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Fixing Solar Panel To Van Roof?


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#1 Lee.B

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Posted 08 August 2008 - 10:34 PM

We are going to get a 60W "blue" solar panel and WAS going to get it fitted to the van roof...
until I got this post on my gallery website's message/comment board.


Frystar:
Had the solar panel fitted to the caravan roof last week. The man that fitted the thing used the same sealent that is used on caravan joints and awning rails. He said it was a strong bond and very secure. I quote, I aint lost one yet of a roof. Well coming back from the ranch caravan park at selby today I did. 60 mph and I saw a car in the middle lane flashing its lights. Then I saw what was left of the 350 panel following me attached to the cable. Thought I better warn you Lee as you are thinking of getting the same supplier and fitter. I will call him on monday and demand a refund. He knows what I did before I retired so knows I know my legal standings. I will let you know how i get on. The next unit will be propped up next to the caravan when on a field.


Is it the norm to attach the panels using sealant and is it secure?
I know Ralph (Ralph&Bev) from this forum has fitted his on the roof using a sealent of some kind, it was still on his roof when I last spoke to him BUT....
I don't want to have mine screwed on the roof, but if this "sealant" is the only alternative.. I think I will just have it on a stand on the floor.....not security wise having a 350/400 panel left on the floor and a pain bringing it in when going out for the day, but the roof mounting sounds a worry now. :unsure:

Anyone have one roof mounted and what have they used to secure it to the van roof?


#2 Guest_tyke65_*

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Posted 09 August 2008 - 06:00 AM

Apart from the question of having it fixed to the roof (and I wouldn't dream of doing this myself) it's only a matter of time before some toe-rag will decide that he is more entitled to your panel then you are. He's not going to use any finesse in removing it so it could result in your roof being severely damaged. Not worth the risk in my opinion. Based on what I've read about solar panels and looking at the amount you seem to be planning to spend I would consider a small generator or extra battery.

#3 Rita

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Posted 09 August 2008 - 06:50 AM

Our panel sits outside caravan all the time never take it in when we go off site

Lots place panel on roof once on site ,Put some Ground sheet 1st then the panel run wire in awning track done


#4 couiza

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Posted 09 August 2008 - 07:21 AM

**

Edited by couiza, 08 July 2009 - 02:46 PM.


#5 Paul_B

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Posted 09 August 2008 - 12:43 PM

Lee you could get a good price on panels if you pop along to the motorhome show at pickering in September,
if you want to stay the weekend caravantalk have reserved an area, then I won't be on my own :lol:

On the net for 226 you could get a 50 watt Kyocera solar panel & if it was free standing it would give you more power output than the roof mounted 60 watt (providing you moved it to face the sun)


when your panel is free standing, & if on a night you face it towards the morning sun you will get power to the battery from first light, more than likely a full battery before lunch :) .

the big one in the picture is a 50 watt

Posted Image

ps if you order 2 they work out less than 200 each

#6 rslsys

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Posted 09 August 2008 - 06:29 PM

Our panel has 4 Vacurack units attached to it.

Just open the Heiki, put the panel on the roof, lock it into place, thread the lead through the off-side awning rail and the jobs a good 'un.

No need to travel with the panel fitted and safely in store when the van is at home.

Cheers

Keith

#7 Andy B

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Posted 09 August 2008 - 06:53 PM

..... & if it was free standing it would give you more power output than the roof mounted 60 watt (providing you moved it to face the sun)
........


Does a roof mounted solar panel really give a noticably reduced output compared with a panel that's actually facing the sun?

#8 Andy B

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Posted 09 August 2008 - 06:56 PM

Our panel has 4 Vacurack units attached to it. ......


Having looked on the Bay of e I can only see tham available from USA. Aren't there any stockists this side of the Atlantic?

#9 Paul_B

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Posted 09 August 2008 - 08:25 PM

Andy B @ Aug 9 2008, 07:53 PM)
Does a roof mounted solar panel really give a noticably reduced output compared with a panel that's actually facing the sun?


yes
On a roof most sunlight will be at an angle & will reflect off so you will only get maximum sun light from about 11am to 2pm in summer (this is just an example) in winter when the sun is lower you'll get less.


To get around it they make mppt regulators but they are not cheep they adjust the amps & volts to suit the battery condition,
what most people do is to buy a biger panel than they need.....I have a 50 watt panel & move it to face the sun, so I can get direct sunlight from about 4am to about 9pm in the summer, if I wanted to have a panel on the roof I'd buy a 80 watt, now most decant panels have anti reflective glass/coatings as standard which helps.

