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Old 01-24-2019, 08:19 PM   #1
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Panel Placement

Is there a preferred place for the solar panels. front, rear, middle. Pros/cons. Any concerns with wiring and such. I'm thinking of placing them in between the hatches. This would leave the rear section open for storage rack or deck. Keeping the front clean for aerodynamics. Am I on the right track. Want to be sure before drilling any holes in the roof.
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Old 01-24-2019, 08:40 PM   #2
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If you're going to just put them flat on the roof, it really won't much matter where they are. If on the other hand you want to have them tiltable like mine, then some more forethought is prudent. Between my two roof hatches I have 26 feet of space, so I made a walkway between the hatches that is a few inches above the roof, then hinged each panel to the walkway; when down against the roof they are at 21 degrees down (guess what the ideal year-round insolation angle for panels is in SoCal . . .), and they can be raised to 21, 33 or 45 degrees up. Sure, it was a lot more work to do it this way, but being able to maximize solar harvest throughout the year in different latitudes is well worth it for me. My eight panels occupy 22 feet of space, leaving the remaining few feet for some eventual solar water heating panels that will also be tiltable. Gotta grab those photons.

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Old 01-24-2019, 08:51 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Iceni John View Post
If you're going to just put them flat on the roof, it really won't much matter where they are. If on the other hand you want to have them tiltable like mine, then some more forethought is prudent. Between my two roof hatches I have 26 feet of space, so I made a walkway between the hatches that is a few inches above the roof, then hinged each panel to the walkway; when down against the roof they are at 21 degrees down (guess what the ideal year-round insolation angle for panels is in SoCal . . .), and they can be raised to 21, 33 or 45 degrees up. Sure, it was a lot more work to do it this way, but being able to maximize solar harvest throughout the year in different latitudes is well worth it for me. My eight panels occupy 22 feet of space, leaving the remaining few feet for some eventual solar water heating panels that will also be tiltable. Gotta grab those photons.

John
How many watts are your panels? If attached to the walkway will they only angle up towards the walkway? I'm thinking of making my own mounts like the one pictured. That way I can angle them either way. My panels are 65" x 40" and 245 watts. Plan on 6 panels .though I bought 10 and will have a few extras. I'll be able to fit 3 rows in 16-17'
I'll secure the mounts with closed end nutserts to keep them from leaking.
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Old 01-25-2019, 12:24 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
How many watts are your panels? If attached to the walkway will they only angle up towards the walkway? I'm thinking of making my own mounts like the one pictured. That way I can angle them either way. My panels are 65" x 40" and 245 watts. Plan on 6 panels .though I bought 10 and will have a few extras. I'll be able to fit 3 rows in 16-17'
I'll secure the mounts with closed end nutserts to keep them from leaking.
Each panel sits inside its own support frame made from 1.75" 6063-T52 angle - this support frame ensures that all wind loads are kept away from the panel's own frame to minimize flexure and the chance of glass breakage, and allows a panel to be easily replaced in just a few minutes. The eight panels are USA-made Sharp 255W grid-tie, with shielded 10AWG feeder cables from each panel's MC4 connector to a combiner box where each row of four panels are paralleled and independently fused before their combined power is sent to each charge controller's 50A breaker and a Morningstar TS-MPPT-60; the arrays' four 4AWG downfeed cables are inside the roof ribs and behind the two blocked-off side windows on each side.

Each panel can be raised by hand (no tools needed) using their telescoping stainless-steel struts that anchor with hinged/sliding/pivoting mounts to a longitudinal rail of 6061-T6 angle. There are two positive locks for each panel to secure them for travel. If parked pointing west, the driver-side panels are 21 degrees down against the roof, and the passenger-side panels are raised to 21, 33 or 45 degrees; if pointing east the process is reversed. While not quite as effective as having all the panels tilted to the ideal insolation angle, it is still much better than being flat; there is no shading of any panels at any time.

In effect I have two entirely separate PV systems running side-by-side, each array of four panels powering its own CC that charges its own bank of house batteries. Each of the two battery banks feeds through a 250A Schottky diode to ensure that one bank cannot backfeed to the other, then the two outputs are combined to power the DC loads and the inverter. I have complete redundancy with this design - at worse I would lose only half my power production and storage if Something Bad were to happen. And if the sun doesn't shine for more than two or three days, something very rare in the SW desert states, then I can use my emergencies-only 3500W generator to bulk-charge the batteries to 85% SOC to keep them happy.

