roof rack for solar panels

Submitted: Monday, Apr 24, 2006 at 15:07
ThreadID: 33186 Views:6054 Replies:7 FollowUps:6
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Hi All, I have 2 x 62w unisolar panels that are hinged ie. both fold up together. I currently have them mounted on a full length steel rack on the troopy which is way heavy. I dont need anything else up top for now and am thinking of mounting them on some Rhino racks or similar. Anybody got a similar setup? I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts, regards, Peter.
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Reply By: Kiwi B - Monday, Apr 24, 2006 at 16:18

Monday, Apr 24, 2006 at 16:18
Currently going thru this excercise meself on GU Patrol and fitting a Unisolar 65w. Found some large hinges to sort the front end and making sliding arms so I can adjust the angle. Rhino Spotz bars.

Fiddly but I think I'm winning. First big wind will be the real test.

Good luck, Bruce H.
AnswerID: 168719

Reply By: Longreach - Monday, Apr 24, 2006 at 16:35

Monday, Apr 24, 2006 at 16:35
I have a 64w (62?) UniSolar and I bought Rhino bars intending to mount the panel directly onto the bars. When I came to do it I found I could mount the panel directly onto the Rhino mounts for the bars and left the bars home saving a little weight and keeping the panel just a little lower. I drilled holes in the panel frame and bolted it where the bolts in the Rhino mounts would normally bolt to the bars. This is on a LC100 GXL. The spacing of the rhino racks on the factory hardpoints on the cruiser roof were exactly right for the width of the Unilsolar panel.
Having said that, I would prefer to have the panel on a hinge system where I can tilt it up in the required direction when setting up camp.
Sorry, but re-reading this it is probably not much help to you but I will be interested to see other comments.
I'm thinking the way to create the hinge mechanism would be to create a second lightweight aluminium frame which is bolted to the car (via the racks) and then the solar panel hinges off it. I'm also a little wary of the security aspect of $800 panels which are not bolted down in some way.
AnswerID: 168722

Follow Up By: Alloy c/t - Monday, Apr 24, 2006 at 17:40

Monday, Apr 24, 2006 at 17:40
Bolted down or not ,if someone wants your panels they will have them , optimum use is still free standing and shift 3-4 times per day to follow the sun ,over Easter at Levuka 4x4 park saw 9-10 vehicles with panels mounted on roof in various ways ,had 7 different blokes ask about my free standing and how many amps I manage to produce per day compared to their fixed units ,all were amazed that I get upto 12amps per hr from my 64 unisolar and 120 kycera ,, one fellow was only getting 4.8amps from his 2x100 BPs fixed to his roof rack ,,,,security is one thing ,using solar is another.
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Follow Up By: Oznuggets - Tuesday, Apr 25, 2006 at 11:32

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2006 at 11:32
Yes sorry Longreach they are 64w not 62. Mine are fairly secure on my old rack, I built a frame out of steel angle that the first panel sits in just for a bit of reinforcement and the second panel is hinged to the frame so it folds up face to face with the other, that works quite well but in hindsight is probably not really needed as the panels seem quite robust. I'd like to get rid of the old heavy rack and the steel frame but I'll still keep the hinges. The unisolars seem to work more efficiently sittiing flat than other panels which is the main reason I bought them and have no complaints with them at all. When I get rid of the frame and put them on some rhino racks I'll probably rig up some sort of switch which will activate the alarm input when they are opened but then again I guess they can take the whole rack then.... I'll keep thinking! all the best, Peter.
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Reply By: VK3CAT - Monday, Apr 24, 2006 at 18:03

