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Old 09-21-2014, 03:34 PM   #21
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Do they make a roof mounted bracket for the solar panels that would allow them to be lifted on one side and swiveled toward the sun while camping and lock back down for travel? To me that would be ideal.
I am looking for a clever idea, something like you mention. We had them at commercial sites to 'dial them in' and lock them down for the winter. Optimal direction is critical to get as much output as possible ... but sitting on a spinning/tipping ball and trying to point to a fixed object ... from a trailer moving all directions ... dramatic fluctuations in output are inevitable.

Wrap flexible panels over the top edge on all 4 sides $$$ ?

It's sad but if you place them on the ground someone will probably steal them ...

Mel
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Old 09-21-2014, 03:48 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by rbryan4 View Post
Do they make a roof mounted bracket for the solar panels that would allow them to be lifted on one side and swiveled toward the sun while camping and lock back down for travel? To me that would be ideal.
That makes sense to me, and there are lots of tilting mounts offered (try a search for "rv solar panel tilt mount"), but I haven't seen one in person. Also, even the mounts advertised as "dual tilt" just tilt left or right - they don't rotate. That means that the direction that the RV is facing must be appropriate (generally east-west) for the tilt to work, but a rotating mount capable of securing the panels for travel would be heavy and bulky.

Many examples on larger RVs show two rows of panels - I would be cautious about trying that, because it would be easy for one row (when tilted up) to shade part of the panels in the other row. In some cases it might make sense to tilt only the row on the north side. To me, the tilting idea makes most sense for a single large panel.
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Old 09-21-2014, 04:01 PM   #23
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Wrap flexible panels over the top edge on all 4 sides $$$ ?
I've seen images of a rigid version of essentially that approach, with panels mounted on the sides as well. Aside from the high cost of panels that are usually not facing the sun, the panels need parallel wiring and ideally separate controllers so that a shaded panel doesn't drag down the output of the panels with good sun exposure. I don't think a flexible panel would work well if wrapped around a corner, since some of the cells of the panel would interfere with the output of other cells, since they are connected in series.

While we're on novel mountings... a few people have used the hinged protective cover over the trailer's front window as a tiltable mounting location. That calls for a secondary cover over the panel for travel, or removing the cover for travel. Although there is otherwise no need for covers on side windows, they could be done as well, and serve double-duty as awnings... but that's getting pretty extreme.

Hmmm... maybe we're sidetracked the original question into another topic about panel mounting
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Old 09-21-2014, 05:44 PM   #24
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Hmmm... maybe we're sidetracked the original question into another topic about panel mounting
True, but before it gets back on track search "gimballed mount for solar cell" Lots of cruising boats have various designs. An extra amount of complication for sure, but keeping the panel at the ideal orientation does have rewards.

Ron
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Old 09-21-2014, 07:09 PM   #25
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Thank folks, I feel better knowing that it's not something I did that is reducing the solar function. I am still surprised by the substantial decrease in output!
Kris
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Old 09-21-2014, 09:09 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
That makes sense to me, and there are lots of tilting mounts offered (try a search for "rv solar panel tilt mount"), but I haven't seen one in person. Also, even the mounts advertised as "dual tilt" just tilt left or right - they don't rotate. That means that the direction that the RV is facing must be appropriate (generally east-west) for the tilt to work, but a rotating mount capable of securing the panels for travel would be heavy and bulky.

Many examples on larger RVs show two rows of panels - I would be cautious about trying that, because it would be easy for one row (when tilted up) to shade part of the panels in the other row. In some cases it might make sense to tilt only the row on the north side. To me, the tilting idea makes most sense for a single large panel.
I was thinking of a rectangular frame that instead of attaching to the roof in the corners would only be attached to a single swiveling mount point under the center -- a turntable if you will. The swivel could be operated with a lever and lock at specific points of maybe 15 degrees apart. The cables connecting the panel to the electric would have to be routed down the center shaft into the trailer. The swivel would not be 360 degrees, but 180 to prevent the wiring from being twisted.

Maybe I'll design one....
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Old 09-21-2014, 10:47 PM   #27
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I was thinking of a rectangular frame that instead of attaching to the roof in the corners would only be attached to a single swiveling mount point under the center -- a turntable if you will.

Maybe I'll design one....
Lots of offshore cruising boats have that exact set-up. It does provide optimization of the solar power. The negative is that; to tilt, the pedestal has to have some height. So the end result is such a mount becomes quite bulky and heavier. Not an issue on an offshore boat but more of an issue for a trailer.

To get around that, if I ever get my act together and get larger panels, is to have tilting ability but not rotate under the center like a turntable but have the swivel point at the front edge, if that makes any sense. It would reduce the height and allow the panel to lay flat when travelling.

Ron
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