[email protected] Solar Panel Roof Mount with Tilt-Able Brackets Mod for under $300

AldebaranJillAldebaranJill Posts: 395Member
First I want to say this modification would not have been possible without the help of Handy Bob Solar (https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/). Several years ago he helped me diagnose an issue with my Trimetric Battery Monitor wiring. Since then I have read and re-read his RV solar blog over and over.  I usually camped near Seattle in the winter, so didn't think solar would be worth the time and investment. But I followed Bob's advice, and spent time characterizing my power usage in all seasons and driving my consumption down as low as possible. Now that I am camping more east of the Cascades, I decided to embark on solar.

There were several guiding principles of I followed:

1. Know what your power needs are: Bob strongly suggests buying a battery monitor/meter to track what's going in and out of your battery, like a Trimetric Battery Monitor. There's no other way to know what your actual power needs are, and without this information, you don't know what solar capacity will suffice. Bob doesn't like to waste money and I don't either. I spent several years tracking and reducing my power needs in all four seasons to learn that I consume 10AH - 20AH per day.

2. Don't chase the sun - Bob is big on just setting your panels and forgetting about them and focusing on camping. He believes if you have your system designed properly, you can simply set up horizontally and leave them. Yes, tilting does get you more, but you might not need that extra 30%. I was often fully charged by 11am on my recent trip. Will probably tilt more in the winter.

3. Less gear means more time to relax: I hate moving gear around and have limited storage. I didn't want to have to load and unload another piece of equipment - even if it's a tube of toothpaste. The only gear I want to set up is my camping chair and maybe my visor. I also didn't want to worry about theft.

4. Controllers belong near the battery, not on the panels: Bob's big on this concept and I wanted to purchase a Morningstar solar controller, because this what Bob recommends, and mount it inside my [email protected] and not have it attached to portable panels. Having this configuration means that if I ever really had to move my panels to the ground and run a long wire, voltage drop wouldn't be an issue because the panels put out 21V. Solar controllers take the higher (in my case 21V) voltage and drop it down to what's appropriate for the battery's state of charge (14.8V to 13.6 to 13.2). If you run long wires from solar controller to the battery you're causing a voltage drop where it directly impacts your battery charging. If you run long wires between the solar panels and the controller though, the voltage drop doesn't impact charging as much because you are starting out at the panel voltage (21V) versus the post-controller voltage (14.8V). Charging batteries 100% typically requires 14.8V, so if you don't get that because of post-controller wire voltage drop, your batteries will have a shorter lifespan over time.

5. Rigid panels are better than flexible panels: I am not afraid to drill holes. When I queried the forum on flexible panel results, most were less than satisfied, and if you have to remove them for some reason (like a safety recall) it's a massive pain to unstick them. They aren't as efficient because there's no air cooling. They can't be tilted in any direction and I wanted the option to set up horizontally and leave them, or tilt in the wintertime. You'll note that I have a fan vent cover, and by using brackets, I can tilt up so high as to avoid a shadow from that cover. If I really need more tilt, I can easily remove the cover. Rigid panels gave me way more options, lower price, more efficiency, and a cooler roof (the panel also acts as a shade!).

These principles led me to select:
Renogy 100W Panel, Rigid ($140)
Morningstar Sun Saver Controller 10A ($50)
MC4 Cable to go from panels to controller ($20)
Windy Nation Tiltable Brackets ($50)

Here's the final product, laying along the roof, 25 degrees, facing south while boondocking. My two configurations for summer are this, and if my rear is not south, I'll put it up horizontal. Winter camping data will follow when I have that.


Default position, laying flat on roof, allows for lots of air flow, and it 25 degrees, which just happens to be a nice angle for solar exposure at my latitude.


Horizontal position used when camper rear is not facing south. @Dalehelman thinks I may even be able to drive with it up in this position, like a [email protected] spoiler :-)


Wire routing is a little temporary, because I didn't want to drill hole in the top until I had gotten more real camping data. Wire goes into Air Conditioning vent grille for the time being. Will probably re-route from roof into air conditioning space once I've had the solar system for a full season.



