Rooftop Solar Installation Bigfoot - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-29-2019, 05:41 PM   #1
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Name: Zach
Trailer: 91 Bigfoot 17
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Rooftop Solar Installation Bigfoot

I finally finished this job last weekend. If you want to read the entire back & forth, decision making, edge-of-your-seat cliff-hanger thread where I got all my advice, warnings and information, check it out here. If you don't want to wade through 10 pages of talk to see what I did, read on...

I bought the basic Renogy 100watt kit, plus mounting hardware from AM Solar, using VHB tape.

I took just a little time staring at my roof to see where I wanted the panel. I don't know aerodynamics well, but it seemed to make more sense to put panels lengthwise rather than across the roof, and this spot allows a lot of space for future panels.

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The VHB tape is strong. There's no room for error without destroying the tape. I set one corner down for just a second then decided to lift the panel back up and try again. Nope. It was stuck. Luckily everything lined up fine.

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I routed the rooftop wire using an AM Solar wire accessory kit. I drilled two holes in the roof for the wires, up as close to my power center and battery as possible, and routed them through a Go Power cable entry plate, using soapy water on the wires. I learned this in the other thread after forcing the wires through and tearing out the rubber, waterproof liner.

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Rather than drill 6 holes in my roof to hold a little plate in place, I used 3M outdoor mounting tape, and covered everything with eternabond. It's not pretty, but it's water tight!

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I guess I need to practice my eternabond skills...

The wires come into the front corner of my trailer, through a cabinet. There's a gap in the bottom of that corner cabinet large enough to fit both wires, then I drilled two more holes behind the dinette seat, and down under the seat.

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I mounted the charge controller there, along with an on/off switch for the panels, along the + wire.

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I ran the battery wires out of the charge controller through another hole I drilled in the floor, inside conduit for protection, to the battery, then sealed the hole. I fused the + wire close to the battery with a protected fuse. Lucky dogs feet, just in case.

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When I got everything hooked up, I plugged in my new battery monitor to see what happened. It was about noon, full sun, and my panels are mounted flat, obviously. But man...I watched the voltage climb from 13.8 (about as high as my 90W portable solar ever got), up all the way to here, where it finally leveled off.

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I put sikaflex over the feet of the panel hardware, then eternabond. No bolts (for now). I can see how a very sudden, violent gust of wind could lift this, but it would have to be very violent, just at the right angle. And I'm talking about driving down the road at 70mph, getting passed from the other direction by a semi kind of gust.

For anyone looking to do a similar project, and use eternabond, either don't use any other sealant, or if you want triple protection, use dicor instead of sikaflex. Sikaflex is great, but eternabond doesn't stick to it. It does stick to dicor. I decided to use eternabond after using the sikaflex, and since I didn't completely cover the feet with sikaflex, I figure it's still doing some good. Since there are no bolts and only these little feet, I wanted extra protection.

The process I used for all adhesives was to wash the entire area with soapy water and a sponge or rag, let dry completely, lightly sand with very fine grit sandpaper, wash again with water, let dry completely, then wipe with rubbing alcohol.

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I think that's it! So far, no lost panels, and for my low power use, I think a single 100watt panel, mounted flat, even though I park partially in the shade, will be plenty.
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Old 07-30-2019, 05:55 PM   #2
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Name: Robert
Trailer: 1987 Bigfoot B-17'
Washington
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Inspiring

Iíve been afraid to just tape or glue panels on. Seeing this gives me confidence. What year is your Bigfoot?
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Old 07-30-2019, 06:41 PM   #3
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Name: Jon
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Looks good. Good job!
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Old 07-31-2019, 09:44 AM   #4
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Name: Zach
Trailer: 91 Bigfoot 17
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Thanks. What should give you confidence is hearing back in a year or so, after lots of highway driving, including in gusty winds, that my panel is still there. Until then...don't get too confident Mine is a 91.
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