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Discussion Starter #1
This thread can be for any solar accessory,...from tilting hardware to mounting, to whatever,...I'm interested in all.

My first question (besides Jet Haden, who fabricated something himself I believe) has anyone come across a Leading Edge Air Deflector,...to reduce stress on solar applications?

Saw this on e-bay,...but looking for other options
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Solar-panel-Mounting-bracket-Corner-Spolier-brackets-cable-entry-gland-box-/190880692640

Considering the number of RV solar panels being installed, I'd figure that Deflectors would be a popular subject.

From a few things I've read,...the newer flat panels are not as effective or efficient,...and the thicker ones need to be off the surface to keep them cool. It appears (and I could be mistaken) that hot panels are not very efficient,...with suggestions of 2"-4" off the roof. However,...this could be primarily based on house applications. .
 

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If solar accessories count things like charge controllers.... here is what we will be using.


More than likely going with 2-3 Kyocera 130 watt panels.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
If solar accessories count things like charge controllers.... here is what we will be using.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007SNKU1G?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=ox_sc_act_title_9&smid=A31H76PZNDKUUJ

More than likely going with 2-3 Kyocera 130 watt panels.
Thanks. I'm still ponding/researching.

Been thinking of getting a bundle,...like the Solar Elite 320w

[ame]http://www.amazon.com/Carmanah-Power-Solar-Elite-Watt/dp/B00TU8ADGO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1441630605&sr=8-1&keywords=go+elite+solar[/ame]

Good or bad,...love to hear of experiences with solar. I've heard of some RVers who say they've had a system running for "decades" without a problem. I like no problems.
 

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Solar panel efficiency goes down with heat. It is more or less a linear slope. You'll need to get the graph for your specific panel. So you don't have to give it an air gap but you may need more panels.
 

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Thanks. I'm still ponding/researching.

Been thinking of getting a bundle,...like the Solar Elite 320w

http://www.amazon.com/Carmanah-Power-Solar-Elite-Watt/dp/B00TU8ADGO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1441630605&sr=8-1&keywords=go+elite+solar

Good or bad,...love to hear of experiences with solar. I've heard of some RVers who say they've had a system running for "decades" without a problem. I like no problems.
We had solar on our Class A and used it for years without issue. It worked very well. We traveled in it for a year and never used the generator. Very reliable.

We owned it for about 6-7 years and had solar the entire time. No problems.
 

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Hi,
Just thought I'd pass on an approach to solar for the van that is a little different.

The idea is to use just one large panel (315 watts in our case) instead of mounting several smaller PV panels. The idea is that its less work to mount one panel, there is less wiring up on the roof between panels, and (maybe) fewer roof penetrations, and smaller wires can be used due to the higher voltage of the PV panel. This may vary with your van as 2 to 4 smaller panels may fit in better on some roofs.

The panels like our 315 watt are larger, have more cells, and put out a higher voltage. This requires a charge controller that is designed to handle this size panel. We used a MidNite Solar Kid controller -- it takes the about 37 volts the panel puts out and converts it to 12 volts for charging. Its a full 3 stage charger and can be set for flooded or AGM batteries -- is also an MPPT controller. We got it for $285, but it has gone up to $440! I believe that Blue Sky also makes a suitable controller and it costs less.

This is our electrical system with the solar: http://www.buildagreenrv.com/our-conversion/promaster-diy-camper-van-conversion-electrical-and-solar/ There is a link in there that shows the details on the PV panel mounting.



Gary
 

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Hi,
Just thought I'd pass on an approach to solar for the van that is a little different.
My installation will be very similar. One 300 watt panel with a Morningstar 15 amp MPPT solar controller. I will put two 7/8" dia. 1/2" NPT holes in the roof for the two solar cables. My mounts will be similar to yours. Four 3/16 x 1 1/2 x 6" long alum. angles bolted to existing panel holes on side of panel extrusion. A second formed SS angle that bolts to the alum. angle and then down to the roof. Will bolt the SS angle through the roof. So four holes for the mounting legs. I will have about 1" clearance between panel frame and top of roof on van centerline.