Wiring comes into grill, and to solar controller (the black box), which is temporarily mounted just outside the air conditioning compartment. I like to watch all my meters, and seeing a green charging light and watching the amps flow in is very entertaining to me. Most folks mount their solar controller by the battery, or under a seat in a cabinet, but because I wanted to observe it, I put it here.

Wires go from solar controller down inside the bathroom wall to under the seat where the WFCO is. I tapped into battery wires there (I have a Trimetric Monitor/Meter with a shunt). I did not run new wires to the battery for the solar, and have not measured a voltage drop.



Did a bunch of drawings to figure out the optimum location given that I have a roof vent cover and didn't want it to cast a shadow on the panel, especially if front of trailer was south (as in winter). Also wanted panel high enough off ground to discourage theft.


Did some wind load calculations to see what types of forces would be on the four screws that hold it to the trailer.


With a 40 mph wind, on a panel that was mounted at 90 degrees (maximum wind), each mount would get 5 lbs since there are four of them.  For reference the panel weighs 16 lbs.  (Thanks to @wizard1880 for double checking my engineering calcs and coming by to inspect my work.)



Yes, Commercial French Fry Cutter Suction Cup Feet. These made the whole mod possible! They allowed me to experiment with mounting locations and then when I was ready, I removed the bolts and drilled holes through them for my own mounting screws.



Before I get yelled at for ruining the structural integrity of my trailer (yes this happened before when I drilled a single hole) I'll remind folks that this is the Yakima Rack diagram showing cross beams and that the Yakima Rack is specd at 100 lbs, while my solar panels weighs 16 lbs.


Nice big beams every 8 inches. I also asked for and received an actual to-scale drawing from the factory showing the locations of the beams. I asked them for recommended screw length, and they said 3/4" long self tapping screws, so that's what I used.


These are the brackets. I've added some lock washers and nylon washers and will probably continue to tweak to make tilting to horizontal easier and easier.


This was good information to have when deciding if and when and how much to tilt. My latitude is 48 degrees, so for summer, you can see that's around 20 degrees tilt, which is why when it's flat against the roof at 25 degrees, that's why facing south and just leaving them down works well.




I use a yoga mat and bungees to keep it clean when it's parked because I live under large trees.


14.4V with 3pm sunlight in Seattle, panels horizontal (not optimal orientation, just flat)



5.25A, 3pm sunlight in Seattle, panels horizontal (not optimal orientation, just flat)

On my recent trip, my panels would fully charge my batteries by 11am at the latest. They started charging from the second the sun came over the horizon (when I was sleeping) to when the sun set totally. That all-day charging was a wonderful thing to witness. Before I even woke up, my solar panels were doing their job to help combat the 24/7 power usage from my LP detector, fridge on propane, USB fan, etc.

Happy to provide answers to questions. I know that some of you love your solar suitcases, and that's great, it's just not the solution I wanted for my own personal needs. I live in Seattle, and there's very little sunlight here and so I am trying to camp where there's lots of sun now. There were very specific reason why a suitcase did not meet my criteria, and so I'd appreciate it if this thread didn't turn into a suitcase vs fixed panel debate. I'll also note that if for some reason I did want to remove these from the roof, buy an extension wire, and set them on the ground, I could do that, because the brackets are easy to unscrew and remove. But moving solar panels around is not how I want to spend my camping time, and so far, the places I enjoy camping more are wide out in the open, or get enough partial sun to fully charge by early morning.

I'm also happy to add any more photos or provide more details. I wanted this to be a preliminary post of why I went the route I did, and how it worked for my first outing at central WA boondocking and while at Lincoln Rock State park.

