Solar for beginners - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-22-2015, 11:19 PM   #15
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We just bought a Bigfoot camper and want to install a solar panel on the roof. I have heard that 3M VHB tape can be used to hold the panel to the roof, but I think I would like something that screws the panel to the roof. What do you folks use to secure the panel to the roof?

Thanks
If it was my unit, living in a rainy place like BC, no way I would be putting holes in the roof of my nice fibreglass camper! Every hole is another potential leak that will one day cause water damage. Also, be aware that even partial shade will drop your solar output to almost nothing. Far better to have the panels in a portable stand mount that you can shift about to stay in the sun. But use a decent gauge wire if the run is significant. Probably a 10 gauge or better.
If you're bound and determined to have a roof mount, try to come up with something that doesn't mean new holes; perhaps flex panels?
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Old 04-22-2015, 11:28 PM   #16
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Hi Rick, there have been a number of posts just for this. IMHO it seems to be about 50/50 between bolts and VHB tape with good results on both sides. I think it really depends on the roof contour, how big a panel(s) you want and a ridged panel or flex. Both have advantages.
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Old 04-23-2015, 08:12 AM   #17
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We .... but I think I would like something that screws the panel to the ...

1. Check out the 3M website to see what they stick together with just VHB tape.

2. I second the notion about portable panels if you camp in shady areas. Just a little shade kills the output.


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Old 04-23-2015, 03:51 PM   #18
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I'm kind of against drilling holes in the fiberglass roof so I epoxied 1" square tube to the roof, I screwed the panel to the tubing via standoffs. In practice I had assembled everything on a table, then epoxied the complete assembly to the roof.
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Old 04-23-2015, 04:20 PM   #19
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all good points....

I'm experimenting at the moment......

got a 40W "deployable" (that parking in the shade thing) last year and it worked well enough....but I tend to be "on the road" during the day (one night stays mostly)....so I saw all that wasted sun when parked somewhere (either in a town or temporarily parked by a trail or lake)

that same 40W panel went on sale again during the winter so I bought another one for permanent installation on the roof

As I said I'm experimenting so I just taped it (real good) to the roof ...and added two loops of steel wire "insurance"... just in case (wires run down the fridge vent)

I'll see how it "works" there this summer....later I might go for a permanent install....but if it stays up there with no problem as is....it might just be sitting there like that for a long time (seems to happen often with these "experiments" of mine)
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Old 04-25-2015, 11:31 AM   #20
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I second that here in the West you are unlikely to get a real shady site. So far the only time we came close was in the redwoods.
We put our two little panels on our pop-top and have plenty of juice for our needs plus companions cell phones, etc
It is a real individual decision. Everyone uses varying amounts of power and what works great for us would be totally inadequate for someone with more mod cons.

Doing the calculations sounds daunting but it really isn't and that hour of figuring really pays off in a properly sized set-up.


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Old 04-25-2015, 08:39 PM   #21
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We put our two little panels on our pop-top and have plenty of juice for our needs plus companions cell phones, etc


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How big/heavy are your panels and how did you fasten? Where did you run the wires? I would like to put a panel on my pop-top but concerned about added weight making it difficult to open and secure.
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Old 04-25-2015, 11:06 PM   #22
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How big/heavy are your panels and how did you fasten? Where did you run the wires? I would like to put a panel on my pop-top but concerned about added weight making it difficult to open and secure.

You can get lightweight plastic ones now like this http://www.renogy-store.com/Renogy-1.../rng-100db.htm. 100w panel weighs about 3 lbs.


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Old 04-26-2015, 04:55 PM   #23
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We have two little 20W monocrystaline panels they are the type with aluminum frames. Hubby through bolted them with lots of butyl tape. The wires have UV resist covers and come over the edge of the pop top then over the top of the fabric where they are secured to the top at the through bolt. Then the wires sneak into the big closet and are routed forward to his electrical control center.
I have no trouble raising them. In total it may be 5 pounds. I'm sure the plastic backed ones are lighter but you would probably need larger ones since the amorphous crystals have lower output so it may end up close to the same weight.
If this doesn't answer your question let me know and I'll have the hubby explain it better.


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Old 04-26-2015, 06:27 PM   #24
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Quote: I'm sure the plastic backed ones are lighter but you would probably need larger ones since the amorphous crystals have lower output so it may end up close to the same weight.

These panels are NOT amorphous crystals. Here is a quote from their website.
The Renogy bendable solar panel uses advanced technology. Sunpower Monocrystalline solar cells that have been laminated into a flexible plastic sheet. The result is a solar panel that is far more durable than traditional glass and aluminum models, with twice the efficiency (approx. 20%) of flexible thin film solar panels. With these advanced solar cells, you will get greater power efficiency even though the panel is no larger than a traditional model. The plastic back sheet can be curved to a maximum 30 degree arc and mounted on an RV, boat, cabin, tent, or any other irregular surface.

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Old 04-26-2015, 08:21 PM   #25
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Thanks Denece! What I wondered was whether you taped or drilled holes and where you ran the wires. I don't think I'm brave enough to drill holes in the pop-up of my Compact II ;-) But that does seem like the best location since there will be no shadow when raised up. If I have the right picture in my mind, you have the wires running through the fabric sleeve and then into the closet? I am picturing where the extra bight of wire would end up that would be necessary for when the top is in down position. Does it then hang down inside the trailer? Or am I picturing the wire entry point wrongly?
There was an excellent post last year, I think, about an installation of the flexible Renogy 100W panel using a bonding technique. Very nice, but more money and capacity than I want in a solar panel. Thanks for your response!

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Old 04-26-2015, 11:22 PM   #26
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Those panels sound awesome. I think I would use the tape others have mentioned and just stick them up there.
Ours are at the rear edge of the pop top so the wire just runs over the edge and tucks inside right at the closest point to minimize exposure. Once inside it is secured to the underside of the pop, you could glue an attachment, and then secured where it enters the large closet. There is a little more slack than strictly required in case the top goes up rear end first instead of flat. I used to have trouble getting it balanced when I put it up.
Having the panels at the rear facilitates wiping them off when dusty.

Our Compact II had almost no electrical system when we got it. 12V from tug and a couple of 110 lights and sockets when plugged in. Ours had a cord attached under the sink that you could feed out a hole for shore power!
My husband rewired it all to get rid of a lot of questionable stuff and added a battery, charger, solar controller and the panels. It's a very truncated version of what we had on our sailboat. We basically lived on solar and 12V for 8 years aboard so have a fair understanding.



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Old 01-26-2016, 12:10 PM   #27
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Those panels sound awesome...
While this is an old thread, someone may stumbling upon it in their research, and to him or her I strongly suggest reading this post and continuing your research.
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Old 01-26-2016, 01:08 PM   #28
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Flexible Panel Issues

What the article Gordon points to states: if you own the Renergy (and other brands made at the same factory) in the flexible/bendable version they are offering to exchange them with a revised model. I would recommend reading Gordon's link if you own any type of flexible panel.
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