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Old 06-30-2016, 02:16 PM   #151
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Not much to post. Waiting on parts to arrive. BUT:

I just purchased the solar panels I will use. It's a bit ahead of schedule, but they haven't been available for a good while and there was a promotional discount so I had to jump. I'll have 10x100w panels. They weigh only 14.5 pounds each and have the highest output per square inch I've found anywhere from what's commercially available.

I've been spending the past week calculating solar angles, including any shadow casting from elements on the roof, such as the emergency exits and the tilt of the other panels, as well as where I expect to mostly be hanging out for the rest of my life. Then I could design the mounts and supports.



I'm doing 2 rows of 5 panels, one down the rear driver side , and the other down the rear passenger side. A minor added benefit will be that the panels will intercept any direct sun that would otherwise hit the roof.



The trick was to design a system that would double tilt while allowing clearance for the support arms, capable of a perpendicular intersection of the sun angle at solar noon on December 21 of 18 degrees, somewhere around Kalispel, Montana. Then I wanted to have that same system capable of adjusting for the max summer angle on June 21 of Las Vegas, 77 degrees.

I came up with a set of fixed mounts, a removable vertical extension, and 3 sets of telescoping bars. Since the left and right sides are mirror images of each other, I can face either the driver or passenger side due south, giving me a little more freedom when I am stopped in a location for a while.

As for other stuff, I finally made an exhaust hanger, had the engine bay splash plates fabricated, and am in the process of encasing the wire inlets and bolt inlets of the body lighting in case they need to be changed in the future.

The solution was to use some PVC fittings that are wide enough to allow me to loosen the bolts holdiing the lights. Later on, these fittings will prevent the spray foam insulation from covering the bolts and wires. I'll put some insulated maintenance plugs in to minimize any temperature impacts these openings will have. Where lights just screw trough the body, I'll let the foam cover them.
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Old 06-30-2016, 04:37 PM   #152
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Animated image showing the tilt range:


- The green and yellow feet are bolted through the roof.
- The light blue foot extension raises the right panels higher in the winter to dodge shadow casting from the left panels. It then switches to the left panels to provide more angle variations in the early summer.
- 3 sets of 6 telescoping bars swap back and forth to make all of the necessary angles.
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Old 06-30-2016, 05:07 PM   #153
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I've given solar panels some thought myself and wonder if there's a way to also add some either beneath these that would slide out on drawer rails or else open up clamshell-like to extend past the rain gutter and act as window shades while essentially doubling your solar collection. My thoughts on the clamshell method would be disappointing though because if the panel's close up then there's zero collection, so you'd really only be solar powered when parked and 'deployed'. Just lots of wild ideas I get while daydream-driving.
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Old 07-01-2016, 05:45 AM   #154
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I like the clamshell idea with a variation:

make bracket to attach additional panels off of the ones on the side facing the sun. When not in use, you could store the panels inside so you don't lose any benefit from the existing panels. You run a little more risk of unsupported wind and snow load, but I think that would be minor. With the way my panels will be mounted, in some positions, the angle would be too steep to have a continuous run of panels.

You could, like you also said, make hinge mounts at the edge of the roof and prop panels up like window shades, fully adjustable. I like that idea the best. You'd still have to remove the panels and wiring before going anywhere, but you'd probably only deploy the system when you expected to be parked for a while.

The thing I quickly discovered with a large array of panels is how quickly the cost of the associated systems goes up, such as charge controllers, and even combiner boxes. As it is right now, I'm going to have to run 2 combiner boxes to get all of the cables gathered up and channeled to the charge controller, or perhaps two charge controllers. Adding another 5 panels to my system would require yet another combiner box, and another controller since I haven't found a 1500 watt controller, and so on. Then there's making sure all of the controllers communicate with each other to work together.