Jill




























2013 MAXX [email protected] towed by a 2015 Volvo S60 5 CYL AWD Sedan
Seattle, WA
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Comments

  • RatkityRatkity Posts: 3,568Member
    There's a lot of people who are interested in fixed panels on their [email protected] You've provided some valuable information! Thank you for your post and attention to details and pictures. I'm sure it answers many questions people have about a fixed mounted system. The questions most people have here are "how'd you do that? Where'd you get the XXX?" and so on. We don't get into many debates on what is better or worse. It's all about how you camp, what your needs are and having a great time doing it!!  Again, you've done a great job in your documentation!!  :)
    2017 820R Retro Toy Hauler from 2015 Tabitha [email protected] from 2009 Reverse LG Teardrop (but a [email protected] at heart)
  • AldebaranJillAldebaranJill Posts: 395Member

    Ratkity said:

    There's a lot of people who are interested in fixed panels on their [email protected] You've provided some valuable information! Thank you for your post and attention to details and pictures. I'm sure it answers many questions people have about a fixed mounted system. The questions most people have here are "how'd you do that? Where'd you get the XXX?" and so on. We don't get into many debates on what is better or worse. It's all about how you camp, what your needs are and having a great time doing it!!  Again, you've done a great job in your documentation!!  :)


    Thanks very much, it's appreciated! And I'm happy to add more details for folks who want to do this modification.
    2013 MAXX [email protected] towed by a 2015 Volvo S60 5 CYL AWD Sedan
    Seattle, WA
  • Sharon_is_SAMSharon_is_SAM Posts: 2,799Moderator
    Nicely done.  Gotta love Handy Bob!  
    Sharon
    Cleveland Heights, Ohio
    2017 TaB CSS / 2015 Toyota Sienna Minivan

  • HomebodyatheartHomebodyatheart Posts: 1,685Member
    @AldebaranJill thanks for this! I am in full agreement with @Ratkity. The beauty of these rigs is that we do personalize them according to our needs. I really like that! Not being mathematically inclined (and my Dad was an econ and accounting professor...) this actually is starting to make some sense to my brain. You explained it well. I'm the one who's eyes glaze over when the calculations come out. Anyway, I had always thought about the suitcase setup, but I really like what you've done. I've always thought that having solar for power back up would be a good thing, especially if power was unavailable. In our November 2015 windstorm we had no power to the neighborhood for 9 days, and having this set up would have made life a lot more comfortable! I'm going to seriously think on this mod. Thanks!
    2017 [email protected] Max S silver and cherry red, TV 2015 Toyota Highlander [email protected] ("Bug" aka my [email protected] pod), towed by Big Red, or Silver
  • TabberJohnTabberJohn Posts: 422Member
    edited May 2017

    I want one!! When will you be selling the pre-assembled kit? :D

    Do the suction cups provide a water-tight seal on their own? Or did you add some sealant before mounting?
    Based on the to-scale guide provided by nüCamp how confident are you the holes ended up centered in the beams?

    2015 [email protected] Max S (White/Silver) -> 2014 Ford Escape 2.0L (turbo, AWD, factory tow)
  • AldebaranJillAldebaranJill Posts: 395Member


    @AldebaranJill thanks for this! I am in full agreement with @Ratkity. The beauty of these rigs is that we do personalize them according to our needs. I really like that! Not being mathematically inclined (and my Dad was an econ and accounting professor...) this actually is starting to make some sense to my brain. You explained it well. I'm the one who's eyes glaze over when the calculations come out. Anyway, I had always thought about the suitcase setup, but I really like what you've done. I've always thought that having solar for power back up would be a good thing, especially if power was unavailable. In our November 2015 windstorm we had no power to the neighborhood for 9 days, and having this set up would have made life a lot more comfortable! I'm going to seriously think on this mod. Thanks!

    If you do want any help at all with this mod, or any more details, please do ask. I posted what I thought was the minimum with background research info. Now that I know how to do it, it would be much easier.

