Ram Promaster Forum banner

1 - 20 of 25 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
8,814 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I am rethinking mounting a rack for the solar as my garage is only three inches taller than the van! I think I can get the vents through but the rack and solar is going to be a problem.
I found these flexible panels on
and notice they have holes in the corners and some posters say they can be drilled (avoid the wires etc.). They would solve one problem (height) but might make another (holes in the roof and/or adhesive). What is the combined intelligence here about them? Install? Service? replace? Survivability at 80 mph? Heat?
Thanks- RD
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
10,218 Posts
Lots of good points about them and a few bad ones but just as long as you can keep them down ok without drilling a lot of holes in your roof its a good alternative to raising your garage!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
55 Posts
A good (3M) two sided trim tape (the tape they use for securing trim to the sides of vehicles) will hold down a solar panel forever. I will be mounting mine (aluminum framed) this way.
 

·
Premium Member
Master Overland Custom Vans Tampa
Joined
·
883 Posts
Before you buy flexible panels read this from Technomadiahttp://www.technomadia.com/2014/11/zephyr-is-solar-powered-800-watt-rv-bus-roof-solar-install/

I like this quote: "The most serious problem we noticed was during a spell of 90 to 95 degree temperatures last summer. The thin covering over the cells (3mm thick) was not sufficient to keep the cells from “cupping”. This, in essence, caused each cell to form a shallow bowl which collects dust that any moisture will push to the middle of the cell. When the water evaporates, there is a small circle of dried debris that blocks enough sun to cause a power loss."

After reading this I had serious doubts about using flexible panels.

I would not put holes in my roof to install panels. I'm seeing more and more installs with just sikaflex or equivalent to mount the panels. That's what I am planning.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
10,218 Posts
My biggest problem with gluing them down is removing them if they get damaged. Let's face it branches do fall on the roofs of vehicles, not to mention hail stones.

That's why I'll most likely make up my own very low profile rack to put them on. I don't really care about the height as I have a 10' high door but looks are a bigger conserned for me.
 

·
Premium Member
Master Overland Custom Vans Tampa
Joined
·
883 Posts
My biggest problem with gluing them down is removing them if they get damaged. Let's face it branches do fall on the roofs of vehicles, not to mention hail stones.

That's why I'll most likely make up my own very low profile rack to put them on. I don't really care about the height as I have a 10' high door but looks are a bigger conserned for me.
You "glue" the mounts, not the panels.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
10,218 Posts
Oh, that's a whole different matter all together (and good to know) but we're talking about the flexible ones here that people seem to glue down right to the roof or even use pop rivets (ugg) on boats.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
8,814 Posts
Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Before you buy flexible panels read this from Technomadiahttp://www.technomadia.com/2014/11/zephyr-is-solar-powered-800-watt-rv-bus-roof-solar-install/

I like this quote: "The most serious problem we noticed was during a spell of 90 to 95 degree temperatures last summer. The thin covering over the cells (3mm thick) was not sufficient to keep the cells from “cupping”. This, in essence, caused each cell to form a shallow bowl which collects dust that any moisture will push to the middle of the cell. When the water evaporates, there is a small circle of dried debris that blocks enough sun to cause a power loss."

After reading this I had serious doubts about using flexible panels.

I would not put holes in my roof to install panels. I'm seeing more and more installs with just sikaflex or equivalent to mount the panels. That's what I am planning.
Thanks for making me aware. That is the only reference to such a problem I can find but is out there and apparently was known or seen by the writers. I have seen other testing from Australia where these panels were allowed to heat to 185 degrees F in the sun and survived fine, and produced 91 percent of the power of cells heated to 160+ which is about the maximum for glass covered rigid cells. I guess I need to still research.
I would like to hear from anyone who has ideas about glueing them down. The ascetic would be great but replacing them would be like taking up vinyl tile.... you don't save it! Panels are getting cheaper all the time and "saving" a failed or damaged one is not an issue is it?
 

·
Premium Member
Master Overland Custom Vans Tampa
Joined
·
883 Posts
Oh, that's a whole different matter all together (and good to know) but we're talking about the flexible ones here that people seem to glue down right to the roof or even use pop rivets (ugg) on boats.

Not a different matter. The flexible panels can lay on mounts too. Screw flexible panel to a flat mount and Sikaflex mount to the roof.


Sent from AutoGuide.com Free App
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
10,218 Posts
After reading of the problems with flexible panels I'm not even going to consider them. Height is not a concern for me at all so why bother?

I may very well glue the frame mounts for regular panels to the roof but I think I'm still leaning on building my own roof rack that can easily be removed or expanded if need be.

I'm not comfortable with semi-permanent mods. That's another reason I didn't use any spry foam insulation inside.
 

