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Old 07-19-2018, 12:54 AM   #1
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DIY Solar Install

Hi guys!!! I have a "new to me" 2003 Winnebago Sightseer. I want to add solar because we rarely camp in a park...usually on the beach at our local lake.
I know I can handle the electrical, I am a retired Industrial Electrician. What I am CLUELESS about is the construction of the roof...does it have a grid or joists or ??????????? I don't want to pay my local shop the approx $500 they estimated to install one panel, the wiring and the controller IF it is a DIY worthy project~~~ I do NOT want to poke holes in the roof and end up with a leak~~~
I also have read other people commenting on an Inverter~ Did all 03 Sightseers come with an inverter??? Where would it be? Havent seen anything that looks like an inverter in my poking around~ Also curious about ABT (Automatic Bus Transfer) Again...did all models come with this and is there a place to look???
Thanks, I am kinda new to RVs. We had an old 89 National Dolphin before and it already had everything~ Nothing broke, so I never had to fix it~~~
The shop said 4.5 Hrs...
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Old 07-19-2018, 04:01 PM   #2
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Here was my journey in doing it myself. I would take a break from work and go work on the rig. Not sure of the total time it took.

http://www.winnieowners.com/forums/f...ll-351641.html
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Old 07-19-2018, 04:58 PM   #3
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From what I've read, the best thing for mounting solar panels to your roof without screws is 3m VHB mounting tape:

https://www.google.com/search?q=3m+v...hrome&ie=UTF-8

That's what I'm going to use.
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Old 07-19-2018, 07:37 PM   #4
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I used self stick on panels. No holes in the roof.
RV Solar Panel Kits For Mobile and Off Grid
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Old 07-19-2018, 08:50 PM   #5
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There are pros and cons to the flexible panels that Tucsontoy used, one being higher cost. I do know they are popular on boats since they can be mounted on either a canvas cockpit dodger, canvas bimini top or flush on a deck or cabin roof (no tripping hazard).

I have experience with them pesonally but would encourage you to do your research before you buy. I chose the more conventional panels.
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Old 07-19-2018, 09:42 PM   #6
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Buy fixed panel or panels, not flexible one. Buy solar panel "Z" Brackets . Mount with #8 or #10 stainless steel screws thru the "Z" Brackets. Cover the whole "Z" bracket section and the screw head touching the roof with Dicor self leveling sealant. It won't leak.

You want an air space under the panels, their efficiency goes way down as the solar cells within the panel get hotter. The Z brackets give you that air space and deal with the curved roof and the panel being flat.

So far as the electrical, the lower the resistance of the wire run from the solar panels to the charge controller the better. Suggest you go at least one size bigger than what standard wire sizing charts say. Fuse or circuit breaker in the solar wire run. Fuse or circuit breaker in the charge controller to battery wire run.
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Old 07-19-2018, 10:10 PM   #7
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Technology has advanced. I have a 12K system on my home with raised panels that work best point towards the sun. The new flat panels get equal performance from morning to night, parked in any direction, plus if partial sun as in parked under a tree. Maybe these do cost a little more than the ones on my house but they are worth it. I had a hale storm that broke house panels but did nothing to the RV panels. Time to catch up with new technology..
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Old 07-19-2018, 10:11 PM   #8
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There are a variety of bracket types available, some of which permit tilting of the panel. Personally, I prefer the type that bolts to the panels, allowing them to be easily dismounted, to Z brackets, which do not allow removal of the panels without removing the brackets from the roof. This is especially problematical if you use the 3m VHB mounting tape.

I haven't mounted mine yet but plan on making my own brackets out of aluminum angle "iron". I haven't decided if these will be two piece brackets or one piece brackets. In any case they will be mounted to the roof with VHB tape and bolted to the panel in a manner that facilitates removal. On my TT I used tilting brackets but never actually used them to tilt the panels.

