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Old 11-27-2011, 06:52 PM   #1
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Portable solar panel mount

OK I got some panels. Now I need some ideas for portable mounts, since these won't be mounted on the roof (sometimes I may place them there, but not always).

I could just lean them up against something, etc. but as soon as someone trips over the wire I'm out some $$. I just want a frame to hold them semi-securely and to get them an inch or so off the roof when I leave them up there. A big old pole mount that would fit in the front or rear receiver would be cool, but I want something far simpler. And lighter. The 3 panels I have are each roughly 36x12x1.

I seem to recall reading years ago about someone who had some made a square frame and each panel had hinges on one end so the panel could be tilted up, and then legs extended down to the frame. Think like a typical aluminum backyard lounger backrest.

thanks,
Rob
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Old 11-29-2011, 06:28 PM   #2
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Re: Portable solar panel mount

Rob, Orchard Supply has that aluminum sheets and stock of all sizes and shapes that's easy to work with. Maybe use some take apart hinges so they can be separated and/or folded if needed for storage. Lexan could be used but it's expensiveand harder to work with. OSH also has all kinds of rubber bumpers or felt to keep it from scratching paint.

Good luck

Dave B.
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Old 11-29-2011, 10:28 PM   #3
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Re: Portable solar panel mount

Thanks Dave. I got some long aluminum clamps (48") from Harbor Freight I can hack to make some stands that will set off the ground kind of like an easel. With some aluminum channel and a couple of hinges, as you suggest, it would make a nice fold up rig.

Some of the other ideas I've heard of are definitely interesting. Suggestions include using an articulated TV wall mount mounted to my grill guard (probably need to add a swivel) or a pan/tilt head for an outdoor security camera. Don't know if I'll get that ambitious, but we'll see.

Thanks for the suggestions. If I can weld the aluminum I could make a frame that would fit on all kinds of things, and I could just slide panels in.

Rob
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Old 11-30-2011, 10:44 AM   #4
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Re: Portable solar panel mount

You could also use PVC to rig something up. Inexpensive, easy to work with, lightweight.
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Old 11-30-2011, 02:18 PM   #5
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Re: Portable solar panel mount

Quote:
Originally Posted by sdwindansea
You could also use PVC to rig something up. Inexpensive, easy to work with, lightweight.
Any ideas? I'm finding it hard to visualize. I have seen tubular frames with PVC legs but the panels were fixed to the frame. A key feature for me is having a frame or structure where the panels are not permanently attached so I could store them more easily.

thanks
Rob
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Old 11-30-2011, 02:33 PM   #6
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Re: Portable solar panel mount

Is your van pre-wired for solar? If not, how are you gonna plug the panels into the electric system? What charge controller?

Also, what kind of panels did you get?

About a month ago, Costco had the GoalZero panels on sale- I got 3 of the 15 watts panels- not sure if that's quite enough, and haven't yet figured out the wiring/connections. (the good thing is that, being Costco, I can return them if I decide that it's not a workable or beneficial solution).

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Old 11-30-2011, 02:44 PM   #7
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Re: Portable solar panel mount

No, not pre-wired. Probably going to run a pigtail off near the house batteries so it can work with my Link meter, but I may just use it direct into the nearest DC outlet. That sort of defeats some of the battery charging goodies of the controller (if I'm running other stuff at the time it may interfere with it's ability to sense the state of the battery, or so I assume), so I'll probably get around to attaching to the battery, or at least close enough. I've got some power pole connectors I want to wire into there for future use if I get around to it. I'd probably just run it out the bottom and to the passenger side near the grey water tank.

I'm leaning toward the Morningstar Sunguard. Cheap, small and apparently reliable.

Rob
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