Solar Panel on Bonnet

Dear everyone,

I have a flexible solar panel, customized for the bonnet of my Nissan xtrail. Now, with all my luck, I found out that mounting a panel on the bonnet is not allowed in Western Australia. I already have a tent on the roof and am at loss on where to put the solar panel now. Any ideas?

Hope to bring you some laughter in this time of lockdown, though this is a serious problem. Happy about advice!

Corinna
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at 14:40

Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at 14:40
On a light weight aluminium frame over the rear window on a couple of small gas struts like a mini awning.
Cheers,
Peter
OKA196 motorhome
AnswerID: 631783

Reply By: Gbc.. - Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at 15:46

Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at 15:46
The flexi panels have a textured matte finish and cannot reflect sunlight into your eyes like a glass protected panel. That is why the law exists.
I have no idea how exactly it is written or if you have any recourse. If you are really brave you could take them to task or ignore it at your peril. I would see if there is a line in the act with regards light reflection or if it is a simple blanket ban because it was written prior to the existence of flexi panels.
AnswerID: 631785

Follow Up By: Corinna - Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at 20:37

Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at 20:37
Thank you! Could you tell me where I can find the exact laws online? I am not from here, and haven't found my answers on the website of the department of transport or through Google.
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FollowupID: 908051

Follow Up By: Gbc.. - Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at 20:51

Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at 20:51
I’m not from WA so couldn’t help with their legislation. I see there are companies producing vehicle specific bonnet mount panels in other countries.

https://suncruisermedia.com/4WDrive/accessories/cascadia-4x4-hood-mounted-solar-panel/
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FollowupID: 908052

Follow Up By: qldcamper - Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 09:32

Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 09:32
Not all flexable panels are textured.
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FollowupID: 908073

Follow Up By: Corinna - Thursday, May 28, 2020 at 11:04

Thursday, May 28, 2020 at 11:04
Mine is - I messaged the department of transportation and we'll see what they say, keep you postet!
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FollowupID: 908139

Follow Up By: Batt's - Saturday, May 30, 2020 at 19:08

Saturday, May 30, 2020 at 19:08
Gbc that's a nice looking panel for the bonnet it's not to everyone's liking but I think it's a good idea if people have limited room
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FollowupID: 908234

Reply By: Member - Bigfish - Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at 16:17

Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at 16:17
Just make a frame and tie it to the roof top tent. Remove when you go to set up camp. Easy to do.
AnswerID: 631787

Reply By: B1B2 - Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at 17:04

Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at 17:04
I had a solar panel on my roof rack in 2003. I put hinges on it so I could flip it forward over the windscreen, then pack the rack and pull it back over the load with occy straps. I had a retaining cord on it so it couldn't open too far.
Worked for 15 years.
Good this staying at home, you plenty of stuff resolved.
AnswerID: 631790

Reply By: RMD - Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at 20:23

Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at 20:23
Corinna.
Doesn't your alternator charge the battery while driving? If so, you don't need a panel on the bonnet and only deploy one from storage when needed, and then it can be at the optimum angles, which the bonnet is not.
AnswerID: 631799

Reply By: Keith B2 - Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 07:22

Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 07:22
A flexible panel needs to be installed with an air gap underneath it to avoid overheating, which shortens its life. Solar4RVs has fitting instructions.
Keith
AnswerID: 631808

Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 15:17

Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 15:17
Solar4RVs has also done testing that says that solar panels without cooling underneath will loose 9% of their maximum output under hot conditions, otherwise not a problem.
Cheers,
Peter
OKA196 motorhome
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FollowupID: 908099

Follow Up By: Keith B2 - Thursday, May 28, 2020 at 07:51

Thursday, May 28, 2020 at 07:51
The loss of output is not the main problem. It's the reduced life. In fact Kimberly Karavans have had a spate of solar panel failures due to the absence of an air gap underneath. There was mention of it som,e time ago on the Solar4RVs website which I now can seem to find.
Keith
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FollowupID: 908127

Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Thursday, May 28, 2020 at 09:51

Thursday, May 28, 2020 at 09:51
Keith, it wasn't just the lack of air gap.

As the brand struggled under the old regime, cheap "solutions" were found, one of them being cheap Chinese thin panels of poor quality. Also cheap Chinese crappy solar regulators. And cheap, undersized wiring. All contributed to poor performance of the PV system.

Also, the method of fixing to the roof. The method chosen promoted stress in the panels, with some of the conductors in the panels cracking.

The new owners of the business have sourced high quality thin panels from USA. The manufacturer recommends flush mounting (ie, no air gap to speak of) with industrial double-sided tape.

Cheers

FrankP

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Reply By: Rangiephil - Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 10:53

Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 10:53
I saw a while ago where someone had fitted a set of drawer sliders under their roof rack which they slid out when stopped.
Regards PhilipA
AnswerID: 631814

Follow Up By: Batt's - Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 23:05

Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 23:05
Like this a fellow on a 4wd site I visit made this It's a great idea.
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FollowupID: 908123

Follow Up By: Corinna - Thursday, May 28, 2020 at 11:02

Thursday, May 28, 2020 at 11:02
That is a really good idea, wish I would have thought of that earlier. Will be for the next car!
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FollowupID: 908138

Follow Up By: Zippo - Monday, Jun 08, 2020 at 13:32

Monday, Jun 08, 2020 at 13:32
Batts, I hope there's some support for that cantilever. And even then, support legs won't help against uplift from wind. (Sorry, that's the engineer in me coming out ...).

It would also benefit from some ability to tilt it - which may or may not be incorporated into that one, can't tell.
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Reply By: Dean K3 - Thursday, May 28, 2020 at 13:45

Thursday, May 28, 2020 at 13:45
I'll just leave this here posted it recently in a similar thread

Link to ABC news story.

EDIT by Modsquad to fix the link.
AnswerID: 631831

Follow Up By: qldcamper - Thursday, May 28, 2020 at 14:46

Thursday, May 28, 2020 at 14:46
Link doesnt work Dean.
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FollowupID: 908149

Follow Up By: Gbc.. - Thursday, May 28, 2020 at 15:38

Thursday, May 28, 2020 at 15:38
And being a normal old solar panel, he was done for non pedestrian friendly mods.
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Follow Up By: ModSquad - Thursday, May 28, 2020 at 16:33

Thursday, May 28, 2020 at 16:33
Dean,

The best way to put a link in a post is to use the Link button below the compose window.

Click the button, paste your link in the URL/Address space and then type a few words in Description as we've done in your post and Bob's your father's brother.

Cheers

Modsquad
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FollowupID: 908158

Reply By: Corinna - Monday, Jun 08, 2020 at 11:44

Monday, Jun 08, 2020 at 11:44
Good news, everyone: The solar panel got approved by the department of vehicle standards in South Australia, where the car is registered, given it is lightweight and textured, therefore doesn't reflect light while driving.

Now, ready to mount, I have several questions:
1. Should I screw the panel onto the hood (see here) , or do I use something like Silkaflex or Velcro Heavy Duty (see here)?
2. Should I leave space between bonnet and panel for airflow, to prevent overheating? However, doesn't the airflow make the construction prone to rip apart?
3. The cable of the panel is supposed to reach to the passengers foot area, this is where I will keep the solar controller and the battery box. Any idea on how to do this?

As you may see - I'm new to this, and advice is truly appreciated.
AnswerID: 632033

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