Solar: Looking for best way to install Solar Panel to camper

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Solar: Looking for best way to install Solar Panel to camper

Postby immped64 » Fri Jul 12, 2019 7:01 pm

This week I received all the parts for my solar project.

I am wanting to install the solar panel to my camper here are the parameters I am wanting to achieve.
1) I wish to install this to my Yakima roof rack.
2) I want to be able to tilt the panel.
3) I wish to be able to fairly easily remove the panel.

Thinking this through has been as much of a challenge as with mounting the charge controller. I will show you the top of my teardrop camper.

158748

My intention is to install this with the longest part of the solar panel along the Yakima cross member. I am thinking that this would be the easiest direction to tilt. It would be nice if I could just use the round rail itself as the pivot. Pivoting from the front rail would allow me to fully open my roof vent.

In today's shopping quest I recognized several possibilities yet I really haven't arrived at a solid conclusion of how things could properly come together. I have viewed many youtube's but nothing is really specific to this application.

My early thoughts have been that I would want to 1st mount angle iron to the sides of the panel. This would give a flat bootable surface of which something like a U Bolt could clamp to the Yakima cross members. Conceptually I am thinking that this could work, but I am questioning just how well it would work as a pivot or stationary clamp for all 4 of the clamp locations.

I have looked at numerous items that might be helpful if assembled correctly such as Corner Braces, Eye Bolts, Gate Pintles, Pipe Gate Hinges, etc... I think the connections at all 4 corners should some way be affixed in a non permanent way to the Yakima cross braces. 2 corners would be rigidly clamped and 2 would allow rotation.

The Youtube's I have seen take different approaches. 1 good idea was having a length wise rod which was the pivot and the other end clamped to a vertical edge of the rack.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Skfy0jSoerU It wasn't installed on round cross members as mine will eventually be. I like the simplicity of being able to pivot, be clamped for going down the road and the ease of removal.

Has anyone tried or seen a good method of Solar Panel install on a roof rack?
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Re: Solar: Looking for best way to install Solar Panel to ca

Postby tony.latham » Fri Jul 12, 2019 7:10 pm

This may get you thinking about the tilt"



Skip over to about 1:38.

T
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Re: Solar: Looking for best way to install Solar Panel to ca

Postby GTS225 » Fri Jul 12, 2019 8:20 pm

What's the diameter of the cross tubes? I have something in mind for you, but dimensions are important.

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Re: Solar: Looking for best way to install Solar Panel to ca

Postby immped64 » Sat Jul 13, 2019 9:00 am

Tony: That is a very good example of how simple to make and easy to use something like this could be.

Last evening I spent hours going through every product listed on Yakima's website. I wanted to find something that wrapped around the Yakima cross member and had a way of threading into the solar panel (most likely indirectly into a bracket sticking out of the solar panel). Perhaps similar to your attached Youtube. There would be differences of course in direction and perhaps the way it pivots. I ended up being confused on their website. Yakima had a number of what appeared to be the exact same application but each one said that it was for a different type setup. The other issue that I'm seeing is that this would be rigidly clamped to the cross member, not allowing for a pivot. I could conceivably make the pivot apart from the cross member, but the issue is that the clamping direction is perpendicular to the pivot direction.

There certainly has to be an easy way of doing this. There was one forum poster from another site that mounted their panel rigidly to the Yakima roof rack. http://www.wanderthewest.com/forum/topi ... entry43436 The 3rd post down has pictures of how this was clamped using a yakima round bar clamp as well as Yakima lock combined with an L bracket. This would of course not fit for my application, and it doesn't hinge. It is however all removable.

GTS225: I am very curious whether your idea might work. Although not easy to measure I am fairly certain that the round bar diameter is 1.125.

Thanks for the ideas!
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Re: Solar: Looking for best way to install Solar Panel to ca

Postby GTS225 » Sat Jul 13, 2019 11:51 am

I was afraid of that. What I was thinking is that you might be able to use some of the rather nice hardware that's available for boat bimini tops. Nicely polished stainless steel, but they're for 7/8" and 1" tubing. Sorry it got shot down.

Roger
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Re: Solar: Looking for best way to install Solar Panel to ca

Postby immped64 » Sat Jul 13, 2019 5:05 pm

Roger:

I think I see where you are going. That is quite an intriguing idea.

I had one of those Bimini tops prior to owning my little guy trailer. In fact I traded in my boat for my teardrop trailer. :)

The Bimini top started from the full down position, raised up very easily and clipped to it's up position. That would be an excellent way to raise a panel if it was conceivable.

Thanks for the idea!

There has to be a hardware combination that will bend and twist the right way to achieve what is needed.
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Re: Solar: Looking for best way to install Solar Panel to ca

Postby immped64 » Tue Jul 16, 2019 7:35 pm

After deliberation what I plan on doing initially is use Yakima wrap arounds to allow mounting brackets to hold the panel. This will be similar to below. This will hopefully eliminate the need for a frame around the panel. The downside would be that for now this won’t be hinged. I would like to mount this up instead of down as the below shows. I will tighten the roof rack spread which should allow a tight fit. As long this clears the roof vent with the tighter spacing this should be good. I appreciate the concept that the poster of this picture had.

158815

For now I believe simplicity will rule the day. I may discover a much better way of getting a hinge to my panel down the road. I still will need to purchase some transitioning brackets but this should go together and come apart fairly easy I would assume.

I had an incredible amount of ideas that I looked at including the Bimini idea of which some people have integrated with solar. The problems always seemed to be in contending with transitioning with the roof rack. I thought greatly about U-brackets, but didn't like the thought of loosening 8 bolts to remove the solar panel.

I am not done thinking about this. It will be another beer can to kick down the road. :)
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Re: Solar: Looking for best way to install Solar Panel to ca

Postby immped64 » Sat Jul 20, 2019 12:28 pm

I have somewhat changed my mind again.

I still will be going with Yakima's Snap Arounds to mount to the Yakima roof rack.

158836

Once these are installed to the roof rack bars however I am wanting to try mounting a Renogy Tilt Mount instead of using a flat plate to attach to the Solar Panel.

158835

Initially I wasn't really sold on the above because it didn't appear very easy to place it in a flat position. What I do like is that I don't have to add an extra frame and all of it's mounting complications. There will be 4 L-plates to mount to 4 Yakima Snap arounds. Once it is installed it would be a manner of loosening 4 thumb screws (and disconnect the wiring) to remove it from the roof top.

I am afraid the complication will be in getting the L-plate to bolt properly to the Yakima Snap Arounds.

When the Renogy Tilt Mount arrives I will have to play around with the Snap Around bolt and L-plate to see what needs changed to make the setup work.
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