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Old 06-19-2013, 06:21 PM   #1
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Penthouse-Power or not?

Hello SMB'ers, I am looking for some advise. I have saved saved enough money to finally put a penthouse top on my van. Looking around the forum, it seems to be the consensus that the power roof is the way to go. The extra $1300 seems to be a lot for this option and I am thinking I could spend that money somewhere else.

Could I please hear about the pros and cons to the power top and the manual top? Any help would be appreciated. I am looking to schedule an appoint soon to have it installed.

Thanks, Greg
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Old 06-19-2013, 07:56 PM   #2
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Penthouse-Power or not?

Hey Greg. I recently had a ph top with power installed. What tipped me over to spending the extra was the fact of roof rack weight. Apparently it can get very difficult to raise the top with additional weight on the roof. Also I wanted my wife to be able to raise it up without getting angry

After multiple trips, I think it was the right choice for us.
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Old 06-19-2013, 08:43 PM   #3
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Re: Penthouse-Power or not?

An additional factor to remember is that, while the cost is $1.3K when you're putting a new rig together, it will be more than double that to later retrofit, so you're asking the right question at the right time.

Remember too it's one more system to potentially fail. Don't know what the manual override is when electric PH's fail...

I bought my rig used and it's got a manual PH. When I use our Thule box "on top" for extra gear, it's a bear to raise and lower, Wife d/n enjoy my always having to "be there" to do this,

You'll find some inexpensive manual jacking solutions for raising the PH that some of us employ in another thread somewhere. You should check those out and see if that influences your decision. I use the pickup truck bed "load tensioner" approach when the Thule is loaded -up. Works ok.

A set of Deavers and larger wheels are ahead of this on my list, but I know I wish we had power PH.

Good luck.

Paul
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Old 06-19-2013, 10:31 PM   #4
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Re: Penthouse-Power or not?

I am very glad my rig has the electric penthouse top.

Undo the hooks, press a switch, walk away, the top is up.
Doesn't get much better than that.
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Old 06-19-2013, 10:35 PM   #5
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Re: Penthouse-Power or not?

Take a look at this thread.

http://sportsmobileforum.com/viewtopic. ... 846#p47846
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Old 06-20-2013, 12:02 AM   #6
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Re: Penthouse-Power or not?

I did not get an e-PH it because I didn't realize how hard it would be to raise even a lightly loaded roof. It's a delicately balanced mechanism and even just a 35 lb kayak or a single bicycle can mean a very hard time pushing it up. I now use a load bar with a ratchet mechanism (Lowe's) to raise it and wish I had got the e-PH.
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Old 06-20-2013, 06:54 AM   #7
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Re: Penthouse-Power or not?

We have a manual top and it works fine for our wants and needs. The drawback is as stated, if you want to carry any significant gear up there you would need the powered top or remove gear before raising.
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Old 06-20-2013, 09:56 AM   #8
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Penthouse-Power or not?

I added two solar panels for a total of 55 pounds. Now have to use a cargo bar as a jack to get the PH up about 8" before I can push it manually the rest of the way up.

If you are going to add anything on top of the now or in the future get the electric lift.
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Old 06-20-2013, 11:24 AM   #9
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Re: Penthouse-Power or not?

You can save 30-40 lbs of lift with a manual top if you don't follow the normal top raising procedure and your van seals reasonably well. CLOSE all doors and windows and turn the van dash blower on exterior air and the HIGH blower setting. I used to do that, now I just don't bother. I lift with the top of my head, keep my neck and back straight, and lift with my legs as in a squat press.
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Old 06-20-2013, 11:33 AM   #10
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Re: Penthouse-Power or not?

I opted for the electric PH top for the reasons already mentioned above. I would've opted for the manual if I could later retro the electric for ~$1300. But as others have mentioned it doesn't work that way .. a retro is I think twice that cost so I bit the bullet and did the electric.

The other consideration for me was future resale .. not necessarily in value but in ease of selling as most people want the electric.

Hope this helps™,
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