My Sprinter conversion had a 205 watt panel that was physically the same size as the Transit 300 watt panel. No problem camping indefinitely with sun. I have a second pure sine inverter that is powered by the Transit 12 volt system. That is my backup source of "shore power" that is available while driving. This design always charges the house battery with 3 stage charging. The other uses for the "vehicle" inverter are shower water heating and an electric baseboard heater. Charge or water heat or air heat.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
My installation will be very similar. One 300 watt panel with a Morningstar 15 amp MPPT solar controller. I will put two 7/8" dia. 1/2" NPT holes in the roof for the two solar cables. My mounts will be similar to yours. Four 3/16 x 1 1/2 x 6" long alum. angles bolted to existing panel holes on side of panel extrusion. A second formed SS angle that bolts to the alum. angle and then down to the roof. Will bolt the SS angle through the roof. So four holes for the mounting legs. I will have about 1" clearance between panel frame and top of roof on van centerline.
On the 148wb MR,...from an inside view, looking up at the roof,...there are two roof holes forward, and 4 far rear. The other mounting looking spots from the top of roof view, do not have an apparent entry from under the roof,...and seem to be under the roof beams.

Curious,...do you have an exact strategy yet for bolting the aluminum frame to the roof.

I can see there appears to be advantages in having a single panel vs two,...are there any negatives?

Anyone plan on an adjustable tilt mount?

Anyone plan on a leading edge spoiler/air deflector.
 

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On the 148wb MR,...from an inside view, looking up at the roof,...there are two roof holes forward, and 4 far rear. The other mounting looking spots from the top of roof view, do not have an apparent entry from under the roof,...and seem to be under the roof beams.

Curious,...do you have an exact strategy yet for bolting the aluminum frame to the roof.

I can see there appears to be advantages in having a single panel vs two,...are there any negatives?

Anyone plan on an adjustable tilt mount?

Anyone plan on a leading edge spoiler/air deflector.
Hi,
The bigger panels are more awkward to put up (but only one to do). If you have other stuff on the roof it may be hard to fit the single large panel in.

I thought about adjustable tilt but decided I'd probably not end up using it that much. In the summer, the sun is high enough it does not make much difference -- it does not really get to be much of an advantage until mid winter. You can use PVWatts at various tilt angles to see the actual advantage.

I'd really like to try a fairing on the front to smooth the airflow off the roof and over the panel, and thinking about using the AirTab vortex generators on an alum sheet at the back of the pv panel.

Gary
 

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On the 148wb MR,...from an inside view, looking up at the roof,...there are two roof holes forward, and 4 far rear. The other mounting looking spots from the top of roof view, do not have an apparent entry from under the roof,...and seem to be under the roof beams.

Curious,...do you have an exact strategy yet for bolting the aluminum frame to the roof.

I can see there appears to be advantages in having a single panel vs two,...are there any negatives?

Anyone plan on an adjustable tilt mount?

Anyone plan on a leading edge spoiler/air deflector.
Looked at all the existing plugged holes. Tapped holes are too close to the roof edge for mounting feet. To use them I would need to add cross beams. Did not want to have or see the support. I used 80/20 cross beams on the sold Sprinter build and did not like the ends showing. Added four 6" long angles to side of solar panel extrusion using existing solar panel holes. That dictated the foot locations.
The panel location is dictated by the sloped high roof Transit and the location of the Maxxair fan at the back. So very little choice as far as location. I had four 6" long SS angles formed where the angle is a bit over 90 degrees to compensate for the roof angle. The vertical leg of the SS angle has two bolts that bolt to the side of the 6" angle feet I bolted to the panel extrusion. (Too bad I can not post a drawing on this site) The bottom leg of the SS angle sits on the roof. One hole for through the roof bolt. Will put 1/4" EDPM rubber pad between the SS angle and the roof. Use sealant on bolt head and around the perimeter of the foot.
The problem with the locations of the four through the roof bolts is they do not penetrate near a rib and the Transit roof is very flexible. Will add four horizontal pieces of wood under roof to span between the roof ribs where the foot bolts penetrate the roof.

My solar controller is located about in middle of cargo area front to back. Want to keep the length of the solar wiring to a minimum so want to go almost straight down to the controller. Using the available Transit roof holes would not locate the wires where I wanted them fore/aft and would put the wiring out from under the panel and visible. Wanted wiring under panel with penetrations at high point of roof corrugations. Two holes so I can retain the panel quick disconnect wire ends.

Not installed yet but I will document in the coming blog with drawings and pictures. Sorry I can not do that here.

IMO the only reason to have multiple panels would be if one large panel does not work with the space available or you need more than approx. 300 watts. Large high voltage panels can be purchased locally to eliminate the freight cost. They do require a more expensive MPPT controller to step down the panel voltage to the charging voltage. The single 205 watt panel I had on the Sprinter with a Morningstar 15 amp controller worked very well. Only solar panel charging used in last year of ownership. No shore or alternator charging.

