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Old 05-22-2019, 05:39 PM   #1
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My last 19 mod

We're off for a week of soaring in central Washington and then up to Calgary for a wedding. It's the last trip we'll make in the 19 as our 21 will be ready on Sept. 6.

I'll be sad to see it go but when we get back I'll be putting it up for sale. One thing that I thought that I should do before selling it was to change my tilting, swiveling solar panel for a more conventional one. While I've always enjoyed squeezing out every watt possible by tracking the sun I'm well aware that most folks don't want to do that.

So I thought that I'd mount the 100 watt panel on the roof. But it's not wide enough to span the roof enough so that the bolts would come out in the overhead cupboards and not be visible in the ceiling. I could have made a roof rack like setup with the panel in the center but I thought, what the heck, if one is good, two must be better.

I decided to rack mount them. The frame can stay in place while the panels, if ever damaged, can be changed out without changing the mounting.

Output is good and there're easy to access for cleaning. My tilting swiveling setup will likely be used on the 21 but not quite in the same way.

Ron
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Old 05-22-2019, 05:48 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Ron in BC View Post
We're off for a week of soaring in central Washington and then up to Calgary for a wedding. It's the last trip we'll make in the 19 as our 21 will be ready on Sept. 6.

I'll be sad to see it go but when we get back I'll be putting it up for sale. One thing that I thought that I should do before selling it was to change my tilting, swiveling solar panel for a more conventional one. While I've always enjoyed squeezing out every watt possible by tracking the sun I'm well aware that most folks don't want to do that.

So I thought that I'd mount the 100 watt panel on the roof. But it's not wide enough to span the roof enough so that the bolts would come out in the overhead cupboards and not be visible in the ceiling. I could have made a roof rack like setup with the panel in the center but I thought, what the heck, if one is good, two must be better.

I decided to rack mount them. The frame can stay in place while the panels, if ever damaged, can be changed out without changing the mounting.

Output is good and there're easy to access for cleaning. My tilting swiveling setup will likely be used on the 21 but not quite in the same way.

Ron
I'm fascinated by what you did. I would like to have solar panels but I can barely afford the trailer now so I'll have to wait instead of factory install. So you drill your holes through the roof above the cabinets. What sort of fasteners through the roof?
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Old 05-22-2019, 06:42 PM   #3
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Well, the longer you wait, the lower the price. The 100 watt panel that I bought to match the existing one was less than a dollar (CDN) a watt, a price that is incredible compared to the price I paid for early panels.

I use two 1/4" s/s bolts. Massive overkill, but that's just me. ETI uses a single one. Under the foot on the roof there is a gasket made of EPDM rubber. It probably is sufficient to provide a long term waterproof seal but I still add some sealant. My wife was on the exterior holding a wrench while I was inside tightening the nut. "Stop" she said, "you're squashing the rubber". That's the idea I said.

On the interior there are backing plates the same size as the bracket feet.

Ron
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Old 05-22-2019, 07:28 PM   #4
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Nicely done, Ron... but then, you've already set the bar high so that's what we expect.
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Old 05-22-2019, 07:30 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Ron in BC View Post
Well, the longer you wait, the lower the price. The 100 watt panel that I bought to match the existing one was less than a dollar (CDN) a watt, a price that is incredible compared to the price I paid for early panels.

I use two 1/4" s/s bolts. Massive overkill, but that's just me. ETI uses a single one. Under the foot on the roof there is a gasket made of EPDM rubber. It probably is sufficient to provide a long term waterproof seal but I still add some sealant. My wife was on the exterior holding a wrench while I was inside tightening the nut. "Stop" she said, "you're squashing the rubber". That's the idea I said.

On the interior there are backing plates the same size as the bracket feet.

Ron
Ron just curious ? What do you inside backing plates look like ? Pat
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Old 05-22-2019, 07:36 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Ron in BC View Post
Well, the longer you wait, the lower the price. The 100 watt panel that I bought to match the existing one was less than a dollar (CDN) a watt, a price that is incredible compared to the price I paid for early panels.

