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Old 01-08-2019, 10:59 AM   #1
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Solar Installation

I have a 2013 Escape 19 with a 90 watt panel roof mounted from factory. I want to add additional capacity and debating on another roof panel or a remote ground based panel. I would prefer roof mount but do not want to drill into the roof and I'm not sure about the flexible panels. In looking at my current installation I cannot see where the aluminum rails are bolted through the roof. Is it possible that they are glued to the roof? Has anyone glued aluminum rails to the roof and mounted the panel frame to those rails?


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Old 01-08-2019, 11:39 AM   #2
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The rails are glued to the roof with 3M 5200 adhesive. You will no doubt be told the only safe thing to do is contact ETI for a retrofit kit to bolt through the ceiling, however that is not you're only safe option. Also, with your location the bolts would be in the main ceiling area instead of in overhead cabinets.

AM solar in Springfield, OR has been using VHB tape for many years and has never had a panel fly off using this technique. They have a fantastic selection of videos to help educate you in all aspects of using solar and offer a "how to" for installation on the roof.
https://amsolar.com/rv-solar/support/

I augmented my installation of my factory installation on rails like yours and feel totally confident in it. I had four 4 x 4 aluminum brackets made for $50 and used the proper VHB tape specified for that application then used Dicor lap sealant on top to keep moisture off. The middle image shows the smaller ETI supplied brackets which I did not use.
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File Type: jpg panel feet.jpg (149.2 KB, 40 views)
File Type: jpg ETI feet.jpg (97.0 KB, 42 views)
File Type: jpg Dicor feet.jpg (73.3 KB, 44 views)
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Old 01-08-2019, 11:46 AM   #3
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Looks like it may be glued, but hard to tell from the pic. I’d call ETI and ask them as well as see if you are part of the recall on the glued mounts.
If it’s bolted through you are good to go. Rather than adding another panel I’d just upgrade the 90w panel that is there. You could get a 160-200w panel and replace the 90 doubling your capacity without having to add more mounts, etc.
Rossue’s solution above would definitely be a good way to go, upgrading the existing location.
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Old 01-08-2019, 11:48 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rossue View Post
AM solar in Springfield, OR has been using VHB tape for many years and has never had a panel fly off using this technique. They have a fantastic selection of videos to help educate you in all aspects of using solar and offer a "how to" for installation on the roof.
https://amsolar.com/rv-solar/support/
Thank you for providing the link to AM Solar's video library. What a tremendous resource. Now I can watch and be confident for a DIY solar install.
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Old 01-08-2019, 12:04 PM   #5
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Before they started bolting the panels, Escape used two different methods of attaching the 1" aluminum square tubing to the roof. At first they used VHB tape. My 2011 used the tape. Eventually, they switched to epoxy. I added a 100 panel to my 17B with epoxy (with proper cleaning, etc) and both panels stayed on the roof for 100,000 miles, so both methods work. You do have to properly prepare the surfaces using either method.
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Old 01-08-2019, 01:04 PM   #6
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I did the same as Ross, adding the oversize brackets to my epoxied aluminum tubes according to how AMSolar does it, so far so good. Personally I'd do it again this way if I were to add another panel, at least till I hear how the glued down flex panels hold up after a few years. My portables are the flex panels, they seem to scratch fairly easily although I have no idea if light scratches effect power output. Of course portables take more beating then glued to the roof ones would.
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Old 01-08-2019, 01:17 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rossue View Post
The rails are glued to the roof with 3M 5200 adhesive. You will no doubt be told the only safe thing to do is contact ETI for a retrofit kit to bolt through the ceiling, however that is not you're only safe option. Also, with your location the bolts would be in the main ceiling area instead of in overhead cabinets.

