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Old 10-26-2019, 06:58 PM   #101
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Today a friend and I put the solar panels on the roof. Once they were on the roof, the friend left to watch the Ohio State game and I started securing the panels to the racks.



As you can sort of (?) see below, the three panels (shown) behind the rear hatch are fully installed



I am finding that "basic Trex" to be of decent quality and super easy to work with.

I ran out of fasteners and called it a day. I need to make a Lowes run pick up some more hardware...I will post a few close up pics of how the panels are actually attached...

...............Impressive ............
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Old 10-26-2019, 08:00 PM   #102
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thats looking really great!!!!

and the Ohio State game was most excellent
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Old 10-26-2019, 08:32 PM   #103
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...Impressive...
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thats looking really great!!!!

and the Ohio State game was most excellent
Thanks guys.

For what its worth, and although I've previously posted, the 8 panels are (325w) Hyundai HiS-S325TI, info here
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Old 10-27-2019, 08:20 PM   #104
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Here is a pic of a "between panel" fastener


And here is how I chose to handle the ends. The panels are about 2in thick, so two pieces of decking are used


All panels are at least partially secured. The concept is coming together...


In the pic below, note that I have installed aluminum angle iron to cover the wood decking around the back e-hatch
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Old 10-28-2019, 07:15 AM   #105
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At skoolie palooza I met someone who had a large panel ripped out of its frame because of wind load while driving. Forgot the details...but he and some others build a casing around the panels so the wind could not get under it.
What are your thoughts?

Looks great and a lot of power.. Nice e hatches as well.

Johan
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Old 10-28-2019, 12:18 PM   #106
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At skoolie palooza I met someone who had a large panel ripped out of its frame because of wind load while driving. Forgot the details...but he and some others build a casing around the panels so the wind could not get under it.
What are your thoughts?

Looks great and a lot of power.. Nice e hatches as well.

Johan
I have had moments of doubt regarding my panel mounting plans.

I am contemplating following what I saw on another bus. It was a piece of sheet metal covering the leading edge of the front panel down to the roof. Kind of an air dam to direct wind around the panels and not under them.
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Old 10-28-2019, 03:43 PM   #107
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I have had moments of doubt regarding my panel mounting plans.

I am contemplating following what I saw on another bus. It was a piece of sheet metal covering the leading edge of the front panel down to the roof. Kind of an air dam to direct wind around the panels and not under them.
I would think air under them qould be a cooling benefit and keep debris from accumulating under them.
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Old 10-28-2019, 05:41 PM   #108
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At skoolie palooza I met someone who had a large panel ripped out of its frame because of wind load while driving. Forgot the details...but he and some others build a casing around the panels so the wind could not get under it.
What are your thoughts?

Looks great and a lot of power.. Nice e hatches as well

Johan
My thoughts...? I'm against it. I think it's important that stuff does not come ripping off one's bus.
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Old 10-29-2019, 11:34 AM   #109
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At skoolie palooza I met someone who had a large panel ripped out of its frame because of wind load while driving. Forgot the details...but he and some others build a casing around the panels so the wind could not get under it.
What are your thoughts?
I would be interested in the details about the skoolie you mention above. I have seen panels "secured" with bungy cords...

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...Kind of an air dam to direct wind around the panels and not under them.
The front of my rack will have an air dam built into the decking.

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I would think air under them could be a cooling benefit and keep debris from accumulating under them.
Air flow under panels (when parked especially) good... Panels generating lift when moving bad...

------------------------------------------------------------------------

As you can see from my snarky comment yesterday, the subject of strength and TFOB (things falling off buses) is not a can of worms I am excited to open...

However, while I did not do any full scale fatigue testing or computer analysis, I did seek to build in some design features I believe will help reduce risk. I am sure some of the stronger opinion holders here may not share my opinions and perspectives on reducing the risk of TFOB... but here they are:

1) The height of the rack - The rack was purposely mounted as low to the roof as I could while still leaving room for air flow. The center rail is flush mounted and less than an inch high.

2) The rack to roof mounting design - The racks are bolted into the tubular cross members of the bus roof (every ~28 inches for the outer rails and every~18 inches on the center rail). No stress bearing components of the rack are attached solely to sheet metal.

3) The panel to rack mounting design (triple rack design)- The solar panel rack was built from three continuous runs of Super Strut. Three sections provides for 6 mounting points (vice 4)

4) The use of decking - Once the install is fully complete there will be an uninterrupted surface of decking and solar panels stretching the entire length of the bus. In fact the first full ~6 feet or so of the roof will be decking. The front of that decking will have an air dam to encourage air to move over the panels.

