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Discussion Starter #1
Im thinking of getting a roof mounted solar panel installed and would like to hear from people who have them. Do you get a lot of noise when driving due to the ribs on the roof. Would 80 -100 watt be good enough to power my waeco cr50 and still add charge into the battery for use in the evening. Roughly what should I expect to pay for such a unit supplied and fitted.
Thanks Richard
 

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Im thinking of getting a roof mounted solar panel installed and would like to hear from people who have them. Do you get a lot of noise when driving due to the ribs on the roof. Would 80 -100 watt be good enough to power my waeco cr50 and still add charge into the battery for use in the evening. Roughly what should I expect to pay for such a unit supplied and fitted.
Thanks Richard
Should be fine. If you install the panel with some forethought, then you will be able to add a 2nd panel at a later date if you find your needs for off-grid power increases.
Now much would you expect to pay depends massively on what kind of setup you want. Flexipanel or Rigid, 'fancy' solar controller or a basic one that just does the job.
A setup like mine below, using exisiting Roof Rails, but buying ONE 100W rigid panel, aerodynamic crossbars (helps for no wind noise), cable and a middle of the road controller would be around £325 fitted I would say.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Hoovie Im just looking at your setup on another thread. I dont know anything about the controllers yet im only just starting to look into solar panels so still have a lot to learn. ideally i would like on sat flat on the roof rather than on the roof rack so it cant be seen T:
 

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Thanks Hoovie Im just looking at your setup on another thread. I dont know anything about the controllers yet im only just starting to look into solar panels so still have a lot to learn. ideally i would like on sat flat on the roof rather than on the roof rack so it cant be seen T:
Lots of threads on them. Check pros and cons of rigid vs fixed as well. Something worth considering potentially is a portable setup which may suit some people as well? (I like the "fit and forget" option myself :) )
 

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Thanks Hoovie Im just looking at your setup on another thread. I dont know anything about the controllers yet im only just starting to look into solar panels so still have a lot to learn. ideally i would like on sat flat on the roof rather than on the roof rack so it cant be seen T:
Yep there is reports of panels bonded to roof fail soon after install due to heat. Best method is to sit the panel off the roof to allow air to circulate.

I have one of these and the brackets which raise it from the roof are bonded to the roof with the strongest silkaflex.


http://www.beamled.com/100w-12v-white-solar-panel-kit-with-end-side-mounts-cable-entry-10-amp-dual-battery-controller-5m-extention-cables-branch-connectors.html

I also purchased this to plug into the controller as it gives you more information on solar charge and state of both your batteries but not essential.

http://www.beamled.com/biard-lcd-display-for-epipdb-com-solar-panel-charge-controller.html

Fitting is quite simple.
Not used in anger yet.
 

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Hi all, I agree with PNE about the importance of an air gap between the roof and the panel. As I understand it, efficiency drops off as the panel temp. rises and the hotter the panel, the shorter the life you can expect. MPPT charge controllers are generally recommended over the PWM type as being more efficient. My setup has a 160 watt panel mounted in a roof cradle that allows me to remove it and reposition it in the best sun position. This means I can park in the shade and still get a good charge. Leaving it on the roof, locked in its cradle, is the most convenient and secure way to use it but efficiency drops off when the sun is at a low angle. Hope this helps. RosselT4.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Yep there is reports of panels bonded to roof fail soon after install due to heat. Best method is to sit the panel off the roof to allow air to circulate.

I have one of these and the brackets which raise it from the roof are bonded to the roof with the strongest silkaflex.


http://www.beamled.com/100w-12v-white-solar-panel-kit-with-end-side-mounts-cable-entry-10-amp-dual-battery-controller-5m-extention-cables-branch-connectors.html

I also purchased this to plug into the controller as it gives you more information on solar charge and state of both your batteries but not essential.

http://www.beamled.com/biard-lcd-display-for-epipdb-com-solar-panel-charge-controller.html

Fitting is quite simple.
Not used in anger yet.
Did your brackets sit right in the ridges on your roof?
I ordered this system and the brackets dont fully sit on the ridges http://www.sunstore.co.uk/100w-12v-MPPT-Solar-Battery-Charger-Vehicle-Kit.html
 

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I've got two 120W back contact semi-flexible panels from Photonic Universe wired in series with 4mm cable going into a Victron 100/30 MPPT controller with a bluetooth dongle. The panels are bonded directly onto my SCA roof using Sikaflex and you'd never know they were there, certainly no discernible wind noise. It came to about £600 when Sika and cable costs were added in, but I fitted it all myself. I think you'd be fine with a single 100W panel for your needs for camping in the summer. I tend to camp throughout the year hence why I went for big power output right from the start.

