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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
have a solid panel (only 100w) and plan is to get roof racks, then figure out attaching panel to racks

But the new efficient flex panels are really appealing (save cost of racks, hassle of attaching, and more aerodynamic) but the question is how to attach - some are gluing, some are taping with VHB but in either case it doesn't sound like they can ever be removed without serious damage to roof - would like a replacement mechanism since solar can get damaged, go bad or might even want to replace with newer more efficient technology - has anyone come up with way to attach and be able to remove in future.
 

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Master Overland Custom Vans Tampa
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have a solid panel (only 100w) and plan is to get roof racks, then figure out attaching panel to racks

But the new efficient flex panels are really appealing (save cost of racks, hassle of attaching, and more aerodynamic) but the question is how to attach - some are gluing, some are taping with VHB but in either case it doesn't sound like they can ever be removed without serious damage to roof - would like a replacement mechanism since solar can get damaged, go bad or might even want to replace with newer more efficient technology - has anyone come up with way to attach and be able to remove in future.
I used Sikaflex to mount my flexible panels, which is a permanent solution. If I ever need to replace a panel I will carefully pull it off.

I believe a good solution if you want them to be removable is to use 3M Velcro called Dual Lock. It has VHB to attach to the van and panels.
 

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OK Sikaflex. Now tell me this....since it's a brand not a product, which Sikaflex PRODUCT did you use? I want to do the same and would like more details. How much was used? Did you need to weight the panel down? Cure time? Apply to edge or each rib of roof? All leading edges in contact with roof? Are you satisfied with what you used and how you applied it? Do you have pictures? Suggestions for improving how it was done?
Thanks
 

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I've decided to go with the semi flexible panels on my new build for many of the reasons you mentioned. Some of the manufacturers recommend industrial strength Velcro and while I'm slightly nervous about having $800 in solar panels stuck to my van with the same stuff that held my 1984 high tops of it does make sense. :D

Since most flexible panels also have grommets I plan on adding wire loops to the leading edge grommets to secure them to the roof with bolts. Both for my own reassurance that they won't fly off on the highway and on the off chance than someone decides that they're worth stealing.
 

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Master Overland Custom Vans Tampa
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OK Sikaflex. Now tell me this....since it's a brand not a product, which Sikaflex PRODUCT did you use? I want to do the same and would like more details. How much was used? Did you need to weight the panel down? Cure time? Apply to edge or each rib of roof? All leading edges in contact with roof? Are you satisfied with what you used and how you applied it? Do you have pictures? Suggestions for improving how it was done?
Thanks
Photos in my build thread "Jostalli's Build".

There are a lot of different Sikaflex products and I believe there is a chart online showing the differences. Home Depot doesn't carry the numbered products. They carry the named products like construction sealant, construction adhesive, self leveling sealant, etc. I've used the three I mentioned and they each have different uses. The self leveling doesn't have the thick volume of the construction sealant. I used this one my panels. I squeezed a thin line on each rib and simply laid the panel down. On the sides close to the edge of the roof I placed some weight to hold it to the roof while it cured. Each type has a different cure time, which is on the bottle. I used construction sealant for the Fantastic Vent because it's thick and you can build it up to fill the ribs. Inside I used construction adhesive to reinforce furring strips that I will attach cabinetry to.
 

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2014, 138WB, High Roof, Gas, SW MT
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have a solid panel (only 100w) and plan is to get roof racks, then figure out attaching panel to racks

But the new efficient flex panels are really appealing (save cost of racks, hassle of attaching, and more aerodynamic) but the question is how to attach - some are gluing, some are taping with VHB but in either case it doesn't sound like they can ever be removed without serious damage to roof - would like a replacement mechanism since solar can get damaged, go bad or might even want to replace with newer more efficient technology - has anyone come up with way to attach and be able to remove in future.
Hi RD,
I'm struggling with the same issues on whether to use flexible panels or not.
I already have a rigid 315 watt panel that I bought for the PM, but have been thinking about using it elsewhere and going with flexible panels.

Ran across this while looking around for mounts:
http://www.gonewiththewynns.com/flexible-rv-solar-issues-review

The video at bottom of page shows the flex panels just after mounting and they look great and seem quite durable (pics of them dancing on them). The video near top of page shows how they are doing after one year -- not as good as one would like. Makes me wonder about long term durability?
If the life does turn out to be short, then you are up against all the issues you mentioned about getting them off the roof.

Has got me back to thinking about using the rigid panel with low profile mounts and adhesive to hold them down. Maybe a bull nose fairing on the front for better aero. Wish I had a good way to calculate the incremental drag and effect on mpg.

I'll be interested to see what kind of solutions come up on this thread.

Gary
 

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I have noticed no decrease in mileage since I installed my panels about 3 months ago. They are about an inch off the roof and I used ss screws and 3M high bond tape. It turned out the brackets didn't lay perfectly flat on the roof ridges and that's why I also used the ss screws. I wouldn't even bother with the tape again. Too expensive and unless you have two perfectly aligned surfaces it only half sticks.

 

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GaryBIS,
I was committed to flex planels but those videos shook my confidence, especially with Renogy whom I planned to use. It sounds like the cupping issue which I had read was an early and solved issue may not be. I am not so bothered by the heat issue as I move from the relatively sunny and cool SW in winter to the long daylight hours but still cool of NE in the summer. The slight bow of the van roof might help clear the panels of dirt rings and our relatively shorter vans compared to the busses of the Wynn's might give us less damage. Still if these panels degrade at the rate they seem to have in the Wynn's posts it concerns me. My former solar instal on my popup truck camper could tilt but I never used it! keeponvaning's simple install and ability to upgrade seems to be looking better.
Thanks for the update.
 