    The key component is the Industrial French Fry Cutter Suction Cups =)
    2013 MAXX [email protected] towed by a 2015 Volvo S60 5 CYL AWD Sedan
    Seattle, WA
  • AldebaranJillAldebaranJill Posts: 395Member
    edited May 2017




    I want one. When will you be selling the pre-assembled kit? :D

    Do the suction cups provide a water-tight seal on their own? Or did you add some sealant before mounting?
    Based on the to-scale guide provided by nüCamp how confident are you the holes ended up centered in the beams?





    1. Ha! If anyone is near Seattle I'd be happy to assist them. I live very close to a Home Depot and several auto parts stores.

    2. While they really do stick (it was a bit of a struggle to get them off once I got them on when I was testing out locations) I didn't trust them to seal long term, so I added a bead of silicone around the edges and around the bolt/nut/bracket interface. When screwed down tight though, it's entirely possible it's a really good seal, since the hole is small and the suction cups are so large in comparison.

    3. I am 100% confident I got into the beams. The official NuCamp drawing they sent (but they asked me not to post publicly, which is why I posted the Yakima Rack diagram since it's already on the store's website) clearly shows the 8" spacing and where it is relative to other landmarks. I started from the screws that go into the fantastic fan, because I could see from the diagram that those were also 8", and then went down from there. I hit metal and the screws went very very firmly in. I had several very strong men (a neighbor, a guy from my gym, and @wizard1880) all come over and shake on the solar panel, to see what would happen and they were able to rock the entire trailer back and forth. I am 100% sure I hit the beams (metal shavings when drilling pilot holes) and 100% sure it's mounted very securely. If someone wanted to, they could add another set of two holes in the middle with a smaller spacer, but all of the strong men who shook it said they thought it would be overkill. 

    So as long as the fantastic fan screws were in the center of the beams (and all 3 were in a straight line) I hit the center as well. When I double checked distances to the bottom edge strip, they lined up too.
    2013 MAXX [email protected] towed by a 2015 Volvo S60 5 CYL AWD Sedan
    Seattle, WA
  • TinMTTinMT Posts: 10Member
    Bravo! Well done. Extremely well thought out, researched, and analysed. Your attention to detail is tremendous! And thank you so much for sharing with the rest of this community. 
  • AldebaranJillAldebaranJill Posts: 395Member

    TinMT said:

    Bravo! Well done. Extremely well thought out, researched, and analysed. Your attention to detail is tremendous! And thank you so much for sharing with the rest of this community. 


    :) It took way longer to research than the actual modification, but in the end, it's worth doing the homework. Thanks!
    2013 MAXX [email protected] towed by a 2015 Volvo S60 5 CYL AWD Sedan
    Seattle, WA
  • AldebaranJillAldebaranJill Posts: 395Member

    9Jethro said:

    Nice job! I just rigged my 100w panel to fit my Yakima rack. Adjustable and easily removable. 


    Yay! That looks wonderful! It's such a perfect place for a solar panel, isn't it? =)
    2013 MAXX [email protected] towed by a 2015 Volvo S60 5 CYL AWD Sedan
    Seattle, WA
  • ericnlizericnliz Posts: 4,366Member
    @AldebaranJill, I'm still chuckling from the French Fry Cutter Suction Cups! :) With that being said, and seeing yours in person, I am in awe, and highly impressed at your innovation, diligence, and research prior to, during and on-going throughout the process of this awesome modification. Please keep us informed of further developments.You definitely had my attention when I saw them, and even more so now that I have read the back-round regarding your research and development. One point of interest to me is how you will eventually decide to run your extension wire, and I know you have given this some thought as well. Please share what you decide. 'Ya never know, I might end up with a suitcase-less panel mounted on the roof.! ;) Great job on the write-up, and thanks again! :)
    Eric
    2016 [email protected] MAX S-aka: [email protected]
    TV: 2006 Chevy Avalanche LT Z71 aka: WhiteWolf, or 1972 Chevy Custom10 P/U aka: SnarlingWolf
    Spokane, Wa.
    Eric aka: Lone Wolf  with,
    Ruger aka: Adventure Companion

