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Agent86

Besides asthetics, whats the point of solar panels on medium to large craft?

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So once your ship/station/base gets above a few tons, the addition of RTG's hardly makes a difference, and provides unlimited power.

Solar panels are big, clumsy, fragile things that only produce power half the time while orbiting, and require batteries to back them up overnight. So in ksp, are they reallyof any use, or economically viable?

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For things that eat up a lot of power, like ion engines or rover wheels, where a bunch of RTGs aren't very practical.

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A pair of the fixed, static panels paired with a small-ish battery is lighter and cheaper than an RTG; indeed I just installed a pair on my SSTO as I found reaction wheels ate into the cockpit power supply too much during long intercepts. On the opposite end, I put 4 Gigantors on trusses below a Mk1 pod to power 4 ion engines... I'm trying to make a Sunjammer, just because.

Solar panels have their places.

-- Steve

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A gigantor solar panel array is one part. The equivalent number of RTGs is 24 parts. Especially with the new 2.5m battery, it's no contest at all for large things like stations, for which I am always fighting part count.

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RTG's do wear out eventually (look at the Voyager probes, Pioneer probes, etc). They last a long time, but everything ends. Even Radiation.

Solar panels may not put out alot of power, but as long as there is a Sun, they put out power.

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RTG's do wear out eventually (look at the Voyager probes, Pioneer probes, etc). They last a long time, but everything ends. Even Radiation.

Solar panels may not put out alot of power, but as long as there is a Sun, they put out power.

However in KSP the RTGs never run out of power (I think) and the only good reason I see for RTGs is for small probe landers on Eeloo or something.

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RTG's do wear out eventually (look at the Voyager probes, Pioneer probes, etc). They last a long time, but everything ends. Even Radiation.

Solar panels may not put out alot of power, but as long as there is a Sun, they put out power.

He's talking about KSP. :)

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RTG's do wear out eventually (look at the Voyager probes, Pioneer probes, etc). They last a long time, but everything ends. Even Radiation.

Solar panels may not put out alot of power, but as long as there is a Sun, they put out power.

RTG's take decades to deteriorate, solar panels lose functionality the further you get from the sun. Additionally, the cells operate in concert. Bust a cell or two and you get a fraction of the output.

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I mostly use panels because I try to get as much room as possible between everything nuclear and jeb.

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Think about the future :) One day we'll get resources. One of them will/might be blutonium, and it will/might be used as a fuel or a component in all things nuclear. When we'll have to mine for hours to get small amounts of this stuff (or *shudder* set up mining operation on Eve) solar panels suddenly become a cheap and easily made substitute.

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My current station has 4 RTGs in the core, because the core has no solar power and 6 reaction wheels. She's pretty stable. :) Solar's added later with modular 4 Gigantor units that plug into docking ports. Currently 4 RTGs and 8 Gigantors. Plus about 10K of batteries.

Moar powah!

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The point of solar panels is mainly in yet-to-be implemented gameplay features.

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RTG's do wear out eventually (look at the Voyager probes, Pioneer probes, etc). They last a long time, but everything ends. Even Radiation.

Solar panels may not put out alot of power, but as long as there is a Sun, they put out power.

Nope. Everything dies. Except for thin film types, solar panels are very long lived though and only lose a tiny fraction (on the order of 1/2 percent) of energy output per year. On Earth, there are solar panels installed in the early 1980s which are still going strong, but I don't know how radiation in space would affect them.

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Let me give you an example:

This is Bob on the surface of the Mun

"hello"

Now the thing is, he wants to make his Munbase, well, normal

"Do I?"

Yes

Anyway, his base is in the centre of a crater. The crater is light for 8 hrs, and dark for 8hrs

When its dark, he relies on RTGs

Smashes Buzzer

When its dark, he relies on the power from his solar panels that he charged in the day, to power the lights at night

have a snack Bob

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For things that eat up a lot of power, like ion engines or rover wheels, where a bunch of RTGs aren't very practical.

