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monkeyboy 05-04-2009 09:08 AM

mounting solar panels to thule rack?
My sprinter is in SMBW production and will have prewire to the roof and another to the rear quadrant. I have yet to purchase any panels (still researching).

Using the roof rack system (bars et al) to mount the panels would seem to provide more flexibility and portability and ventilation to the panels albeit at a higher cost then just mounting directly to the roof. I am suspecting their may be some other downfalls but can't quite visualize them...

Wondering if anyone has tried/done this and what input they can provide?

thanks in advance!

daveb 05-04-2009 01:59 PM

Re: mounting solar panels to thule rack?
You might want to read Broncohaulers post about how he did his. He had some problems with flexing. You don't want any type of harmonic type vibrations due to wind. Mine are glued down per manufactures recommendations but if I were to have it done way. I would shoot for a rigid rack that is solidly mounted, won't flex or vibrate, and can be removed for service if necessary. Just my view.

Ford_6L_E350 05-04-2009 02:14 PM

Re: mounting solar panels to thule rack?
I have a 130W Kyocera panel and it has a rigid, 1" extruded aluminum frame. I mounted it up 1" above the top, and no problems. I'm still impressed with the amount of current I get under less than ideal conditions.

You should be able to mount a panel like ours to the Thule tracks.


monkeyboy 05-04-2009 02:40 PM

Re: mounting solar panels to thule rack?
Thanks guys.

I did find broncohaulers post after I posted... but I am really interested in mounting off the actual rack bars (if possible) not going into the tracks as it sounds like he did. Perhaps sticking a fairing on the front bar would help reduce the wind "rattling" the panels mounted to the bars?

At first I was leaning toward the marine panels because of the "durability" they are supposed to provide but now I am concerned they are too flexible... not to mention they are more expensive. i hear nothing but good things about the kyoceras. And if they are more rigid, they would be better for the install method I have in my mind (especially based on what bronco has been thru)...

Jeffrey 05-04-2009 04:28 PM

Re: mounting solar panels to thule rack?
See page 2 of my album:


They are not really on the roof, just a bit above.

Roubo 05-05-2009 02:16 AM

Re: mounting solar panels to thule rack?
SMB West installed my panels on a Thule Rack. The only modification was to cut back the cross-members so they didn't stick out the sides so much.

monkeyboy 05-05-2009 08:35 AM

Re: mounting solar panels to thule rack?
Thanks Roubo! That's pretty much exactly what I want to do. How are the panels attached to the bars? Can you easily remove them?

Greg In Austin 05-05-2009 08:00 PM

Re: mounting solar panels to thule rack?

SMB TX did a great job creating some custom mmounting hardware for mounting our panels directly to Yakima racks...... I like it being lower profile, but also fewer connections involved.

Roubo 05-05-2009 11:33 PM

Re: mounting solar panels to thule rack?

In my case, we won't be using the rack for anything else, so the panels are bolted to the rack. However, the rack itself can be taken off quite easily by just unscrewing the attachment knobs that hold the rack to the mounting brackets blted to the top. I had SMB put a weatherproof quick connect on the wiring to the van so that the system can come off easily.

However, it's fairly heavy and bulky for one person to get on and off when balanced on a ladder, so give that some thought.

coyotearms 05-02-2010 01:58 PM

Re: mounting solar panels to thule rack?
Hi monkeyboy, I am planning yeo Kyocera KD135GX-LPU panels (59.1" x 26.3") mounted with long dimension fore/aft and the 12-13" roof fan between them on Thule load bars. How did your install of solar end up. Your details could help me with my install. Thanks!

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