  • foxdenfoxden Posts: 149Member
    Wow @AldebaranJill ; This answered so many of my questions and I think this might just be the way to go for me.  You mentioned that 25 degrees was just about right for your latitude of 48.  How important would it be to place the panels differently (I assume lower) for 30 degrees latitude?  @9Jethro ; that looks suspiciously like cedar and limestone in the background.  Are you somewhere around my same latitude?  I noticed that your panels are lower.
    2017 Max S - Silver/Red - [email protected] -  2016 Jeep Cherokee - Fredericksburg, TX
  • ericnlizericnliz Posts: 4,366Member
    @9Jethro, Hmmmm, Wonder what I can use this left-over suitcase for? NICE JOB!!!!  Very clean lookin' install. Where did you mount your controller?
    2016 [email protected] MAX S-aka: [email protected]
    TV: 2006 Chevy Avalanche LT Z71 aka: WhiteWolf, or 1972 Chevy Custom10 P/U aka: SnarlingWolf
    Spokane, Wa.
    Eric aka: Lone Wolf  with,
    Ruger aka: Adventure Companion

  • RuntarootiRuntarooti Posts: 85Member
    @AldebaranJill   love, love how you collected data and used that data to design a system that is PERFECT for your equipment and setting. This is a great summary for helping us to understand the "why" to adapt to our own camping style and location. Very impressive! Bravo :) 
    2015 [email protected] Max CS-S Silver and Black
    Goes where it's towed to by 2017 Subaru Outback
  • JerryandVickiJerryandVicki Posts: 13Member
    @AldebaranJill ; We so appreciate your research and development of this great mod!  Very well written.  Thank you for sharing your excellent data. When you get to the point that you will be selling your energy surplus we will be conveniently parked right up beside you.  ;-)

    Jerry, Vicki and [email protected]
    2017 CS-S Open Tab 
    TV 2015 Subaru Outback 6 cyl., The Starship
    Liberty Lake, WA
  • TabberJohnTabberJohn Posts: 422Member
    I see your points about rigid versus flexible. Makes sense.
    Originally I thought flexible would be ideal for a roof mount, but 16lbs for a more efficient rigid panel that can be removed is definitely the way to go. 
    Your solution also supports the option of portable placement with an extension cable if desired.
    Does the Trimetric monitor provide everything you need to know?
    What does the solar controller display?
    2015 [email protected] Max S (White/Silver) -> 2014 Ford Escape 2.0L (turbo, AWD, factory tow)
  • AldebaranJillAldebaranJill Posts: 395Member
    edited May 2017
    foxden said:
    Wow @AldebaranJill ; This answered so many of my questions and I think this might just be the way to go for me.  You mentioned that 25 degrees was just about right for your latitude of 48.  How important would it be to place the panels differently (I assume lower) for 30 degrees latitude?
    @foxden

    The resource I used was this:
    http://www.solarpaneltilt.com/

    Look at the four times a year table.

    I'll try to reprint the table that shows 30 degrees latitude below:

    Latitude

    Summer angle Spring/autumn angle Winter angle
    25° -1.3 22.2 46.3
    30° 3.3 27.1 50.7
    35° 7.9 32.0 55.2
    40° 12.5 36.9 59.6
    45° 17.1 41.8 64.1
    50° 21.7 46.7 68.5

    So for 30 degrees latitude, it would be 3.3 degrees in the summer, 27 degrees spring and fall, and 50 degrees winter. Figuring 3.3 degrees is fairly flat, that would mean you could tilt it to horizontal in the summer, and have it lay on the back of the [email protected] (at my location it was 25 degrees) spring and fall, and then you'd have to tilt it up to 50 degrees in the winter. This assumes you've got the panels facing south. Since it's always easy to tilt horizontal, I figured that when it's not easy to get my trailer rear south, I'll just put it horizontal and call it good enough. Again, I don't have winter data yet, so where I point and where I decide to pivot the panels remains to be learned.

    Here's the dates that separate the seasons from that same website.

