Solar panel mounted on roof or portable?

Discussion in 'Power - Site Power/Batteries/Generators/Solar' started by Prinler, Apr 16, 2018.

  1. Prinler

    Prinler New Member

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    Apr 16, 2018
    Barstow CA
    I picked up a 170W solar panel for a song and a dance and I want to incorporate it into my pup but am not sure if mounting it to the already heavy roof w/AC was a good idea or not. Its a larger panel and it fit on the roof in front of the AC. Not sure if i should mount it or just make a stand for it.
    Actually i have 2 panels total i could use.

    What would you guys suggest.
     
  2. Mogimus

    Mogimus Active Member

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    Apr 29, 2015
    Rancho Cucamonga, CA
    That would depend on where you mostly like to camp and if it’s shaded or not.

    I placed brackets on the roof for my panels (2-100w) and place them up there most of the time but I also made a tripod stand for them and a long extension cord for the times that we camp in the mountains or under heavy shaded areas. Works well for me.
     
  3. joet

    joet Well-Known Member

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    Mar 16, 2011
    Elkins WV area
    I am using a suitcase panel, that I can move as the sun moves, and don't have to worry about parking in the shade
     
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  4. Prinler

    Prinler New Member

    9
    3
    Apr 16, 2018
    Barstow CA
    I camp in the desert mostly. I am in southern california... tons of sun!
    How do I mount them? I am not sure how thick the roof is or whats under the surface.
     
  5. Mogimus

    Mogimus Active Member

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    Apr 29, 2015
    Rancho Cucamonga, CA
    Well, first of all, welcome to the portal from another SoCal-er :)

    Roof build would depend on your trailer year, make, and model.

    My Fleetwood has an aluminum roof with 3/4" styrofoam and 1/4" plywood under that. I mounted similar brackets to these using some VHB tape and a couple rivets for added safety and then sealed around the tape and rivet with some Dicor self leveling sealant. I do not drive with the panels installed but those brackets are solid! I then installed riv-nuts on the frame of the panel so I can mount them onto the roof brackets or the stands with a simple knob.

    Installation onto an ABS roof might be different tho...

    IMG_7047.JPG IMG_7026.JPG IMG_7040.JPG
     
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  6. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member

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    Dec 26, 2009
    Albuquerque, NM
    With both our popup and TT, we have kept the panels free-standing. If the camper is in the shade, we can often have the panels in full sun. In a few sites, being able to reorient them during the day has been helpful.
    Since we began using the same set of solar panels on our TT that we'd had on the pup, when we realized we needed more wattage, having them free-standing made changing easy. We still have the original set, hidden in a not-very-useful section of storage. We can use them to charge our free-standing storage battery (Goal Zero Yeti 150) separately from the Zamp panel charging the trailer batteries.
    We have a cable to lock them, so no fear of them easily wandering off. (We also had thought the cable would keep the panels tethered in windy conditions, but they have proven to be more resilient to wind than we expected.)
     
  7. Fbird

    Fbird Active Member

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    Sep 10, 2017
    Ferndale MI
    mine is freestanding, made simple legs out of flat aluminum stock. attach them with 1\4 nuts and bolts.
     
  8. minus1psi

    minus1psi Member

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    Aug 31, 2017
    Mogimus, I am still thinking through system design. Do you avoid driving with the panels installed out of concern that the added wind force would cause damage to either the panels or the roof or both? Is there a good way to leave them on the roof for driving but have the option of easily removing them for better placement in the sun? As someone said, they have to be stored somewhere - the roof seems like a good place. I like the idea of being able to charge the batteries while driving; we often drive in the middle of the day. I also like the option of parking in shade and placing the panels in the sun. Of course if we are parked in the sun anyway (the Outer Banks come to mind) why not leave the panels on the roof where they are out of the way.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2018
  9. xvz12

    xvz12 Well-Known Member

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    Apr 6, 2017
    New Plymouth, ID
    I have 2 100 watt Renogy panels installed on our pups roof in tilting mounts I fabricated myself. I didn't want to drill holes thru my roof, so I installed the mounts using 3M VHB tape. I've been driving with the panels mounted, but in the flat position....4 trips now, & no sign of the tape coming loose....so far so good. This is an earlier picture, the wires now are tucked into a wire loom that store under one of the panels when traveling, then I angle the panels, & run the wire loom down the front side to plug into my battery bank.

    20180428_164905.jpg
     
  10. minus1psi

    minus1psi Member

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    Aug 31, 2017
    Wynn,

    Looks good. Would it be hard to remove the panels for use off of the roof? I know that the design was not intended for that purpose, just curious.

    Also, how does the current from the PVs get to your batteries? Do you use a charge controller? Which one? Do you know the specifics of its charging parameters? Also, is there anything special that happens relative to the existing converter and wiring inside?

    Thanks!
     
  11. Mogimus

    Mogimus Active Member

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    Apr 29, 2015
    Rancho Cucamonga, CA
    I take them off when driving by personal preference. A lot of RV's have permanent installations on the roof so if done right, you wont have any problems... but on another note, I have seen a panel fly off a TT on the freeway and my concern was that over time the VHB might get weathered. Wire management would be important as the roof moves up/down and you don't have the wires just flapping around as you drive. For me, half the time i'm in the shade and for a short 3 day trip, I don't even get them out. As for charging while driving, honestly, that's what the tow vehicle is for.

    As far as controller, I started with a Renogy 20AMP MPPT (to go with my Renogy panels) and it did its job for 3 years. I recently upgraded to a Victron 100/30A MPPT controller mainly because I like the bluetooth monitoring feature for my phone but also because I already had a Victron battery monitor in use.
     
  12. xvz12

    xvz12 Well-Known Member

    622
    287
    Apr 6, 2017
    New Plymouth, ID
    @minus1psi:
    The panels remove easily, just undo 4 thumbscrews on each panel, & they can be unplugged from the "Y" cable. The crosspieces of the mount also remove easily, each one is held down by 2 bolts with wingnuts to the "T" tracks. These longitudinal tracks are permanently attached using 3M VHB tape, & sealed with Dicor. I haven't done it (yet), but a portable frame could easily be made for use other than on the roof. The current charge controller is a cheap chinese one, & have it mounted inside one of the battery box lids. It's a pretty basic PWM 20 amp controller, here are the specs:

    Rated voltage: 12V or 24V

    Voltage of stop power supply: 10.8V or 21.6V

    Rated charging current: 20A

    Voltage of resume power supply: 11.8V or 23.6V

    Rated load current: 20A

    Voltage of stop charging: 14V or 28V

    Working temperature: -20 ~ +60°C

    Temperature coefficient of voltage stop charge: -3mV/°C/cell

    Dimension (L*W*H): 101×95×35 mm

    I have a Renogy 30A MPPT controller to upgrade with, but at this point, it's still in it's box.....hopefully, I'll get it installed before the end or summer.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2018
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