·
Premium Member
2014, 138WB, High Roof, Gas, SW MT
Joined
·
2,001 Posts
I am rethinking mounting a rack for the solar as my garage is only three inches taller than the van! I think I can get the vents through but the rack and solar is going to be a problem.
I found these flexible panels on Amazon and notice they have holes in the corners and some posters say they can be drilled (avoid the wires etc.). They would solve one problem (height) but might make another (holes in the roof and/or adhesive). What is the combined intelligence here about them? Install? Service? replace? Survivability at 80 mph? Heat?
Thanks- RD

Another one you might want to take a look at.

http://www.europebycamper.com/2013/12/200w-solar-panel-install.html
Pretty low profile -- might fit inside your 3 inch margin with a bit to spare.
I think that I'm going to use this scheme -- especially since I already have the flat 315 watt panel in hand.


I really like the low drag of the glued down flexible panels, but can't help thinking it would be such a mess if you had to remove one.

Even removing the small glued down metal mounting pads used on the one above would be a real pain.

This article runs down several of the available flex panels with some testing.
http://www.technomadia.com/solar/

These guys make a 315 watt flexible panel if you are looking for more than 100 watts without going to multiple panels: http://www.highflexsolar.com/
It would work with the MidNite Solar Kid controller. 76 bt 39 inches.

Gary
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
8,814 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Thanks Gary,
I have been reading like crazy, including those and believe the following to be true:
1. AM solar had some panels cup, reported it and took steps to make it right. It gave flex panels a bad name and reported widely. Many other brands have been tested in severe conditions w/o problems.
2. 3M recently came out with a new/better encapsulation product that is just hitting the market.
3. Mono flex panels (those I researched) produce/convert more sun to power up to 28 percent, and have less loss at high temperatures than flat panels.
4. Flex panels run at higher temperatures in the sun and in high ambient temperatures, due to the fact the backs are not air cooled. No one has reported what benefit ribs on the mounting surface (like the PM van top) might have or what conduction of heat into a surface there might benefit output.
5. Even at high temperature a flex panel surface mounted will produce the same power as a similarly sized solid panel.
6. Flex panels have an unknown lifespan. Probably less than a solid panel but most commenters feel that will be offset by the next few generations of panels (a generation is about a year)
7. Flex panels prices are dropping rapidly and currently are about 1.5 times flat panels but are expected to be cheaper/watt in a year (or so)

I am feeling that this might be a better option than I did when I first looked. Glueing them down and destroying them in 5-8 years might not be a huge risk as the prices are really cheap for what we are getting. And will cheaper than dirt in 5 years by which time encapsulated panels will dominate the market I believe.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
98 Posts
Flex panels are at that crossover stage right now. Even a year ago, their shorter usable life and less energy obtained made them something more for sticking on a carport or other flat surface than a vehicle.

However, as stated above, they are getting better. I've seen a few RVs that have them mounted over the crowned surface (with Sikaflex or a double sided tape, and taped/caulked over the edges.)

I'd probably give it 1-2 more generations, then it definitely would be something found on vehicles because it is easier to deal with than rigid panels.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
10,218 Posts
You younger guys have the luxury of knowing you can always upgrade whatever you use in four or five years. I'm going to be 72 in the Spring and this is going to be my last camper/van conversion, for sure, so I don't want to/have no need to try out something that isn't tried and proven. I think I will end up using either three 100w panels or two 150w ones and just fabricate simple aluminum brackets that I can glue to the roof so as the keep the panels as low as possible.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
8,814 Posts
Discussion Starter #16

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
8,814 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
You younger guys have the luxury of knowing you can always upgrade whatever you use in four or five years. I'm going to be 72 in the Spring and this is going to be my last camper/van conversion, for sure, so I don't want to/have no need to try out something that isn't tried and proven. I think I will end up using either three 100w panels or two 140w ones and just fabricate simple aluminum brackets that I can glue to the roof so as the keep the panels as low as possible.
I hear you but:
I ride motorcycles, three years ago I felt it was time to hang up my helmet but I went to a couple of meetings of a local BMW group and found the AVERAGE age of attendees was older than me! Some 80+! I traded my old bike for a newer one, bought a second one, rode across country and now plan to ride to 80 too. If I don't croak! Be young KOV you may go longer than you think!
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
10,218 Posts
I hear you but:
I ride motorcycles, three years ago I felt it was time to hang up my helmet but I went to a couple of meetings of a local BMW group and found the AVERAGE age of attendees was older than me! Some 80+! I traded my old bike for a newer one, bought a second one, rode across country and now plan to ride to 80 too. If I don't croak! Be young KOV you may go longer than you think!
I still carry the scars from asphalt burns on my left hand after 50 years:(, one of my best friends father (84 years old) was just killed on his Harley last summer when he was center punched while driving thru an intersection - I'll stick to four wheels under me:laugh:
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
8,814 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
Im thinking of these http://www.amazon.com/RENOGY®-300Wa...f=aag_m_pw_dp?ie=UTF8&m=A05654602L3XUQ70M87BV their mounting brackets are only $13 for a panel, cheaper than making them yourself!
I think they are a great choice. Research controllers as they can be of two types one much more expensive than the other and better! As far as Amazon is concerned buy near the time you plan to install them and the return policy is great but has a time limit. Perhaps you could find these panels a bit cheaper from another supplier but Amazon is so big and so good at controlling its sellers you should be happy.
 
1 - 20 of 25 Posts
Top