Maxeon Air: Frameless, Lightweight Stick-On Solar Panels

Maxeon Air solar panels

Maxeon Solar Technologies has provided a peek at what it calls a “disruptive technology platform” – Maxeon Air solar panels.

Across Australia and the world there are millions of commercial building rooftops that could be generating clean electricity by harvesting solar energy. But not all these rooftops are capable of hosting solar panels.

It’s been previously reported as high as 70 per cent of industrial roofs in Australia are being built  to the minimum specification1. To strengthen these “slender roofs” enough to enable installation of solar panels is costly, and in some cases simply not viable.

This is a market that Maxeon is banking on with its Air modules.

Maxeon Air Solar Panel Features And Specifications

There’s not a huge amount of information available as yet, but here’s what we know:

  • Use of Maxeon IBC solar cells – already installed on 600,000 homes, businesses and solar farms around the world according to the company.
  • 4mm thick.
  • 20.9% panel efficiency.
  • Low power temperature coefficient (not specified), shade tolerance and wide spectral response.
  • Frameless – “peel and stick” design.
  • Flexible, but Maxeon uses the term “conformable”. Perhaps flexibility is quite limited.
  • Hot spot resistance – particularly important given the panels will be adhered directly to rooftops.
  • Installed weight of around 6 kg/m²  – less than half of conventional systems.
  • Wattage: not specified.

Maxeon points out that as solar panels have increased in size (both in capacity and in physical dimensions) and module prices have dropped, the costs associated with transporting and installing these large modules has increased in terms of proportion of total system cost.

“With Maxeon Air technology, we can now develop products that reduce these costs while opening up completely new market opportunities such as low-load commercial rooftops,” said Jeff Waters, CEO of Maxeon Solar. Technologies.

Maxeon Air solar panels will be used in selected projects in Europe in the second half of this year and general product availability is scheduled for the first quarter of 2022.

According to Maxeon, there is an estimated 4GW unserved annual market for low-load roofs in Europe alone. But aside from commercial applications, the company sees promise for the Air in residential rooftop, floating PV and e-mobility applications.

The cost of Maxeon Air isn’t mentioned, but like any SunPower Maxeon product and given the type of product it is, they’ll like be quite expensive. It’s not clear if the Air will also carry “SunPower” name and it wasn’t noted in any of the limited information currently available.

Maxeon Air won’t be the first Sunpower Maxeon “flexible” solar panel – there’s an existing product line with modules up to 170W capacity.

Sunman Energy eArc Panels

Another frameless stick-on flexible solar panel already available in Australia is Sunman Energy’s eArc, previously called eArche. Sunman Energy’s founder and chief technology officer is Shi Zhengrong, who also founded module manufacturer Suntech.

Frameless eArc solar panels are currently available in capacities of up to 375W. Examples of eArc solar panel installations in Australia include on the curved rooftop of the library in Noosaville and on Byron Bay’s solar train.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. Des Scahill says

    ‘Stick On’ panels have been used on caravans for years, but one problem has been that ‘glue’ degrades over time, due to both ‘ageing’ and the effects of exposure to the elements.

    Is there a possibility that in the future they could simply be torn off the roof by gale or severe storm winds because the adhesion has lessened over time?

    I’m sure the manufacturers would have taken that into account, and provided the owner acts responsibly regarding maintenance and regular inspections, probably all will go reasonably well.

    But not all building owners do that of course.

    • Ian Thompson says

      Hi Des

      Yes – my neighbour had stick-on panels installed on his new caravan.
      They were a disaster- delaminating and failing in a very short time (3-6 months?). It cost quite a lot to have them all ripped of the roof. I’m not sure if they were covered by warranty – he’s away on a trip at the moment, so I can’t ask him the name of the manufacturer – or even if the installer was responsible.

    • Ian Thompson says

      BTW, he now has a generator.

      • Des Scahill says

        A generator might be handy,… 🙂

        Dunno for how long though – future petrol supply is not looking good longer-term, and if there is ‘shortage’ then food producers, essential services and defence will be highest on the priority list.

        Portable fold-up solar panels work fine for caravans, although they are not cheap plus a suitable inverter and at least 1 or 2 deep cycle batteries if you want to run 240v stuff.

        With the portable ones, you can just fold them up and put them away inside in their storage bag when you not using them to charge things , and they are quite robust. Can run the ‘basics’ with those in suburbia.

        Personally, I don’t like generators, means you have to store fuel for them as well. My house and garage is a complete ‘no-go’ zone for stored fuels and gas bottles. Every time I begin to weaken about that I invariably read about some poor sod whose house has just been burnt down as a result

        Hydrogen is not looking very flash either – generator that was hydrogen fueled exploded today at Callide generating station
        see: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-05-25/qld-widespread-power-outages-across-the-state/100164200

        • Ronald Brakels says

          The turbine used hydrogen but didn’t burn it. The hydrogen was instead used to reduce friction and for cooling:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen-cooled_turbo_generator

        • Ian Thompson says

          Yes – I guess it was a matter of ‘once bitten, twice shy’. Which just reinforces the adage ‘you are only seen as good as your last job’. It is critically important the PV vendors ALWAYS do a good job.

          I now recall my neighbour saying the glue had failed due to high temperatures. Not surprising really, as normal panels can dissipate heat from both the top, and the bottom surfaces – whereas stick-ons ability depends on the heat insulation characteristics of the substrate – which in a caravan may well be highly insulated under the thin aluminium layer.

          Yes, I was aware big alternators (not turbines as far as I am aware, Ronald – sorry, just being a pedant) have used hydrogen for cooling for many, many years due to it’s ability to transfer heat so well – probably also provides reduced ‘windage’ (friction) losses as well, due its extremely low density compared to air.

  2. Was it not Sunman thin film panels that failed on a block of units when immersed in water that had collected on the roof and causing damage to the roof surface when removed?

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