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256bit

Securing solar panels on a Sunrader

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Hiya everybody. So in my renovation journey, the next step is putting a bunch of solar panels on the roof.

I was wondering if anyone knew the thickness of the plywood used for the ceiling in the Sunrader. It looks to be about 1/4" or thinner but I'm not sure. If it's that thin, to properly secure it, I was thinking that I should use 6 z brackets per panel, tap out the holes, then use bolts with well nuts, with self-leveling lap sealant on both sides of the brackets. My head already touches the ceiling in the Sunrader (I'm 6'2") so I'm trying to avoid having bolts sticking out the plywood if possible. Is there any other way to safely secure it, excluding adhering the panel to the roof? I've tried reading around online but most info out there isn't relevant for a fiberglass shell RV.

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If your not going to use thin solar panels the best way is to make a frame coming from the sides and screw the panels onto that. The strength of a Sunrader roof comes from the composite panel created by the wood and foam compressed to the fiberglass. Not something you want to start screwing bolts through. here's an example of a frame but on a Sunrader I would strongly suggest you attach it to the inset area on the sides of the roof

Linda S

100_1104.jpg

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48 minutes ago, linda s said:

If your not going to use thin solar panels the best way is to make a frame coming from the sides and screw the panels onto that. The strength of a Sunrader roof comes from the composite panel created by the wood and foam compressed to the fiberglass. Not something you want to start screwing bolts through. here's an example of a frame but on a Sunrader I would strongly suggest you attach it to the inset area on the sides of the roof

Linda S

100_1104.jpg

Thanks for the info Linda! By the insert areas on the side, do you mean where these metal rails are?

20170530_142508.jpg

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Yup weight added here on the vertical section will be distributed better and not damage the existing roof. Many Sunrader owners have noticeable sag in the roof because of the composition supporting it underneath breaks down. This will also give your panels room to cool making them more efficient. Also because your attaching them to a frame instead of your roof if one fails it's an easy replacement.

Linda S

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On 5/30/2017 at 2:35 PM, linda s said:

Yup weight added here on the vertical section will be distributed better and not damage the existing roof. Many Sunrader owners have noticeable sag in the roof because of the composition supporting it underneath breaks down. This will also give your panels room to cool making them more efficient. Also because your attaching them to a frame instead of your roof if one fails it's an easy replacement.

Linda S

I've been thinking about it all day. The rails sit lower than the roof itself, so to run mounting rails across them they need to be extended upwards. The only thing I've been able to think of is welding an extension onto the rails. I can do it but it would be a massive pain in the behind. Have you seen any solutions that don't involve welding though?

If I just ran them across the roof and secured them to the rails with uclips it would put all of the weight on the roof, just without holes. That still doesn't seem ideal.

Edited by 256bit

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I wasn't suggesting you use those rails. They are wicked weak. I'm saying if you bolt something anywhere those sides are the right place to do it. This isn't a perfect example but it is on a fiberglass roof. Brackets on the side attach it. I'm betting to protect the roof from too much weight. Ya know later model Sunraders have beams one the inside to support the roof and they are attached right where I'm talking about so Sunrader must have thought that area was stronger too

Linda S

Fiberglass Mounting Style Aluminum Roof Rack

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I would counter you should remove the rails and reuse the holes, and get brackets drill to match the holes that the rail brackets already placed into your roof. You cannot feel guilty about those they are already there, plus thats not a roof rack its a light weight aluminum TV antennae tubing thats weak and gets crap reception. Love this idea.. I plan on removing my rails, and mounting ratchet straps to the holes (just drill mount holes through the ratchet strap body) and creating ratchet strap webbing that will allow custom cargo, or sears xcargo pods. Best part about the pods, you CAN drill into those and mount panels atop the pod roofs. boom love it... now I just gotta find two matching sears xcargos.

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On 5/31/2017 at 9:05 PM, linda s said:

I wasn't suggesting you use those rails. They are wicked weak. I'm saying if you bolt something anywhere those sides are the right place to do it. This isn't a perfect example but it is on a fiberglass roof. Brackets on the side attach it. I'm betting to protect the roof from too much weight. Ya know later model Sunraders have beams one the inside to support the roof and they are attached right where I'm talking about so Sunrader must have thought that area was stronger too

Linda S

Fiberglass Mounting Style Aluminum Roof Rack

 

On 6/2/2017 at 1:59 PM, Totem said:

I would counter you should remove the rails and reuse the holes, and get brackets drill to match the holes that the rail brackets already placed into your roof. You cannot feel guilty about those they are already there, plus thats not a roof rack its a light weight aluminum TV antennae tubing thats weak and gets crap reception. Love this idea.. I plan on removing my rails, and mounting ratchet straps to the holes (just drill mount holes through the ratchet strap body) and creating ratchet strap webbing that will allow custom cargo, or sears xcargo pods. Best part about the pods, you CAN drill into those and mount panels atop the pod roofs. boom love it... now I just gotta find two matching sears xcargos.

 

All done!

1oiMG6B.jpg

 

I know I posted this in the DIY thread, but I wanted to post it here for continuity reasons. I can upload the CAD files if anyone wants the design. It's just 328" of 1/4" aluminum angle, 2sqft of 1/4" aluminum plating, and 44" of square aluminum tubing, plus a few dozen 1/4" aluminum (steel mandrel) rivets off mcmaster that have the highest tolerances I could find (>700lb to shear)

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Would gluing thin panels on top of the roof be better? I am more concerned about wind drag...

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Gluing works but it cuts the efficiency of the panels and makes things a bit tedious if they fail or become damaged. I made a aluminum frame for my camper's solar setup that lives on the couch when traveling it plugs into the battery when in use it can be elevated and rotated and sits on the ground. When it's stowed it folds flat. It gets padlocked to the safety chains when I'm not there. Rotation and elevation help a lot for max sun light flat panels on a roof are only at their peak efficiency at noon time.

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I can never understand why someone would want to permanently mount solar panels to their roof requiring their rigs to sit in the hot sun! I've seen many rigs where they are sitting in the nice shade and their solar panels are moved around to capture the best sunlight. Just in Ohio if Grannie is sitting in the direct sun it gets to well over 90 degrees inside. I don't get it! Are people using their mounted solar panels to charge their batteries so they can run a fan while sitting in the direct sun? I'd use Maineah solution in a minute!

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100 watt solar panel will charge your battery in full sun in a short time then you go park in the shade ,even in semi shade it works .

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Yep reduce your power demands LED's etc and you're golden. I can go indefinitely (weather permitting) with my 100 watt panel and run pretty much all I need to run even watch a little TV and run my ham radio gear. I have a pair of 80 amp batteries and the panel will charge them and run my Fantastic fan on low (gets dicy on higher speeds but does mostly keep up) Reduce your loads leave the microwave home you should have no problems. I cured my shade issue with a fairly long #10 SJ cord connected to the panel.

 

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