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Old 08-11-2014, 11:16 AM   #1
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Solar Panel Tilt Mechanism -- Looking for ideas.

Still in planning stages for my conversion and am now looking for ideas for a solar panel tilt mechanism that can be actuated from either inside the bus or outside from the ground. I do not want to have to climb up on the roof to tilt the panels.

My bus is a Crown Supercoach II, so the roof has a pretty rounded arch to it. I plan to install four DM Solar 12-volt panels in-line along the crest of the roof. So a single axis tilt is probably the way to go, and just plan to park the bus heading east whenever possible. This will allow all four panels to tilt toward the south.

Thanks to Handy Bob for suggesting hood lift cylinders. If they have enough lift perhaps a tension system would be sufficient to control tilt. I'd want to add a remote latch to keep them battened down during travel or windstorms.

My tilt mechanism can be motorized or manual. The key is to not have to climb up on the roof. I welcome any and all brainstorming ideas.
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Old 08-11-2014, 11:57 AM   #2
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Re: Solar Panel Tilt Mechanism -- Looking for ideas.

I've had good luck with 12 volt linear actuators available on e-bay. Probably a good idea to put them in an expandable water proof sleeve if they are going to be exposed to the elements. Jack
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Old 08-11-2014, 12:23 PM   #3
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Re: Solar Panel Tilt Mechanism -- Looking for ideas.

Thanks Trunt. Good idea on the actuators. Perhaps if I were to use them in combination with the hood lift cylinders I could get by with just one. That leaves the batten-down latch mechanism to figure out.
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Children drink kOOlaid, adults drink T.E.A.


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Old 08-11-2014, 09:31 PM   #4
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Re: Solar Panel Tilt Mechanism -- Looking for ideas.

I had the same issue with my pop top which tilts open on the actuators. I made threaded pegs from carriage bolts. The pegs are welded to the pop top frame and drop through holes in the roof and mate up with holes in the bottom of stainless steel "cups" mounted upside down in the inner roof metal. When the top is down I spin a wing nut on the peg to secure the top against its seals. When the top is open I stuff a plug in the now empty hole in the cup. I had also considered an electric trunk latch from an old Caddy. Jack
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Old 08-12-2014, 01:16 AM   #5
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Re: Solar Panel Tilt Mechanism -- Looking for ideas.

Ever look at the crank up mechanism from an RV off-air antenna?

The big question is would you realize enough gain from being able to tilt as opposed to not tilting? Rather than tilting, perhaps just adding an extra panel or read up on Handy Bob Solar. A tilted solar panel makes a nice windcatcher and could go sailing off the roof (not that the one I saw actually left the roof... just blew around punching holes).
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