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Old 06-07-2011, 07:49 AM   #1
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Solar Panel Install

This is a Kyocera 185w installed on my Ford Sportsmobile PH. The goal was not to put any new holes in the top, and this panel, although only available option in stock is a great fit physically.

Start by buying $400 of aluminum and brackets. Later return about $360 of it to the chagrin of your local hardware store.



I had help moving the solar panel to the roof, but not after, so my install is done by shifting the solar panel around- it might be easier to do some of this on the ground before moving the panel.



I started by using a board and placing it under the top marked the holes from side to side. Not shown is clamping and rubbing pencil lead shavings into the wood to mark the holes.



The nubs were again test fitted to the solar panel.




Since this measure is fixed for both ends (unlike the PH top hardware the solar panel is exact in placment) I cut and drilled both tubes at once.




To give you an idea, here is my work platform. It's a lot easier to be able to walk back and forth for 8' on one side. Opposite was a ladder that was moved from the front to the back of the panel to work on that side.





Once the holes were marked I added a screw "nub" to check my work.

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Old 06-07-2011, 07:55 AM   #2
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Re: Solar Panel Install

Lookin' good! Does it all work to your satisfaction?
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Old 06-07-2011, 07:55 AM   #3
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Re: Solar Panel Install

Figuring out which brackets to use.



Mark and cut them them, clean up the edges on a grinder.




Next is taking apart the roof. Here is where help really would come in handy.



My "helping hand"- there is really no better way to hold these bolts even with an assistant.



Longer bolts were needed, luckily I have experience in this area. They slide right out and back in if care is used. Only do one at a time and don't move the top from the down position.



The front row all set up. The normal bolt is to facilitate solo tightening, and the single washer above the bracket was replaced with 3 of the same, as the threads bottomed out before being tight.



Fitting check.





This let me know the back panel needed it's tube forward of the brackets.



Which was then fit and marked in place- the studs had to be dremmeled off to fit the tube.


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Old 06-07-2011, 07:56 AM   #4
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Re: Solar Panel Install

Originally I wasn't going to do side pieces, but even though the solar panel is frames I realized that was probably more for a home, and while it seemed solid, humping at 75 mph, or offroading might pose different challenged.

So with the end pieces attached I took some aluminum L bracket and notched out the ends, then marked the existing holes in the left and right side pieces so they would bolt into the square tube as planned.



They're both in the vice for drilling, however not meant to be aligned- just holding two at once is less vice work and less switching drill bits. The ends are actually notched below the holes, so the L is removed and the two tabs sit over the square stock. There are two problems.*

With the L stoc holes matching the square tube already attached to the roof, I needed impressions for additional holes.

I started by cutting a 1x2 to length and then borrowed some of the full roll of butyl mastic I had to buy to get the 6" strip needed for the porta potti repair. Once attached the mastic was covered with saran wrap to keep everything clean and attached with tape. There are no holes in the middle so no need to imprint there, and the original mastic backing is protecting it from sticking to the wood.





After translating the impressions to vertical lines with a small square ruler, I used it to mark the additional large holes I planned to use to provide a total of 4 on each side.





This is where I ran into the first problem: (*)



I knew the roof hardware wasn't square, but forgot when marking the end holes based on the sitting location of the square stock. My passenger rail (right side of image) doesn't line up with the existing solar panel hole (triple line- edges and center).

To correct this I marked the correct center based on the wood measuring stick and redrilled the hole using a piece of aluminum to guide the drillbit as the holes were intended to cross one another.



Those with a sharp eye might notice that once my hole was covered my first redrill accidentally assumed the wrong line as the center marked earlier. I should have been one to the left, and should have double checked after my pilot hole.



Oops, a 3rd drilling in the correct place solved that problem.
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Old 06-07-2011, 07:57 AM   #5
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Re: Solar Panel Install

The side bracket holes were drilled large like the solar panel, and the square tube to match the bolts. In this manner I have some play to align the solar panel with the existing brackets, things being imperfect as they are.



With holes drilled I put the sides on and worked the solar panel into place. At this stage I was using 4x4 scraps to float the panel. Another design flaw arose, the fact that I couldn't get a wrench into the square tube- so the existing holes had to be drilled through the other side and longer bolts selected.




Don't forget the scrap wood when drilling towards the roof at any distance the drillbit could be pulled through. This was also an opportunity to redrill the "4th" corner to match the multi hole fix in the side piece and therefore also the actual solar panel.

