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Old 04-26-2021, 12:58 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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mounting 4 60 cell 24volt panels

Hey everyone,

I am building a Electrodacus based 24 volt 8s solar system, which will take 4 60 cell panels.

So I am looking for rails to bolt onto the roof.

The issue I have is my 2005 Thomas saf-t-liner, 31 foot, has a standard curved roof.

I am looking to mount 4 panels, ducks in a row, form the front.

The panels are :
https://a1solarstore.com/mission-sol...mse60a310.html
65.53" x 39.33" x 1.58"

Does anyone have a diagram of the roof curvature, or a recommendation on a roof mounting bracket for these panels.

Thanks!

Peter

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Old 04-26-2021, 02:47 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peterjk View Post
Hey everyone,

I am building a Electrodacus based 24 volt 8s solar system, which will take 4 60 cell panels.

So I am looking for rails to bolt onto the roof.

The issue I have is my 2005 Thomas saf-t-liner, 31 foot, has a standard curved roof.

I am looking to mount 4 panels, ducks in a row, form the front.

The panels are :
https://a1solarstore.com/mission-sol...mse60a310.html
65.53" x 39.33" x 1.58"

Does anyone have a diagram of the roof curvature, or a recommendation on a roof mounting bracket for these panels.

Thanks!

Peter
Peter,
Before I begin I will add the disclaimer that Ruth and I are frugal hillbillies and have been so for more than 50 years. We look to achieve what we need effectively while spending the least amount of money. When we first mentioned one of the methods we used we got a lot of flack from a couple of posters who were of the opinion that we were reckless and our panels were likely to fly off on the highway and injure someone. I assure you that we would never run down the road with our investment at risk of flying off, however, you can consider the materials and methods for yourself.

We have 12 327W Sunpower Panels mounted on our roof. They have been there about a year and a half and 13,000 miles. The 8 panels in the rear are mounted to 2X6s that are laid across the roof and screwed in with multipurpose screws that go through the roof and ceiling to a 3/4" thick backing plate. The panes are fastened to the 2x6s with multipurpose screws directly through the panel frames. The leading edge of the front two panels in this group are screwed right to the roof.



The front 4 panel mounts are made out of 1" EMT which is fastened to the steel roof in the same way the 2x6s are. Again the panels are screwed right through their frames to the EMT.



The end result looks like this:


They do not flap, bang, try to fly or in any other way give us pause. We drive 73.5 MPH (darn governor) on the highway regularly. And live in the dessert of South Western New Mexico where wind gusts of 60 MPH are not rare.

We are thinking about a new design that would provide enclosed insulation under the panels. We will post the results if we do it.
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Old 04-26-2021, 05:09 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rock-N-Ruth View Post
Peter,
Before I begin I will add the disclaimer that Ruth and I are frugal hillbillies and have been so for more than 50 years. We look to achieve what we need effectively while spending the least amount of money. When we first mentioned one of the methods we used we got a lot of flack from a couple of posters who were of the opinion that we were reckless and our panels were likely to fly off on the highway and injure someone. I assure you that we would never run down the road with our investment at risk of flying off, however, you can consider the materials and methods for yourself.

We have 12 327W Sunpower Panels mounted on our roof. They have been there about a year and a half and 13,000 miles. The 8 panels in the rear are mounted to 2X6s that are laid across the roof and screwed in with multipurpose screws that go through the roof and ceiling to a 3/4" thick backing plate. The panes are fastened to the 2x6s with multipurpose screws directly through the panel frames. The leading edge of the front two panels in this group are screwed right to the roof.



The front 4 panel mounts are made out of 1" EMT which is fastened to the steel roof in the same way the 2x6s are. Again the panels are screwed right through their frames to the EMT.



The end result looks like this:


They do not flap, bang, try to fly or in any other way give us pause. We drive 73.5 MPH (darn governor) on the highway regularly. And live in the dessert of South Western New Mexico where wind gusts of 60 MPH are not rare.

