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Old 09-03-2021, 02:01 PM   #1
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2018 E19 Front Solar Panel Failure

Three days ago while stopped at a scenic pull-off along US 2 near Glacier National Park I noticed the front solar panel was buckled with the rear of the panel significantly higher than the front. Upon further inspection I discovered the panel glass completely shattered and both the front and rear solar panel frame had completely snapped in half! Both side panel frames still securely attached to the mounting brackets.

While towing I never exceed 65 mph.

After strapping the panel securely I limped along the highway shoulder with emergency flashers on until reaching my campground destination.

I've contacted both GoPower and ETI. GoPower is pointing the finger at ETI stating it's an installation issue, panel too close to front of trailer. ETI has yet to contact me even though I've left voice messages each of the last 3 days to both customer service and parts &service department.

I'm beside myself not knowing what to do.
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Old 09-03-2021, 02:43 PM   #2
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Sorry to hear but you are not alone. Escape has not engineered the mounts for front panels properly and the panels are too close to the front of the trailer. They have got a bit of a problem on their hands. Since there wasn't much traveling during COVID I think we are going to be seeing more and more of these issues with front panels popping up. They were supposedly developing a solution for the 21NE (installation on 19 is very similar) but I haven't heard any follow up.

https://www.escapeforum.org/forums/f...ure-21431.html
https://www.escapeforum.org/forums/f...tml#post358025
https://www.escapeforum.org/forums/f...ice-20451.html
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Old 09-03-2021, 03:14 PM   #3
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One of amsolars mounting systems uses a reinforcement bracket. Bottom line is, I’m would not order two,panels from escape. Also they should recall these installs .
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Old 09-03-2021, 03:41 PM   #4
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Hey Onestep!
Take a deep breath and relax! Save all of the parts. Since you are on the road, get a couple Large trash bags and put the parts in them. Tape 'em closed to control the glass shards. Take pictures of the front panel mounts to document their condition immediately subsequent to removing the broken panel. Continue your on-the-road journey, and read all the related posts (front panel failure) on the forum. IANAL, so this is NOT legal advice.
But...send certified letters when you get home, and save all documentation.
Safe Travels,
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Old 09-03-2021, 04:14 PM   #5
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From your pictures, it appears your were a few moments from the solar panel fully separating from the trailer. Unfortunately, you are not in a unique situation. I noted that in picture #6 you posted, it appears the frame tore at a pre-drilled hole. The "good news" is that your traveling party and the trailer roof are fine.

You probably already have seem a similar situation posted recently on the forum: https://www.escapeforum.org/forums/f...ure-21431.html

I assume the rear panel, and the associated mounts on the rear panel are in good shape?

Edit - For those on the forum that are familiar with how ETI wires a two panel system (parallel or series?), perhaps someone can recommend how Onestep can get the remaining panel and solar controller functional.
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Old 09-03-2021, 05:29 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MVA View Post

Edit - For those on the forum that are familiar with how ETI wires a two panel system (parallel or series?), perhaps someone can recommend how Onestep can get the remaining panel and solar controller functional.

We have the same solar set up on our trailer, 2020, 19’.

Our two panels are wired in parallel. IF yours is the same, then you can just unplug the front panel and system will work fine on just one panel. Our front panel plugged into extension cables near the bath fan vent, then went to the rear panel where front and rear panel connected together and into the trailer.

Make sure there are no exposed wires (from the accident). If so, just wrap each wire with electrical tape until you can make a permanent repair.


Wouldn't hurt to check you solar controller for normal operation. It's possible something could have shorted while the panel was falling apart.



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Old 09-03-2021, 05:48 PM   #7
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Of course I have no idea of the sequence of failures, but does anyone else find it interesting that the breaks in the front and rear extrusions correspond to (run through) the pre-drilled mounting holes in the bottom flange of the frame?
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Old 09-03-2021, 06:07 PM   #8
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I received a reinforcement kit for mine last week, before I had any issues. It was designed for the 21, but it seems they started sending them out to 19 owners recently. Unfortunately, only the front reinforcement strip could be installed as the rear of the front panel didn't have enough clearance to drill the holes. Upon follow-up with ETI, I was informed it wasn't even needed. I like the idea of being proactive, but execution needs a some work.
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Old 09-03-2021, 07:42 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Centex View Post
Of course I have no idea of the sequence of failures, but does anyone else find it interesting that the breaks in the front and rear extrusions correspond to (run through) the pre-drilled mounting holes in the bottom flange of the frame?
Perhaps tragic. The pre-drilled holes that are supposed to be anchor points per the panel manufacturers, are acting as perforation points.
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Old 09-03-2021, 08:38 PM   #10
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One can only imagine the stresses these front mounted panels experience (not to mention the fiberglass roof) especially when driving on a two lane and a large truck passes in the opposite direction. The momentary blast and turbulence that they are hit with is probably quite severe. It's hard to believe that the panels aren't reinforced in the center at a minimum, as well as mounted as close to the roof as possible.

It could even be that the panels are resonating at certain speeds especially with the long sides not reinforced in the middle. If you were to ride in the front of the trailer the panels may begin to emit a hum or roar at certain speeds. It would be interesting to know if this was going on.
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Old 09-03-2021, 08:54 PM   #11
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I wonder if a piece of white powder-coated L-channel steel along the entire leading edge of the solar panel frame would help?
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Old 09-03-2021, 09:34 PM   #12
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It would appear that mounting the long edge of the panel very close to the front of the trailer would present, to the panel, a wall of frontal airflow coming off the roof of the tow vehicle where the full velocity of the airflow is available to enter between the roof and the panel.

