Flexible Solar Panel Installation

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  • Flexible Solar Panel Installation
  • skybluestu
    Member

    I am looking to fit a 150w solar panel to the roof of my camper and have read conflicting info regarding how to do it.
    Some state just use sikaflex 512 or ct1 and seal all around, others state to leave air gaps to prevent overheating.

    Anyone done this and/or had experience of results?

    Cheers

    trail_rat
    Member

    judging by the number of people asking how to remove these(now broken) flexy panels they have so excellently bonded to their roof ….

    id fit it in a way that made it easy to remove.

    FWIW i have rigid panels with air gaps that have been up there for 3 years now no issue.

    sharkbait
    Member

    Guaranteeing you’ll seal all the way around will be tricky – I’d leave an air gap for ventilation/letting water out.

    Check out photonic universe for fitting guides.

    Van Halen
    Member

    i was going to go with demountable folding suitcase style one and rest it on the non-pop up part of the roof when in use

    just becase i dont fancy either drilling my roof or sikaflexing a thin one on.

    neilc1881
    Member

    Personally I’d avoid the flexible panels. 100% failure rate in my experience of them (albeit a small sample but it’s enough to lose faith and not consider them for future projects!).

    I’ve had two 100w from Photonic Universe for about three years, still going strong. (P.S I’ve never tried to walk on them, or anything silly like that)

    I put a rivnut through a higher section of the roof for each corner of the panel and then used washers and bolts to secure the corners, dab of sealant to stop leaks. Then I used a bead of sikaflex along the leading edges of the panels to prevent them lifting or flapping in the wind (I think I did all the edges i.e. sides and back)

    If I ever need to remove them, I suspect it will take longer to remove the bolts than it will to run a stanley knife around the edges of each panel 🙂

    (I didn’t bother with an airgap, at the time I couldn’t see anyone suggesting it was necessary for flexible panels, even so, I’d rather have low profile and lightweight panels with less efficiency)

    Van Halen, the great thing about solar is it provides a year round maintenance charge, not just charging whilst using the van. I think permanent panels are much more beneficial than freestanding panels you have to put out.

    skybluestu
    Member

    Thanks for the advice. The photo ic universe instructions are pretty good by the looks of it

    alanf
    Member

    Get solid panels and mount on feet that can be bonded to the roof. This allows removal of the panel if it ever becomes defective and also allows an air gap for ventilation/cooling.
    I’ve 2 on the roof of my van mounted this way and had one on my old van.
    Get a good quality converter/controller too.

    100mph
    Member

    As daft as it sounds, pv panels lose a lot of efficiency the hotter they get!
    Therefore, it’s vital they are given as much ventilation as possible with an air gap, hence why the flexible ones fixed to roofs without air gaps fail so often.

    skybluestu
    Member

    I need to have a flexible one as positioning is not suitable for a fixed. Also looking to keep weight down where possible.
    Photonic Universe method is what I think I’ll go for with mppt controller to maximise conversion efficiency when needed.

    Yes that’s what put me off putting my panel onto a solid bed. For one I couldn’t guarantee no air or moisture gaps (that’s what cracks the panels when the air or water get hot and expand). Secondly, I read they get very hot and I wanted air flow.

    Most vans naturally have pressings on the roofs. Just use them as natural airflow. Do not seal them. As per the photonic universe diagrams use a grid system for your sealant which will also let moisture escape. I used whatever the correct sikaflex was recommended for the job. It was laid correctly on a chemically cleaned roof which had no paint issues. We then weighted the panel (we actually spread packs of printer paper over the area) to ensure it was nice and flat. We then left for the amount of time required to cure (I think it was supposed to be 1mm per 24hrs. I think mine was left for a week. I also spoke to engineers at Mercedes who told me that there was very little wind buffeting at the front of my vehicle at about 10mm high due to the aero dynamics of the wind going up over the windscreen so a spoiler or sealing the leading edge was pointless.

    12mths down the line it has done 10,000mls, been driven constantly at between 70-80 and did a stint in Germany at 110mph. Still stuck down. I checked with a local window fitting firm I use in my job and they told me they would be able to take it off in 10mins with the wire they use to cut out bonded windows in cars if the need arose.

    Go with the solution you fancy rather than the one everyone suggests. It’s a bit like insulation. One man will tell you a method, another man will give you a horror story.

    skybluestu
    Member

    Thanks for the above. Appreciated!

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