Ion engines, yes. Rovers, I would disagree. For all but the smallest rovers, it's pretty easy to tuck enough RTGs to supply your necessary power into the structure. Up to the medium-sized wheels, you only need one RTG per powered wheel to keep things running constantly.

There are four rtgs tucked into This rover, placed without using Debug mode. They're laid along the underside of the chassis, yet are still high enough to not bottom out on most planetary terrain.

I tend to put RTGs on anything that's going to land on a world's surface, if I have any expectation of wanting to use the item during the night. Solar panels and batteries can suffice for things that are going to stay in orbit, but enough batteries to keep running even through a 3-hour Kerbin Night is typically not worth it over RTGs.

And of course, then there's that bug that rips off unfurled solar panels when loaded in a planetary atmosphere.

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Looking cooler, but that is about it. Cost isnt a factor yet, and parts arent balanced for a real campaign yet.

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Solar panels give more power faster and weigh less.

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Think about the future :) One day we'll get resources. One of them will/might be blutonium, and it will/might be used as a fuel or a component in all things nuclear. When we'll have to mine for hours to get small amounts of this stuff (or *shudder* set up mining operation on Eve) solar panels suddenly become a cheap and easily made substitute.

One problem with this is that RTG last for years as other says, Nerva class engines also last a long time, hundred of hour with trust.

Orion and nuclear saltwater engines uses up the radioactive material, however they are both extremly overpowered, far more powerful than mainsails and better isp than ion.

They eiter want nerva to use nuclear materials for balance and challenge or its simply treasure to be collected and sold.

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On Earth, there are solar panels installed in the early 1980s which are still going strong, but I don't know how radiation in space would affect them.

I'll bet radiation isn't the biggest factor on the lifespan of solar panels in space. Collision with micro-debris is probably a lot more commonplace - and while it may not do enough damage to affect operation in the short term, over decades I'll bet it would render a panel inoperative.

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At 100% exposure approximately 20 of the high power spotlights can run on a single of the smallest panels, producing the equivalent of 2700Watts. NASA wishes they'd have such solar panels.

So the panels are overpowered by at least a factor 10 (and possibly the spotlights are underpowered a bit, drawing to little power for the amount of light they produce). I'm going to see what happens game-play wise when i reduce the panel's efficiency by a factor 10. Might be more of a challenge.

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It's a valid question. I tend to go with solar panels except when I can afford the mass of RTGs and need constant output. For topping off the batteries of a manned mission, for example, I almost always go with solar panels because the weight is so minimal. For powering a combined kethane drilling and refining rig, I'd go with solar panels over RTGs as well because the necessary RTGs would have significant mass. However, with the new generator that runs off of kethane in the new version of the addon, I'll probably wind up using that on my kethane rigs in the future.

On the other hand, I did a big 6 wheel rover using the biggest stock wheels, and found RTGs just worked better for that. The only solar panels that don't come right off a rover in an atmosphere would be the fixed panels, and when you're driving up and down mountains, it's far too easy to spend enough time at the wrong angle for fixed panels that you kill your batteries.

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RTG's do wear out eventually (look at the Voyager probes, Pioneer probes, etc). They last a long time, but everything ends. Even Radiation.

Solar panels may not put out alot of power, but as long as there is a Sun, they put out power.

Actually, one of the Voyager probes is still transmitting data though they have noted an increased degradation of the RTG due to the thermocouple material degrading along with the fuel slug.

However, it's important to note that the material used for solar collection also wears out as well over time.

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On the two-man four-wheeled rover I'm driving around the Mün right now I use two RTGs and a big buffer of batteries (two of the cylindrical 1m type and four of the bigger side-mounted ones), supplemented with two of the smalles solar panels. True, two RTGs aren't enough for continuous maximum power output, but the buffer takes care of this most of the time.

On stations and interplanetary craft I go pure solar panels usually, trying not to overbuild the system with too many admittedly great-looking giganto panels, so my stations tend to look a bit "bony", while on other craft I usually just put 4 of the smallest panels, which is enough to cover the power-need of the gyros.

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