Solar panels on a steel roof

Discussion in 'Solar Power' started by TheCaller, Feb 16, 2015.

  1. TheCaller

    TheCaller Funster

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    I'm just planning the fitting of a couple of solar panels. Most of the posts on here relate to fitting panels to a traditional motorhome with either an aluminium skinned roof or some variety of plastic.

    I have a PVC on a Ducato Maxi van, so the roof is painted steel, with longitudinal ridges. The tops of the ridges & the bottoms of the valleys are flat & a couple of inches wide, but that suggests mounting brackets on the long edge of the panels running front to back on the roof, not crossways across the panel ends as a lot are on flat roofs.

    Brackets on the ridges or in the valleys?

    Just adhesive? No screws? Just clean the paintwork or key it?

    Then the scary bit - where to drill the hole to bring the cables into the van? The largest flat area is where the main roof panel joins the over cab area to the front, & the side panel pre-prepared for attaching roof bars or an awning. That's just behind the 'B' pillar too, so a handy place to drop the wires down inside. I was thinking the wires could run behind the plastic cover where the seat belt is in the photo.

    It's a Globecar Campscout, for anyone that knows the interior layout.

    Any thoughts from those who have done this? Anything else I ought to be thinking about?

    2013-08-18 13.33.11.jpg
     
  2. f6c

    f6c Funster

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    On the ridge
     
  3. Puddleduck

    Puddleduck Funster

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    My instinct would be to use the ridge as there is less chance of water pooling there.
     
  4. TheCaller

    TheCaller Funster

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    ... to get the air flow underneath?
     
  5. TheCaller

    TheCaller Funster

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    True - and probably easier to clean (and, yes, of course I always clean the roof every time I wash it. :whistle: ).
     
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  6. g8ysn

    g8ysn Funster

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    get a reputable company to do it if vehicle is vat exempt don,t pay vat
     
  7. Enword

    Enword Funster

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    Bonded mine on 4 x 50mm round alloy feet with Tiger seal in 2008 still there (y)
     
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  8. Enword

    Enword Funster

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    Sorry steel roof (Sprinter)
     
  9. tonka

    tonka Funster Life Member

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    I would mount on a ridge..
    Entry, in through top of wardrobe ? You could run wires inside and maybe fit the controler / regulator in there. If needed you can then run cables out to the battery through the bottom of van..
    One of the hardest jobs is just deciding the best way to run the cable...
     
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  10. TheCaller

    TheCaller Funster

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    Don't have one, or any other floor to ceiling enclosed space. One side of the van is top lockers only + bathroom. The only place where there is anything that runs concealed from top to bottom is on the other side where it goes behind the fridge, the oven & what would be a wardrobe except it's at floor level & only about 400mm deep. It's also in the wrong place for where the wires have to go next. That's why I was thinking of coming down the inside of the plastic 'B' pillar covering. There is also a false floor on that side to take the wires to the under dinette space for the controller, then forward again to the EBL99 under the passenger seat. I'm going to use a Votronic MPPT controller as it's the only one that will both take the voltage of two series wired panels & has an Electrobloc interface. Wiring to the EBL99 rather than to the battery(ies) means a) the EBL99 doesn't get confused by unexplained voltages at the batteries & b) also charges the starter battery without any extra wiring.
    Too right!
     
  11. Jimbohorlicks

    Jimbohorlicks Funster

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    Rather than fixing directly to the van roof why not attach roof bars and put the panels on those -if you change your van at a later date you can then always take them with you
     
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  12. TheCaller

    TheCaller Funster

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    Actually, I don't think that's quite true. I strongly suspect there is one or more channels between the inner & outer skin where the existing cables run. I'll have to go & watch that high speed video of them fitting out the interior of a Globecar in the factory again. I know that shows the channel where they route everything across the floor.

    Probably have to dismantle half the van to get anything more through it, even if I can find it.
     
  13. TheCaller

    TheCaller Funster

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    That's a good idea. Could be expensive though. I'll price up proper Fiat bars, probably faint, then look for some after-market ones! It might be cheaper to buy new panels!
     
  14. TheBig1

    TheBig1 Funster Life Member

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    good quality aluminium angle say 40mm x 40mm x 4mm could be bonded to the ridges on the roof and use the same to make support bars, bolted to that (use quality stainless hardware). keep it as simple as possible otherwise you're just making it harder than needed.

    lay it all out and mark the points to bond at, then key the area with wet & dry. clean thoroughly and then use activator before applying the urethane glue (sikaflex). once its set, its never going to come off unless you take a knife or saw to it

    have bonded several things including a huge satellite dome to steel panel van roofs. none have ever come loose

    a bonus of setting the panels on a frame bolted to brackets is that you can unbolt them again for any servicing or to move to another vehicle
     
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  15. Cal54

    Cal54 Funster Life Member

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    Can't really help other than to advise that I had a panel fitted on the roof of my PVC last year by Dave Newell, trader and Funster. He will no doubt be able to offer advise re the roof ridges etc.
     
  16. TheCaller

    TheCaller Funster

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    DN always on the short list for this type of work - just a shame that he's on the opposite side of the country. A good excuse for a mini-holiday, but it's all a question of finding the time! It seems a shame to just go straight there & back without making more of the trip.
     
  17. Cal54

    Cal54 Funster Life Member

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    The caller: Dave fit mine at one of the Warner shows - if you are planning to visit Peterborough then you could book him there.
     
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  18. Mousy

    Mousy Funster Life Member

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    Simon, @Wissel fitted panels to his roof, but I don't know where the thread is.

    It may help you with the roof fixing but not the wire run as his was a conversion.
     
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  19. Wissel

    Wissel Read Only Funster

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    I fitted mine onto 20mm square aluminium tubing along the short edges to give an air gap underneath.

    I just used sikaflex to stick the tubing to the panels, then sikaflex again to bond to the ridges on my roof.

    [​IMG]
    I then used a couple of these to bring the cables into my van:
    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/331353374775?_trksid=p2059210.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK:MEBIDX:IT

    I was very dubious about just glueing the panels but assured by others that it's the best way. I was fitting another antenna to my roof a couple of weeks ago so had a good look at the solar panel fixing whilst up there. They are as well fixed now as they were 2 years ago.
     
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  20. TheCaller

    TheCaller Funster

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    Thanks for all the suggestions so far. Keep 'em coming.

    I liked the idea of using roof bars utilising the Fiat mounting points. Nothing stuck permanently to the roof - easy to service or move to another van. But the positioning of the mounting points relative to the rooflights is not ideal. If I use bars alone (going across the van) I would need to make a frame to mount the panels on, so we would have bars (which already sit quite high from the roof), plus frame, plus panel. Not a good look & I'd rather not increase the overall height any more than essential.

    If I use roof rails plus bars, I get the flexibility of where to position the bars & can mount the panels directly on the bars. It would look neater too. But it's an expensive option - looks like £400+ against some aluminium brackets & a tube of silkaflex. It also restricts the options if we ever decide to fit a wind out awning.
     
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