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gypsydan

Solar Panel Height Above Roof

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It was there, now it's gone. Jim's aero dam was similar in appearance to what you'd see on the leading edge of a roof top luggage basket. Made out of Diamond Plate, but I don't know the thickness. Probably either 1/8" or 1/4". I  should have paid more attention, when I was up there. 

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1 hour ago, Darryl&Rita said:

It was there, now it's gone. Jim's aero dam was similar in appearance to what you'd see on the leading edge of a roof top luggage basket. Made out of Diamond Plate, but I don't know the thickness. Probably either 1/8" or 1/4". I  should have paid more attention, when I was up there. 

It was thin.  Maybe 10ga.  Jim was having to watch his weight...... Trailer weight.....

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Interesting discussion. Good design of the ENTIRE system is what you should strive for. "The whole is greater than the sum of the parts" comes to mind here. Don't look at the cost of one component - like panels - in isolation. Only in the context of your total design and how that relates to your design goals. and the compromises required in ANY installation on an RV.  You can find cheap panels everywhere these days. .But with limited roof space on RVs, you really need to look at it in output per meter (or sq. ft. if you wish). Then do the balancing act.  That is one factor. The other is features of the panel itself....does it have a rain drain on it so it is self-cleaning? Does it have the proper voltage characteristics for YOUR system? Take a systems approach and you will likely do well with your install. Also - you can't have too much power....don't skimp on the panels unless you have a VERY small space available. And consider how you camp...for many people having a fixed system on their roof complemented by several portable panels is something to seriously consider.

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A lot has been mentioned about quality panels. Most of us can tell if it is well made physically, but how to tell if it is the 20% plus efficiency panels some have talked about. I guess you could believe the specs on the manufacturers website, but would rather have a definitive answer. Is there someone that independently compares and tests panels and posts actual results?

Edited by jcussen

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I recently added two additional 100-watt panels which are mounted a good 5-inches above the roof surface.
Yesterday while cleaning the roof I was happy to discover that the cleaning brush easily fit under the panels.

This Lance camper has factory installed roof racks - the racks have a load capacity of 300 pounds.
I mounted the racks not on top of the racks.  Instead the panels are between the rack rails - so that the leading edge is the steel rack.
The panels are mounted flat.  The air conditioning unit is the highest point on the camper - about 4-inches higher than the new panels. 

This is a fairly new installation - the panels only have 1500 travel miles with most cruising speeds at 65+ mph.  I will inspect this system for fatigue on a regular basis. 

(I've since cleaned and resealed the dirty Dicor in the photos). 😊

solar-rack-mount-4120.jpg

solar-rack-mount2-4121.jpg

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13 hours ago, Rich&Sylvia said:

I recently added two additional 100-watt panels which are mounted a good 5-inches above the roof surface.
Yesterday while cleaning the roof I was happy to discover that the cleaning brush easily fit under the panels.

This Lance camper has factory installed roof racks - the racks have a load capacity of 300 pounds.
I mounted the racks not on top of the racks.  Instead the panels are between the rack rails - so that the leading edge is the steel rack.
The panels are mounted flat.  The air conditioning unit is the highest point on the camper - about 4-inches higher than the new panels. 

This is a fairly new installation - the panels only have 1500 travel miles with most cruising speeds at 65+ mph.  I will inspect this system for fatigue on a regular basis. 

(I've since cleaned and resealed the dirty Dicor in the photos). 😊

solar-rack-mount-4120.jpg

solar-rack-mount2-4121.jpg

Pictures did not come through.  How dod yo uclean the DICOR?  I've talked with their tech's, complaining about how DICOR gets dirty over time.  I was told they are aware of the problem, but do not want to change the formula to fix it.

Edited by gypsydan

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Dicor cleans up with rags and mineral spirits (be sure to wear solvent resistant gloves).  The factory applied Dicor was two years old and appeared to be thinly applied.  Many cracks were visible in the factory applied sealant.  After cleaning the sealant with mineral spirits, I applied a fresh bead of self-leveling Dicor over the old.  It's not really necessary to remove the old sealant every time it's resealed.
However, I'm not very trusting of the factory construction and I frequently inspect everything for faults.

