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2016 Transit 350 mid roof wagon
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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,
Put build on hold due to “it’s just to hot out”. Getting back into it and have a question about solar panel install. I work and travel alone, except for dog and with no opposing digit he can’t hold back up wrench. I was thinking about rivnut for solar panel install. I think with fender washer inside and out plus good caulk should be strong enough and allow solo maintenance if needed. Other option would be glue/caulk and machine screw. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
If this is in another post please link to it. Did a search and didn’t find it. Thank you in advance.
Dave and Archie
 

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Not clear exactly what your question is.

But if you are asking if riv nuts thru the roof skin will hold a solar panel i’d say no way. It’d be way too floppy w/o internal bracing. You might consider using adhesive to attach wood firing strips to the inside of the sheetmetal (eg, 5200) and bolting /screwing thru the skin into the wood. Dave Orton (orton on here) has a blog which describes how he did something like that for his solar. And i did that for part of my max fan install. But riv nuts alone, yikes.

You know there are provided mounting points w/ threaded inserts already installed on the roof struts i assume.

And i did all of my work alone including max fan, solar, AC on the roof alone, without a pooch to keep me company. Ok, there was a guy running a forklift to put the AC on the roof and he had a dog.

Edit: i meant to say “w/o internal bracing” in the 3d sentence above, fixed that.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Not clear exactly what your question is.

But if you are asking if riv nuts thru the roof skin will hold a solar panel i’d say no way. It’d be way too floppy w/ internal bracing. You might consider using adhesive to attach wood firing strips to the inside of the sheetmetal (eg, 5200) and bolting /screwing thru the skin into the wood. Dave Orton (orton on here) has a blog which describes how he did something like that for his solar. And i did that for part of my max fan install. But riv nuts alone, yikes.

You know there are provided mounting points w/ threaded inserts already installed on the roof struts i assume.

And i did all of my work alone including max fan, solar, AC on the roof alone, without a pooch to keep me company. Ok, there was a guy running a forklift to put the AC on the roof and he had a dog.
Thank you. You gave me some great ideas to think about. I didn’t think the riv nuts were the solution but thought I would ask. Thank you again for your help and time.
 

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I put six of them thru the roof to hold the cap on for my propane heater chimney for pretty much the same reason, One person could do it without help. I just sealed everything up with Dicor lap sealant.
This Cap only weighs about a pound and does not catch much wind
 

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Rivnuts will work. 1/4” or 5/16” at minimum. They won’t fail if done correctly. If the metal is too thin or flexible that is another thing to deal with, but the rivnuts won’t fail.
 

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I built a rack to hold my single solar panel, the rack uses the threaded inserts in the roof struts. After that I used hardwood strips and 5200 to support the underside of the roof skin to supprt the max fan. The wood/5200 was super strong and I wish I did that for the solar as you’d not see the ughly rack beams running between the roof strut mounting points.

You’ll get crafty finding ways to hold a wrench on the other side of a fastener. You’ll also think you will loose your mind when a wrench slips off a bolt for the 100th time and you have to crawl out from under the van to reposition it.
 

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You can usually get it done solo. One trick is to use painters tape to hold nut or wrench in position as you work from the other side.
 

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IMO the roof sheet metal is too thin to bolt to it without additional support under the roof sheet metal. The feet of my solar install were too far from a rib so I glued wood strips between the ribs. The bolts for the feet went through the wood strips.

Solar System | Orton Travel Transit (ortontransit.info)
 

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I just stuck my panels on with VHB tape. The trick is using the right mounts.
142913


142916
 

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I used VHB as well, the industrial-strength 3M 5952, ordered from Digikey. I have three 100watt panels, held by a total of 6 L-channel brackets, 1.5" by 6" long. The panels have been up for two years, I check the mounts occasionally and they will not budge.
 

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Best and safest long term (100,000 miles) method is to use the factory attachment points. Last thing you want to see is your solar panel blowing off and going through the windshield of the car behind you. 80 mph + 60 mph gust of wind equals hurricane force.

All the best,
Hein
DIYvan
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I built a rack to hold my single solar panel, the rack uses the threaded inserts in the roof struts. After that I used hardwood strips and 5200 to support the underside of the roof skin to supprt the max fan. The wood/5200 was super strong and I wish I did that for the solar as you’d not see the ughly rack beams running between the roof strut mounting points.

You’ll get crafty finding ways to hold a wrench on the other side of a fastener. You’ll also think you will loose your mind when a wrench slips off a bolt for the 100th time and you have to crawl out from under the van to reposition it.
Yes sir. Can make you a little crazy.
 
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