GoPower’s suggested installation allows a minimum of 3 feet behind the front of the trailer which might take advantage of frontal airflow being deflected upward from the leading curve of the front of the trailer and with the majority of the velocity flowing over the top of the panel.

Perhaps, because of limited real estate atop the roof, ETI has been working toward a mounting strategy that overcomes unwanted airflow volume and velocity by lowering and raking the front of the panel slightly downward.

I am reconsidering having a front panel installed.
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Old 09-03-2021, 09:55 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Donna D. View Post
I wonder if a piece of white powder-coated L-channel steel along the entire leading edge of the solar panel frame would help?
While that would add to the long extrusion's bending and shear resistance, it's difficult to know if that would prevent the overall failure lacking a complete understanding of the failure mode. E.g. if the mounts or the field of the panel itself fails first, reinforcing the extrusion may be of little overall benefit.

Others have proposed such in other threads on this topic and I believe some have implemented such reinforcement. IMO it couldn't hurt, even an aluminum angle.

Perhaps using an appropriate VHB tape along the vertical leg with bolts through the pre-drilled mounting holes in the horizontal leg; I'd be loath to drill more holes in the middle 2/3 of the extrusion where bending forces are greatest. Perhaps even an inside and outside full-length angle using aluminum, in part to add reinforcement, in part to distribute the loads across the bolts better than washers. I suspect such an arrangement using 1/8" thick AL angle would preclude most any deflection of the long panel-frame extrusions.

Just brainstorming.
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Old 09-15-2021, 10:31 AM   #14
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Old 09-15-2021, 10:43 AM   #15
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Quote:
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Perhaps using an appropriate VHB tape along the vertical leg with bolts through the pre-drilled mounting holes in the horizontal leg; I'd be loath to drill more holes in the middle 2/3 of the extrusion where bending forces are greatest.
If I had one of those panels, a simple VHB mount using the pre-drilled hole is all you need. I learned a lot when adding three 100 watt panels to our 5.0 with no penetrations. People tend to overthink. KISS!

Enjoy,

Perry
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Old 09-15-2021, 12:18 PM   #16
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What Perry above has indicated.

If anyone has a trailer with solar panels mounted near the forward edge of the trailer why wait until failure to get on the forum and complain. Take an hour out of your life and reinforce the forward edge. A piece of 1 1/2” x 1 1/2” x 1/8 “ aluminum angle VHB taped or screwed in place on the leading forward edge will take care of the problem.
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Old 09-15-2021, 05:06 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dcboyd View Post
What Perry above has indicated.

If anyone has a trailer with solar panels mounted near the forward edge of the trailer why wait until failure to get on the forum and complain. Take an hour out of your life and reinforce the forward edge. A piece of 1 1/2” x 1 1/2” x 1/8 “ aluminum angle VHB taped or screwed in place on the leading forward edge will take care of the problem.
Great advice, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure...........
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Old 09-15-2021, 05:10 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Perryb67 View Post
If I had one of those panels, a simple VHB mount using the pre-drilled hole is all you need. I learned a lot when adding three 100 watt panels to our 5.0 with no penetrations.
You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but please acknowledge that's all it is.

Completed installation of your relatively narrow / small area 100W panels using only VHB tape is great, but IMO it's far from evidence that your solution will prove robust over the long term (I certainly hope it is and have no reason to suggest it won't be) or appropriate for other situations.

I suggest there's a lot of difference between learning about an installation procedure and having knowledge about the long-term performance of same, and it's reckless to confuse the two no matter what the outcome. YMMV
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Old 09-15-2021, 05:31 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Dcboyd View Post
What Perry above has indicated.

If anyone has a trailer with solar panels mounted near the forward edge of the trailer why wait until failure to get on the forum and complain. Take an hour out of your life and reinforce the forward edge. A piece of 1 1/2” x 1 1/2” x 1/8 “ aluminum angle VHB taped or screwed in place on the leading forward edge will take care of the problem.
This is our plan now that we have received our 2021 21NE. The configuration of the solar panel has changed for what looks to be better, but better to be safe than sorry!
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Old 09-17-2021, 10:15 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MVA View Post
From your pictures, it appears your were a few moments from the solar panel fully separating from the trailer. Unfortunately, you are not in a unique situation. I noted that in picture #6 you posted, it appears the frame tore at a pre-drilled hole. The "good news" is that your traveling party and the trailer roof are fine.

You probably already have seem a similar situation posted recently on the forum: https://www.escapeforum.org/forums/f...ure-21431.html

I assume the rear panel, and the associated mounts on the rear panel are in good shape?

Edit - For those on the forum that are familiar with how ETI wires a two panel system (parallel or series?), perhaps someone can recommend how Onestep can get the remaining panel and solar controller functional.

I don't have this system but I will guess that the panels were wired in parallel because with the PWM GoPower controller, wiring them in series would waste so much of the solar power. If wired in parallel, the system should continue to operate normally albeit on half solar gain. I hope this is the case and I'm sure someone will correct this info if I am wrong.
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