Solar panel fitters

Submitted: Monday, Jul 06, 2009 at 20:24
ThreadID: 70448 Views:2467 Replies:5 FollowUps:7
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Hi,

Hope someone with experience in fitting panels on vehicles can help.

Want to fit 3 x 80 panels to the top of a canopy on a ute. Thinking of running two Al channel rails under them. Think of railway tracks then lay the panels side by side. Anchor the panels with 4 bolts per panels and 3 bolts per rail to the canopy. Rails will be approx 200mm in from each end.

Do you think that's ok?
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Reply By: Lex M (Brisbane) - Monday, Jul 06, 2009 at 20:45

Monday, Jul 06, 2009 at 20:45
Think about air pressure under them at speed.

Might need an air deflector at the front.
AnswerID: 373364

Follow Up By: Austravel - Monday, Jul 06, 2009 at 21:27

Monday, Jul 06, 2009 at 21:27
Thanks.

Open to correction but I think what I've suggested is what is done on roof installations, or very similar. These installations would need to be able to with stand higher wind speeds directly on the face of the panel.

Certainly correct me if I'm wrong, don't want to damage them.
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Follow Up By: Lex M (Brisbane) - Tuesday, Jul 07, 2009 at 13:07

Tuesday, Jul 07, 2009 at 13:07
When mounted on a roof they're not normally subjected to 100km plus wind speeds for hours at a time while lying flat and hitting potholes.

I put a support under the whole of the frame when I mounted mine, similar to the pictures below..
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Reply By: Mandrake - Monday, Jul 06, 2009 at 21:05

Monday, Jul 06, 2009 at 21:05
As per the above post - I'd be putting a "rail" across the leading edge too - In fact a frame to hold the 3 panel frames would probably be the way to go .. Yoy may even be able to build in a hinge and lock system so you can angle them at the sun ?

Just a thought ...

Rgds

Steve
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Reply By: Maîneÿ . . .- Monday, Jul 06, 2009 at 23:30

Monday, Jul 06, 2009 at 23:30
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The polymer sheet can be more clearly seen here, the 12v plug is used to add an extension lead to charge from the Solar panel remote, as it can be simply slid out from the back of the alloy track and put into the sun while camped under trees.

Maîneÿ . . .
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Reply By: Maîneÿ . . .- Tuesday, Jul 07, 2009 at 18:42

Tuesday, Jul 07, 2009 at 18:42
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Follow Up By: Austravel - Tuesday, Jul 07, 2009 at 21:43

Tuesday, Jul 07, 2009 at 21:43
Thanks for all the effort Mainey.
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Follow Up By: Boobook2 - Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 17:30

Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 17:30
That's a very nice set up Mainey. In one of the pics you say it has never been removed. Does that mean that you don't take it off the roof and set it up on the ground as planned? I intend to do something similar and like your design but wonder about that comment. Does it just work ok on the roof?
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Follow Up By: Maîneÿ . . .- Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 17:56

Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 17:56
Correct
In the top two pictures it shows the "locking mechanism" where I had planned to use a waterproof lock, so I had the alloy "L" bracket cut away to fit the lock shaft.
I could then if I needed to, remove the back panel by just sliding it out backwards, from underneath the four alloy lugs welded to the side rail.

I've never had to remove it, though I've had it out for testing the system.

I replaced the two locks with stainless bolts & Nylock nuts, cause it looks nicer and is less prone to have any movement, it will only take a few minutes to undo the two bolts anyway.

The Solar system powers 2 x 100+ ah AGM's so I have no 'lack of capacity' problem, with just a 70 Lt F/F, radio and lighting etc.
It works terrific on the roof, as one Steca pic shows it's capable of producing 12 Amps from 200 Watts while laying horizantal.
I think the best result comes from the sharp panel, because it starts working much earlier than the BP panel in very low light conditions, like early in the morning and late afternoons.

Maîneÿ . . .
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Reply By: Austravel - Sunday, Jul 12, 2009 at 11:13

Sunday, Jul 12, 2009 at 11:13
Thanks to all, especially Mainey for the photos.

Found out from some local solar guys that the panels can with stand way more force than I first thought. No need for full frame, no need for wind deflector, no need for heavy framing. In fact was told that two simple rails in from the end is more than adequate. Now they are fitted I can concur that is the case, the panel frames strengthen the whole system. Took a few days since I had to muck around due to vinyl roof but it's all done. Main thing I was told was to don't end mount and keep clear of rocks from yours or passing vehicles.

AnswerID: 374174

Follow Up By: Maîneÿ . . .- Sunday, Jul 12, 2009 at 12:33

Sunday, Jul 12, 2009 at 12:33
true, no real "need" for a wind deflector, however it will stop water from being forced under the panels by deflecting it up in the air when your travelling in rain.

You definately don't want water being forced into the actual panel stratum or inside any electronics under the panel, it's just 'insurance' it cuts down wind resistance and looks good :-)

Unfortunately I don't understand what "end mount" referrs to, and rocks won't be a problem when travelling.

Maîneÿ . . .
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Follow Up By: Austravel - Sunday, Jul 12, 2009 at 14:34

Sunday, Jul 12, 2009 at 14:34
All possibilities but I'm counting on the fact that these panels are mounted in some pretty extreme locations and they don't specify the need.

I agree moisture is the killer.

End mounting is for example you have 3 panels, build a frame up out of angle in a simple rectangle shape. Drop in the panels side by side and fix only the ends of each panel to the frame. Or on one 80watt panel fix two pieces of angle to the ends ((540mm side) and then fix to roof. Seems like quite a few do this and then get bleep when warranty is refused. I note it's even in the fitting instructions, don't end mount only.

The guy I spoke to said he's done a number of panels from rocks when mounted on trailers. Panels are mounted in same plane as roof but rocks must be getting glancing blows to the panel. For you and I it won't be a drama unless a semi etc throws up a rock. I've often had rocks hit in the middle of my past wagon, sounds pretty hard but I don't it's enough to break a panel.
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