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Old 05-20-2019, 08:32 PM   #1
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
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hinged solar panels on short bus

I have a 1999 diesel Ford Startrans e450 shuttle bus. The queen sized bed is transverse in the aft end of the bus.
Being crippled up, I cannot climb to the roof to put solar panels up, but now am thinking about mounting them to the stern of the bus with a piano hinge. This way I can angle it toward the sun with a stick. If I get fancy it can be a notched stick. The beauty of this, is the underbed storage is unused and I could put batteries there.
I already have 2-xantrex inverters, one is a 24v 3500 watt sine way converter and the other is a freedom 15 marine 1500watt inverter. My main purpose was to power my cpap, but I got a dc power supply for connecting to 12v so with lights and music being the loads for this, should have plenty of power. What do you think of my idea to hinge the solar panels? and if you did this, how did you do it? I am a retired steel fabricator, so can either rent welding gear, borrow it or use that square stock with all the holes and bolt panel support together. I ask not because I don't have any ideas, but your experience and your feedback is helpful, plus you may have thought of something that I haven't thought of. At this point my injury is my left leg that I can use, but makes walking and bending challenging, but not impossible, but using a ladder is impossible.
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Old 05-20-2019, 10:27 PM   #2
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Greater Boston
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Since you've got a shuttle bus, I wouldn't exactly want to be screwing anything heavy (like a solar panel) to the back wall of the bus. A trailer hitch would be plenty strong enough to hold a solar panel, and they're usually pretty easy to have installed. It's my understanding that solar panels are pretty simple - keep them clean and pointed towards the sun.

You've got tons of options. Hinging them sounds like the simplest one. Like you said, piano hinge and a stick. You'd have to park with the back of the bus in the sun, and you might not get the most efficient charging, but it should still generate a useful charge.

If you could put them on wheels, with a little stand, then you could wheel them to point in whatever direction has the best sun. (Depending on your mobility.) If you wire them with a cord, you can put the bus in the shade to stay cool, and leave the panels in the sun. (Then I might look at getting a motorcycle rack for the trailer hitch, which comes with a u-shaped channel and a ramp that folds out so you can roll it on the ground.)

There's no rule that says you /have/ to put them on the roof. Just make sure they're protected from road debris being kicked up if you put them on the back of the bus.
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Old 05-21-2019, 04:48 AM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 17
Solar panels

Since you can't attach the panels directly to the body anyway, why not put a pivot like a gate post on one end of the mount so that you can either leave the panel facing at a right angle to the bus or pull one end out in an arc so that its parallel to the body? That way you can adjust your panel rather than your parking. Hope that makes sense, it's pretty early.
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Old 05-23-2019, 01:07 PM   #4
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
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The only comment regarding the panels is that a hinged/flip-up design would limit the areas /orientation you could park to avoid shading (which will kill your output even if only partial. So if you want your bed under a shade tree you might be better off with a wheeled/portable setup like other posters mentioned. Your plan would be no different from a traditional roof-top mount though, where you'd still have to be choosy where you park, so maybe I'm making something out of nothing.


Regarding your inverter, however, keep in mind that a large inverter will waste a lot of energy just being powered up (no-load draw), particularly if it doesn't have a 'sleep/search' function and/or if your loads prevent that function from activating. And it won't be operating in its efficiency range with small draws so you'll lose there too. Depending on your total loads, you may be better off with even less than your 1500, if that's doable.
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Old 05-23-2019, 03:12 PM   #5
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Good gouge on the inverter burden! Thanx. 🤙
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Originally Posted by TheHubbardBus View Post

Regarding your inverter, however, keep in mind that a large inverter will waste a lot of energy just being powered up (no-load draw), particularly if it doesn't have a 'sleep/search' function and/or if your loads prevent that function from activating. And it won't be operating in its efficiency range with small draws so you'll lose there too. Depending on your total loads, you may be better off with even less than your 1500, if that's doable.
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Old 05-23-2019, 04:06 PM   #6
Skoolie
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haz.matt.1960 View Post
Good gouge on the inverter burden! Thanx. 🤙

I don't know what you mean by 'gouge'?
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