We are thinking about a new design that would provide enclosed insulation under the panels. We will post the results if we do it.
I don't know why the images did not show up, So here are the links:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/zXkpbqSaTctGvgcw6
https://photos.app.goo.gl/HmB7VWqJypa6Arxt9
The end result looks like this:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/r63ea8jtLE56siUw7
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Old 04-26-2021, 05:35 PM   #4
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I put nutserts into the middle of ribs with standoffs and aluminum channel to mount mine. Seal the nutserts from inside, if they leak, they leak into the center of rib and drain out.

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Old 04-26-2021, 07:47 PM   #5
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Are you sure the panels produce only 24 volts? Typically a 60-cell panel will produce about 30V - at least, that's what my 60-cell Sharps produce. Or maybe they're intended to charge a 24V battery through a PWM controller?

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Old 04-27-2021, 10:00 PM   #6
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@Rock-N-Ruth et all,

Please know that my wife Diane and I are Polacks and are also staunchly frugal. To that its amazing as to your design, and what I had in mind. Your panels are mounted long-ways, my idea was to mount them side ways, all 4 panels. My thoughts were to bolt steel L brackets to the ribs, and then bolt plastic-wood 2x6 boards running front to back of the bus. The 4 panels would then be neatly lied down on the boards, and bolted down to the boards, or perhaps to steel channel first then screwed to the boards. See artist napkin rendition.

Since the front of the bus, where the driver sits, has more head room, the roof is also naturally slightly higher at that point, it then starts to slope down. The first panel then would butt up to that slope, forming a built-in wind deflector, to route air over the panels so as not to become a air-foil [Airborne].

Please let me know your thoughts.
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File Type: jpg diagram.jpg (202.1 KB, 5 views)
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Old 04-27-2021, 10:04 PM   #7
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I should note as to that diagram. The top shows a cross-section of the bus, the roof, and the L-brackers bolted to the bus ribs. Then to the 2x6 plastic wood boards. The boards run the length of the bus and would span the total length of the 4 panels, which are 12 feet, 4 panels each 3 feet wide.
I'm wondering if the 2x6 boards would be too high, but i suppose i should get some cheap wood and whip up a prototype to test this concept.
BTW @Iceni John, the panels are https://store.santansolar.com/product/seraphim-305w/
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Old 04-27-2021, 10:15 PM   #8
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@o1marc, what kind of bike is that in your pic. I had a Duc 748 before my divorce, and a Aprilla RSV. I spent many a-day at the track on track days sliding my knee thru the turns, good times.
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Old 04-28-2021, 10:36 AM   #9
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I ran out to the bus this morning to show what a panel would look like on the roof.

The plywood is exactly the same size as 1 panel.

So my thoughts are, to sandwich the 2x6 between 2 steel L brackets bolted to the rib. The 2x6 would run close to the edge of the panels, so as not to allow side air lift of the panel. It would also allow some air circulation under the panel. I would use self-tapping bolts to fasten the brackets to the bus-ribs as I don't have any access underneath, the inside of the bus ceiling
is finished and I don't want to drill extra holes. I would then lag-bolt the 2x6 to the brackets.
In the picture I'm just using 2x4's as a 2x6 would raise the panel too high off the bus roof, so I would need to rip it down to probably 5 inches in width.
I'm also going to have to delete that vent shown in the top picture. As I'm reading, its not necessary if you are using other means of venting the bus to prevent condensation.
Cost wise I still haven't calculated, it would be however many L brackets I'd need, plastic wood or pressure treated exterior grade 2x6 x12. Angle iron to fasten to the wood and finally bolt the panels down. A couple of hinges on either end if I want to make them tilt ups, my not be a bad idea. IDN yet.

Any hoot, that's the tentative plan, let me know how that sounds.
Peter
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 2021-04-28 08.22.21.jpg (215.0 KB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg 2021-04-28 08.22.55.jpg (166.9 KB, 1 views)
File Type: jpg 2021-04-03 09.58.14.jpg (245.4 KB, 6 views)
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Old 04-28-2021, 01:59 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peterjk View Post
I ran out to the bus this morning to show what a panel would look like on the roof.

The plywood is exactly the same size as 1 panel.