Here's a better view to illustrate the panel height (photo taken in early morning - dew covers everything but you get the picture:


solar-panels.jpg.f42939282e065f537a29fdfab0c2bd4d.jpg

Edited by Rich&Sylvia
picture does not appear after upload?

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Rich&Slyvia are correct in cleaning the Dicor. I recently coated my EPDM roof and a poster on here (RPSINC), called me to give help on the project. He recommended cleaning the Dicor with mineral spirits. The sealant had never been cleaned and I couldn't believe how little time and effort was needed to make it shine just like new. Just have plenty of rags ready.

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10 hours ago, Rich&Sylvia said:

Dicor cleans up with rags and mineral spirits (be sure to wear solvent resistant gloves).  The factory applied Dicor was two years old and appeared to be thinly applied.  Many cracks were visible in the factory applied sealant.  After cleaning the sealant with mineral spirits, I applied a fresh bead of self-leveling Dicor over the old.  It's not really necessary to remove the old sealant every time it's resealed.
However, I'm not very trusting of the factory construction and I frequently inspect everything for faults.

Here's a better view to illustrate the panel height (photo taken in early morning - dew covers everything but you get the picture:


solar-panels.jpg.f42939282e065f537a29fdfab0c2bd4d.jpg

Thank you for the pictures.  It does look like you have a good mount forthe panels.

The way you have them mounted reminded me of the situation I've been dealing with over the past few days, and had not realized I had the issue until I started trying to figurer out how to mount the aluminum supports to the roof.  I was going to just use 3/4" sheet metal screws until I remembered galvanic corrosion occurs when aluminum and steel are in contact, and over time the aluminum will "rot."  If I had screwed sheet metal screws (steel) to the aluminum supports and then put dicor over them I would never have seen the corrosion. Over time (how long no one is sure?) the joints where the screws touched the aluminum would have become very weak, potentially only having the dicor under the supports, on top of the rubber roof, holding the panel to the roof.  And, since the panel frame is aluminum I'm having to figure out how to use something other than steel bolts to hold the aluminum panel frame to the aluminum support framework.

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gypsydan, 

I posted a picture of my diamond plate shield with my text and it shows up when I look at it.  Can anyone else see it?  Maybe I did not give it the right permissions?  

My diamond plate was about 1/8 inch thick or less.  I bought it cheap by the pound as assorted scrap, so it wasn't labeled.   I did a somewhat elaborate mounting with 3" or 4" X 2" channels cut at 45 degrees on the ends. I made some brackets that bolted between diamond plate and the channels.  I then put clear plastic car door edge guard along the bottom and snugged that lower edge to the radius on the front of my trailer.  Hopefully it's not wearing holes in my fiberglass cap. 

I may have more detailed pictures to post but I should figure out why you can't see them first.

Jim 

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I am too tired tonight to figure out why my pictures are not showing up.  When I was trying, I noticed some contradictions to what I posted above in the photos and captions from back when I did the work.  First I did not use channel, it was L, and may have been 4X3. 

Also, I left a bit of space between the door guard plastic I slid on the lower edges and the radius of the cap. I guess I was worried it would rub a hole back then too. 

I have an album on my Facebook titled something like "1060 Watt Solar Install" which includes some detailed pictures of how I mounted the diamond plate.  So you can PM with your e-mail address and I will "friend" you so you can see the pictures there, or if you are patient, I will try in the next week or two, to figure out how to share pictures on here (again). 

Jim

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If you uploaded a picture and it does not show in the post then try this:

Edit the post in question, click "Insert other media", then from that small menu window pop up, click "Insert existing attachment".
At that point a big window will pop up and will show all the photos that you have uploaded. Click on the photo that you want and then click "Insert selected".

The upload photo has a size limitation of 0.1MB (100kB).  If it's too big then the system won't accept it.

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On 5/5/2018 at 11:41 AM, Chad Heiser said:

...I bought some nice Canadian Solar panels for ....

