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Old 11-15-2015, 07:55 PM   #1
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Solar panels on roof = bus parked in sun. How to keep cool?

Hello! I have a question about my bus to house conversion. I want to install solar panels, however I realize that this means I will need to be parked in full sun to get optimum power. I live in Mexico and it is HOT . I have two dogs and will not have air conditioning (and most likely not even a fridge!). I am curious how much the panels I install will protect the bus from the sun, and also if there are any recommendations to cover the part of the roof where there are no panels. Thank you for any advice! Here is my facebook page if you want to have a visual of the project: https://www.facebook.com/casamion/
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Old 11-15-2015, 11:51 PM   #2
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Not solar panel related, but swamp coolers can do a remarkable cooling job in dry climates. You can make one yourself cheaply with a 12v fan, some PVC pipe, and foam padding.
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Old 11-15-2015, 11:55 PM   #3
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Detachable panels and cable to run them into the sun while you stay in the shade. Raising your panels off the roof and put a shade cloth between them and your roof and south facing side. Extra insulation.
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Old 11-17-2015, 09:50 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by CaptainInsaneo View Post
Detachable panels and cable to run them into the sun while you stay in the shade. Raising your panels off the roof and put a shade cloth between them and your roof and south facing side. Extra insulation.
If you are willing to drop the cash, you could get a small mini-split that will run direct off d/c. This means no transformer and low power loss. Have you been to handy bob's page? I would give it a read if you want good solid solar setup.

https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/

There is also this depending on your power production and output:
Build Your Own Walk-In Cooler With Coolbot

Look up some sun orientation methods. If your bus is facing east or west, then your south side facing windows take heat all day. If you face the bus north or south, then you'll get hard sun in the morning on one side and on the other side in the evening... so I would just move it around a bit to find out where the wind and sun work best to keep it cool. Another method would be to take 55 gallon barrels, fill em with liquid, store them under the bus or in the ground, run a pump and a pipe into the bus to a radiator and a fan, then circulate into an empty barrel. reverse when full. Probably have to go kinda deep to get effective cooling in the summer. but you could build it out of junk yard parts/cheap craigslist stuff, but is ultimately a lot of work and not mobile.

you could section off one small section of your bus, and use loads less a/c to keep those dogs cool in that smaller section and if it's well insulated they could stay frosty all day on almost no power.


My current bed section is in the back and over the engine, the engine and tranny will provide thermal mass during the first part of the day, so my bedroom should stay cool if i can keep hot air from seeping in, I used 1 1/2" rigid polystyrene and put that in the ceiling and walls. Some blankets/ other linens could be hung on the windows and used to cover the ceiling to add insulation to one area. I would add a small 5k btu window unit and put it in the bedroom... the only problem there is if your a/c fails. At that juncture I would just leave a fluid curtain they can walk through to get to an area that's not insulated. I built the a/c in the bedroom in the last bus too, just easier to cool one tiny room rather than the whole bus.

good luck, keep those puppies cool.
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Old 11-17-2015, 10:18 AM   #5
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A roof deck properly situated will keep the direct sun off your roof just about all day. Just leave an air gap of a few inches for circulation and it makes a remarkable difference. Think double roof...the same arrangement used on the old Land Rovers built for safari use. Then...mount your solar panels on top of that. Combined with a roll out awning to keep Old Sol off the sunnyside windows, your A/C workload will be greatly reduced. Of course, the more insulation the better.
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Old 11-22-2015, 05:16 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by OMGIBoughtABus View Post
Not solar panel related, but swamp coolers can do a remarkable cooling job in dry climates. You can make one yourself cheaply with a 12v fan, some PVC pipe, and foam padding.
Swamp coolers are a relatively huge thing at Burning Man. If you google for "figjam cooler" you'll find this guy is the home made swamp cooler god. See https://eplaya.burningman.com/viewtopic.php?t=33842 for the penultimate guide (and long thread) to variations on how to make one. There is the original bucket version, but also a larger boxy version that would be great for a bus.
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Old 11-22-2015, 05:18 PM   #7
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So are you going to be parked for a length of time? If so, then just setup your solar separate from the bus. Bus in shade, solar in sun.
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Old 11-23-2015, 10:37 AM   #8
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Swamp coolers work great as long as the ambient humidity is low...like out in a desert low. They are pretty much worthless here in the south and southeast where we have high humidity. Bummer since they are much cheaper to operate than conventional A/C systems.
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Old 11-23-2015, 03:31 PM   #9
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Swamp coolers work great as long as the ambient humidity is low...like out in a desert low. They are pretty much worthless here in the south and southeast where we have high humidity. Bummer since they are much cheaper to operate than conventional A/C systems.
Definitely good in the dry - hugely popular at Burning Man for that reason
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