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Old 11-26-2020, 09:39 AM   #1
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Reinforcing front solar panel

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Originally Posted by DC Boyd View Post
I will be reinforcing the leading edge. May just be a piece of Aluminum angle.
After our daughter's front-mounted solar panel failure, we reinforced the frame on our front solar panel. We added 59-1/4" long, 1-1/2" x 1/8" thick aluminum angle to the front and rear. Purchased angle from local Lowes.

Front view:


Side view:


The rear panel angle was pretty easy to attach using 1/4"-20 x 1" stainless bolts and hardware. We could get our hands underneath to put on the washer, lock washer, and nut.

The front was a different beast. The 1-1/2" angle + solar panel frame depth + height above the roof made access extremely difficult. The panel height above the roof, especially in the middle, was barely enough to get a flat hand beneath. It was too tight to reach in from the side or rear. Used ladders on the side for access, without putting weight on the roof.

Had to use 2" long, threaded full length, stainless bolts to be able to slip on the flat washer, lock washer, and nut. Attached the washer, etc. to my fingers with masking tape and felt around until my finger got the washer to slip on the bolt end. I had a 7/16" box wrench that I slipped over the nut, holding it tightly against the frame as I tightened the bolt head using a socket wrench. Took 5+ minutes per bolt, and I had to extract the wrench using a magnet tool.



Hopefully this modification will result in a long trouble-free panel life.

73/gus
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Old 11-26-2020, 10:12 AM   #2
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Certainly looks like it'll do the trick.
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Old 11-26-2020, 10:42 AM   #3
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Very nice work. I don’t think there will be any further issue with yours or your daughters once this is in place on both.
Hopefully, anyone who has a similar front panel follows ur lead on reinforcing it.
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Old 11-26-2020, 11:04 AM   #4
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Well that's pretty bomb proof, well done.

Probably folks with a 5.0TA with a solar panel right on the front slope should consider doing that.

Ah, the old masking tape trick. Often use it or sometimes I use masking tape on the screwdriver to hold a screw on while I place it in an awkward position.

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Old 11-26-2020, 12:32 PM   #5
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Agree with others, looks like a good and economical reinforcement mod, well done!
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Old 01-26-2021, 10:17 PM   #6
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Just received ur 21C a week ago. I also reinforced the front panel with 1/8” Aluminum angle. I ran a full length 1” 3m VHB tape along leading edge of panel, stuck the angle, screwed with aluminum oval head screws.
Took very little time. Predrilled angle holes prior to mounting.
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Old 01-27-2021, 10:44 AM   #7
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Planning to do the same, except instead of bolts I'll be using construction adhesive. That should avoid the access problems.
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Old 04-15-2021, 05:02 PM   #8
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This is how the front panel came mounted on our 21C from ETI (2/5/2021 production date). Looks like this is how they addressed the issue; it's 3 feet back. Do you think I should still reinforce?
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Old 04-15-2021, 05:15 PM   #9
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Big move to the rear

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Originally Posted by wolffman View Post
This is how the front panel came mounted on our 21C from ETI (2/5/2021 production date). Looks like this is how they addressed the issue; it's 3 feet back. Do you think I should still reinforce?
The 3' rule comes from the GoPower panel manufacturer. Given the new panel mounting location on your trailer, I am not sure how to answer, as your panel seems to follow the correct installation instructions. An aluminum angle reinforcement might be overkill, but it is a simple mod.
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Old 04-15-2021, 06:14 PM   #10
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That's what these owners thought - then....
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Old 04-15-2021, 07:27 PM   #11
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That's what these owners thought - then....
But it looks like their trailer had the panel mounted forward, old style.
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Old 04-15-2021, 08:29 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shearwater View Post
But it looks like their trailer had the panel mounted forward, old style.
Difference is 21C versus 21NE. The panel is right at the front on the 21NE.
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Old 04-16-2021, 09:20 AM   #13
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I just noticed this. That angle stock clearly did not protect/stop the panel from rising up. I'm currently planning my solar panel frame to cradle the panel front and back with similar angle stock but now will add a screw in its middle. And derechios be damned!
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Old 04-16-2021, 10:41 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MyronL View Post
I just noticed this. That angle stock clearly did not protect/stop the panel from rising up. I'm currently planning my solar panel frame to cradle the panel front and back with similar angle stock but now will add a screw in its middle. And derechios be damned!
In searching for solar panels, I had called Go Power and their technical team recommends that panel mounts be affixed on the long side to the pre-drilled holes. This would reduce the span where many of the failures have occurred. Many of the failures appear to be at the pre-drilled frame hole locations. It is difficult to tell from the photographs how the panels are mounted as either to catch the wind underneath forcing the panel upward or pointed downward allowing the moving air over the top of the panel. In the latter case, a quick calculation of a 2'x4' panel indicates a 109 pound upward force at highway speed. As others have commented on, reinforcement of the long span is a reasonable course.
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Old 04-16-2021, 11:51 AM   #15
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If I ever do finally get the VHB tape I ordered ( maybe by next Mon or Tues) and the weather here warms up to a reliable 50 degrees/plus, I will combine tape and corner bolts through the hull with securely connected angle iron into a maximumly robust attachment. For sure.
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