    Northern hemisphere


    Adjust to summer angle on April 18
    Adjust to autumn angle on August 24
    Adjust to winter angle on October 7
    Adjust to spring angle on March 5

    I realize this is for roof top building mounts, but I figured that memorizing three numbers, and marking them on my brackets, was sufficient. So in your case, you could just mark two places, the horizontal place, and the 50 degree place, and that would capture the vast majority of what you needed. It really takes the guess work out of it. I wanted to treat my solar panels like a roof top, and simplify the sun-chasing activity.
    2013 MAXX [email protected] towed by a 2015 Volvo S60 5 CYL AWD Sedan
    Seattle, WA
  • AldebaranJillAldebaranJill Posts: 395Member
    ericnliz said:
    @AldebaranJill, I'm still chuckling from the French Fry Cutter Suction Cups! :) With that being said, and seeing yours in person, I am in awe, and highly impressed at your innovation, diligence, and research prior to, during and on-going throughout the process of this awesome modification. Please keep us informed of further developments.You definitely had my attention when I saw them, and even more so now that I have read the back-round regarding your research and development. One point of interest to me is how you will eventually decide to run your extension wire, and I know you have given this some thought as well. Please share what you decide. 'Ya never know, I might end up with a suitcase-less panel mounted on the roof.! ;) Great job on the write-up, and thanks again! :)
    Eric
    Thanks Eric! I knew the French Fry Cutter Suction Cups would be the funniest part of the whole mod - I tried several other solutions before settling on them. Apparently they do a really good job at holding french fry cutters stationary, at least according to the reviews :-)

    I definitely wanted to wait to post the mod until I had a chance to test it out camping and to let folks like yourself, see it in person, because it's really going to dramatically change how I camp, and I wanted to have some people (other than myself) see it in person to vouch for it's being a real thing. Thanks for coming over to take a look at it this weekend!

    The issue with my temporary routing wire comes when I want to insert an awning on the driver's side keder rail. I was able to bend the rail every so slightly before and after the wire, and then feed the awning in and have it jump over the solar wire, and it worked well enough as a temporary solution. I probably will wait just a bit longer to redo the roof wiring to see how much of a pain this is, and how the awning would do in the rain with this "hole" in it's attachment to the rail. Once I can see how that works, I'll decide whether to go into the roof right next to the air conditioning and shorten the wires considerably. Where different folks locate their solar controller will change their wire routing as well, so I wanted to show a very flexible routing first.
    2013 MAXX [email protected] towed by a 2015 Volvo S60 5 CYL AWD Sedan
    Seattle, WA
  • AldebaranJillAldebaranJill Posts: 395Member
    @AldebaranJill ; We so appreciate your research and development of this great mod!  Very well written.  Thank you for sharing your excellent data. When you get to the point that you will be selling your energy surplus we will be conveniently parked right up beside you.  ;-)

    B) Roger that, I'll start working on a connection wire to allow me to port my energy to near by [email protected]'s
    2013 MAXX [email protected] towed by a 2015 Volvo S60 5 CYL AWD Sedan
    Seattle, WA
  • AldebaranJillAldebaranJill Posts: 395Member
    ericnliz said:
    Very clean lookin' install. Where did you mount your controller?
    Wasn't sure if this was for me or not, but thought I'd put in where and why I mounted it where I did.

    I mounted my controller inside, on the wall that's the shower wall, next to my thermostat and Trimetric. This is because in my case, my dealer installed my Trimetric shunt under my driver's side bench (near the WFCO). I needed to connect the controller negative to my shunt negative (so that the Trimetric sees the solar). So for my special case, this was where I wanted it, where I could see it, and where it was easy to run a wire to my shunt down through the wall.

    But this is my no means the best location for everyone else. I think it will depend on where your batteries are, whether you have a shunt somewhere for a meter, whether you want it visible or hidden.

    The theory is, that it's best to have the controller as close to the battery as possible, to lower the voltage drop from the controller to the battery. In my case, this distance is about 5 feet. So for 5 feet of 12 AWG wire, 14.4V (it varies), 5A (also varies), it's about 0.1 V loss which didn't bug me.

