CHEAP PANEL BLUES
Q: I purchased a solar panel from an automotive store to give my house batteries a trickle charge over the winter. It is rated as waterproof, but I found that just one seagull dropping took the panel output of 0.75 amp down to almost zero until I cleaned it off. Are all solar panels this sensitive to a single pooparoo? — J. Staats, San Diego, CA GORDON WEST REPLIES Inexpensive automotive/RV panels may be internally wired up in series, where a single drop of anything can bring them down to minimal charging current. Get a panel from a marine store! With its parallel type interconnections, a single bird drop won’t much affect its output. That said, it is still a good idea to always keep solar panels clean, think on a daily basis when out at sea, in particular.