Somewhere I saw a link that detailed how many VHB mounted brackets to use per panel, based on panel size, probably one of the mounting bracket manufacturers.
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Old 07-19-2018, 10:16 PM   #9
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My Adventurer came from the factory with a pre-installed 100w Zamp solar panel, a 3-port Zamp plug-in module and a 30-amp Zamp PWM Solar Controller. So, it was easy to add 2 more 100w panels. However, I used Renergy panels that cost 1/4 of what the Zamp panels cost.

I did use standard mounts that are screwed into the roof, but I've no doubt that VHB tape could hold them just fine.
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Old 07-19-2018, 11:27 PM   #10
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Here's a link to one type of VHB mounting bracket. Note the number of brackets required for various size panels:

https://rvsolarstore.com/index.php?r...product_id=112

This is what I'm planning on duplicating out of aluminum angle stock.
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Old 07-20-2018, 01:50 AM   #11
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I have 5ea. 100W 21v panels on the roof all with VHB. Each foot is ROUGHLY 3sq in. per MOUNTING foot. Make sure you clean and apply properly, cover with Dicor, and it'll last forever.

There is lots of newer cell technology out there but none of it negates the advantage of pointing the panels, otherwise it wouldnt still by far be the perferred mount solution on anything solar. You can add more to offset the fact that they lay flat but thats about all you can do. I keep lifting bars in the coach and use them only once a year when the sun is at its lowest in Quartzsite in Jan.
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Old 07-20-2018, 01:27 PM   #12
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> VHB tape

Here's my problem with using double sided tape to mount panels on any Winnebago other than Class B Vans with metal roofs ...

On Class A and Class C, there is a thin fiberglass weatherproofing / appearance layer over the 3/16" plywood roof. It is attached with adhesive caulk down the side slots of the RV. It is attached with lap sealant at the front cap and rear cap seams. It is attached at roof penetrations (roof air vents, ACs, black/grey tank vents, and antennas. It "floats" and is not glue bonded to the entire roof. So if you tape your panels down you are only attaching to the floating gelcoat layer and not the "real" roof.
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Old 07-20-2018, 01:43 PM   #13
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Here's a photo of my 6 100 watt solar panel self install on my Vista 27N ...

Also, you can also see a Discount Solar, Quartzite AZ professional 2 solar panel install on the RV next to mine...

I chose the rear roof area of my RV to minimize shading from the AC Shroud, TV antenna, Sat Dish all in the front half of the roof.

It's nice to cable solar panels to a weather tight junction box on the roof. It is a good location for the protection (fuse or resettable circuit breaker) you should use in your solar panel to charge controller wiring Make sure your roof top wiring is UV protected or wrap it with UV protected electrical tape.

I wired my 6 100 watt panels in parallel so that when parked in partial shade I get as much solar power to the charge controller as possible. Most panels already have series diodes in their connection box mounted on the bottom of the panel, so that they can be connected in parallel with other solar panels that output the same open circuit voltage.



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Old 07-20-2018, 03:15 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by powercat_ras View Post
> VHB tape

Here's my problem with using double sided tape to mount panels on any Winnebago other than Class B Vans with metal roofs ...

On Class A and Class C, there is a thin fiberglass weatherproofing / appearance layer over the 3/16" plywood roof. It is attached with adhesive caulk down the side slots of the RV. It is attached with lap sealant at the front cap and rear cap seams. It is attached at roof penetrations (roof air vents, ACs, black/grey tank vents, and antennas. It "floats" and is not glue bonded to the entire roof. So if you tape your panels down you are only attaching to the floating gelcoat layer and not the "real" roof.
I'm actually planning on the "belt and suspenders" approach, using the VHB tape plus screws. I'll try to have at least some of the screws going into a metal joist. Hopefully there will be a joist located so I can secure the leading edge of the panels to it. When you think about it, the cross section the panels present to the wind is pretty minimal and I doubt there's much of an airfoil effect or we'd be hearing about panels flying of of RV roofs left and right. Those who are extra concerned about this could always through-bolt the brackets with washers and nuts (or a T-nut) on the ceiling.

My roof has so many penetrations already, a few more well sealed screws won't hurt.
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