AM solar in Springfield, OR has been using VHB tape for many years and has never had a panel fly off using this technique. They have a fantastic selection of videos to help educate you in all aspects of using solar and offer a "how to" for installation on the roof.
https://amsolar.com/rv-solar/support/



I augmented my installation of my factory installation on rails like yours and feel totally confident in it. I had four 4 x 4 aluminum brackets made for $50 and used the proper VHB tape specified for that application then used Dicor lap sealant on top to keep moisture off. The middle image shows the smaller ETI supplied brackets which I did not use.
Nice job Ross ! Pat
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Old 01-08-2019, 02:59 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rossue View Post
...I augmented my installation of my factory installation on rails like yours and feel totally confident in it. I had four 4 x 4 aluminum brackets made for $50 and used the proper VHB tape specified for that application then used Dicor lap sealant on top to keep moisture off. The middle image shows the smaller ETI supplied brackets which I did not use.
Looks like it will do the job. Any reason why you chose 4 small different sized brackets rather than adding a single longer bracket?
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Old 01-08-2019, 03:05 PM   #9
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Dave- those different size brackets were sent to me by ETI and were not used. Took a photo to show the difference in dimension. Used larger ones for a bigger footprint on the roof of the trailer
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Old 01-08-2019, 03:12 PM   #10
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Dave- those different size brackets were sent to me by ETI and were not used. Took a photo to show the difference in dimension. Used larger ones for a bigger footprint on the roof of the trailer
Ok. I misinterpreted your post. I had thought you used the narrower brackets. I see why you went with your own larger brackets. I am surprised that ETI sent you those odd mismatched brackets.
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Old 01-08-2019, 03:42 PM   #11
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I would prefer roof mount but do not want to drill into the roof and I'm not sure about the flexible panels.
I installed four Lensun panels on my trailer and they are working fine. I didn't have to drill holes to mount them - I use EternaBond tape to mount them on the roof. To test this stuff, I put a small strip of the tape on a cleaned roof surface and then tried to get it back off. Trust me, this stuff is not coming loose without a LOT of effort.

The current technology ETFE fiberglass backed flexible solar panels have higher efficiency and strength than glass panels.

Since the panels are mounted flat on the roof, wind is not an issue. Weather damage is much an issue either - the panels are tough enough you can walk on them. Don't try that with your glass panels. The ETFE panels are texured so that they absorb light better than flat glass panels with less reflection.

Anyway, I chose the flexible panels for my trailer for all the above reasons.

Below are pics of Jim Bennett's and my trailer with flexible solar panel installs.
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File Type: jpg DSC00117-XL.jpg (75.1 KB, 42 views)
File Type: jpg Escape 21 solar.jpg (274.8 KB, 41 views)
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Old 01-08-2019, 03:46 PM   #12
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The current technology ETFE fiberglass backed flexible solar panels have higher efficiency and strength than glass panels.

I installed four Lensun panels on my trailer and they are working fine. I didn't have to drill holes to mount them - I use EternaBond tape to mount them on the roof. To test this stuff, I put a small strip of the tape on a cleaned roof surface and then tried to get it back off. Trust me, this stuff is not coming loose without a LOT of effort.

Below are pics of Jim Bennett's and my trailer with flexible solar panel installs.
Since the panels are mounted flat on the roof, wind is not an issue. Weather damage is much an issue either - the panels are tough enough you can walk on them. Don't try that with your glass panels. The ETFE panels are texured so that they absorb light better than flat glass panels with less reflection.

Anyway, I chose the flexible panels for my trailer for all the above reasons.
Still very happy with our 3 semi flexible fiberglass backed panels . Pat
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Old 01-08-2019, 03:56 PM   #13
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Below are pics of Jim Bennett's and my trailer with flexible solar panel installs.
You guys could have even adhered one on the A/C cover!
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Old 01-08-2019, 04:05 PM   #14
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You guys could have even adhered one on the A/C cover!
Looking at the pics - your right!