#10 kiaman

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Posted 09 August 2008 - 08:36 PM

An interesting dilemma, this one! "On the roof" or "free-standing" - obviously free-standing moved to follow the sun gets the best results, only one drawback - this requires you to be around to move it a couple of times a day!! Now if you are someone who doesn't spend all day on site but likes to get out and about the odds on your free standing unit giving more charge than a roof mounted unit seem pretty slim!

#11 Paul_B

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Posted 09 August 2008 - 08:44 PM

An interesting dilemma, this one! "On the roof" or "free-standing" - obviously free-standing moved to follow the sun gets the best results, only one drawback - this requires you to be around to move it a couple of times a day!! Now if you are someone who doesn't spend all day on site but likes to get out and about the odds on your free standing unit giving more charge than a roof mounted unit seem pretty slim!


if you are going to be out each day from daylight to dusk then face your panel in a south westerly position, similar to the position/angle that road signs use

now if the weather is going to be cloudy all day the best position for the panel is flat.....but when have we seen that much cloud in Britain :lol:

its all down to personal preference

but its not all down to panel size, if its going to be more convenient to have it on the roof, then go for a biger panel & more importantly a good charge controller,

position the controller, (I like the morningstar sunsaver) as close to the battery as practically possible. A panel over 50 watts it will produce over 20 volts this prevents power loss along cables, so have the wires of a good thickness to avoid loss too.

the morningstar is safe to use in hazardous conditions it charges using PWM like the best battery chargers & is temperature sensitive checking the battery temperature & condition all the time, if it can't be near the battery you will have to get a remote sensor.

before fitting on the roof check to see if it will affect your caravan manufacturers warranty

If you fit a solar panel on the roof lets say a 40 watt & find its ok, but now the kids have grown & want to watch tv all day/night as caravans are boring :lol:
you could always fit a connection to the existing controller & fit a free standing 20 watt panel as well :)

#12 rslsys

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Posted 10 August 2008 - 06:50 PM

B)-->
QUOTE(Andy B @ Aug 9 2008, 07:56 PM)  
Having looked on the Bay of e I can only see tham available from USA. Aren't there any stockists this side of the Atlantic?[/quote]


Got ours from Fleabay from a seller in the UK. I think GT Towing used to list them but don't now.

Cheers

Keith

#13 Andy B

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Posted 10 August 2008 - 10:59 PM

B)--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Andy B @ Aug 9 2008, 07:56 PM)  </div><div class='quotemain'><!--quotec-->Having looked on the Bay of e I can only see tham available from USA. Aren't there any stockists this side of the Atlantic?
Got ours from Fleabay from a seller in the UK. I think GT Towing used to list them but don't now.

Cheers

Keith

Thanks. I've considered solar panels myself & have wondered about where I'd put them. The various answers here have covered most of my concerns/question but the Vacurack does look to be a good idea. ;)

#14 Lee.B

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 07:35 AM

Lee you could get a good price on panels if you pop along to the motorhome show at pickering in September,
if you want to stay the weekend caravantalk have reserved an area, then I won't be on my own :lol:


Cheers for that Paul,
I am under strict instructions NOT to buy one myself till next year, after the Florida trip and Christmas....
I dare not tell her I'm off to the Lawns in September with a view of buying a new van AND I also want Alko ATC. :unsure: :D :D :D


#15 Lee.B

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Posted 13 August 2008 - 05:24 PM

Harry has posted on my gallery sites message/comment board...

Frystar:
Thanks for the help Lee. As you know but for the benefit of people who have been reading this board and the people on the caravan internet forums that have helped. The fitter has excepted responsibility and says the glue he used is suitable but he thinks he may not have fixed or cleaned the roof for the glue to fix properly. He is contacting his insurance company and given me the details. The Caravan Club insurance I have will take it up from now. Thanks again too Lee and Trinity. Not forgetting the caravan internet forums for their help and comments. I will be getting a new panel at half the price from the dealer and will not have it fitted to the roof but free standing. Lee see you Monday at Rosedale Abbey and Trinity we shall see you and your new puppy on Saturday.


He has also asked me to pass on his thanks to members of this forum for the advice and comments posted.

#16 Sarah B

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Posted 13 August 2008 - 07:09 PM

B)-->
QUOTE(Lee.B @ Aug 11 2008, 08:35 AM)  
I dare not tell her I'm off to the Lawns in September with a view of buying a new van AND I also want Alko ATC. [/quote]

I know now. You are BUSTED!!! :D :ph34r:

#17 Paul_B

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 08:02 PM

So can he buy a morningstar regulator for solar panel while he is in the states??????????

that way he'll save loads :lol:

#18 Lee.B

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 08:11 PM

So can he buy a morningstar regulator for solar panel while he is in the states??????????

that way he'll save loads :lol:



Excellent point my good man. ;) :lol: :lol:




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