Monday, Apr 24, 2006 at 18:03
I have 2 x Solarex 55 watt panels that I mount under a "Superax" roof rack that sits on top of 3 x Rhino bars. Spuperax is made by unistrut & uses the same mountings as Rhino equipment.
The bars are 40mm thick, the panels are 50mm high so I used some Rhino 10mm spacers to make up the difference. The panels are bolted to the underside of the Rhino bars using 50mm x 6mm Aluminium angle & Unistrut spring loaded nuts & the associated sized bolt.
The advantage of this is that you still have the entire rack for storage.
You can get some charge by taking the gear off the rack & exposing the panels.
It is a bit tricky to remove the panels (not such a bad thing)
Note that you will need to adjust the orientation of your panel during the day if you want to get maximum charging output. Having the panel fixed flat or near flat will not work. From memmory, the correct angle for a fixed panel is the degree of latitude plus 15 degrees.
Do a test yourself. Connect a single panel up to a 50 watt down light globe & with a volt meter, watch the brightness & voltage vary with different angles to the sun.
I have been running portable solar setups since 1997.
Remember to use a heavy guage cable - 4 - 6mm sq should do. Voltage drop is critical. Depending on your loading, you probably won't need to run via a solar regulator - need to monitor it though!
Cheers Tony
AnswerID: 168734

Reply By: Member - Brian (WA) - Monday, Apr 24, 2006 at 18:16

Monday, Apr 24, 2006 at 18:16
Hi Have mine on roof using rhino roof bars. Have them hinged so they can be
tilted if need be. Clamped flat when traverling. Not on a troopy though, but should make any differance.

<a href="http://photobucket

dont know if this will work
brian
AnswerID: 168738

Follow Up By: Member - Brian (WA) - Monday, Apr 24, 2006 at 18:19

Monday, Apr 24, 2006 at 18:19
http://i30.photobucket.com/albums/c315/brian-m/GoodinJuly2005001.jpg
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Follow Up By: Member - Brian (WA) - Monday, Apr 24, 2006 at 18:22

Monday, Apr 24, 2006 at 18:22
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Follow Up By: Member - Brian (WA) - Monday, Apr 24, 2006 at 18:35

Monday, Apr 24, 2006 at 18:35
!MPG:33!
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Follow Up By: Oznuggets - Tuesday, Apr 25, 2006 at 11:47

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2006 at 11:47
Thanks for the info and pic Brian, looks like they are working for you... regards, Peter
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Reply By: Bilbo - Monday, Apr 24, 2006 at 20:55

Monday, Apr 24, 2006 at 20:55
My mate has his 2 panels mounted on his 4Wd using those Whitco window locks. He has 4 window locks per panel, two on each panel on each side. The steel pin on these locks acts as the pivot and by unlocking one side at a time, he can pivot each one around the respective steel pins on each side. This way, he has security when they're all locked in the down position and still has security when one side is in the up position.

They ain't cheap though - something like $25.00 per lock and if ya have 8 of 'em like he has, that's $200.00 - cheaper than a stolen panel though.

Damn fine idea I reckon.

Bilbo

AnswerID: 168774

Reply By: Member - Ray - Monday, Apr 24, 2006 at 22:03

Monday, Apr 24, 2006 at 22:03
Sory if I'm wrong but I keep reading about "my mate" or "I heard" about this or that getting knocked off from camp sites or caravan parks. Do we actually know if it is as serious as people are making out? It may well be but I have never had anything taken nor have any of my friends and we get out a fair bit. Of course this is mostly in WA where we are a bit more civilized than the rest of the country.
AnswerID: 168796

Reply By: Oznuggets - Tuesday, Apr 25, 2006 at 11:45

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2006 at 11:45
Thanks Bilbo, Security is definitely something to keep in mind sounds like a good idea. Ray - I haven't heard of too much in the way of gear getting knocked off from vehicles but my guess is it's probably more likely to happen when you are travelling as people seem to take notice of what you have on your rig. I live in Sydney and I bet my folded solar panels hardly get noticed when I have the rack on. In fact my boss ( an engineer :) ) said to me one day "what is that sign you have folded up on your roof? " never mind haha. Having said that when they do knock off something in Sydney often they take the whole bloody lot, Peter
AnswerID: 168873

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