    Here's a voltage calculator I used:
    http://www.calculator.net/voltage-drop-calculator.html

    It's interesting to see how it varies with voltage, amps, wire gauge... so you could use this in addition to the other factors to determine where it's best to mount the controller.
    2013 MAXX [email protected] towed by a 2015 Volvo S60 5 CYL AWD Sedan
    Seattle, WA
  • AldebaranJillAldebaranJill Posts: 395Member
    @AldebaranJill   love, love how you collected data and used that data to design a system that is PERFECT for your equipment and setting. This is a great summary for helping us to understand the "why" to adapt to our own camping style and location. Very impressive! Bravo :) 
    Thanks @Runtarooti ! Solar really isn't a one-size fits all, and I was trying very hard to outline the principles first, because I do think these hold up regardless of scope of scale, but then to try and be really transparent about my particular camping style (that's evolving) and how this drove me to attempt solar. I very much appreciate the feedback - it makes putting together the write up very fulfilling. :)
    2013 MAXX [email protected] towed by a 2015 Volvo S60 5 CYL AWD Sedan
    Seattle, WA
  • AldebaranJillAldebaranJill Posts: 395Member
    I see your points about rigid versus flexible. Makes sense.
    Originally I thought flexible would be ideal for a roof mount, but 16lbs for a more efficient rigid panel that can be removed is definitely the way to go. 
    Your solution also supports the option of portable placement with an extension cable if desired.
    Does the Trimetric monitor provide everything you need to know?
    What does the solar controller display?
    @TabberJohn

    With my Trimetric, I mostly look at the voltage, amps, battery state of charge in percentage, and total AH since last I zeroed it. These are the four values I tend to scroll through to see what's happening both when I'm plugged into the car, shore power, solar, and when not charging. It's got at least two dozen more settings, which I don't pay attention to ;)

    The Morningstar Sun Saver 10A just has four indicator lights. One light shows whether it's charging. Three other lights show battery state of charge (red, yellow, green). I considered the Renogy Wanderer, but the reviews on Amazon were abysmal, and since Solar Bob liked Morningstar, I figured that would be a good choice for me.

    I should note that Trimetric has a solar controller SC-2030 (http://www.bogartengineering.com/products/solar-charger/) that works with the Trimetric meter - it seems to run around $130. I opted for a $50 Morningstar solar controller, but that would be another option if someone wanted a meter and a controller that were designed to work together and have lots more sophistication than what I have.

    I got the Trimetric initially when I purchased my [email protected], after killing several batteries on my former travel trailer, and relying on a volt meter, I wanted less stress camping and wondering what my battery state of charge actually was.

    When I wake up on the morning, I first look at the Sun Saver, and it's blinking green, meaning it's charging, which make me happy because it started way before I even thought about waking up. Then I click through the voltage, amps, percentage and AH on the Trimetric to give me an idea what it's doing, and how much needs to be put in to get back to 100% state of charge before sunset.

    Let me know what other questions you may have :-)
    2013 MAXX [email protected] towed by a 2015 Volvo S60 5 CYL AWD Sedan
    Seattle, WA
  • AldebaranJillAldebaranJill Posts: 395Member
    And if anyone wants to review this "live" with me, I'm happy to do a FaceTime or Skype to show more details or discuss why I did what I did. I think there are many different solutions to get to a fixed mounted solar solution, mine is just one that worked for me given my circumstances, but the principles should be the same. Just send me a private message via the forum  :) 
    2013 MAXX [email protected] towed by a 2015 Volvo S60 5 CYL AWD Sedan
    Seattle, WA
  • wizard1880wizard1880 Posts: 442Member
    I consider myself lucky to live nearby to have had the opportunity to help out @AldebaranJill in completing this solar project.  :joy:

    Truly, to tackle this project by doing all the homework up front, putting it all together, then showcasing your end result (and offering to assist others no less!) shows genuine engineering verve with class.

