Solar Panel Question

CChentfant23

New Member
Jul 20, 2020
4
I purchase the solar panel kit from harbor freight year and half ago. My question if anyone has mounted there panels to the roof of there pop up? I’m concerned about drilling and mounting on my roof. Any thoughts or tips would be awesome!

The solar panel kit I purchased.
 

kitphantom

Super Active Member
Platinum Supporting Member
Dec 26, 2009
14,046
Albuquerque, NM
We too have kept our solar panels free-standing, so we have more leeway in orientation. There are many places where the camper is in shade, but we can place the panels in full sun. In some places, where we're under trees, we can re-orient the panels once or twice a day (if we're in camp) to maximize charging.
Our current main set is a Zamp 160, the controller is on it, so we can actually see the difference in output as we aim the panels. We still use the 60 watt set of Goal Zero panels, to separately charge our GZ Yeti 150 free-standing battery. Most of the time, we place that set in the best, handy place and don't re-orient it. (The cord fits through the window so it's plugged into the Yeto 150 inside, so much easier than taking it in and out of the camper as I did before finding the cord fit.)
We do have a cable to lock up the Zamp panel, it also serves to mark the path of the wire to the camper. We don't bother to lock the Goal Zero panel.
 

davido

Super Active Member
Jul 17, 2014
1,429
Many do mount their panels on their roofs using brackets that require drilling. Sealing the holes is really important. They're usually using silicon caulking. There are flexible panels, flat on the bottom that can be glued to the roof with an adhesive, avoiding the need to put holes up there. But for your panels, you'll need mounting brackets.

If you want to get any useful output from your panel, you'll want it to be in full sunlight as long as possible each day. That means if it's mounted atop the camper you may need to pick spots with less tree cover. Portable panels improve your ability to locate the panel in an area with better sun exposure without parking the camper in the sun. I have a portable 100w solar suitcase, and purchased an extension cable for it to offer even better flexibility for positioning it.

On the other hand, a permanently installed panel is less trouble; you install it and forget about it. With a portable panel you have to lug that thing around and set it up every time you use it. In my case I preferred portable because I wanted the added flexibility in where I locate it, and because I didn't want to put more holes in the roof. But it's not wrong for people to prefer the convenience of a permanently installed panel. The decision is a balance. If you often camp in the desert it wouldn't matter much. Just put the panel on the roof and you're good. But if you camp in heavily wooded areas, you may find it better to use portable.
 

David Blackwell

Active Member
Platinum Supporting Member
May 10, 2017
150
San Diego, CA
I am in the deployable ground mount school of thought as well. I also like having a panel on our Aliner to power our refrigeration enroute. (The amount of power flowing through our 7-way to our Aliner is very small.)

I have used several methods for mounting both hard and flexible panels to the dormers on our Aliner. I did not want to use anything to screw into our Aliner.

- AM Solar videos (see YouTube) have a well thought out approach.

Hard Panels:

I used the AM Solar approach with 3M VHB tape and covered the feet with Sikaflex. I can’t find my notes but I think it was 221. The installation looked promising but the weight of my 140 watt Kyocera panel on my dormer was simply too heavy. Substituting Eternabond tape for the VHB (and covering with Sikaflex) may be a better method.

Flexible Panels:

I’ve used the following 3M adhesives: 4000, 4200 and 5200. My attempts at trying to mount two 100 watt Sunpower panels to our Aliner were not successful. After two years the 4000 and 5200 adhesives failed. 3M’s website states that 4200 is the only product rated to bond to Lexan. I'm currently testing 4200 but I'm leaning towards removing this in favor of the following.

An interesting method: https://phillipssolar.com/products/220w-flexible-solar-panel-mount-system-t83tj

P.S. I recently determined that Renogy's panels produce substantially more power than Sunpower in off-angle situations. When pointed directly at the sun, both panels work fine. However, when mounted face up on our Aliner, the sun is not directly overhead but often at 45 degrees or less.
 

SteveP

Super Active Member
May 21, 2015
2,697
I have a single 100 watt panel mounted to my popup roof. I built "Z" bars out of aluminum angle to span the panel and mounted the bars to the roof with 3M VHB tape, no holes were drilled in the roof. If you decide to do this please do some research on cleaning before using the tape. I spent hours cleaning the area of the roof where the panel is mounted. The panel has been on for over 10 years now with no issue during thousands of miles of travel, including one trip that included driving for an hour at highway speed into a 60 mph head wind. Obviously, this will not work on trailers with a "rubber roof."

The roof mounted panel maintains charge in the battery while it's sitting in the back yard. It provides additional charging capacity while towing. If it's in the shade at a campground I can deploy a portable panel to chase the sun.
 

PopAnimal

Member
Oct 26, 2022
75
Southern New Mexico
I purchase the solar panel kit from harbor freight year and half ago. My question if anyone has mounted there panels to the roof of there pop up? I’m concerned about drilling and mounting on my roof. Any thoughts or tips would be awesome!

The solar panel kit I purchased.
How is the kit working out for you? I'm thinking about getting one and leaving it free standing for top off. Id also have my 700 watt genni with a trickle charger for a bigger boost.
 

jmkay1

2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah
Oct 10, 2013
7,989
Northern Virginia
I saw a bike rack someone made that screwed onto the sides of the roof and not on top. A little less chance of water sitting that way so less chance of water intrusion if gosh forbid the water proofing fails. If you do something like that close enough perhaps you can mount the panels to the bike rack. Everyone camps differently though and may have more open spaces then others. I agree attaching to the camper will be way easier. Less chance of it being in the way. So I can understand your point of view as well. I would however probably try it out the next time you camp to see how much difference you see in charging before you spend the time, money to install it on top of the camper permanently. Good luck with whatever you decide.
 

Patrick w

Super Active Member
Aug 13, 2021
767
How is the kit working out for you? I'm thinking about getting one and leaving it free standing for top off. Id also have my 700 watt genni with a trickle charger for a bigger boost.
The one you mentioned requires significantly more square footage for the same wattage, which translates to more storage space.

You can get a flexible solar panel . Their thickness is significantly less, and can even be mounted using velcro strips.

CIGS solar panels, similar to the one you listed, are more "angle tolerant" than other solar types- but their peak output is less per square inch. CIGS works well even flat. Depending on your trailer, you can use different sizes.
 




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