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

Postby immped64 » Sun Sep 15, 2019 3:45 pm

At last I have my solar panel mounted to the top of my Little Guy trailer.

The install went pretty smoothly with the Yakima Snap arounds paired with the mounting brackets from the Renogy Tilt Mounts. This feels snug but the real test will be in moving down the road.

I am at a mini dilemma now. As you can see in the attached pictures I have my solar wire free at the moment.

159401

159402

My original plan was to leave the MC4 connectors free underneath my solar panel while attaching the solar cable to the trailer roof curvature with Eterna Bond. The cleanest path for my wires has the MC4 connectors sitting outside of the Yakima rack and the wires will be fairly snug to the outside edge of the trailer. The problem with this is that the MC4 connectors are not protected from the weather in their present position. I really don't want to cover them up with Eterna Bond as I would like the option to detach the solar panel from my trailer should I decide on carrying a canoe.

I guess my only question is whether leaving the MC4 adapters (and the inline fuse) exposed would be asking for trouble?

The alternative would be to cable tie the connectors somehow underneath the solar panel.

Whichever the case I would like to cover up the majority of the exposed solar cable with some white Eterna Bond. Directly below this I will route the cable in to the tongue frame with PVC pipe.
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Re: Solar: Looking for best way to install Solar Panel to ca

Postby featherliteCT1 » Sun Sep 15, 2019 5:34 pm

I installed my MC4 connectors and fuses under the panels to protect the connectors from the sun and elements using these self adhesive clips together with zip ties. They worked well for me. Below are the clips I used.

https://www.amazon.com/Darller-Adhesive ... B071WW8P83

I made sure that I prepped the surface good with alcohol and used a heat gun to preheat the surface to make ensure good adhesion (a hair dryer would also work well).

There are lot of different alternative clip styles shown here below.

https://www.google.com/search?q=amazon+ ... 3rz0m-df2M:

Eterna bond tape would secure the wires well but then it would be a pain to reroute the wires. Maybe some of the other clips shown would work.
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Re: Solar: Looking for best way to install Solar Panel to ca

Postby immped64 » Mon Sep 16, 2019 8:24 am

Featherlite: Good ideas to consider. I might check to see if anyone locally carries the adhesive mounts.

I was thinking of Eterna Bond for concealment purposes, yet I really didn't know how well this might work.

In looking at the reviews for the adhesive mount that you used it appears that it isn't rated for external use. If this was hidden away inside of the solar panel edges perhaps it wouldn't need to with stand a lot of abuse. On the other hand it would seem that adhesive mounts for the exposed solar cable would require an external rated adhesive.

I'm still not decided one way or another but these ideas are definitely worth considering.
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Re: Solar: Looking for best way to install Solar Panel to ca

Postby featherliteCT1 » Mon Sep 16, 2019 4:14 pm

"the adhesive mount that you used it appears that it isn't rated for external use."

Good point about the adhesive tabs not being weather resistant. Amsolar.com recommends to “bury the assembly in Dicor sealant to protect it from the elements.”
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Re: Solar: Looking for best way to install Solar Panel to ca

Postby immped64 » Mon Sep 16, 2019 5:43 pm

I thought that I posted a reply earlier but it didn't seem to take.

In your case it does seem to work as it isn't sealed exposed to the elements. Additionally by adding a sealant it would indeed be weatherproof.

I did find 1 inch squares for twisty ties locally. I didn't have luck even after removing the adhesive and replacing it with double sided tape rated to 50 pounds. The issue is that it just won't stick to the solar panel.

I've read up on this a little more. I purchased 3M VHB tape on Amazon. I am thinking that this would have to stick.

In the interim I am going to try adjusting my method to see whether I just need to apply this different. I will try applying the 1 inch squares without loading the solar cable to see if this will set up properly. I will give it at least a day to set up. If it doesn't I will just go ahead and use the 3M tape.

I like this idea; it may take a little extra effort to get the best results.
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Re: Solar: Looking for best way to install Solar Panel to ca

Postby featherliteCT1 » Mon Sep 16, 2019 6:32 pm

“The issue is that it just won't stick to the solar panel”

HMMMM, I wonder why?

I presume you prepped the surface with alcohol and preheated both the panel surface and the clip.

The square adhesive tabs I used adhered nicely to Dupont automotive type paint on the roof of my camper shell and to the undersides of my panels.

I also used the 3mm VHB tape to fasten some aluminum angle onto the outsides of my aluminum sided trailer, both bare aluminum and the painted surfaces. I used 3M 4950.

Below is the link to a web page that explains how to use 3mm VHB tape and the different kinds of tape.

https://www.bindingsource.com/images/Cu ... UseVHB.pdf


I hope you find success.
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Re: Solar: Looking for best way to install Solar Panel to ca

Postby immped64 » Mon Sep 16, 2019 8:29 pm

Featherlite: I did use alcohol as you suggested but I did not heat both surfaces.

Would you just use a cigarette lighter?

Thank you.
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