    It would be no surprise to me if nuCamp takes an interest in this design to include in future models, or as an upgrade in the Teardrop shop.

    [email protected]@bulous
    2014 [email protected] CS Maxx
    TV: 2015 Audi Q7 3.0 V6 TDI (diesel)
    Martha Lake, WA
  • VernaVerna Posts: 4,763Administrator
    @wizard1880 The Teardrop Shop is not part of nüCampRV. It is part of the Liberty Outdoors organization (formerly Little Guy). 
    Verna, Indianapolis, Indiana; 2019 [email protected] 400 Boondock Lite white/red; towed by a red 2015 Toyota Tacoma V6 TRD 4x4; [email protected] Administrator.  If not now, when?




  • AldebaranJillAldebaranJill Posts: 395Member
    I consider myself lucky to live nearby to have had the opportunity to help out @AldebaranJill in completing this solar project.  :joy:

    Truly, to tackle this project by doing all the homework up front, putting it all together, then showcasing your end result (and offering to assist others no less!) shows genuine engineering verve with class.

    It would be no surprise to me if nuCamp takes an interest in this design to include in future models, or as an upgrade in the Teardrop shop.

     :) Engineering Verve! Love it.
    2013 MAXX [email protected] towed by a 2015 Volvo S60 5 CYL AWD Sedan
    Seattle, WA
  • TabberJohnTabberJohn Posts: 422Member
    "[nüCamp] said 3/4" long self tapping screws"

    Is that 3/4" deep from the roof surface so length would be 3/4" plus height of suction cup mount, bracket, and panel?
    What diameter/# screw did you end up with? Galvinized?
    How thick do you think the beam wall is that engages the thread?
    I know you ended with a solid mount but it's still a mystery what actually happens in there. ;)
    2015 [email protected] Max S (White/Silver) -> 2014 Ford Escape 2.0L (turbo, AWD, factory tow)
  • AldebaranJillAldebaranJill Posts: 395Member
    edited May 2017
    "[nüCamp] said 3/4" long self tapping screws"

    Is that 3/4" deep from the roof surface so length would be 3/4" plus height of suction cup mount, bracket, and panel?
    What diameter/# screw did you end up with? Galvinized?
    How thick do you think the beam wall is that engages the thread?
    I know you ended with a solid mount but it's still a mystery what actually happens in there. ;)
    1. Yes, the 3/4" was presumed with no additional objects, so I measured the suction cups and bracket thickness around 3/4" and I think I used 1.5" screws

    2. I used the largest screw that would fit through the panel slots - now I'm wishing I would have taken photos of the bags - but they were zinc plated (not galvanized) because that was all I could find at Home Depot in self tapping with a hex head since I wanted to use a driver (after pilot hole). They may have been 1/4" but I'm not entirely sure. They were very close in diameter to the bolts on the suction cups and also to the bolts that come with the mounting brackets (although those are metric). My recollection is that they were #14 and not #12.

    3. On the drawing I received, the "frame" is called out as ".062X3/4X1 1/2 Alum Tube", so I believe the width of your target is 1.75" and the thickness is .062" which is 1/16th. The spacing on the drawing is just as I have typed it.

    If you private message me I will get you the drawings, (Elsie asked me not to post them.) so you can view this and double check.
    2013 MAXX [email protected] towed by a 2015 Volvo S60 5 CYL AWD Sedan
    Seattle, WA
  • jkjennjkjenn Posts: 4,815Member
    9Jethro said:
    Nice job! I just rigged my 100w panel to fit my Yakima rack. Adjustable and easily removable. 
    Nice job! 

    I have always thought this was the way to go with the hard panel mount. It gives you the flexibility to change the panel, in the future, should you decide, without have to worry about whether the holes you drill will line up with a new panel. You could also mount 2, 100 flexibles on there, I believe.

    Jenn Grover | 2015  [email protected] S Max Silver/Turquoise Trim | 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk v6 | Nights spent in [email protected]: 180 | Pittsburgh PA

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