual components, the actual thin film cells, can also be purchased. They even have a YouTube video showing how to solder them up. To be honest and keeping it completely real, the cost of the complete panels is somewhat prohibitive for someone into casual amateur radio. Less so for the fanatic or emergency communications operator. Anyhow, I thought about ordering some of those thin-film modules, then doing a DIY build on the channel to see how it works out.
    Excellent question
    W5HEH likes this.
  6. OH8STN

    OH8STN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Well we shall see how it performs @ -30C in a couple of months. I've had this panel out the past week at -3C overnight. It didn't become brittle, but that's also not much of a temperature test. Considering they're made in Iowa, which has very similar weather in winter to KP25, I would be surprised if they hadn't thought about that already.
    Anyway it's a legitimate concern, and I'll report back as the bitter cold arrives at 65°N.

  7. OH8STN

    OH8STN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks Jesse
  8. OH8STN

    OH8STN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Intrigued by your comment I started searching the interweb for any deployment of Power film in the Arctic or Antarctic. I did find this. 30w PowerFilm panel used to power instruments on the ice sheets of Greenland read full article here.
  9. AB9TX

    AB9TX Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Julian, no disrespect to Powerfilm's products. I was just sharing my experience with the R21. It is possible the newer version are more robust. These thin film panels are very fragile in my opinion, but the obvious portability benefit.

    OH8STN likes this.
  10. OH8STN

    OH8STN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Didn't take it as disrespect ☺
    In fact I'm happy you mentioned it so I can look out for it in these extreme temperatures we have here.

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