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Old 03-11-2023, 01:42 PM   #1
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Roof solar panels - How are they fixed?

Hello,

I am wondering if Escape Trailer is drilling holes in the roof and then screw the 4 legs or the legs are glued? Not a fan of drilling holes in fibreglass.
Any water infiltration or damages experienced with the way they are installed?

Thanks!
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Old 03-11-2023, 01:59 PM   #2
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ETI experienced a number of failures in units bonded on and switched to bolted on brackets.

Some folks are still installing panels by bonding them on.

Personally I'm a fan of through bolted brackets. The trailer has countless holes for the installation of equipment and hatches etc. Properly sealed they're a non-issue.

Spanning the interior space and having the bolts come through in the overhead bins eliminates having to look at them.

I now prefer flexible panels held on by Eternabond tape but that's just a personal preference.

Ron
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Old 03-11-2023, 03:01 PM   #3
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Holey Moley

As long as the holes are encircled with butyl tape and compressed by the pressure of the screw or bracket I donít think youíll have any leaking. As observed, there are lots of holes in the fiberglass. We installed the snaps for the screen room on the E21 a couple years ago. 22 new holes with butyl tape on each. No leaks.
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Old 03-11-2023, 03:10 PM   #4
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What Ron said -- except for liking those thin flexible panels. Wouldn't trust them to last more than a few years and, if necessary, bigger pain to replace than what I bolted on my roof.
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Old 03-11-2023, 03:37 PM   #5
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Well, I never put all my eggs in one basket.

Longevity, their's or mine.

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Old 03-11-2023, 06:30 PM   #6
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Well, I never put all my eggs in one basket.

Longevity, their's or mine.

Ron
How many stations can you pull in with that pole-mounted panel? I mean, it really makes me think of an antenna! Interesting idea.
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Losing weight puts one at much greater risk of becoming thin.
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Old 03-11-2023, 09:23 PM   #7
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It all works, to varying degrees

Thru bolts are no issue if sealed properly, and those seals are maintained. Boats, trailers, all manner of items have bolted on items, with no issue, some immersed and under the waterline. But a bolted, raised panel a top a roof becomes an airfoil in travel down the road, with it's potential "fly-away" hazard. It's best to thru-bolt that for maximum security, and not rely on an adhesive.

Taping a flexible solar panel has numerous advantages. The only disadvantage I'm aware of is the panel may be subjected to higher temperatures, with panel performance and panel materials degraded. Having an empty space below a raised panel can allow cooling . I assume all that matters in 10-20 years of use, if ever.

6 of 1, and half a dozen of the other. It can come down to esthetics, costs, preferences, needs, convenience and faith.
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Old 03-11-2023, 09:33 PM   #8
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I wonder if professional RV solar installers ever install mounting rails the length of the RV, then mount the panels on the rails. That way you can expand or change the panel configuration without drilling additional holes. Hmm..
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Old 03-11-2023, 10:33 PM   #9
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How many stations can you pull in with that pole-mounted panel? I mean, it really makes me think of an antenna! Interesting idea.
No, no, no. If you want a good OTA signal go up, way up.

Ron
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Old 03-11-2023, 11:09 PM   #10
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I installed a larger panel on mine, which required raiising it a few inches to clear the body fiberglass...

here, you can see the original silver rails for the 2014 vintage 160W panel, and the black extrusion pieces above that hold my larger 350W panel



side view, where you can see my panel extends farther forward than the original (in fact, I had to remove the rooftop vent chimney for the old absorption fridge)



top view of new panel:


this 350W panel coupled to a Victron MPPT 100/30 controller, has made upwards of 2400 watt*hours per day in the summer.

edit: oh, the original panel was mounted on standoffs from that silver rail
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Old 03-12-2023, 12:06 PM   #11
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No, no, no. If you want a good OTA signal go up, way up.

Ron

.......
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Old 03-13-2023, 11:11 AM   #12
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side view, where you can see m

top view of new panel:



I'd love to have that truck in the background!
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Old 03-13-2023, 12:40 PM   #13
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I'd love to have that truck in the background!
1965 F100, inline 6, 3-on-a-tree, absolute base model, I used to use it for dump runs, but it sagged badly with even a modest load in the back. hadn't started it for 10 years, tires were 25 years old. sold it to a guy who's going to restore it, my wife got $3000 for it.
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Old 03-13-2023, 04:47 PM   #14
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Mike, Mounting rails on each side from front to back seems like a good idea to me as well. Something like a long piece of aluminum unistrut on each side. Then you can come off that with cross pieces to hold the solar panels if needed. The rail solution seems much stronger than small separate brackets.
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Old 03-13-2023, 09:45 PM   #15
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Mike, Mounting rails on each side from front to back seems like a good idea to me as well. Something like a long piece of aluminum unistrut on each side. Then you can come off that with cross pieces to hold the solar panels if needed. The rail solution seems much stronger than small separate brackets.

That's what I was thinking. I guess weight could be a drawback, though. In addition to panels I could put other stuff on it, like antennas, of course.
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Old 03-13-2023, 09:45 PM   #16
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No, no, no. If you want a good OTA signal go up, way up.

Ron

As the VHF/UHF guys say, "height is might."
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Old 03-14-2023, 10:54 AM   #17
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In addition to panels I could put other stuff on it, like antennas, of course.
And yours is now 2' higher than mine. Should have listened to your advice about those locking rings.

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Old 03-15-2023, 11:34 AM   #18
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Mike, Mounting rails on each side from front to back seems like a good idea to me as well. Something like a long piece of aluminum unistrut on each side. Then you can come off that with cross pieces to hold the solar panels if needed. The rail solution seems much stronger than small separate brackets.
I installed a rail on each side bolted through the roof where the bolt heads are hidden under the ceiling covering inside cabinets. If I was doing it over again I would have left the rails longer instead of cutting them off. They could be replaced with longer rails. I have thought about adding cell antennas to them for the MiFi and have thought about larger panels in front and back.

Front and back panels are 220 watts and the side panels are 160 watts.

I also used adhesive tape for intermediate brackets placed at the location of the manufacturer's mounting holes on the front and back panels.

I think others have done the same.

So far this has worked in the desert until sometime in May when the air conditioning has to run longer hours.
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Old 03-15-2023, 11:58 AM   #19
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I installed a rail on each side bolted through the roof where the bolt heads are hidden under the ceiling covering inside cabinets. If I was doing it over again I would have left the rails longer instead of cutting them off. They could be replaced with longer rails. I have thought about adding cell antennas to them for the MiFi and have thought about larger panels in front and back.

Front and back panels are 220 watts and the side panels are 160 watts.

I also used adhesive tape for intermediate brackets placed at the location of the manufacturer's mounting holes on the front and back panels.

I think others have done the same.

So far this has worked in the desert until sometime in May when the air conditioning has to run longer hours.
1080 watts! And I thought we were in overkill at 463 watts!

You do want to run AC though, where for us AC is not a requirement.

Great mounting job!

My disagreement with ETI was mounting the panels at the ends, so the wind could force the panel up, either bending the panel in the middle or losing the panel entirely. AFAIC, all 60” east/west panels need a center mount. I mounted our 5.0’s shorter 100 watt panels 1/4 of the way in, but they were only 42” long. You’ve put in two more mounts inboard, so more mounts to absorb the wind.

Again, great mounting!

Are your middle mounts glued or are you using screws or through bolts?

Enjoy,

Perry
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Old 03-15-2023, 12:14 PM   #20
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I installed a rail on each side ....


Bob, can you post a source link for the rail extrusion you used? Thanks!

(nice installation!)
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