Since fitting them I haven't needed hookup at all, but as my old 110Ah lead acid battery was occasionally dipping pretty low at night, I replaced it with 2x120Ah Leoch AGMs for extra capacity. During the day there is plenty of power from the panels to run the fridge and charge the batteries even when it's cloudy. The best charge rate I've had so far was 14 amps at 14v going into my battery, as well as running the Waeco CR50 fridge at the same time. I'd strongly recommend the Victron gear, it's well built and the bluetooth app is brilliant for monitoring the panel output without trying to find somewhere to mount an ugly screen. With my separate BM-1 compact battery monitor I can also see what's going into the battery so with the difference between the two numbers I can work out how much current the panels are feeding directly to the electrical load in the van during the day.

I've got an infra-red thermometer and I used it to monitor the output of the panels against the rising temperature of the panels in the sun. I can't say I noticed anything significant in terms of performance degradation. I've already had a peak of 278W out of the 240W panels so I can't moan about the performance so far. Time will tell for the reliability of them, I take what I read on the forum with a pinch of salt and solar technology has improved very quickly recently.

 

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Discussion Starter #10
Hoovie! Do you have another type of cross bar for carrying stuff ?. Im thinking of buying some cross bars like yours to fit my solar panel but I also want to be able to carry a kayak.
 

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Hoovie! Do you have another type of cross bar for carrying stuff ?. Im thinking of buying some cross bars like yours to fit my solar panel but I also want to be able to carry a kayak.
A more up to date photo T:

The Thule bars are both at the front as I am looking to make a "basket" to carry gear like awnings, a deflated kayak, etc on top rather then inside. But when I fitted the panels postion, I made sure I left enough room on the rail to have a clamp-on crossbar at the back for long loads such as a kayak A: so one of those could easily be at the back as well :)

My T4 Solar Panels were also fixed to roof rails (directly this time), and again, made sure to leave room front and rear for load crossbars.
This is that T4 after I sold her, but still sporting the pair of 80W panels plus an additional item .... :D
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Hoovie! Ive just mounted mine the the roof bars like yours and im now ready to drill through for the cable. The cromet Ive got will on take one cable and there are 2 coming from the panel Im assuming that the push connector for the cables do go inside the van :*
 

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All ready to connect up. I was a bit worried about mounting it this way incase it looked too bulky but it hardly noticable. Thanks for sharing the idea guys T:
Having a day of now and again becomes quite expensive LOL:
 

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Hoovie! Ive just mounted mine the the roof bars like yours and im now ready to drill through for the cable. The cromet Ive got will on take one cable and there are 2 coming from the panel Im assuming that the push connector for the cables do go inside the van :*
Richard, I didn't drill into the roof at all (I am guessing that is what you are talking about?
This post shows my routing ... http://www.vwt4forum.co.uk/showpost.php?p=4212553&postcount=59
This works really well for a tailgate model. If you have barn doors, you can use the tailgate hinge position and route that way. Either way, saves making a hole in the roof (I just feel it is better to avoid if there is any alternative)

Your crossbars ... Are they all black? Not seen any except for the silver ones. Look good (think they would have suited my grey van well :) )
 

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Discussion Starter #17
My roof rails where black so I bought the black cross bars from vanstyle today £50. Ive just seen how you entered your cable but mine are not long enough to go through the tailgate hinge holes. :*
 

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My roof rails where black so I bought the black cross bars from vanstyle today £50. Ive just seen how you entered your cable but mine are not long enough to go through the tailgate hinge holes. :*
I bought some 5m extension solar cables as the cables with panels are always pretty short, so will need to add connections at some time anyway, and I preferred to keep the same spec cable end to end :)
Got these ones ... http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Solar-Panel-Cable-Extensions-5-Metre-With-MC4-Connectors-2-5mm-For-Caravan-Boat-/201079331451?hash=item2ed1431a7b
 

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Discussion Starter #19
right ok. so I was supplied with with 5m of cable aswell. so did you rewire the panel with the new cable instead of using the connectors to extend it
 
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