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Vangineer, the engineer nerd ... sounds like you may be just the person I'll be needing to ask questions of!! I am definitely not an engineer and am super anxious about installing all the parts needed for solar, batteries, inverters, controllers, relays, etc. I hope you don't mind ... I'm just about to purchase a 2019 159wb high roof and my first question is about roof racks. Do I need them for the panel installation? How do most people attach them to their roof? I don't intend to put anything else on the roof (i.e. kayak, surf board). I will have a fan installed. The roof racks I've looked at are expensive so if I don't need it then I'll save that money for something else. Thank you for your help!
Hey Meps - Sorry for the delay here. There are some really great options out there for mounting your panels. In my first build, I just used the renogy z-brackets and went directly through the roof of the van with screws. This works just fine, but if you ever want to turn around and sell the van, you've now got a bunch of holes in your roof.

I'd check out this other thread, started by Scalawag (linked below). He came up with a great, low profile system which uses the factory roof rack points already installed on your roof and some low-profile unistrut to make a small rail system. This is what I've done on my current set up and I really couldn't be happier with it.
Low-Profile Unistrut Rails for Large Solar Panels

Feel free to reach out any time with questions though! I actually started a company specializing in van conversions and tiny house builds, so I love talking through this stuff.

Best of luck!
 

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We decided to use 4x SunPower flexible 110w solar panels. We mounted them directly using VHB which makes for a very low profile. We have only installed 3 of the 4 installed (not sure of the position on the 4th--might need to move for a vent) and we have not electrically connected them yet. Writeup here:



(affiliate links in this post)
Nice job! Any issues at 70 mph? Has the tape held up so far? Thanks
 

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We make attachment clips/pads and complete kits that connect to the factory mounting points. We use 8020 #4281 brackets or our tower bracket kits and 8020 crossbars to mount solar panels. All of our systems are designed in 3D CAD. We have a number of configurations to choose from depending on van size, wattage requirements and desired location of the panels along the roof. We have found that the Renogy 160watt panels are a good fit for the Promaster. We have also designed mounting systems for larger residential 300+ watt panels as well as GrapeSolar 180 watt panels. We don't recommend attaching directly to roof sheetmetal due to possibility of metal fatigue and subsequent cracking.

We would be honored to help design a solar mounting system for your van.

All the best,
Hein
DIYvan
541 490 5098













 

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I've run four 100W Renogy monochrystalline panels on my previous build with a victron 100/30 MPPT controller into a 12v 80ah lithium battery bank. Also have the PM alternator hooked up to a relay with an override to provide either manual or automatic control of the connection.

There's tons of great info out there on solar/off grid installations for campervans. I'm currently working on my wiring diagram and product list for my current build, which will have about 630W of solar on the roof, utilizing another victron MPPT controller and an inverter/charger to add shore power capabilities in addition to the alternator options. Going to be using a much bigger battery bank on this go around though (about 300ah).

I'm an engineer and a total nerd for this stuff, so apologies if I tend to rant when it comes to this stuff...
I have just purchased a Truck Fridge TF130. The consumption is said the be 400 watts per day. I was going to buy (2) 160 Volts panels from Renogy, 2000 inverter and (2) 100 AH AGM batteries. I called Renogy today and after waiting for 2 hours (yes 2 hours) I spoke with someone overseas who clearly could not help me place my order, then the call was disconnected.
Who can I call to finalize components selection and purchase my system . Any thoughts ?
Thank you
 

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I agree with RD... Aluminum angle, cut to length, predrill, screw to panel frame, VHB under bracket, one screw into roof (I used a wood block underneath for more strength). Dicor around the edges of the bracket and over the screw head. I have 3 x 100W poly panels, parallel, into Bogart SC 2030 solar controller, charges 4 x 6V golf car batteries (430 Ah total, 215 Ah usable). This runs everything but my roof AC, which I only use with shore power. 1500W inverter, cooking with electric, propane stove backup.

63738
 

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Nice!
 

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I have 4 x 100w renogy panels with a victron 100/50 mppt controller feeding 600AH of lithium batteries. My mounting is unique because I have a Fiamma roof rack (because I thought I wanted the awning but realized I would probably never use it and decided to spend the money elsewhere) and wanted the panels mounted slightly below the rack, so I have the panels mounted to aluminum angle and the aluminum angle hanging on the roof rack from the bottom. This allows me to put things on the roof rack over the top of the panels if I need to carry things on the rack without having to remove the panels (though they are obviously shaded by whatever is on top of the rack).
63770

The panels are about 1/2 inch below the rail tops, not enough to get shaded, but enough to keep loads out of contact with the panels if I want to use the rack to carry something large but light.
 

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I also purchased the Fiama roof rack to use it to install my panels and also get the awning (eventually ... or not ?). Installing the panels just below the cross bars is a great idea...
I still can't figure out where to install my fan. I have two bunker windows, and could put it in the front or the back.
I have 4 x 100w renogy panels with a victron 100/50 mppt controller feeding 600AH of lithium batteries. My mounting is unique because I have a Fiamma roof rack (because I thought I wanted the awning but realized I would probably never use it and decided to spend the money elsewhere) and wanted the panels mounted slightly below the rack, so I have the panels mounted to aluminum angle and the aluminum angle hanging on the roof rack from the bottom. This allows me to put things on the roof rack over the top of the panels if I need to carry things on the rack without having to remove the panels (though they are obviously shaded by whatever is on top of the rack). View attachment 63770
The panels are about 1/2 inch below the rail tops, not enough to get shaded, but enough to keep loads out of contact with the panels if I want to use the rack to carry something large but light.
 

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I also purchased the Fiama roof rack to use it to install my panels and also get the awning (eventually ... or not ?). Installing the panels just below the cross bars is a great idea...
I still can't figure out where to install my fan. I have two bunker windows, and could put it in the front or the back.
I would put it as far away from the air inlet as possible. If you are planning to pull air in the windows, place it far from the windows. As you might be able to tell from the photo, I have two roof fans. One in the front factory 'skylight' area and one the very back. In ventilation mode, I have the rear fan pulling air in and the front fan pushing air out (although both can be reversed, the front fan has the function built in, the rear fan is wired to a reversing type switch).

The primary purpose of the rear fan is to van the window AC installed directly below it.

If I come into money I will get an awning, but it is something I would probably only use a couple times a year in my estimation. My van is mostly used as a place to stay while I am working, it is not a fun time vehicle, it transports me around the local area of my out of town job and is a place to stay at night to avoid renting a place or paying for hotels. If you plan to camp and such I can imagine the awning would be more beneficial.
 
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