Here's a brief video of my bus at BGW VII a few years ago that shows the panels' overall configuration, before I had installed them into their support frames:

John
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Old 01-25-2019, 09:30 AM   #5
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nice setup.....
tracking for research purposes....
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Old 02-10-2019, 03:52 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iceni John View Post
If you're going to just put them flat on the roof, it really won't much matter where they are. If on the other hand you want to have them tiltable like mine, then some more forethought is prudent. Between my two roof hatches I have 26 feet of space, so I made a walkway between the hatches that is a few inches above the roof, then hinged each panel to the walkway; when down against the roof they are at 21 degrees down (guess what the ideal year-round insolation angle for panels is in SoCal . . .), and they can be raised to 21, 33 or 45 degrees up. Sure, it was a lot more work to do it this way, but being able to maximize solar harvest throughout the year in different latitudes is well worth it for me. My eight panels occupy 22 feet of space, leaving the remaining few feet for some eventual solar water heating panels that will also be tiltable. Gotta grab those photons.

John
I came up with this idea and I think it will work. On the end brackets I will mount 2 short hydraulic proprods. One facing forward and one backwards. By unscrewing the thumb screws on either top or bottom will allow the proprods to automatically raise them. have them able to be a a set angle when not laying flat. I will adjust them to optimal angle for winter sun. I researched the pros and cons of allowing them to tilt. Cons being having to be up a ladder for each panel. So I will compromise and have them able to be at a set angle when not laying flat. I will adjust them to optimal winter angle.

https://www.boatstore.com/50061222-t...iABEgLp6PD_BwE
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Old 02-11-2019, 06:51 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
I came up with this idea and I think it will work. On the end brackets I will mount 2 short hydraulic proprods. One facing forward and one backwards. By unscrewing the thumb screws on either top or bottom will allow the proprods to automatically raise them. have them able to be a a set angle when not laying flat. I will adjust them to optimal angle for winter sun. I researched the pros and cons of allowing them to tilt. Cons being having to be up a ladder for each panel. So I will compromise and have them able to be at a set angle when not laying flat. I will adjust them to optimal winter angle.

https://www.boatstore.com/50061222-t...iABEgLp6PD_BwE
I'm not sure I fully understand the plan, but if the plan is for them to but tilting forwards or backwards and the means of keeping them flat in the meantime. if there is no pressure on the thumb screw anchor nut, it could be very susceptible to vibration. Not saying you would fall victim to this, but some may, so I'm not trying to tell anyone how to suck eggs. I would be very choosey, about them screws, even the ones you have shown. Things that are only thumb tight, on a vibrating object will often depart if not regularly checked. SO couple the vibrating and bouncing a bus does on it own, plus the fact these are on the roof and the potential is there to either have check/tighten often or discover 1 or more missing. And then possibly them pop up while driving or one corner attempting to pop up and flexing the panel excessively
If it were me, and the interest was quick adjustments I would look at something with a pit pin, diaper pin (cowling safety pin), or DZUS/camlock fastener

Some examples of these fasteners are on the links below. We use most of these in aviation, for access panels that are opened often.

Kwik-LokŪ Pins | Jergens Inc
https://www.aircraftspruce.ca/catalo...owlingpins.php
https://www.southco.com/en-us/produc....html?hid=7345

And all of them can be found on amazon.

The diaper pin would be used in similar applications as a cotter pin, however it is faster to install/remove and is re-useable.

Just my 2 bits, If I have missed the mark then don't mind me, still processing my first coffee.....
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Old 02-11-2019, 06:58 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yukon Cornelius View Post
Things that are only thumb tight, on a vibrating object will often depart if not regularly checked. SO couple the vibrating and bouncing a bus does on it own, plus the fact these are on the roof and the potential is there to either have check/tighten often or discover 1 or more missing. And then possibly them pop up while driving or one corner attempting to pop up and flexing the panel excessively
Great catch. There should definitely be some type of solid, mechanical fastener on a system like this. Too easy for things to go bad real fast. We've noticed several screws backing themselves out due to vibration.....luckily they were all interior items and not a safety concern.
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Old 02-11-2019, 12:58 PM   #9
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I have a very simple system to positively lock all the panels down for driving, yet it doesn't need any tools to release them for tilting up. Each panel, or more specifically each panel's support frame, has two small pivoting brackets that can be rotated around onto captive 5/16" SS bolts and then secured with SS wing nuts and SS lock washers on those bolts. There's absolutely no way that a panel can ever become unsecured while driving, and it takes only a few seconds to secure or release each panel. Simple, easy, foolproof, cheap.

John
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Old 02-11-2019, 04:00 PM   #10
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I plan on nutserts in the panel and a lock washer on the outside of the thumb screw. Original plan was a top lock nut on the back side to prevent the screws from loosening. But I like the cleanliness of the nutserts and they are captured. My angle will be ordered tomorrow and when I get it I will mock one panel up to see how it works. Up in town, 2.5 miles from the shops is International Concessions. They make concession trailers. They are allowing me to place metal orders with theirs,saves me money and the hassle of having to buy a minimum order out of Charlotte.
The Kwik-Loks look interesting, i'll check them out. I just received2 of them today for the ramp, way too long but I can cut them down and redress the lanyard hole.
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