Solar install

ScoTTyBEEE

Full Member
Fitted my 3 x 330w Canadian Solar panels today. Used unistrut for the whole project because it's what I had and hard to get hold of things right now. I had to raise them a little higher than the average install because I still wanted to be able to open my sunroof even thought it's covered, so I used a combination of deep channel base and thin channel on top to raise in another 20mm or so. I took the paint off and keyed the surface and used Soudall fixall as I've used this before and is stronger than almost anything else on the market if you go over all the datasheets. I did try and drill some roofing screws through but my outer skin is aluminium and they chewed it up really easily which surprised me so I didn't bother with those in the end - I've no idea why it was doing that as it's strong enough to walk over with no issue.
Each panel corner can handle around 350-400kg of force and the entire structure is all one unit so for anything to come off it will take the roof with it.
edit: Another reason I had to raise it slightly higher was so I could get my arm under them as some bolts had to be done up with very little access.
I used 1 x 3m deep channel galvanised at £25, 1m small channel £3.75 and the bolts and glue so probably well under £50 all in for something pretty hardcore.
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Debs

Full Member
I use Stixall black mostly now, but I have used Sudal and it is an excellent adhesive. I had to leave the aluminum frame on my last van as it would not come off without destroying it. I expect someone will be along sometime to tell you that it's unsafe to use adhesive to put your panels on the roof with.....but hey ho. ;)
 

Edina

Administrator
I had to remove some brackets that I had stuck on with sikaflex, nightmare of a job. If anyone thinks they need screws as well, they are not using the correct adhesive properly.
 

mistericeman

Full Member
This is why I’m sanding Betty’s Roof down to the primer. Then recoating will polyester resin flowcoat.
The primer is just as bad IMHO as its only the paints/primers bond to the fabric of the vehicle....

OK its 'unlikely' that the paint is going to let go BUT I personally wouldn't trust sticky alone (yes there will be lots of folks that have never had a problem... And as many saying that lots of modern cars are stuck together too)
Jaguar/landrover use it a lot.... BUT they don't do it outside their house at whatever the temperature/humidity happens to be

Sticky and mechanical fixings (and in my case a couple of safety loops of grippell wire) are the, only way I'm happy.
 

ScoTTyBEEE

Full Member
I think the problem is in peoples minds glue just doesn't seem like a strong substance, but in reality it's just as strong as mechanical connections, if not stronger since a much greater surface area is bonded. It just requires metal to metal bonds with zero impurities in between to be safe, preparation is everything. Plane wings are glued on!!
I would have liked to use mechanical connections too, just for reassurance but it was impossible. The roofing screws just stripped the roof with very low torque and I have no access to underneath without ripping the entire van apart.
My previous panel was purely glued and you couldn't budge it one iota, just took a little while to build the confidence up with motorway speeds.
I'll try and build a wind deflector anyway, then there's nothing to worry about.
 
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Millie Master

Full Member
Wonder if the folk who worry about stuck on solar panels have the same worries about their windscreens and windows? ;)
The fact of the matter is Chris that a windscreen doesn't have any kind of lift when out driving at speed, simply pressure, whereas any and all rigid solar panels will have a certain amount of lift.
In addition, whereas a windscreen is bonded to the vehicle throughout its' entire circumference, not one rigid solar panel I have seen is attached in such a way........................... So for me it has always been a belt and braces approach, I thoroughly cleaned the roof surface where each of the brackets were going to be positioned, each bracket has 2 x 8mm stainless steel bolts and lock nuts on the inside and the brackets are also attached with a 2mm thickness of Stixall, with 2mm being the suggested strongest thickness for the magical stuff.

For me, having once driven underneath a fully loaded, flying roof rack (that had come off the roof of the car immediately in front of me on the M1 in Northamptonshire) that crashed through the windscreen of the car immediately behind me killing both front seat passengers!! Ever since that horrific accident where I was the prime prosecuting witness, I have always had a total belt and braces approach to any and all fixtures.
 

SquirrellCook

Full Member
Wonder if the folk who worry about stuck on solar panels have the same worries about their windscreens and windows? ;)

Anita's Vito had a banging noise from the front of the Cab. The screen was not far from falling out! I think the previous screen fitter let his horse fit it.
 

Squiffy

Full Member
The fact of the matter is Chris that a windscreen doesn't have any kind of lift when out driving at speed, simply pressure, whereas any and all rigid solar panels will have a certain amount of lift.
In addition, whereas a windscreen is bonded to the vehicle throughout its' entire circumference, not one rigid solar panel I have seen is attached in such a way........................... So for me it has always been a belt and braces approach, I thoroughly cleaned the roof surface where each of the brackets were going to be positioned, each bracket has 2 x 8mm stainless steel bolts and lock nuts on the inside and the brackets are also attached with a 2mm thickness of Stixall, with 2mm being the suggested strongest thickness for the magical stuff.

For me, having once driven underneath a fully loaded, flying roof rack (that had come off the roof of the car immediately in front of me on the M1 in Northamptonshire) that crashed through the windscreen of the car immediately behind me killing both front seat passengers!! Ever since that horrific accident where I was the prime prosecuting witness, I have always had a total belt and braces approach to any and all fixtures.
Phil as for the front screen I agree that it is not under the kind of potential wind pressure that a solar panel is under, however side windows that are stuck on are both subject to gravity as well as wind lifting pressure and if you have ever fitted one yourself you would have seen/felt just how incredibly heavy these pieces of glass are, these of course are stuck to the same paint as is on the roof of vans/cars. The other factor that is rarely discussed is that if the solar panel is fitted in the correct position, the air flow over the roof actually misses the panel leaving an area around the panel area with very little air speed, with a wind deflection foil placed in front of the panel or a roof light (Heki) will almost certainly make the chance of a panel being ripped of the roof negligible. As most if not all commercial motorhome builders stick their solar panels down I feel the argument as to is it safe is now decided. So long as the the glue is applied appropriately and the paint work is in good condition. 🤙Phil
 

wildebus

Full Member
As we both know Phil, we have been chewing the cud on this issue for umpteen years and no matter what you say and what your experiences are my friend, as far as I am concerned I prefer the belt and braces methods of attachment.

Phil
You can't buy peace of mind :)
 

wildebus

Full Member
As an aside, I had a car (Lancer) broken into by a couple of gorillas a couple of decades ago. They bent the door frame and in the process broke a door trim piece. When I collected the car from the repairers (Mitsubushi Dealer) it all looked great.

Until I was driving along a a dual carriageway at normal speed (so 70MPH give or take) and heard a massive bang! The door trim had blown off with, I am guessing, the pressure of the air underneath pushing it off. And that was after a professional organisation fitting standard parts designed for the vehicle.
 

Squiffy

Full Member
None the less most if not all professional fitters glue solar panels on, and have done for many many years, if it was that bad there would have been a D.O.T notice about it by now. Phil.
 

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