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Old 01-19-2010, 12:12 PM   #1
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Installing Solar Panels on the Roof

I'm considering buying a solar package from AM Solar and doing the installation myself.

Since I have a Brite-Tek roof, I'll have to screw the panels down.

What's under the Brite-Tek? Can I pretty much put the screws anywhere on the roof?

What length screws would work best?

I plan on running the wires down the refrigerator exhaust and over to the compartment next to the battery tray and install the controller there.

Thanks!
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Old 01-19-2010, 12:18 PM   #2
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Can you just silicone it flat to the roof? That way you wont have any screw penetrations.
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Old 01-19-2010, 12:25 PM   #3
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AM Solar's web site says you can use 3M VHB tape on fiberglass, but says screws and Dicor, "...is about the only way available to use on rubber roofs."

Rocker Foot Mounts and Tilt Bars

I was thinking I would drill a small pilot hole, fill it with Dicor, screw it down and then cover the screw head with Dicor.

I'm concerned about leaks, but more concerned about the panel flying off on I-95.
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Old 01-19-2010, 01:11 PM   #4
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I have a fiberglass roof and used 5/16 lag screws and sealent on three motorhomes never a problem.
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Old 01-19-2010, 01:50 PM   #5
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I've had solar panels installed by an Arizona solar dealer and I've also installed some myself. The last ones I had installed at AM Solar and their's was by far the best. The brackets are lined up perfectly and I don't have to stand on my head and pull or push on the panel to get the screws started when I lower them after they've been angled up to the sun during extended boondocking stays.

Since you are across the country from AM Solar, I'd say just give them a call to get the info you need. They are great people and go out of their way to help their customers.
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Old 01-19-2010, 03:18 PM   #6
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Under the Brite-tek is 9mm decking (a little thicker than 1/4") supported by the aluminum roof trusses.

I used well nuts (like these: https://www.acehardwareoutlet.com/%2...SKU=2147001899) with about 2" SS bolts, washers and lockwashers. I bought all the hardware from my local fastener dealer, (couldn't find well nuts at Home Depot). I did not try to hit the roof trusses, just put the brackets where they needed to be.

The rubber on the well nuts helped seal the hole even before I liberally applied Dicor. I have not had a leak in the 2 years they have been installed, and I put in about 28 mounting holes using this method.

I ran the wires down the fridge vent. Also I oversized the wires (as the article from HandyBob you linked to in another post pointed out). I have about a 2% voltage drop from the panels to the controller and virtually none from the controllers to the battery.

It sure was nice to not have to run the genny at all a month ago when we stayed for a week at a no hookup campground in the Everglades!

Stewart
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Old 01-19-2010, 03:45 PM   #7
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Does anyone have photo documentation of their solar panel installation?
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Old 01-20-2010, 05:30 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Luv2go View Post
Under the Brite-tek is 9mm decking (a little thicker than 1/4") supported by the aluminum roof trusses.

I used well nuts (like these: https://www.acehardwareoutlet.com/%2...SKU=2147001899) with about 2" SS bolts, washers and lockwashers. I bought all the hardware from my local fastener dealer, (couldn't find well nuts at Home Depot). I did not try to hit the roof trusses, just put the brackets where they needed to be.

The rubber on the well nuts helped seal the hole even before I liberally applied Dicor. I have not had a leak in the 2 years they have been installed, and I put in about 28 mounting holes using this method.

I ran the wires down the fridge vent. Also I oversized the wires (as the article from HandyBob you linked to in another post pointed out). I have about a 2% voltage drop from the panels to the controller and virtually none from the controllers to the battery.

It sure was nice to not have to run the genny at all a month ago when we stayed for a week at a no hookup campground in the Everglades!

Stewart

So you drilled a pilot hole, put in som Dicor and then put in the well nut. Then the bolt goes into the well nut.

You're not going through the roof into the coach, right?

I would do the upgrade to 6 gauge wire from the panels to the controller and use 4 from the controller to the batteries.

I like the AM Solar controller because it will charge the house and chassis batteries.

Thanks!
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Old 01-20-2010, 06:31 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 69RoadRunner View Post
You're not going through the roof into the coach, right?
Newmar's roof is about 4-5" thick so there was little chance of accidentally going through the ceiling. I did stop drilling just as the drill went through the plywood decking to be safe. You should be careful if you drill in the area where the ceiling ducts are, I noticed they were much closer (about 1-2") to the roof decking.

Quote:
I like the AM Solar controller because it will charge the house and chassis batteries.
That is a nice feature. Your coach should have a BIRD, which will connect coach and chassis batteries when the coach batteries are being charged.

Our coach has one, all batteries are charged even though the charge controller is only connected to the house batteries. Of course, the solenoid that connects the batteries together has to work, we went through two under warranty and finally replaced it with a 200A one before I could get it to work reliably.

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Old 01-20-2010, 06:53 AM   #10
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I didn't know the roof was that thick. That's good to know. I'd still use a cork or something on the drill bit to stop it from going too far.

I know it has a BIRD, but I'm thinking about when I have the coach in storage. I use the battery disconnect, which I believe would prevent the engine batteries from being connected to the house batteries.

I had all 6 batteries die while it was in storage last winter (I went too long between generator exercises). I already replaced the engine batteries because they wouldn't hold a charge for more than a week.

If I install solar this Spring, I'll probably replace the house batteries at the same time.

I do some dry camping where generators are allowed, so I don't need massive solar capability at this time. I'm looking to keep those batteries maintained while in storage and reduce my generator usage.
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Old 01-20-2010, 07:06 AM   #11
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Like Richard S. stated I installed my panels with 5/16 s butterfly lag bolts on my fiberglass roof and sealed with quality seam sealer caulk. Also, I would installed them at least 5-6 feet from the front cap, so as not to stress the mounting of the panels from the air flow coming over the front of the MH.
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Old 01-20-2010, 07:12 AM   #12
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I was planning on installing them toward the back of the roof, maybe in front of the rear a/c, though. Lots of stuff on the roof toward the front.

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Old 01-20-2010, 02:05 PM   #13
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pre-wired ? ?

I was just curious, isn't your unit pre-wired for Solar. Ours is..... DAVE
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Old 01-20-2010, 02:27 PM   #14
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In most cases pre wired solar, the wires are to small. Should be 10 GA. or larger.
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