DuneElliot

Installing Solar and holes in the roof

16 posts in this topic

So with my EPDM roof re-sealed (bugs and all) I am now looking to install my solar panels as soon as my exchanged panels arrive.

I am particularly nervous about adding holes to my roof for obviously reasons, but since it is necessary for screws etc to hold the panels in place what sealant do I use for the screws and screw holes and to cover the screw heads when done? Also, I'm guessing, to run the cables down from the roof and to the charge controller (unless I can redirect them on the outside or through a vent).

I have zero experience doing this so any recommendations and insight will be helpful.

(I have read and reread as much information as I could find regarding the use of well nuts and screws vs standard screws. I really leaning away from well nuts due to the construction of my roof and other reports of them loosening in roofs similar to mine).

 

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Flip each bracket over, or the whole assembly, if already mounted to the panel. Put a dollop of sealer on each screw hole. Set on the roof surface. Install screws. Add more sealant on top of screw heads. 

Well nuts work for very specific applications, but are really not intended for every installation. 

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What Darryl&Rita said. I put mine on 6 years ago. Dicor Self Leveling Sealant underneath the brackets and after screwed down, same sealant over top of the bracket and screw head. Haven't had any problems.

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Okay, thanks. Just the information I was looking for. Do they carry the Dicor Self-Leveling Sealant at Home Depot or Ace? 

Also, what about the hole the cables have to go through in the roof? The Dicor stuff seems like it would just drip through.

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Dicor comes in 2 flavours. Self-leveling, and regular. The regular works well for this purpose, but self-levelling will work, assuming you pay attention to detail, and keep replacing the little bit that flows down the wiring. The hardware stores don't typically carry Dicor, but most RV parts stores have it on the shelf. Amazon, too.

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you can bring your wires down the refrigerator vent

 

Amazon has Dicor

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2 hours ago, fly2low said:

you can bring your wires down the refrigerator vent

 

Amazon has Dicor

My fridge vent is on the side of the camper, and half way down. I have a vent I could use that I am seriously thinking about making use of. It already has protection with a vent cover.

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There is a bunch of information on running through vents, etc on my website.  Also info on combiners.  LINK.

Make sure any sealant you use is compatible with your roof type....in this case you describe EPDM rubber roof, so the Dicor should be fine. Any RV supply store should have it, or Amazon. The  Home Stores do not have it in my experience.

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   If you already have any sort of a top roof vent (I take it there's no top roof fridge vent right) near where your panels can be wired Id use it. I prefer Dicor sealant but only find it at RV shops in our area, NOT any of the big box stores.

  I'm NOT a fan of drilling holes in my roof, so to route my solar wiring down to my charge controller I drilled instead horizontal through the sidewall at its very top just below roof level, inserted a short stub of 1 inch PVC conduit, ran the wires through it then sealed it all. The solar panel connection was under the panels right near the roof edge so I just used a small expansion and drip loop out from under the panels to and through the top horizontal conduit, worked out great.

  I have mounted and supported panels again via the very top sidewall using hinges which attached to the top RV side wall (no roof holes) and to the panels right at the roof edge so they can be lifted for easy cleaning. I locate my wire splices UNDER the panels for protection and with enough slack (drip loop) so the panels can be lifted using the hinges. I use stainless steel or aluminum or brass for these type of mounts.

  Then you gotta get from the charge controller to you batteries?????????

  If I can find any pics I will post them later  

  John T  NOT a solar expert so do as they tell you or however you please lol

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Thanks John. That helps a lot. The closest, and pretty much only vent, near to where my batteries and charge controller are located is the fan vent that is in the bedroom area (everything else is on the back half of the camper). I think it would make the most sense to use that one as it is more or less a straight shot down to the charge controller (still trying to determine location for this) and then the battery compartment, all the while trying to keep my cables as short as possible.

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10 hours ago, bobsallyh said:

What Darryl&Rita said. I put mine on 6 years ago. Dicor Self Leveling Sealant underneath the brackets and after screwed down, same sealant over top of the bracket and screw head. Haven't had any problems.

That is exactly what I did also.  Worked like a champ!

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Lots of helpful information. Thank you.

Now, when my other two panels arrive I will be ready to install.

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I used well nuts for mounting the panels on my camper roof.  Lance Camper Manufacturer's use them too.  

Go on YouTube and search: well nuts
Good visual instructions found there.

 

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I did a lot of Googling about well-nuts and people's experiences. According to several RVers they tend not to work so well into the plywood that comprises the top of the their trailers and tend to loosen over time.

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Installed 6 panels 18 months ago with wood screws and Dicor self leveling.  Many thousands of miles, no problems, no leaks.

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Screws and dicor should work well for you.  Not sure I would use well nuts either.  I have used rivet nuts and they are solid.  However you would need to have a metal frame in order to have a good point to anchor to.  It gets complicated fast

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