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I have noticed no decrease in mileage since I installed my panels about 3 months ago. They are about an inch off the roof and I used ss screws and 3M high bond tape. It turned out the brackets didn't lay perfectly flat on the roof ridges and that's why I also used the ss screws. I wouldn't even bother with the tape again. Too expensive and unless you have two perfectly aligned surfaces it only half sticks.

Hi KOV, RD,
Very nice job.

Did you also use the SS screws to attach the PV panel to the brackets?

Really like the down low mounting.

Where did you get the brackets from?

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Just as an off the wall thought...

My panel is 79 inches long and mounting the front end of the panel as close as possible to my forward mounted MaaxFan, the back end will be 8 inches or so forward of the back face of the van.
The van has a pretty square corner in the back, and I'm wondering mounting some kind of spoiler or air deflector on the back end of the PV panel would get some of the air to turn the corner and stay attached to the van a bit longer and reduce the pressure drag associated with the back of the van (which is likely a big fraction of the total drag)?


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Also going to see if I can run the wires from the PV panel into the van using the backup camera housing and penetration.


Gary
 

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Yes, I used #10 self tapping stainless screws to connect the brackets to both the roof and the panels. The brackets are the ones Renology sells. I wouldn't recommend them tho. As you can see from the photo I modified them by screwing them onto the panels through the sides rather than from the bottom as they were designed. I didn't want to attach them to the bottom of the panels as it would have been very hard, if not impossible, to remove them after the fact with only an inch of clearance. I also reinforced the brackets with a short piece of 1" X ⅛" aluminum flat stock. It would have be easier, better and cheaper to just buy a piece of 1/8" aluminum angle and cut the brackets from it but I already had the Renology brackets and decided to use them up.

Here is a close up of the brackets attached to the panels before I screwed them to the roof.

 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I met a woman who used the VHB Velcro on her View - sounded flaky but she had it on a year plus trip to Mexico w no problems. thks for info on grommets - yes, that adds a bit of mental security about not having them fly off.

What brand of panels had the grommets ? or do they all ? I have the Renogy 100w frame panel which seems to work fine (though the cheap controller is crap) and see they have flex panels - does anyone have vendor recommendations on the flex panels especially on efficiency ?
 

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Some prefer Grape Solar which are a few bucks more than others but both the company and the product has great reviews.
See [ame]http://www.amazon.com/Grape-Solar-PhotoFlex-100W-Monocrystalline-12-volt/dp/B00FMPJLPI/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1435964356&sr=8-2&keywords=flex+solar+panel[/ame]
They mostly all have the grommet holes.
 

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I have noticed no decrease in mileage since I installed my panels about 3 months ago. They are about an inch off the roof and I used ss screws and 3M high bond tape. It turned out the brackets didn't lay perfectly flat on the roof ridges and that's why I also used the ss screws. I wouldn't even bother with the tape again. Too expensive and unless you have two perfectly aligned surfaces it only half sticks.

KOV,
Where did you find the combiner box? Does it allow for regular muti strand wire to leave the box and go to the controller? I know some folks have cut the MC connectors off but I'd rather not, if they are sealed it seems that would defeat the purpose
 

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Interesting Jostalli, you make me think of more questions.
I see you used the combiner box and then you come out of it with MC connectors then they the roof.
I wanted to use multi strand out of the box to use a heavier gauge due to voltage drop, maybe overkill but 10ga doesn't seem like much for 3 100w panels and probably about 10-15 feet of wirie length. I will refer to the chart once I have all the components located and measured.
Was trying to think it thru ahead of time

Second question was why use the combiner box at all if you are using MC connectors and wire into the van? Why not use the 3 to one adapter? I'm asking not to question your application but wondering if there's a difference or what am I missing?
 

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I combined my two panels on the roof and ran 2 #10 solar wires thru the box to the controller. The box is just a 4" sq plastic handy box from HD with a flat cover. I drilled two holes in the side of the box for the wire glands to run the wires thru and a 1" hole in the bottom of the box and roof. Cheap and easy but not really a combiner box as I combined them at the panels. I think I ought a 20' long piece of #10 solar cable and just cut it in half as the controller takes bare wires on its end that way I had a + and a - connector end at the panels no connections in the box just fun thru's.
 

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Master Overland Custom Vans Tampa
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Interesting Jostalli, you make me think of more questions.
I see you used the combiner box and then you come out of it with MC connectors then they the roof.
I wanted to use multi strand out of the box to use a heavier gauge due to voltage drop, maybe overkill but 10ga doesn't seem like much for 3 100w panels and probably about 10-15 feet of wirie length. I will refer to the chart once I have all the components located and measured.
Was trying to think it thru ahead of time

Second question was why use the combiner box at all if you are using MC connectors and wire into the van? Why not use the 3 to one adapter? I'm asking not to question your application but wondering if there's a difference or what am I missing?
I have three 200w panels. What you see is 8awg cable from combiner box through the roof.

You can use cables but this combiner box is fused so it gives me some added safety.
 

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I have three 200w panels. What you see is 8awg cable from combiner box through the roof.

You can use cables but this combiner box is fused so it gives me some added safety.
Ok that makes sense, is the 8ga thru MC connectors? If so did you buy those or make them?
If I didn't find a box that I liked was looking at these
[ame]http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00N1I9036/ref=mp_s_a_1_3?qid=1436587452&sr=8-3&pi=AC_SY200_QL40&keywords=3+to+1+MC4+connector&dpPl=1&dpID=41Dat2Zs35L&ref=plSrch[/ame]
 
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