The nice thing about having multiple solar panels is that even when one gets shaded, the rest are still putting out full power.
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Old 01-08-2019, 04:09 PM   #15
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Below are pics of Jim Bennett's and my trailer with flexible solar panel installs.
Following yours and Jim's lead, I augmented my factory panel with a Lensun panel on my 2019 E19" last spring. It was an easy mod. (Edit: how does one rotate sideways photos on this forum?)
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File Type: jpg IMG_3793.jpg (248.9 KB, 37 views)
File Type: jpg Pxta7vEiSGeZbqW2Pzj%kg.jpg (14.7 KB, 201 views)
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Old 01-08-2019, 04:14 PM   #16
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Following yours and Jim's lead, I augmented my factory panel with a Lensun panel on my 2019 E19" last spring. It was an easy mod. (Edit: how does one rotate sideways photos on this forum?)
I see you upgraded to a mppt charge controller as well. Are you planning to do the same with the 5.0TA?
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Old 01-08-2019, 04:16 PM   #17
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Looking at the pics - your right!

The nice thing about having multiple solar panels is that even when one gets shaded, the rest are still putting out full power.
Tom: So when you have that many panels do you have a group of two panels in series that are then in parallel with the other group of two panels in series? Just trying to get my head around system voltage versus current. Thanks.
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Old 01-08-2019, 04:25 PM   #18
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Tom: So when you have that many panels do you have a group of two panels in series that are then in parallel with the other group of two panels in series? Just trying to get my head around system voltage versus current. Thanks.
The rule of thumb on hooking up multiple solar panels is - if all the panels are the same amp output (voltage doesn't matter), series - if the panels have the same voltage output but different amp outputs, parallel. In series, the panel amps have to match because the total current from the set will only be as great as the panel putting out the least amps - it will limit the rest of the panels.

Of course, this is assuming you have a MPPT charge controller - PWM has to be run parallel since it can't handle the higher voltages.

Since I have a matching Lensun 100w panel, I hooked all the panels in parallel as the 100w panel has the same voltage output but puts out twice the amps as the roof panels. It required me to run heavier gauge wire for the drops to make up for it. Also, if one panel in a series connect gets shaded, all the panels in that series drop out. Parallel, only one panel gets dropped.

Jim has a portable that he was able to convert to 36v making it possible for him to hook up his panels two in series then the two sets paralleled.
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Old 01-08-2019, 04:36 PM   #19
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I see you upgraded to a mppt charge controller as well. Are you planning to do the same with the 5.0TA?
I'm going with the factory panel on the 5.0TA plus a Zamp port directly to the batteries. The factory 170 W panel is more than the 2013 vintage 60W plus the Lensun 60W on my E19" and so far that has been enough for our needs. I also have a 90W portable panel with a built in charger that I can plug into Zamp to follow the sun / place out of the shade if needed.

And no, I didn't upgrade to MPPT controller. I guess with the two 60W panels the factory controller worked fine. I have not had any issue with it.

I figure i can always add Lensun panels to the factory set up if our needs change. So far on the E19' my wife can cook a meal in the Insta-pot for supper and we have fully charged batteries the next day. (on both rigs I have the duel 6v batteries with a 1500 W inverter.)
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Old 01-08-2019, 04:59 PM   #20
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I'm going with the factory panel on the 5.0TA plus a Zamp port directly to the batteries. The factory 170 W panel is more than the 2013 vintage 60W plus the Lensun 60W on my E19" and so far that has been enough for our needs. I also have a 90W portable panel with a built in charger that I can plug into Zamp to follow the sun / place out of the shade if needed.

And no, I didn't upgrade to MPPT controller. I guess with the two 60W panels the factory controller worked fine. I have not had any issue with it.

I figure i can always add Lensun panels to the factory set up if our needs change. So far on the E19' my wife can cook a meal in the Insta-pot for supper and we have fully charged batteries the next day. (on both rigs I have the duel 6v batteries with a 1500 W inverter.)
The reason I guessed that you had a MPPT controller is that your panels are hooked up in series and putting out up to 36 volts. The PWM controller that the Escape came with can only use up to 15 volts of that to charge the battery and the total panel amp output equals whatever the amps are for the weakest panel.

If you put branch connectors where the two panels connect on the roof, that would put your panels in parallel and you will get the full power of both panels. You would have the total panel voltage as much as 18 volts but the total panel amp output would be the amps of both panels added together.

https://www.amazon.com/Connectors-Co...=renogy+branch
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File Type: jpg MC4 Branch connector.jpg (48.7 KB, 8 views)
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