So my thoughts are, to sandwich the 2x6 between 2 steel L brackets bolted to the rib. The 2x6 would run close to the edge of the panels, so as not to allow side air lift of the panel. It would also allow some air circulation under the panel. I would use self-tapping bolts to fasten the brackets to the bus-ribs as I don't have any access underneath, the inside of the bus ceiling
is finished and I don't want to drill extra holes. I would then lag-bolt the 2x6 to the brackets.
In the picture I'm just using 2x4's as a 2x6 would raise the panel too high off the bus roof, so I would need to rip it down to probably 5 inches in width.
I'm also going to have to delete that vent shown in the top picture. As I'm reading, its not necessary if you are using other means of venting the bus to prevent condensation.
Cost wise I still haven't calculated, it would be however many L brackets I'd need, plastic wood or pressure treated exterior grade 2x6 x12. Angle iron to fasten to the wood and finally bolt the panels down. A couple of hinges on either end if I want to make them tilt ups, my not be a bad idea. IDN yet.

Any hoot, that's the tentative plan, let me know how that sounds.
Peter
Looks workable. Now let me interject what I have learned by mounting my panels right over the roof: I thought they would provide shade and thus a little cooler inside in direct sun. I didn't take into account the solar panels absorb heat from the sun and then transmit that heat towards the roof. We are soon going to insulate the underside of the solar panels. I'll update you on how that looks and works out when we are done.
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Old 04-28-2021, 03:51 PM   #11
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That's pretty cool, Id like to see how you will insulate those. Maybe just a sheet of R7 hard insulation. My roof has been painted 4 times with white paint, and I mixed in those pellets that create a thermal layer, so as the roof doesn't heat up. The cost be like $35 or something for the bag of pellets. It seems to be making a difference. But now that you brought up the panels heat issue, Im going to keep as much a air gap between the top of the roof and the bottom of the panel so air can circulate and dissipate that heat.
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Old 05-03-2021, 07:00 AM   #12
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So I purchased 2 2x6x16's, which are longer then I need. But I figure I'll just buy two more to extend to the end of the bus to build my deck on them. Lag bolting the ends together.

The 2x6's are exterior pressure treated lumber. Cost there approx 50$
I ordered 7 more sets of steel L brackets. Total cost there will be about 100$ for the brackets.

Next I need L channel to build frames so I can bolt the panels down. I don't want the panels to sag in the middle. If I also use hinges with pull out pins on the ends, i can maybe make them tillable to either side. Its a thought.

I found a full size bed frame someone thre out which is made of steel L channel. Cost, free. I need to cut the rivets off for the wheels and cut ot to length, but it looks like it will work fine to hold 1 panel.
Now I need 3 more bed frames. Searching ebay and crag list I suppose.

Question: whats the best way to cut a ceiling hole to drop a lag bolt down thru the bus rib, use a Key-hole saw cutter I suppose. OR can I get away with just using large self-tapping bolts to the flat edges of each bus rib. Each bracket would have 2 such bolts. I'd rather not make a bunch of holes in my ceiling.
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Old 05-03-2021, 07:13 AM   #13
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Heres what it looks like so far, with the new 2x6's. Nothing much to look at yet. Brackets are coming next. I deleted the roof vent too, so the first panel can move forward more so. From the front you can barely see there's anything on the roof. I will also build a small air dam to deflect the air more so over the top of the first panel.
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File Type: jpg 2021-05-01 13.37.40.jpg (257.2 KB, 2 views)
File Type: jpg 2021-05-01 13.38.06.jpg (242.0 KB, 2 views)
File Type: jpg 2021-05-01 13.38.08.jpg (240.6 KB, 2 views)
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Old 05-05-2021, 04:59 PM   #14
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We used the rails made for mounting solar panels on a house roof, https://www.solaris-shop.com/ironrid...xoCJIkQAvD_BwE

They really aren’t that expensive compared to the 2x6 solution. The “feet” brackets are bolted through our roof ribs. We have a Crown that’s quite curvy so to get the rails level we had to heat up the mounting feet with a torch and bend a 7.5 degree angle. The end result is super clean and electrically bonded to the frame of the bus.

https://share.icloud.com/photos/0vsP...gPQ#Clarksboro

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Old 05-05-2021, 06:13 PM   #15
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Very nice clean look, thanks @jmiraglia
I went the 2 x 6 route because to make sure air didn't get under my panels from the sides, and try to lift them off.