... and the next thing you know Canadians start showing up in your neck of the woods, calling and bugging you to come over and pick them up and go for beers sz...

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1 hour ago, Rich&Sylvia said:

If you uploaded a picture and it does not show in the post then try this:

Edit the post in question, click "Insert other media", then from that small menu window pop up, click "Insert existing attachment".
At that point a big window will pop up and will show all the photos that you have uploaded. Click on the photo that you want and then click "Insert selected".

The upload photo has a size limitation of 0.1MB (100kB).  If it's too big then the system won't accept it.

Rich&Sylvia, 

I included my picture using a URL, rather than uploading the file itself.  It's probably larger than 0.1 MB, but I didn't think that mattered if it was hosted someplace else.  I don't understand why I can see it when I scroll back to my May 7 post, and apparently other's can"t.  Did you look to see if you could see it?  The only thing I can think of is that maybe only I can see it because it's mine.  I am hoping someone else could look and tell me if they can see it or not. 

I may try to insert another picture and pay closer attention to what I do this time. 

Jim

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Nice to know I am not the only one to see it.  Maybe it's just too big a file for limited bandwidth.  I thought I slimmed it down before posting it.  It shows every time I look on my laptop.  

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9 hours ago, Jim Gell said:

Did you look to see if you could see it?  The only thing I can think of is that maybe only I can see it because it's mine.  I am hoping someone else could look and tell me if they can see it or not. 

Regarding your image; I right clicked on it and selected "Open image in new tab".  No image shows because the url has no file type (meaning that the file name does not end in a ".jpg", ".gif"", ".png", etc.)

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I clicked on the option to "copy link" to get the URL I pasted in here.  I may need to convert it to a shorter URL using Tiny URL.  I have a love hate relationship with computers.  I don't know know what I would do without this frustration. 

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16 hours ago, gypsydan said:

Thank you for the pictures.  It does look like you have a good mount forthe panels.

The way you have them mounted reminded me of the situation I've been dealing with over the past few days, and had not realized I had the issue until I started trying to figurer out how to mount the aluminum supports to the roof.  I was going to just use 3/4" sheet metal screws until I remembered galvanic corrosion occurs when aluminum and steel are in contact, and over time the aluminum will "rot."  If I had screwed sheet metal screws (steel) to the aluminum supports and then put dicor over them I would never have seen the corrosion. Over time (how long no one is sure?) the joints where the screws touched the aluminum would have become very weak, potentially only having the dicor under the supports, on top of the rubber roof, holding the panel to the roof.  And, since the panel frame is aluminum I'm having to figure out how to use something other than steel bolts to hold the aluminum panel frame to the aluminum support framework.

You use Stainless Steel Fasteners. You will have to drill larger holes than for steel screws they twist off very easily. So big that you will think they won't hold. You might want to try in a pice of scrap. They due hold. Sometimes you can get self drilling ones, make sure that the hole in the pice being screwed down is larger than the screw they will not pull Dow if the hole is not bigger they will just brake off or strip the head out. Sorry for the run on sentence.

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19 hours ago, Lance A Lott said:

You use Stainless Steel Fasteners.

That was also my thought. And  I would coat the screw thread with Locktite or other similar product.
The other two panels barely visible in my roof photo were mounted to the roof using neoprene well nuts and stainless steel machine screws.  (installed August 2016)  The roof surface under the solar panel cannot be easily cleaned and never has been.

 

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On 5/12/2018 at 9:22 AM, jcussen said:

A lot has been mentioned about quality panels. Most of us can tell if it is well made physically, but how to tell if it is the 20% plus efficiency panels some have talked about. I guess you could believe the specs on the manufacturers website, but would rather have a definitive answer. Is there someone that independently compares and tests panels and posts actual results?

This is the closest thing like that that I've found: Go Solar California.

BTW, it's a 21000+ line Excel file.

Edited by Zulu

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2 hours ago, Zulu said:

This is the closest thing like that that I've found: Go Solar California.

BTW, it's a 21000+ line Excel file.

Thanks, had no idea how many brands there were out there. Curious to know how many companies actually make the panels, and sell them to be rebranded.

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