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Old 09-04-2016, 11:28 AM   #1
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Question Solar Panel Mounting Bracket Options

Hi all,
I'm starting to piece together my solar setup that I probably won't actually install until the spring as I want to upgrade my batteries first. The Renogy kits come with Z Brackets. These are simple to install and have a large enough foot print to make a very solid base for attaching the panels. However, I want the ability to tilt my panels when desired so I need another option.

Renogy also sells a tilt up kit, but the 'feet' that anchor to the RV are quite small in comparison to the Z Brackets and there's no way they can be anchored as well to the roof. If possible, I'd like to use the Z brackets in addition to having the ability to tilt the panels when desired.

Has anyone figured out how to incorporate the Z Brackets + a Tilt kit with off the shelf parts? I was going to post this in the solar community here, but it doesn't seem like that area gets a lot of traffic. If you have any experience in this area, would appreciate any feedback you have.

TIA,
Mark
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Old 09-04-2016, 11:39 AM   #2
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This is a good option, but it costs about as much as the panel, so that's a deal breaker.

Dual Tilt RV Solar Panel Mounts - Tilting Solar Module Angle Mounts - RV Solar Connection, llc - Denver, Colorado
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Old 09-04-2016, 12:10 PM   #3
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I made home-made two axis, four way tilting mounts – Assorted aluminum stock, clevis pins and stainless steel nuts, bolts, and screws came from local Home Depot, Lowes, and True Value Hardware. The stainless steel hinges came from HardwareSource.com . The aluminum uni-strut attaches everything to the roof.

The design attaches (with removable pivot-pins) the panels to the roof of the unit in six points for travel or to use flat. The pivots, one in each corner, allow for the panel to be lifted on either end of the long axis. The hinges, three on each side, allow the panels to be lifted on either side of the short axis. Prop-rods of various lengths, with pin holes drilled every inch, allow for angle adjustment of the panel to accommodate different latitudes, seasons, and whether the unit is oriented N/S or E/W. For example, at my house (near Albany, NY @ latitude 42.6710), in the Spring or Fall I need a 39.5 degree angle. If parked N/S, the panels will be lifted from the North end a height of 43”. If parked E/W, the angle stays the same but the lift to achieve it is 21.5” (so I round up or down for early or late season). It the summer the two lifts are 17” and 8.5”, respectively.

This photo is the panels on the current Jayco:


Close-up of the original design, upside-down. The pin acts as a pivot.

This is a close-up of a corner hinge:


Back-Front tilt:


Left-Right Tilt:


All this said, I find that I rarely actually go up on the roof to set the tilt. Only if I'm going to be somewhere without power for more than 4 or 5 days do I find it necessary.

Hope that this helps you!
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Old 09-04-2016, 12:12 PM   #4
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Only the first photo is on my Jayco. The other photos are the same system on my previous Rockwood.
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Old 09-04-2016, 12:16 PM   #5
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You sir, are a genius. Thank you, this is exactly what I am looking for.
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Old 09-04-2016, 12:20 PM   #6
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You may have a difficult time finding aluminum uni-strut. Find a local repair / sales shop for fire apparatus. They use it to mound adjustable shelves in compartments. It's expensive, but they have it....
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Old 09-04-2016, 12:27 PM   #7
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You could probably make a small fortune selling kits for that. I've never seen a 4 way tilt on an RV. I know I'd buy them.

As much as the ability to tilt the panels is great from a gathering more power perspective, it also gives you access to your roof again so you can inspect, and maintain it easily. This is definitely a value add for multiple reasons. I have all winter to source the parts.

Thanks again, awesome job!
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Old 09-04-2016, 01:07 PM   #8
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Sorry about the amount of traffic that makes it over to the RVing with SOLAR community page, but the vBulletin software does not include the Social Groups in their regular searches. So it is only word of mouth that will make the members aware that there are social groups on this site. It sure would be nice if vBulletin would offer this enhancement.

In case anyone else wants to go to it here it is RVing with SOLAR.

As for the adjustable SOLAR panel mounting brackets you are looking for, make them yourself. The parts needed are below and it will be just as good or better than the ones for sale.

1 - Cut 4 lengths of perforated angle aluminum the width of your SOLAR panel. (See picture below)
2 - Cut 2 lengths of 3/4" square aluminum tubing about 12" long.
3 - Mount one length of the perforated aluminum to the bottom of the 2 narrow sides of your SOLAR panel
4 - Lay your SOLAR panel where you want to mount it to your roof, mark the roof with a pencil for each side that will be mounted.
5 - Lay a length of the cut perforated angle aluminum over your markings and mount the angle aluminum to the roof using a lot of Dicor self leveling sealant. If your roof is not flat, you can use the "Z" brackets to mount the angle aluminum to the roof. Do both sides.
6 - Mount the SOLAR panel to the base angle aluminum at one end using the mounting thumb screws below. If you think it is necessary, you can drill a hole through the screw and put a cotter pin in to insure that it does not come loose. The commercial mounting brackets use these also.
7 - Drill a hole near the ends of the 3/4" square tube. Mount one end on the base's last hole using the thumbscrews. (you can move it to one of the other holes in the base should it be necessary in the winter months for more angle.
8 - Mount the other end of the 3/4" square aluminum tube to the SOLAR panel's perforated aluminum mounting using thumbscrews. Tilt the panel o the proper SOLAR angle and put the thumbscrew in.

There you go.... at a fraction of the cost of purchasing one. Same material, but built to YOUR specifications. You could actually mount some aluminum angle brackets 90 degrees from the other mounting brackets in case you are parked at a different angle. They will give you a 2 way tilt

Don
Attached Thumbnails
SOLAR - Mounting Aluminum.jpg   SOLAR - Mounting Thumbscrews with handles.jpg   SOLAR - Mounting Aluminum Square Tubing.jpg  
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Old 09-04-2016, 02:13 PM   #9
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My panels tilt 2 ways (road side, curb side) when putting the roof brackets down I used large aluminum full length L brackets.. this distributes the weight of the panel over a larger area and gives the ability to use more screws to hold it down. Put the L bracket down so the solar panel sits inside it on the bottom of the L bracket.. this way if you drop the panel while tilting it .. it will not puncture the roof..
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