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Mounting Solar Panels On Caravan Roof


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Ford C-Max and Coachman Festival 380/2 SE 2006    Motto  Carpe Diem

Still trying to find the perfect pitch. ..110 amp Battery+ 65 watt roof mounted Solar and 25 watt Wind Turbine. LED lighting. Status Aerial 315. Loose chattels marked with UV,. Safefill Gas Fitted.

 

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There are plenty of different types on Ebay if you search under solar panel brackets and quite a few are less than £50.

 

If you are going to all the trouble of permanently mounting them, I never understand why people choose to fit solar panels horizontally on a flat caravan roof.

 

They work a lot better when tilted - I would go for a tilt bracket every time - the power gain is amazing over a horizontal panel.

Edited by Barry J
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If you are going to all the trouble of permanently mounting them, I never understand why people choose to fit solar panels horizontally on a flat caravan roof.

 

They work a lot better when tilted - I would go for a tilt bracket every time - the power gain is amazing over a horizontal panel.

Ah, but that's only true in direct sun. If it's overcast, then the scattering of light through the clouds makes it equivalent to an overhead light source.

 

I find that on sunny days, even with the panel horizontal, my battery is fully charged in no time. It's the overcast days when I'm more worried about the power input - and on those days a flat panel is better!

 

Plus a flat panel is more convenient (and doesn't need to be turned to track the sun). I've had a panel flat on the roof for 2 years, and my leisure battery has never been charged by any other means :-)

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If you only want the solar panel for main season caravanning then mounting it horizontal carries little yield penalty.

It is also very much less hassle and means you can go out and enjoy where you are staying rather than remain on duty to turn the panel to the ever changing "optimised direction".

Whilst we caravan all year round and have a movable 85 Watt panel, in the summer its propped up on the fire bucket at the required 15 degrees to the horizontal, facing due South throughout most of the day. Might not be the "best" theoretical position but once the batteries are fully charged that is irrelevant and in summer they almost always are fully recharged long before the sun angle falls too much.

Winter is a very different situation and solar even with an 85 Watt panel is shall we say "unreliable"?

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It was a slightly rhetorical question.

 

Solar panels tilted towards the sun yield the maximum power, irrespective of clear or cloudy skys. Even if they are tilted at a fixed angle all day, they are a lot more productive than a flat panel.

 

The deciding factor is whether the hassle outweighs the benefit.

 

Certainly a flat panel is a lot less hassle and many compensate by buying a bigger panel to overcome the inefficiency.

 

Maybe the compromise is having an elevation tilt only mechanism and ensuring that the van is parked on site facing South.

 

Certainly IMHO rotators and electrical sun-seeking drives are a stage too far - tilts are worthwhile, but you need to be able to access them safely.

Edited by Barry J
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Thanks everyone for the replies, however I was hoping to source the particular type used by the other chap. Always the way, B&Q were selling them but no longer stocked, this type seemed a very good and not too dear option. Anyone?

 

Peter

 

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Use Sikaflex to attach to roof (no screws in the roof) and consider a wind deflector unless the panel is close behind the Heki Rooflight if you have one.

Ford C-Max and Coachman Festival 380/2 SE 2006    Motto  Carpe Diem

Still trying to find the perfect pitch. ..110 amp Battery+ 65 watt roof mounted Solar and 25 watt Wind Turbine. LED lighting. Status Aerial 315. Loose chattels marked with UV,. Safefill Gas Fitted.

 

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Use Sikaflex to attach to roof (no screws in the roof) and consider a wind deflector unless the panel is close behind the Heki Rooflight if you have one.

 

 

Like this Solar 1 and this Solar 2 held on with 6 of these brackets and Sikaflex. No need to spend a small fortune on 'proper' brackets! This setup has been on the roof since 1996 and has since travelled about 12000 miles. When the van gets changed the panel will be unbolted but there's no way the brackets will come off without a major fight.

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I purchased a boating mag the other day for the excellent solar panel article. With flat vs tracking systems I think I recall there being more overall benefit by getting higher output panels with the initial purchase. Obviously the sun moves during the day so your chosen direction will work against you a few hours later.

 

What is the best method to get the cable into the van? This is the main concern I have as I try to decide whether to buy a panel or not.

Edited by limecc
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So far as getting the cables in is concerned, I intend running them off the edge of the roof into the offside awning channel, all the way down to the front then underneath and up through the floor into the space behind the battery box.

 

However, what I really wanted was the shelf brackets which would be used as solar panel mounts as per the guy on UKCS. co. uk that I mentioned about on the first post. (See above)

 

Anyone know where I might buy them please?

 

Thanks

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They are the B&Q own brand shelf support brackets. I got them for their intended job but that was 15 plus years ago; so if you can't find them now maybe it is a line they have discontinued?

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http://www. windandsun. co. uk/Solar/PV_mounting_structures. htm Scroll down on this link and I think you have your bracket in view. :)

 

 

 

This is similar a system http://www. selectsol. ..rner-glue-mount

Edited by Lefthand Down

Ford C-Max and Coachman Festival 380/2 SE 2006    Motto  Carpe Diem

Still trying to find the perfect pitch. ..110 amp Battery+ 65 watt roof mounted Solar and 25 watt Wind Turbine. LED lighting. Status Aerial 315. Loose chattels marked with UV,. Safefill Gas Fitted.

 

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