How durable are panels, and other related solar questions
Hello! This is my first post, and I feel really lucky to have found this place... it's quite the treasure trove of info. I recently purchased a Ford E350 shortbus, and have plans to convert it into a mobile recording studio/touring vehicle. The interior conversion of the bus was (fortunately) already started by the previous owner, so I'm jumping in with the electrical system. My plan is to go solar.
I really do have a million questions about this, but there is a lot of info online, and thankfully it all pretty much makes sense. Again, a big thanks to this site! However, the one thing I can't seem to find any info on is how durable are the solar panels themselves? My main concern is going over a pothole and shattering it. My bus is an '87, and though I'm replacing the shocks I've been told that there's really only so much that can be done short of doing major retrofit work on the suspension. When I drive over potholes, or even rough patches of road and freeway, I seriously FEEL IT. I'm kind of wondering how glass cells screwed to my roof wouldn't break under these conditions? Even if I added rubber grommets to the mounts, it still seems a bit sketchy. Or am I over-thinking this, and these things are more durable than I'm imagining?
I've seen the flexible panels, and they seem like they could be the answer, assuming that a rigid panel is a delicate thing. The flex panels, along with being significantly more expensive, seem to pose their own challenges; mainly how does one permanently secure one to a bus roof? I'm afraid that, like a tarp, air is going to get under it and damage, if not take it clean off. Ideally, I'd like to leave the panels permanently (and securely) attached to the roof. It seems like this is an easier feat with the rigid panels, due to the aluminum frame.
Another related question... how do you keep people from thieving the panels off of your vehicle? I'm assuming screws with security heads are a good start (anyone have a good supplier of those?), but I'd love to hear what else people have done as far as solar panel anti-theft.