Time for new solar - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-16-2015, 05:03 AM   #1
Raz
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Time for new solar

We bought our first trailer in 2004. About the same time, I bought a 42 watt Unisolar amorphous panel. While it's worked well over the years, at 30" x 40" it's a little tough to store. I needed a project so I decided to make something smaller. I picked up two 30 watt monocrystalline panels, a pair of stainless steel hinges, a controller, and some odds and ends.

You wouldn't think it would be that difficult to attach a pair of hinges to a couple of solar panels. The first thing I discovered was that one of the panels was out of square. Not a lot, but enough to make layout a hassle. Next, I discovered that I had to make space between the panels for the hinge knuckle. The extra 1/4" put the hinge screws close to the back of the panel, but everything fit.

We often camp near the ocean. To avoid corrosion I electrically isolated the stainless steel from the aluminum with flanged spacers and gaskets made from milk jug plastic. I bought 1/4" spacers planning on cutting them down. I was surprised to find the frame walls were double with a space in between so cutting wasn't needed. It took several tries to make gaskets that provided good isolation but things finally worked.

The panel is kept closed for travel with Velcro and I used some left over ridged pink foam for protection if the panel ends up riding in the truck bed.

The total cost for the project was $130 which is close to 1/2 what I paid in 2004. Raz
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Old 04-16-2015, 09:02 AM   #2
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Nice project. In addition to the washers - good recycling of stuff - are you sleeving the screws? When the solar is down half again from today's prices, I am buying!
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Old 04-16-2015, 10:46 AM   #3
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Nice work Raz. Considering a new solar purchase myself due to the reduced sizes and increased wattage of late. Much easier to stow away the newer smaller ones.
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Old 04-16-2015, 12:18 PM   #4
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We were able to stick two 20 watt panels on the pop top on our CompactII. They are light enough to manage and so far perfectly adequate for our needs and charging up to 6 iPhones a day!


Sent from my iPhone using Fiberglass RV
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Old 04-16-2015, 01:57 PM   #5
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Quote:
. ...........are you sleeving the screws?
Yes. I used flanged spacers. The hinge is electrically isolated from the frame. The same is true for the wire wrap posts. Raz

p.s. Wow, that's big
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Old 04-21-2015, 11:15 AM   #6
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Very nice. Here is the portable solar kit I built a few months ago. It cost me about $400. My panels are heavy, meant for roof installation I think. My controller (in the tongue box) came with a remote readout kept inside the trailer. 30 ft of 10 gauge wire and two 50 watt panels.
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Old 04-21-2015, 11:33 AM   #7
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How are the panels joined?
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Old 04-21-2015, 11:43 AM   #8
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Two hinges about same size as yours.
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Old 04-21-2015, 12:45 PM   #9
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Galvanic Action

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Originally Posted by Myron Leski View Post
Two hinges about same size as yours.
I am looking at building a suitcase solar system . I was told to electrically isolate the hinges / metal to metal connections. According to what I've read brass and aluminum should not be in direct contact . Since brass hinges are readily available ,they were my first choice .Myron did you electrically isolate your hinges? or has corrosion not been an issue?
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Old 04-21-2015, 01:12 PM   #10
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I plan to use aluminum hinges for mine:
Aluminum Hinge 2 ft Piano Hinge 2" x 24" Boat or RV Hinge | eBay

Stainless self taping screws as well.

While brass and aluminum may not be recommended to use together. I have outdoor stairs that I put an aluminum bullnose on with brass screws. Four years later I see no signs of corrosion on either the screws or bullnose.
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Old 04-21-2015, 01:25 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steve dunham View Post
I am looking at building a suitcase solar system . I was told to electrically isolate the hinges / metal to metal connections. According to what I've read brass and aluminum should not be in direct contact . Since brass hinges are readily available ,they were my first choice .Myron did you electrically isolate your hinges? or has corrosion not been an issue?


I have not had any corrosion. For me that issue is totally new and sounds ridiculous... like anal over engineering.
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Old 04-21-2015, 01:52 PM   #12
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ANAL

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I have not had any corrosion. For me that issue is totally new and sounds ridiculous... like anal over engineering.
Thanks for yor response and the compliment .
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Old 04-21-2015, 02:12 PM   #13
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Galvanic corrosion (which basically is making a battery) requires an electrolyte. Salt water is all it takes. We camp in the Outer Banks. Go to the hardware store there and you can't buy plated steel hardware. I asked why and was told it only lasts 6 months. Aluminum and stainless are close enough on the galvanic index to be reactive, so I chose to isolate. The aluminum, in this case the frame, would be what would corrode. Aluminum hinges are another solution if you can find aluminum hardware or isolate. Plastic hardware is another choice. If you don't live or camp near the coast it's probably not an issue. Raz
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Old 04-21-2015, 02:18 PM   #14
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This is a good site. There is a professional engineer here named Ted Mooney who is very knowledgeable. Raz

Dissimilar metal aluminum/304 stainless galvanic corrosion


The February 19, 2008 entry gives a good explanation.
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