Tilting would increase efficiency but would be a problem trying to park oriented to the sun and needing to adjust the angle. Easier to just have larger panel. Do not think a deflector would give a measurable difference in MPG.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Tilting would increase efficiency but would be a problem trying to park oriented to the sun and needing to adjust the angle. Easier to just have larger panel. Do not think a deflector would give a measurable difference in MPG.
Tilting,...predominately for long-term (2+ days) boondocking, wouldn't be as problematic as stealth camping, where one wouldn't be at a location long enough to worry about battery drain.

As for the deflector,...I was thinking more about safety,...for example,...drive 55+ into a 35+ mph head wind. Seems few are interested in them.

Another question,...although you may not be focused on,...is combo-ing a solar panel with a fiamma type awning. The "Annie" HR DIY had a problem with that, and put the awing on the side. I'm thinking, with a single, large panel, an awning could be attached to a MR from a roof rack.

My van won't be looking too stealthy,...aiming more for lengthy stays on BLM.
 

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On the 148wb MR,...from an inside view, looking up at the roof,...there are two roof holes forward, and 4 far rear. The other mounting looking spots from the top of roof view, do not have an apparent entry from under the roof,...and seem to be under the roof beams.

Curious,...do you have an exact strategy yet for bolting the aluminum frame to the roof.

I can see there appears to be advantages in having a single panel vs two,...are there any negatives?

Anyone plan on an adjustable tilt mount?

Anyone plan on a leading edge spoiler/air deflector.
I went with 4 paralleled 140W panels and a Blue Sky 3024 MPPT. I decided on multiple panels for several reasons.
Not in any particular order:

  • A catastrophic failure of 1-3 panels still leaves me with something functional.
  • Multiple panels may reduce partial shade caused losses.
  • Since we are in a relatively high latitude, oft cloudy part of the world, I wanted higher base wattage than I could get (or fit on the roof) with a single larger panel.
I also wanted to avoid bolting directly to the roof. The physical panel size I chose made for a neat way to mount to rails using the Transit's existing mount points. This will allow for future upgrades without having to plug any extra holes in the roof. Also reduces weight concerns about mounting to the roof sheet metal. The panel mounting is described in my build links below.


I'm working on an idea for a set of slide-out tiltable reflectors, one for each panel. They would be stored under the panels for traveling, slide out on either side of the van, and have swivel (possibly u-joint) mount mechanisms to allow some tilt toward the front or rear. I may do some experiments to see if it's actually worth building them once I've got some experience with the raw panel behavior.

I will probably experiment with a front deflector that extends from the front roof line slope.

Stan
 

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Tilting,...predominately for long-term (2+ days) boondocking, wouldn't be as problematic as stealth camping, where one wouldn't be at a location long enough to worry about battery drain.

As for the deflector,...I was thinking more about safety,...for example,...drive 55+ into a 35+ mph head wind. Seems few are interested in them.

Another question,...although you may not be focused on,...is combo-ing a solar panel with a fiamma type awning. The "Annie" HR DIY had a problem with that, and put the awing on the side. I'm thinking, with a single, large panel, an awning could be attached to a MR from a roof rack.

My van won't be looking too stealthy,...aiming more for lengthy stays on BLM.
I will not have an awning. If I want something I would use a 4 legged canopy next to the van that I could breakdown and carry in a bag.

With my single solar panel the edge of the panel is 7 5/16" from the Transit tapped roof holes centerline. I would think an awning could use the Transit tapped roof holes for mounting.
 

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...Another question,...although you may not be focused on,...is combo-ing a solar panel with a fiamma type awning. The "Annie" HR DIY had a problem with that, and put the awing on the side. I'm thinking, with a single, large panel, an awning could be attached to a MR from a roof rack...
I agree that mounting an awning on the side could be difficult on a MR. It works pretty well on the HR, with a few minor trade-offs. I wouldn't go so far as to call it a problem...;) The "problems" I had were more with the deliver and build quality of the brand I ended up using.

Chances are that I could have gone with a roof mount by making some adapters for my roof rail (or buying a roof rack instead of rolling my own). Didn't seem worth the extra cost or effort.

Stan
 

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I've been working on some 8020 tower brackets for the Transit. I found a Grape Solar 160 watt panel which would fit the span between two of the factory tower locations. 2 panels would fit side by side for a total of 320 Watts. Here is a layout drawing:

http://www.impact3d.com/Ford_Transit_2xGrape160W_layout.pdf

I'm looking for a person with a Transit willing to see if this system will fit. Please send a PM. These brackets may also support an awning but I'll have to work on the design for that. I have looked at some of the Fiamma brackets and there appear to be some generic ones that might work.


All the best,
Hein
Impact, Inc.


P.S. Layout drawing has been updated with improved tower bracket and also shows van roof profile.
 
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