A couple of years ago we purchased an Evakool folding solar panel. It’s a 100 watt panel with decent cables (connected to anderson plugs) and is very well built. It has been a great panel and has got us out of a couple of sticky situations in its time. I liked the fact I could position it in what ever direction i needed to get the battery charged.
I was always a bit concerned about roof mounted panels and how good they work if they were in shade etc but a friend of ours mounted his solar panels on the roof of his van and they are performing much better than I expected.
After recently installing a Redarc 12v BCDC 40 Amp battery charger in the van I’ve decided that it was time to mount a solar panel on the roof.
The combination of both devices would be more than enough to keep us topped up with power as we don’t tend to use heavy power consumption devices in the van.
I decided to dismantle the folding panel and mount it to the roof as I think 100 watt will still be ample for us.
The BCDC unit is designed to boost low voltages going into it from the solar panels into decent charging voltages for the battery so we should get more “daylight” hours from the panels. We also don’t tend to stop for days on end at free camps so we shouldn’t need a huge power station setup on the roof. We charge from the vehicle as we travel so we usually arrive with a full battery.
So with all these things considered, out with the tools and a new setup is born.
I pulled apart the folding panel removing hinges, latches. legs and handles. I removed the solar regulator as the BCDC has it’s own built in regulator so no need for the panel mounted one. The wiring was disconnected and then I was left with two 50 watt panels.
I used Sikaflex 252 to mount the brackets to each side of the panels. The brackets are made from aluminium angle and I placed a block of wood under each so that I didn’t need to worry about measuring the gap. Each bracket was glued into place and then three screws to hold it ensure its not going anywhere.
I then wired and mounted an Anderson plug to each panel so they can be easily plugged into when I run the cables into the van. This may also give me options down the track to use the panel regulator elsewhere and plug something directly to a panel for an emergency. It’s an option that may come in handy one day.
The panels ready for mounting on the roof
Coming soon. Solar Modification Pt. 2 – Mounting to the roof and wiring them to the BCDC charger.