Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 10-13-2014, 01:37 AM   #1
Senior Member
 
E350's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Sacramento Delta, CA
Posts: 1,003
How do you Mount your Solar Panels?

I'll go first. Please post yours. Feel free to make suggestions.

I would like to modify my mounting by adding a long piano hinge (or possibly one stainless hinge per block) on one side so as to be able to lift the other side to angle the panels toward the sun and to shed snow and to get more air underneath the panels during the Summer.

The photos below show what I did in 2005 to mount my four BP 380J 85w polycrystaline solar panels, adhere 60" Thule Track (I did two end to end on each side) to van top with UV6800 adhesive* and also use for sealing holes for 5mm x 2" stainless steel phillips cap screws every foot. Thule finger nuts on inside. Not one leak in rain or snow or washing the van in 9 years. Inside, put flat webbing under the finger nut to attach side rail bungee webbing or to hold fishing poles or XC skis and poles to ceiling. I did not use a rack foot, or cross-bar, or a rack of any sort. Instead I mounted my panels directly to the Tracks, although I made some 1/2" aluminum spacers to get some air (not enough IMO) under the panels. Panels are bolted to 2" aluminum "T" (actually an upside down "T" in this case) and angle-cut ends of "T" are bolted to the little "A" plates which slide in the Thule Tracks. This should allow me to mount a Thule fairing in front of the panels to deflect wind over the panels while driving.

http://www.amazon.com/Thule-Track-Mount ... ule+tracks

I would like to add one more panel. Actually I would like to replace my panels with monocrystaline panels of the same dimension. Possibly the Grape Solar 100w 12v which are the same dimension -- 47.0 x 21.1 x 1.57, (although a 24 volt panel would be intriguing).

http://www.grapesolar.com/specs-100w-mo ... fab36.html

As I have mentioned before, my approach is to: Design, drink (vary between coffee and beer), look at your van roof, look at the inside ceiling of your van roof, drink more, re-design, buy parts (save receipts), do mock up, then drink more, then measure, make pencil lines (there is something about a sharp pointed #2 pencil), check your lines, get out your drill, then check your lines one more time and drill.

* UV6800 adhesive is the exterior version of E6000 which is the duct tape of adhesives. It is phenomenal.

http://www.eclecticproducts.com/uv6800_retail.htm
__________________

__________________
2002 E350 ext.; 160K; 7.3L; 4R100 (w/4x4 deep pan & filter); 4x4 conv. w/2007 F250/F350 coil frnt axle (oppos. dual Bilstein press. shocks cured DW) diff chg from 3.55 to 3.73 (bad!); BW1356 t.c. (bad!); LT265/70R17/E Michelin LTX M/S2; Engel MT60 Combi Fridge-Freezer; 4 BP 380J pv panels; Auragen 5kw AC gen. in top alt. position; Webasto Dual-Top; Voyager top. 1995 5.8L EB Bronco, bone stock.
E350 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-13-2014, 02:11 AM   #2
Senior Member
 
E350's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Sacramento Delta, CA
Posts: 1,003
Re: How do you Mount your Solar Panels?

Here are some photos. I would like to move my Fantastic roof vent aftward so it will be over a portable circular shower curtain (with 2" pan cutout in floor or a 1" raised plywood floor with a 2' removable section under which is a shower pan?) which would allow me to add one more panel forward of the vent and a low Thule fairing in front of that.

The third photo shows the: Thule Track, 9-year old UV6800 Adhesive, 1/2" spacer, 2" "T," "T" to Track mounting bolt, panel ground, 1 1/4" schedule 80 pvc male adapter through roof under panel as chase for pv conductor wires. Note: The Thule Tracks were black when I installed them. I wonder if the panel ground or if the sun's uv rays stripped off the anodized black paint?
Attached Thumbnails
DSC00931 lq.jpg   DSC00941 lq.jpg   DSC00939 lq.jpg  
__________________

__________________
2002 E350 ext.; 160K; 7.3L; 4R100 (w/4x4 deep pan & filter); 4x4 conv. w/2007 F250/F350 coil frnt axle (oppos. dual Bilstein press. shocks cured DW) diff chg from 3.55 to 3.73 (bad!); BW1356 t.c. (bad!); LT265/70R17/E Michelin LTX M/S2; Engel MT60 Combi Fridge-Freezer; 4 BP 380J pv panels; Auragen 5kw AC gen. in top alt. position; Webasto Dual-Top; Voyager top. 1995 5.8L EB Bronco, bone stock.
E350 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-13-2014, 02:17 AM   #3
Senior Member
 
E350's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Sacramento Delta, CA
Posts: 1,003
Re: How do you Mount your Solar Panels?

More photos...
Attached Thumbnails
DSC00950 lq.jpg   DSC00959 lq.jpg  
__________________
2002 E350 ext.; 160K; 7.3L; 4R100 (w/4x4 deep pan & filter); 4x4 conv. w/2007 F250/F350 coil frnt axle (oppos. dual Bilstein press. shocks cured DW) diff chg from 3.55 to 3.73 (bad!); BW1356 t.c. (bad!); LT265/70R17/E Michelin LTX M/S2; Engel MT60 Combi Fridge-Freezer; 4 BP 380J pv panels; Auragen 5kw AC gen. in top alt. position; Webasto Dual-Top; Voyager top. 1995 5.8L EB Bronco, bone stock.
E350 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-13-2014, 09:48 AM   #4
Senior Member
 
boywonder's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: So Cal
Posts: 3,017
Re: How do you Mount your Solar Panels?