Another option would be to have the additional panels power their own separate battery bank that powers, let's say, all of the interior lighting. You could isolate those circuits and save the other panels to power the heavier items, like the fridge, microwave or anything using an inverter.
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Old 07-09-2016, 11:40 AM   #155
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Seems like an actuator like the old C Band satellite dishes would work to tilt & angle the panels the way you're trying to move... Build some linkage, add the actuator to lift & lower

Here's a 12 volt model
http://www.everestpartssupplies.com/...FZY1aQodfQwEOg
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Old 07-09-2016, 03:04 PM   #156
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ON our old ambulance Van we mounted 6 20 year old 75 watt panels.
We set them up in two groups of 3 in series and gave each a MPPT charge controller. They were just flat on the roof. A large benefit was that the sun was not beating down directly on the roof anymore.
In our home solar array we are at least 15 degrees of towards the east and loose about 20 % of our capacity.
Panels are very cheap at the moment so if you have space just panel it up and take the inefficiency. I think panels are cheaper then tracking construction.
Our current project Elfbus will get 3 panels of 300 watt each $ 129 / piece. At 66"x40" they are almost as long as the bus is wide. They are frameless and as in our other van we will mount them just flat on the roof . We will mount two Z channel ( purlins) over the whole length of the Elf bus and bolt that to each bow with 3.8" stainless bolts. A second corner profile will sandwich the panel so it can't fly off. Along the centerline of the bus we will make another connection to the roof bows to reduce the chance of winds ripping the panels of the roof.

Later J
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Old 07-10-2016, 09:33 AM   #157
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I just went through your entire thread.....Great job, I dig the attention to detail you put into it. Also...cool to meet a fellow burner! Check out my thread if you'd like....I'll be doing some Mad Max style fabrication very soon!
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Old 07-20-2016, 11:41 AM   #158
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Been doing a lot of panel work on the body to cover up the windows. Starting with the rear, I welded in some angle iron hardpoints that serve 2 purposes: to give the large metal panel more connection points so it won't flex, and to provide a strong location to bolt in exterior brackets to mount a bike rack or other items.



MuddaEarth: I looked at your build and the way you did your rear window covers gave me confidence to mount mine on the exterior instead of the interior. My concern was that I wouldn't be able to cut the curves good enough to make it look decent, but seeing you work with the grinder inspired me.


Both small rear window holes are now covered. It's not going to win any awards for good looks, but my goal is to look more riveted, armored and deliberate. The 18gauge steel is backed with a wide band of thick 3M VHB tape providing extra adhesion and weather sealing. I sprayed the inside with rubberized underbody coating at the seams in several layers after priming just to make sure.


Also did the emergency side door window. This is the bathroom door.


It took a while to figure out how to get a metal piece fabricated to fit the opening at the old driver's window. There's still some creative work needed to make sure this piece is sealed. The panel is angled slightly, 1/4" in the front and overlapping the external body in the rear.

As I wait for the solar panels to arrive, I'm cutting the telescoping aluminum tubing for the tilt bars. I'll have to take them somewhere to get them precision drilled for the different settings. All of the raw tubes for all 10 panels weigh about 14 pounds, and will be a little less when I cut all of the pieces out of them. They also will take up minimal space which I am pleased about.

I have begun prepping the front dashboard area, getting ready for a major flooring fix, and then sealing it all off.

There are quite a few hidden air passages. That's important to me because I want to create as sealed of an environment as possible. I selected a 3" inline bilge blower fan that I will connect to an Amsoil Ea nanofiber series filter to draw in fresh air. I was hoping to create a slightly pressurized environment, but concluded that in a vehicle this size, it would be impossible. Also, the cat box area and bathroom will have one-way exhaust tubes, so any pressure I may create would natually flow out of those areas anyway. I also doubt I'll be able to 100% seal the entry and side doors.

Looking into the future of the environmental systems for the bus, I plan on having powered fan and duct systems, computer controlled based on temperature, that will do the following:

- move cold air from the floor to the ceiling
- move hot air from the ceiling to the floor
- exhaust hot air from the ceiling
- exhaust cold air from the floor
- cycle air through the bedroom at night

The plan is to actually be able to see the air tube, and have huge PVC ball valves to open and close primary systems.

The computer will just check various temperature sensors and power the corresponding fans one way or the other for a set amount of time.

Back to the present: does the bus even start? No. Does it even have a door? No. A driver's seat? Nope. These will be the next priorities. I'd like to get it able to drive around town by the end of September. We shall see. I've missed every self-imposed deadline so far.
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Old 07-22-2016, 11:12 PM   #159
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The windows look great...Good job, I like the rivets!!

As far as the rest of this computer controlled gadgetry.....I'm lost!

I'll be keeping an eye on your solar system....I really like the placement and the way they will be able to tilt.. Way to go man!
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Old 07-22-2016, 11:17 PM   #160
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you sealed off the driver's window? how can you drive it ?
-Christopher
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