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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I don't have much space on the roof left with a few hatches, a cargo box, and a kayak. I'm trying to be creative here. I don't need solar but it would be nice.

I'm thinking about installing two flexible solar panels side by side above the windshield. I'd use some combination of butyl tape, eternalbond, and caulk. Possibly sheet metal screws or bolts. I'm not sure if this is a good idea?

All sides could be sealed or maybe just the front. I imagine if I lifted it half an inch all around for better airflow there may be too much lift at this angle?

The picture is a 49 x 21" panel but even two 60" x 22" panels would fit leaving 2 inches above the windshield.
 

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I would attach them directly to the roof, not leave a gap. 3M VHB Tape works well to attach to roof. I would seal completely around the perimeter so water has no place to get under the panels. Not an ideal location, as you will need to have the front end facing the sun. Sounds like that is your only choice though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Just for reference I eyeballed the bend to be about 35 degrees, so Sunpower panels are off the table since they are limited to 30 degrees.
 

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I probably would not do that
I bet you are going to get some flapping around or movement while going down the road
That will probably end up cracking a solder trace?
Just my .02


I would just hang them in a different spot off my roof rack and take them back inside when I move the van
Or lay them on top of an awning

I have two fixed roof mounted solar panels which is less than ideal unless the sun is in the sweet spot
Then again, I don't park out in the sun unless it really cold and I need the sun's heat

The best scenario I have seen from videos on youtube are people that have roof mounted panels and portable panels
They set out the portable panels in the sun at the angle that does them the most good

You can still park in the shade and have panels out in the sun if done right
 

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Since I have roof rails, I wanted the middle of the roof open for racks. I used vhb tape to mount a 200w flexible panel fore of where the rails begin (the first flat mounting pad). My panel fit sideways and doesn't reach the windshield.

I wanted to let air flow through the channels to cool the panel and to let any water evaporate so I only taped the high spots between the channels. The inside ceiling still gets noticeably hotter under the panel, even with aerogel insulation and carpet headliner.

The curves are a pain to deal with: not only the front to back, but also the side to side. The roof surface up front is more like a sphere. I started taping down on the leading edge, then the sides, and now the trailing edge has ripples over the middle channels. Not great cosmetically, but I don't see how you could mount it perfectly on that surface. If you run your two panels longitudinally, you might have an easier time.

Check my Instagram account for pics (there's a ferry crossing post from June that shows a birdseye view).
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Since I have roof rails, I wanted the middle of the roof open for racks. I used vhb tape to mount a 200w flexible panel fore of where the rails begin (the first flat mounting pad). My panel fit sideways and doesn't reach the windshield.
Thanks for the information. I realize it would be important to use some barrier to prevent heat transfer. Hopefully I can prevent the panel from warping.

I don't think an air barrier possible in this situation so I'll test a few things. I saw someone used closed cell foam which doesn't make sense to me. I'll have a look at twin wall polycarbonate. Solbian uses it to stiffen a panel over canvas, maybe it can reduce heat transfer as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I VHB'd the Renogy 160w solar panels to a twinwall polycarbonate panel that I picked up at Home Depot. The main reason was to have a stiffer back to prevent caving in over the channels and reduce heat transfer to the roof.

In the end, I'm not sure it was worth the effort to attach the backing because it ended up being harder to lay flat. I added some caulk to the rear of the panels but I haven't decided how to seal the sides. Some of the gaps are too big for caulk. Something like Eternabond would work but may be difficult to remove.
 

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Perhaps your next upgrade could be a second pair of windshield wipers ? ?
 

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Moose; that look like a fun project. You could get some flexible board material, like the 1x2 plastic "trim boards" at Home Depot, and use them to trim the sides so you don't have the gap. Make sure to leave some sort of opening for water that gets underneath to drain, though.
 

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In the end, I'm not sure it was worth the effort to attach the backing because it ended up being harder to lay flat.
Sandwich construction of flexible materials can become be very stiff.
To avoid this, the proper sequence is to attach the backing to the roof, and only then attach the panel to the backing.
 
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I don't have much space on the roof left with a few hatches, a cargo box, and a kayak. I'm trying to be creative here. I don't need solar but it would be nice.

I'm thinking about installing two flexible solar panels side by side above the windshield. I'd use some combination of butyl tape, eternalbond, and caulk. Possibly sheet metal screws or bolts. I'm not sure if this is a good idea?

All sides could be sealed or maybe just the front. I imagine if I lifted it half an inch all around for better airflow there may be too much lift at this angle?

The picture is a 49 x 21" panel but even two 60" x 22" panels would fit leaving 2 inches above the windshield.
I know this is an old post but in case anyone else comes here, I would recommend attaching them flush with the roof only at the front to prevent lift and then possibly use some sort of barrier or spacing material and elevate the rest of the panel to provide airflow and separation from the hot metal roof. Or you could mount a small windshield in front of the panels.
I don't have much space on the roof left with a few hatches, a cargo box, and a kayak. I'm trying to be creative here. I don't need solar but it would be nice.

I'm thinking about installing two flexible solar panels side by side above the windshield. I'd use some combination of butyl tape, eternalbond, and caulk. Possibly sheet metal screws or bolts. I'm not sure if this is a good idea?

All sides could be sealed or maybe just the front. I imagine if I lifted it half an inch all around for better airflow there may be too much lift at this angle?

The picture is a 49 x 21" panel but even two 60" x 22" panels would fit leaving 2 inches above the windshield.
I don't have much space on the roof left with a few hatches, a cargo box, and a kayak. I'm trying to be creative here. I don't need solar but it would be nice.

I'm thinking about installing two flexible solar panels side by side above the windshield. I'd use some combination of butyl tape, eternalbond, and caulk. Possibly sheet metal screws or bolts. I'm not sure if this is a good idea?

All sides could be sealed or maybe just the front. I imagine if I lifted it half an inch all around for better airflow there may be too much lift at this angle?

The picture is a 49 x 21" panel but even two 60" x 22" panels would fit leaving 2 inches above the windshield.
I know this is an old post but in case anyone else comes here, I would recommend attaching them flush with the roof only at the front to prevent lift and then possibly use some sort of barrier or spacing material and elevate the rest of the panel to provide airflow and separation from the hot metal roof. Or you could mount a small windshield in front of the panels.
 

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Successfully installed several of these SunPower panels on top of my camper van that replaced the heavy, wind dragging glass panels. It works just as well as the glass ones. I used eternal bond tape along with some standard fastening methods. you should use corrugated plastic underneath if mounting on a completely flat surface for air circulation.
 
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