5) Aluminum angle iron trim - This trim will be used to improve the appearance of the decking edges as well as to tie panels together. I will also be bolting the panels together near the edges to further tie the panels together.

In conclusion, I definitely considered the location and environment these panels will be living in, and I did seek to take active measures to keep them on the roof. Although I did not use grade 8 fasteners, and likely left other risk reducers on the table, I am pretty confident that the steps I did take will be more than sufficient to keep the panels safe and sound.

I am considering additional "wind deflectors" mounted to the bottom of some panels, but they are still conceptual at this stage...
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Old 10-29-2019, 06:59 PM   #110
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Not sure about names. One gent used to post here. He had Nissan leaf batteries... The second bus ..? Attached pucs of each.. The second bus is parked behind the one with the flag... Others here might know them.

My concern with the large panels would be that a passing big rig would get a pressure shock below the panels that would pull them out of the frame. The gent in the second bus claimed he lost a panel.. I think with smaller panels that chance would be lower
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Old 11-05-2019, 05:42 AM   #111
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Still working on securing the panels/decking. I could find a combiner box that fit my needs so I chose to go with a DIY combiner box. Details here.
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Old 11-05-2019, 08:02 AM   #112
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Still working on securing the panels/decking. I could find a combiner box that fit my needs so I chose to go with a DIY combiner box. Details here.
Should read "...couldn't find a combiner that fit my needs..."

Correct link to DIY combiner box is here.
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Old 11-05-2019, 06:10 PM   #113
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...while I did not do any full scale fatigue testing or computer analysis, I did seek to build in some design features I believe will help reduce risk. I am sure some of the stronger opinion holders here may not share my opinions and perspectives on reducing the risk of TFOB... but here they are:

1) The height of the rack...

2) The rack to roof mounting design...

3) The panel to rack mounting design (triple rack design)...

4) The use of decking...

5) Aluminum angle iron trim...
Adding another:

6) Bolting solar panels together - In the interest of adding strength and reducing the risk of TFOB, I am bolting the ends of the solar panels together, with larger nuts as spacers.



Sorry about the finger...
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Old 11-12-2019, 12:18 PM   #114
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I finished wiring the panels this weekend. Once I install the fuses we should be ready to go live (from the topside at least). The extra ground wire run to the outside of the fuse box is for testing panels. It will be capped and stowed when not needed.


I also finally moved the battery pack and inverter onto the bus. I am happy to have it out of the garage and am excited about testing out the full system with panels, charge controller, etc...

I am however, also a bit overwhelmed at the amount of work I will need to do to production-ize and rugged-ize the pack. The pic below shows about "where" on the bus the battery pack will sit, but certainly not "how" it will sit on the bus. Lots to do...


And finally there was this casualty of war; thankfully I didn't become a casualty too. This battery temp sensor (BTS) was connected to a negative battery terminal. Unfortunately it was oriented in a way (by me) that made it all too easy for me to short it out against an adjacent positive terminal (which I did...)


It arced and sparked and caught on fire. It was all very exciting... The BTS was disconnected from the inverter, and I don't believe I did any additional damage to the pack. I will of course be doing a thorough mishap investigation.
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Old 11-20-2019, 06:19 PM   #115
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Over the weekend I did some work toward ruggedizing the pack for life on the bus. I removed the previously installed threaded rod and ran larger rod from end to end with spacers in between the individual packs and aluminum angle on the ends which will be screwed into the (yet to be built) battery pack platform.

The battery pack with BMSs and inverter had been in continuous operation in the garage without panels/charge controller (and without incident).

Today I started setting up the on bus testing "breadboard". The aim is to do full up system testing of the complete PV system over the next few months.

The setup in the pics below is for testing only and is not representative of the final lay out of the system...



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Old 11-24-2019, 08:58 AM   #116
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System level testing has started...

Currently generating a "staggering" ~650 watts...

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Old 11-27-2019, 05:46 AM   #117
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Here's a screenshot of the first four days of solar charging. The Victron app is just like their gear, high quality. The app is simple, easy to use, and relatively intuitive. And the charge controller Bluetooth has a great range, allowing system checks from my living room...


And here are a couple of screenshots from one of the four BMSs. These have been in continuous use for over a year. I am very pleased (and a little surprised?) at how well they are working. But then again "Xiaoxiang" is also known for it's quality. I did buy a spare just in case...



I am also finalizing the design for the battery installation. I have some anti-vibration cup mounts on order (illustration below...) and plan to start (and finish?) building the battery mounting system this weekend.
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