With the weather turning a little nicer, thoughts turned to making a start on the house electrics, to be powered exclusively by the big hot burning ball of fire in the sky. As referenced in previous posts, the roof layout is less than ideal due to the factory fitted skylight location so it was a case of making the most of things.
After hours and hours of research, many dead ends along the way, I decided to go with semi flexible panels which I thought would assist with the low-key look of the van. Bought them from Photonic Universe, possibly not the cheapest but the deed was done.
Here is the mockup for the panel layout. 400W of solar, all wired in parallel.
First up, the front two panels. Supposedly mounting the flexible panels directly to the roof isn’t the best of ideas as they have a tendency to overheat. So to allow some airflow underneath, I Sikaflexed some aluminium box section to the roof in preparation:
And the two panels mocked up in position:
In the end, I swapped the 50W panel for a matt finish one so as they all matched. The panels were screwed to the box section with stainless screws and some Eternabond tape placed over the heads and between the panels to stop water ingress: Cabling was routed towards the back of the van with cable clips Sikaflexed in place:
Now, onto the rear three panels. Again, a frame was needed, partly for the reasons mentioned previously but mostly to allow the frame to be tilted towards the sun when needed:
Three panels in place. Used just Sikaflex this time instead of screws:
And the underside:
As the frame was to be hinged, a bit of extra fabrication was required:
Good job I had some help on hand – thanks Paul for helping with this!
And mounted onto the roof rack. I’d hoped to avoid the use of roof rack due to appearance and wind resistance – lower MPG on a van that isn’t renowned for fuel efficiency isn’t great. Sadly, the size of the roof and location of the ventilation/sunroof meant this was the only way to go if I wanted to maximise the amount of power on the roof. Team shot:
Looking forward from the back:
And the hinged panel with a temporary prop in place:
And to ensure that the panel doesn’t flap about when on the move – a couple of simple gate latches on either side do the trick. Could add a padlock if needs be, although probably not going to be required:
View from the back:
Here’s a couple of shots showing the cable routing. tried to keep things as tidy as possible
And a final shot from above:
A slightly later addition was a wind deflector made of aluminium, complete with drainage on each side to let the rain out when facing downwards:
Now the outside is mostly done, back to the inside…