Solar Panel Install Ideas - Fiberglass RV


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Old 01-14-2013, 09:09 PM   #1
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Solar Panel Install Ideas

Gearing up to install solar panel on Uhaul and remove the old one.
I need to keep costs down, what would be the best way to keep it from flying off the roof? L brackets? or a Frame with little feet mounted with VHB Tape? I have been trying to research methods, some of the threads suggest using these little brackets that are very expensive. Also seems to me the frame should be adjustable up or down on an angle, say 45 degrees to better capture sun...Just begining this project research. Will be working on Replacing Windows and Solar in about two weeks. Ahh high hopes... Waiting on a friend's garage to open up for me to use.
I think I will need to buy some Exterior Heavy Duty VHB Tape if anyone has any to sell, I would appreciate it very much.
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Old 01-14-2013, 10:48 PM   #2
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Some owners have attached the soft panel type directly to the roof with VHB tape-Honda0234 is an example while others have used brackets and VHB tape- Ron in NH with the EggCamper and mine is from factory with brackets and VHB tape. None of these are adjustable and it maybe because the tape install may not permit. You may need a bolt thru install if you want to raise and lower/tilt the panel.
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Old 01-14-2013, 11:46 PM   #3
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Im contemplateing getting a solar panel, but 1 kit I saw came with 40' of cable. I like the idea of running it out through where my power plug is and being able to move it to where sun is. I always try to camp in the shade, although Im sure the white roof will be cooler then my home built gypsy trailer was with a black rubber roof... but shade is always nice lol.

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Old 01-15-2013, 12:25 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deryk View Post
Im contemplateing getting a solar panel, but 1 kit I saw came with 40' of cable. I like the idea of running it out through where my power plug is and being able to move it to where sun is. I always try to camp in the shade, although Im sure the white roof will be cooler then my home built gypsy trailer was with a black rubber roof... but shade is always nice lol.

deryk
I go back and forth between installing a panel and using the one with the long cable that comes as a complete kit. I'm just worried that if I'm camped at a high traffic area like at the beach that the portable panel will get ripped off. But I so like the versitility of moving it where the best sun is. One reason I haven't made the purchase yet.

Diane, they sell tilt up mounting kits for rvs but they're $75-100. Not exactly keeping your costs down since that's your goal. I'm sure you could configure something similar though with just hinges and a leg on a hinge. Good luck and post some pictures when you get it mounted.
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Old 01-15-2013, 12:44 AM   #5
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Homemade tiltable solar panel mounts

You can look here to see homemade tiltable solar panel mounts. We used angle aluminum for feet and frames, and aluminum flat stock for tilt support arms. The aluminum was much cheaper at a metals yard than at Home Depot or Lowe's. All hardware is stainless steel from a fastener specialty store like Fastenal. Proflex RV is the adhesive and sealant. The panels have been up for 30k miles with no problem.
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Old 01-15-2013, 06:40 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Tim D. View Post
You can look here to see homemade tiltable solar panel mounts. We used angle aluminum for feet and frames, and aluminum flat stock for tilt support arms. The aluminum was much cheaper at a metals yard than at Home Depot or Lowe's. All hardware is stainless steel from a fastener specialty store like Fastenal. Proflex RV is the adhesive and sealant. The panels have been up for 30k miles with no problem.
Tim, This is incredible! I have been saving aluminum strips. Just found a source for more. Thank you all so much for the ideas!
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Old 01-15-2013, 07:03 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
Some owners have attached the soft panel type directly to the roof with VHB tape-Honda0234 is an example while others have used brackets and VHB tape- Ron in NH with the EggCamper and mine is from factory with brackets and VHB tape. None of these are adjustable and it maybe because the tape install may not permit. You may need a bolt thru install if you want to raise and lower/tilt the panel.
Jim, thank you for these thoughts. About the tilt mount, I have solar party lights and two other outdoor lights and find that I have to chase the sun to charge. I am trying to limit the holes in the roof. So it seems I may need more VHB tape than I originally thought. Decissions, decissions...

I appreciate all those who add their thoughts and am looking forward to
Rigging mine to the Rig, hopefully with your input, a plan. Thank you.
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Old 01-15-2013, 08:34 AM   #8
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Hi Diane,

How exciting that you are jumping into solar. You may recall that I ended up reusing the UHaul bracket and adding aluminum cross bars to support the larger solar panel. One reason I did that is because the UHaul roof is only a single thickness in the very center strip (covered by carpet). Adding bolts to the double thickness outer edges seemed like a bad idea.

I love what Tim did with his, especially the tiltable feature. I talked myself out of making it tiltable, but it does have appeal. One could also make the panel detachable by attaching it with wing nuts and using a quick disconnect cable, so you could reposition it on the ground and use an extension wire back to the roof.

The VHB tape would work if you have enough surface area taped. I'm not even sure exactly how to calculate the maximum lifting force, but it has to be at least a hundred pounds. So, I suggest getting the technical data sheet from 3M on line and figure out how many square inches of tape surface would give you a comfortable margin of safety.

As I've mentioned before, my local metal recyclers are really nice and let me poke around and buy aluminum and stainless steel scraps for next to nothing. At times they come in interesting shapes that save me time bending and sawing brackets. You can make stainless Z brackets, for instance, for less than 10% of the commercially made ones.

Good luck and post lots of pictures!
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Old 01-15-2013, 03:07 PM   #9
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Thank you Tom, I do remember now about your cross bars. I do not yet have a firmed up plan but will try to take pictures, will share, as I go along. Please know how much I appreciate all of you guys for being so helpful.
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Old 01-15-2013, 06:50 PM   #10
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Don Dayton had posted this on the Casita Club forum sometime back. I kept the link in the event I ever did a roof install. It is the cleanest install I have seen on a Casita.
http://bsquires.name/Casita/Solar/
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Old 01-15-2013, 07:07 PM   #11
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Thank you Tom, I do remember now about your cross bars. ..........
It occurs to me that if you found the cross bars to be unstable, you could add a "foot" on the end of each one down to the roof, attached with VHB. That would allow a larger panel , mounted sideways.

Photo of mine, below.
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Old 01-16-2013, 08:43 AM   #12
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Looks good and makes sense to me. Thanks
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Old 01-17-2013, 07:10 AM   #13
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Here are a couple of photos of my install. I added 185 watts total because I often camp in partial shade and I reasoned that with more watts I could still achieve enough charging to restore my battery. For me, the VHB meant no holes in the roof. The panels have been up there for a couple of years and thousands of miles with no problems. My EggCamper has a vertical seam and I ran the wiring along side of the seam, using 3M4200 adhesive to tack one wire on either side of the seam.

Ron
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Wiring-2.JPG  
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Old 01-17-2013, 07:14 AM   #14
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Here are a couple of photos of my install. I added 185 watts total because I often camp in partial shade and I reasoned that with more watts I could still achieve enough charging to restore my battery. For me, the VHB meant no holes in the roof. The panels have been up there for a couple of years and thousands of miles with no problems. My EggCamper has a vertical seam and I ran the wiring along side of the seam, using 3M4200 adhesive to tack one wire on either side of the seam.

Ron
Ron, nice job. How did you choose among the various VHB offerings?
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