With the bolts set to go through so they could be tightened below the square stock, I put the panel in place. Looks phenomenal, can you guess what was wrong that I had to change the whole thing?



That's right, I'd effectively managed to block all access to the bolt heads. Without and amazing solution to retain them, and not being able to access the nuts in the middle anyway, I had to flip the L stock over. Which meant my notches I'd removed to make tabs at the end were superfluous. This was the second problem (*) with the side stock as mentioned above.

Still I didn't have extra L aluminum, having returned all the extra purchases earlier, and wasn't in the mood to redo things anyway, so I simply flipped them.




Now with clearance on the side and nuts accessible below the square stock and flat on the L bracket, all I had to do was tighten things.



After several attempts with my fingers and loose wrenches I collected quite the "Hall of Shame" of tools before finding a solution that allowed me control and ease when tightening- which was nice because I was only shooting for "Possible".

Version 1:


Version 2:


Version 3:


Version 4:


Version 5: Finally a success!


Version 5 is going in my SMB tools, less the wrench which can be added.
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Old 06-07-2011, 07:57 AM   #6
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Re: Solar Panel Install

After tightening everything I added UHA Tape left over from my PH edge fix, this is only to make the edges not sharp, which is important when you park in a soft structure where the rolled door just almost hits the top.



This is all installed and tightened, only electrical left.



Electrical! Of course, I forgot about the electrical. I didn't have a choice on connections, since my purchase was based on in stock items, and up until now I'd considered only the framing and attachment. I can hardly run the wires down one of the bolt holes- it would cause more problems than it would solve.

Running the wires is going to be a whole other set of posts, however I've got other problems as a side effect of this install at the moment:
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Old 06-07-2011, 09:48 AM   #7
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Re: Solar Panel Install

Looking good!

Locknuts and /or jamnuts is a good idea. And mounting the panel up in the air helps reduce heat under the panel.

What kind of current output do you get in Moab sun?

Mike
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Old 06-07-2011, 11:27 PM   #8
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Re: Solar Panel Install

Start with a job box and connection board from Radio Shack. I just know there are going to be holes.




Stole the screws from a second job box since there are only 4 included for the lid.

Next I tied the connectors from the solar panel to the frame with zips, leaving a loop of each to disconnect. After this I disconnected the positive so I wouldn't be working with live wire.


Inside behind the camera and 3rd brake light. This varies highly.


Oh dear...


Fit and drill,


Aftermath... holes.


Add two holes on the side and a tiny one in the lower corner for internal water evacuation.


Move the the inside and remove trim. The bundle is one of my excessively long video camera feeds.


I removed 4 screws inside starting with the first one out of the corner, which gave me a gap without disloging the canvas.


The current wires go down the passenger side. At the time I didn't have enough wire, so I elected to work on the driver's side. This is the passenger side existing bundle.


The hole was 1/2" I think, basically my smallest wood bit (shallow cut) which I used by pulling the panel away and slowly drilled. From this side I ran the wires out, over the canvas and through the holes in the roof.


Complete with trim. I would have liked to be closer to the corner, but I didn't want to mess with the mass of screws over there, and with this compromise was able to work easily without dislodging the canvas.


From there it went over the closet and behind the shelf, down into the wall where my controller and prewire are. The switch disables the battery readout on the panel.


Trim and attach the pulled wires- I put them on top of the prewire, which is a plug under my ladder.


Panels back together, reading output.



(you remember I disconnected the positive lead, right?)
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Old 06-07-2011, 11:27 PM   #9
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Re: Solar Panel Install

Back outside I used windshield black silicone on the wires


Then just a tiny bit more to ensure no water enters the top:


Installe the box and wires from the solar panel, and goo those up too.


Once that's set (I left it for a few hours) I stripped and attached the wires to the plate.


Twisting 10 gauge wires and a connection plate in such a small box turned into electrical Yoga.


Then it was just add the cover- I skipped the good partially because two hours earlier the tube blew up while putting it on the actual windshield.


Then I banded and pushed the loom up to protect the wires on the roof, adding electrical tape as I went.


This is the final install, with the exception of trimming that large zip tie.



And with connecting the positive back,


Power!

So that's it, Solar is done.
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Old 06-08-2011, 07:48 AM   #10
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Re: Solar Panel Install

Looks like it is time to add onboard air so you can air down and back up to get in the ShelterLogic Have fun on your trip
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