Quote:
Originally Posted by E350

As I have mentioned before, my approach is to: Design, drink (vary between coffee and beer), look at your van roof, look at the inside ceiling of your van roof, drink more, re-design, buy parts (save receipts), do mock up, then drink more, then measure, make pencil lines (there is something about a sharp pointed #2 pencil), check your lines, get out your drill, then check your lines one more time and drill.
That's exactly the same "development" process that I use......

This thread has changed my plan for mounting my panel..........I'm now planning on mounting it to the track directly as you have done, except using AL channel instead of blocks. Great idea!

I was going to "hang" the panel under my yakima crossbars, but that idea had a few issues.

It may be a few weeks, but I'll post a few pics when I'm done.
__________________
2008 E350 RB passenger 4WD SMB penthouse
2013 KTM 350 EXC
2008 KTM 250 XCF-W
2000 KTM 200 EXC
2003 Honda Element
boywonder is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-13-2014, 11:11 AM   #5
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: East Bay CA
Posts: 1,059
Re: How do you Mount your Solar Panels?

I don't like panels on the van. For one thing, I often have to park in shade, yet I want the panel in the sun. So here's what I do:

__________________
2001 Ford E250 Sportsmobile with Salem-Kroger 4x4 conversion
rob_gendreau is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-13-2014, 12:04 PM   #6
Senior Member
 
sbgrimm's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Durango, CO formerly Seattle
Posts: 136
Re: How do you Mount your Solar Panels?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rob_gendreau
I don't like panels on the van. For one thing, I often have to park in shade, yet I want the panel in the sun.
That is the dilemma. We're about to spring for solar and have kicked around this issue. At the moment, I'm leaning towards roof mount for convenience, plus I don't know where in the van I'd put a loose panel. Where do you store yours, Rob?

I hate to put holes in a perfectly good roof, not looking forward to that...
__________________
Bardo
--------------------
2005 RB-50 5.4L V8 E250 "Blanca"
sbgrimm is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-13-2014, 02:13 PM   #7
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Las vegas
Posts: 280
Re: How do you Mount your Solar Panels?

how much good does it do to have tiltable panels that track the sun? what's the difference in wattage between flat mounted and tilted?
__________________
"What'$ that funny noi$e?
Vegasrandall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-13-2014, 02:48 PM   #8
Senior Member
 
E350's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Sacramento Delta, CA
Posts: 1,003
Re: How do you Mount your Solar Panels?

Randall: The reason I want to have the ability to tilt my panels is to cool them in the Summer because heat reduces panel output voltage, and yes to angle them to the sun. But they won't track the sun. I suggest researching and then experimenting. Read here before buying:

http://forum.solar-electric.com/forumdi ... ry-Systems

I have also found the Kid subforum on this site helpful:

http://midniteforum.com/

There are a lot of helpful and more knowledgeable people on this SMB website who hopefully will be along to help too.
__________________
2002 E350 ext.; 160K; 7.3L; 4R100 (w/4x4 deep pan & filter); 4x4 conv. w/2007 F250/F350 coil frnt axle (oppos. dual Bilstein press. shocks cured DW) diff chg from 3.55 to 3.73 (bad!); BW1356 t.c. (bad!); LT265/70R17/E Michelin LTX M/S2; Engel MT60 Combi Fridge-Freezer; 4 BP 380J pv panels; Auragen 5kw AC gen. in top alt. position; Webasto Dual-Top; Voyager top. 1995 5.8L EB Bronco, bone stock.
E350 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-13-2014, 04:15 PM   #9
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 8
Re: How do you Mount your Solar Panels?

Rob, I had exactly the same thought regarding fixed vs portable. I had my Sportsmobile pre-wired with a controller and an input on the side of the van. I bought two Renogy 100W panels ($135 apiece from the Renogy website... on sale). I put a piano hinge on one side and clips and a handle on the other so it will fold up and store. It's a bit on the heavy side, but under 40 lbs. I have Thule bars on top that I can set it on or position it at ground level. I have a '50' layout and it stores perfectly behind the bed in front of the rear doors. the 200W output matches my 12v usage almost exactly.

jim
Northfielder is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-13-2014, 05:43 PM   #10
Site Team
 
daveb's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Turlock Ca
Posts: 9,838
Garage
Re: How do you Mount your Solar Panels?

My 2-135's are on a custom Aluminess rack. No tilt for a few reasons, 1) I'm lazy, 2) I might drive off with them up, & 3) I've never had a problem with heat stopping the batteries getting back to full charge.
Not saying that being able to tilt your panels is a poor move... I just feel it's not for me. I do think it can help if you have on and off sun. That also applies to putting up as much solar as you can fit on the roof. Again, I just haven't had that situation happen enough to warrant anything different than what I have now and would rather haul a small generator that can work in total OC skies.

With a small panel, being able to point it directly at the sun does help but I have enough on the roof that even in partial shade I usually can be fully charged by 9AM. If I'm in heavy cover I have a flat Solara panel to help if needed. I've never needed to use it.

To tell the truth, after my Solara panels went bad I just went with what SMB suggested. I started with one 135 panel and ordered a second shortly after. My daytime loads are usually pretty light unless I'm in cold overcast weather when I'm stuck inside running the heater and using video, a computer or similar. In those heavy overcast situations I've found solar fairly useless anyway and a noisy generator might be a better solution. I've yet to haul one of those either and really like to keep things as simple as possible when setting up and tearing down camp.
__________________

__________________
2006 Ford 6.0PSD EB-50/E-PH SMB 4X4 Rock Crawler Trailer

Sportsmobile 4X4 Adventures..........On and off road adventures
daveb is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

» Sportsmobile Registry

Rosy

Isever

Blue Buffalo

BigBrap
Add your Sportsmobile
Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3
Disclaimer:

This website is not affiliated with or endorsed by Sportsmobile SIP or any of its affiliates. This is an independent, unofficial site.


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 05:17 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
×