I use two 1/4" s/s bolts. Massive overkill, but that's just me. ETI uses a single one. Under the foot on the roof there is a gasket made of EPDM rubber. It probably is sufficient to provide a long term waterproof seal but I still add some sealant. My wife was on the exterior holding a wrench while I was inside tightening the nut. "Stop" she said, "you're squashing the rubber". That's the idea I said.

On the interior there are backing plates the same size as the bracket feet.

Ron
Thanks Ron I may seek your guidance in the future. How you make your cable runs and stuff like that. You mentioned an adjustable setup for the new trailer. Might you also add this kind of a setup along with the adjustable? I think once I get around to the trailer electrics my first priority will be batteries. Then solar followed by the inverter as funds become available. Thanks again for the info
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Old 05-22-2019, 09:37 PM   #7
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Hi Pat, these are the inside backing plates. With 4 of them I don't think the panels will be going anywhere any time soon. This is the first time I've seen them in place. The opening is so narrow that my fat head couldn't fit in to allow me to see what I was doing.

There's a certain advantage to doing lots of mods on your trailer because when you open up spaces that are normally hidden you find all sorts of paths for after market wiring.

In this case the vertical cavity that vents the fridge is an easy path downwards. The wires are secured both at the top and bottom of the cavity. The bottom of the fridge compartment is over a normally hidden space. I knew that I could drill a hole from the bottom of the fridge cavity floor to access the hidden space. I'd previously installed a door to access this space and that has proven very handy many times.

There is a space between the bathroom f.g. liner and the trailer shell. Enough room to fish wires through towards the front locker where my panel is. I've done this several times and this time all I had to do is use one of the cords that I'd previously left for this purpose.

I've noticed a tendency for folks to be ordering drops, more or less on spec, for many things they might want in the future. It's my experience that there seems to always be a way to fish wires through. A lot of the panels, especially in cupboards are only held on with a few staples and a dab of glue. I've often removed them just with my fingers, with damaging them, and stuck them back in place afterwards. So if you find yourself wanting to install something and thinking that you can't because there's no wiring there, investigate a little, there's usually a way.

Ron
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Old 05-22-2019, 09:41 PM   #8
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About an adjustable setup etc. I foresee the new trailer getting a panel in the same location. It's probable that the tilting swiveling pole will get a lightweight panel that will serve two purposes, add stationary watts to the main panel, especially in low sun conditions or be used as a portable panel when I'm in a high shade situation.

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Old 05-22-2019, 09:55 PM   #9
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Are you installing your own charge controller and are you going to have an inverter? Oh I appreciate that inside the overhead picture and did you drill inside out or outside in? I don't know anything about what sort of material is on the roof except fiberglass.
Only flew a glider once. It was kick and to do it properly is a challenge. We were at a Danish Air Force base outside of Copenhagen and on the weekends the gliders showed up and I got to fly in one.
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Old 05-22-2019, 10:15 PM   #10
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The new trailer is bare bones. I'll install solar panels, controller and inverter etc.

Actually I might not even install an inverter. I've had them on boats and trailers since they first became available in the late 80's. But we don't really use the microwave and so much of our use now is USB etc. But the inverter question isn't one that I'm pre-planning, it can be put in anytime.

There's been times when I've been a bit careless with the old "measure twice, cut once" rule and it's bit me. But in this case it was measure, measure, measure. I made sure that the holes in the feet were on the inside of the overhead cupboard. Then after checking and rechecking that the panel frame is centered and in the exact position it's hold you breath, drill, poke a bolt through and then go inside and confirm the it's inside the bin and that there's room to get the backing plate on.

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Old 05-22-2019, 10:19 PM   #11
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When I installed the gooseneck hitch on my truck I think I measured 12 times. I was cutting a 4 inch hole in the middle of the bed and you better get it right. Lucked up and it was dead on.
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Old 05-23-2019, 12:00 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Ron in BC View Post
Hi Pat, these are the inside backing plates. With 4 of them I don't think the panels will be going anywhere any time soon. This is the first time I've seen them in place. The opening is so narrow that my fat head couldn't fit in to allow me to see what I was doing.

There's a certain advantage to doing lots of mods on your trailer because when you open up spaces that are normally hidden you find all sorts of paths for after market wiring.

