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Solar Panels on Sailplane

Hi, I’d like to tinker with solar panels on a sailplane.

Current plan is someting like this where I can reduce the weight as much as possible, add some thin film solar panels (which ones?) and then test different panel / battery / motor / prop combinations. (Alternatively, maybe something super light like this could also support a couple of panels?)

I’d love all kinds of feedback!

Hey there

I’m currently building also a solar plane.
I would recommend to use the SUNPOWER FLEXABLE Solar Cells (
They are very easy to work with and are a bit flexible, they are also the most efficient cells you can buy.
I use a selfmade RC plane, cause the ASW28 has too thin wings. If you want to see picture of my project (
Hope I could help you a bit :wink:

Hi, sorry for necroposting but I am dealing with the same issue, except for a boat (but the hardware setup behind is very similar).

Flexible solar cells can hep to cover uneven surfaces, but the commercial grade (affordable) ones have very low efficiency, 16-18% max and 4.7W per cell. Complete autonomy is a real challenge relying just on solar power.
Anyway, in order to reduce losses as much as possible I will use a MPPT charger, there are many models available according to the expected energy production, the one I am using also features a USB output port.
For a plane I would go with the small 5A modules with an incorporated DC-DC buck converter.

Now I was wondering if I should power the FCU via it’s power module or via USB; in fact, as the power module will be connected to the load terminals of the MPPT balance charger, voltage readings will be pretty useless.

we have build a sailplane without batteries that works only with real time production of high effciency solar cells. It works all the when when sun is high.
It is hard to do and we spent lot of time to choice best wing profile and parts to reduce the weight.
Here our videos!!!

First video with tests:

Second video, plane tracked by drone:

Now we building new solar flight without battery but 3000mm wing spam that can carry about 400grs


I’m thinking about writing a specific node to take care of power monitoring with support for external voltage/current sensors in order to consider external input sources (like a solar panel or wind turbine).
I’ll open a issue on GitHub

There are ultra light-weight, thin film and flexible solar cells with high efficiency. The framing is very difficult to make strong and lightweight though so its expensive. Here’s an example of a copmany but do more research to find a cell and/or custom service to apply to your glider.

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