I am now looking for L channel to bolt down to the 2x6 to place the panels into.
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Old 05-06-2021, 11:56 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peterjk View Post
So I purchased 2 2x6x16's, which are longer then I need. But I figure I'll just buy two more to extend to the end of the bus to build my deck on them. Lag bolting the ends together.

The 2x6's are exterior pressure treated lumber. Cost there approx 50$
I ordered 7 more sets of steel L brackets. Total cost there will be about 100$ for the brackets.

Next I need L channel to build frames so I can bolt the panels down. I don't want the panels to sag in the middle. If I also use hinges with pull out pins on the ends, i can maybe make them tillable to either side. Its a thought.

I found a full size bed frame someone thre out which is made of steel L channel. Cost, free. I need to cut the rivets off for the wheels and cut ot to length, but it looks like it will work fine to hold 1 panel.
Now I need 3 more bed frames. Searching ebay and crag list I suppose.

Question: whats the best way to cut a ceiling hole to drop a lag bolt down thru the bus rib, use a Key-hole saw cutter I suppose. OR can I get away with just using large self-tapping bolts to the flat edges of each bus rib. Each bracket would have 2 such bolts. I'd rather not make a bunch of holes in my ceiling.

Lag bolts are good for wood, not good for sheet metal.
"L channel"? I believe is what we call angle iron here in the USA
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Old 05-08-2021, 01:57 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peterjk View Post
Hey everyone,

I am building a Electrodacus based 24 volt 8s solar system, which will take 4 60 cell panels.

So I am looking for rails to bolt onto the roof.

The issue I have is my 2005 Thomas saf-t-liner, 31 foot, has a standard curved roof.

I am looking to mount 4 panels, ducks in a row, form the front.

The panels are :
https://a1solarstore.com/mission-sol...mse60a310.html
65.53" x 39.33" x 1.58"

Does anyone have a diagram of the roof curvature, or a recommendation on a roof mounting bracket for these panels.

Thanks!

Peter
I have virtually the same thing I am working on only my Thomas is an ‘02 and I have 6 panels. I am looking at mounting 3 per side. I do not have the curvature of the roof yet but I am working on getting a sketch of everything together. I will keep you posted, if you come up with anything please do the same. Seeing as I will have panels in series going from side to side, I will have to make my rack tilting but that would not have to be if you only have them on one side.
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Old 06-20-2021, 02:07 PM   #18
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my panels

So here's what I came up with.
https://www.skoolie.net/forums/membe...lbums1998.html

I used steel L brackets to mount 2 2x6 pressure treated exterior grade.
I double up on the L brackets in front only. All other mount points have 1 bracket bolted down onto each bus rib using Steel screws.
We then painted the entire roof rack. Holes are drilled in the bottom of the 2x6's at 2 foot intervals to allow for water run off.
I insulated under the panels, so as to prevent the bus from over heating. The panels get super hot. This keeps the roof cool.

I then placed the 4 panels on top, separated by 2x2's which creates a seal between the panels without the panels touching each other. There are tiny gaps to allow water run off.

The panels hinge up on one side only. I used old discarded aluminum garage door hinges which are super though. When the panels are down, they lie perfectly flat on the 2x6. Then bolt down using regular steel bolts.

I still need to come up with a quick release system instead of bolting them on one side.

Also to do, in front of the first panel, I'm building a small spoiler, to kick the wind up over the first panel. The front of the bus is already higher then the first panel, so this will just help a little.

Where the last panel ends, Im installing a Max air vent, then the deck will run to the end of the bus on top of the same 2x6's. Im going to use 2x12's for that and make the deck the width of the bus.

Costs were relatively minimal. Lumber and bolts. But the strength is very good. I can probably build a room addition on top of the bus if I wanted to.

Two of the 300 watt panels are in parallel. Total of 4 panels. The cabling runs down to the interior, and will eventually connect to my DIY Electrodacus solar box I designed around the 2 Dewalt boxes. This allows me to take my expensive bith home when the bus is stored and or use them for other panels in the future.

Ive since added a third Dewalt box on top which will hold all the wifi repeater and cellular cabling. The antennas will mount on the deck. I'll post that when im done.




Peter
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