In this case the vertical cavity that vents the fridge is an easy path downwards. The wires are secured both at the top and bottom of the cavity. The bottom of the fridge compartment is over a normally hidden space. I knew that I could drill a hole from the bottom of the fridge cavity floor to access the hidden space. I'd previously installed a door to access this space and that has proven very handy many times.

There is a space between the bathroom f.g. liner and the trailer shell. Enough room to fish wires through towards the front locker where my panel is. I've done this several times and this time all I had to do is use one of the cords that I'd previously left for this purpose.

I've noticed a tendency for folks to be ordering drops, more or less on spec, for many things they might want in the future. It's my experience that there seems to always be a way to fish wires through. A lot of the panels, especially in cupboards are only held on with a few staples and a dab of glue. I've often removed them just with my fingers, with damaging them, and stuck them back in place afterwards. So if you find yourself wanting to install something and thinking that you can't because there's no wiring there, investigate a little, there's usually a way.

Ron
Very nice work Ron and what I was thinking you met . Years ago with solar problems going on I called Oliver and learned what they did . 1/4 in backing plates but because they have 2 shells you never see it in the trailer . That is just about what you did and should never be a problem . If I ever need to change our flexible panels I will follow your lead . So far the flexible have been performing great and no problems . Worked great at Quartzsite and we were using the heater a lot . Now I keep watching the 6 volts , going on 6 years in Nov . So far still holding and charging . Well will keep watching all your mods you will be doing and share your excitement! Pat
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Old 05-25-2019, 06:48 PM   #13
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Ron, great idea and job! What size panels did you use?
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Old 05-25-2019, 08:36 PM   #14
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When I installed the gooseneck hitch on my truck I think I measured 12 times. I was cutting a 4 inch hole in the middle of the bed and you better get it right. Lucked up and it was dead on.
I have been there. Brand new truck and a 4 inch hole saw in my hand I measured many many times. It all worked out!
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Old 05-25-2019, 08:43 PM   #15
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I have been there. Brand new truck and a 4 inch hole saw in my hand I measured many many times. It all worked out!
As you well know, after you take a sigh of relief that you didn't muck things up, the "real fun" begins.
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Old 05-25-2019, 09:21 PM   #16
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There're each 100 watts. They worked well at home. Unusual for us, but we're hooked up to power for the next week so they won't get a real test for a week or so.

Ron
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Old 05-25-2019, 10:49 PM   #17
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There're each 100 watts. They worked well at home. Unusual for us, but we're hooked up to power for the next week so they won't get a real test for a week or so.

Ron

Ron, sorry I was not more clear. I was looking for panel dimensions length and width?
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Old 05-25-2019, 11:50 PM   #18
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They're about 26" x 40" so the two side by side come to 52" which is wide enough that the mounting bolts are on the interior side of the overhead cabinets.

Ron
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Old 05-28-2019, 10:28 PM   #19
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Funny how we sometimes get tunnel vision when looking to mod or add something on our trailers and someone comes along showing a different way that as far as I know has not been done the way you did Ron. I'm going why did I not think of that!

I've been going back and forth on flexible or solid solar panels and you have helped make the decision. Went out and measured inside and outside my 5.0TA. I think I can install three compact solid 80 watt (36.2" x 19.6") or 100 watt (42.2" x 19.6") watt panels using frame work like Ron and a bit different mounting attachments to the roof.

The panels I'm looking at would have a total width of 58.8" plus thickness of aluminum frame material. Measuring the distance between and back side of overhead cabinet opening's, they are 57" apart, but unlike Ron's I also have visible wood bracing attached to the roof which adds at least a couple of inches to each side.

Time will tell if this will work and will be looking to ETI for some help/guidance!
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Old 05-29-2019, 08:35 AM   #20
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I've been going back and forth on flexible or solid solar panels and you have helped make the decision.
As you probably remember from my 5.0TA, four 60W flexible panels fit very nicely out of the way on the top. They have worked great for 2 years now, and I would do them again in a heartbeat. Out of site and good performance are the key factors for me when doing them for myself.
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