Friday, May 17, 2024

How To Mount Flexible Solar Panels

What Is A Flexible Solar Panel

Better Way to Mount Flexible Solar Panels on RV (2019)

French physicist Edward Becquerel recognized the photovoltaic effect in 1839. Smithsonian Magazine defines this as a process that produces a voltage or electric current when exposed to light or radiant energy. This laid the groundwork for the solar panels we see today, including flexible solar panels for RVs.

Flexible solar panels consist of polycrystalline material, basically silicon. This material produces cheaper solar panels thanks to the ease of creating polycrystalline. Individual cells measure about the width of a human hair.

What Are The Main Concerns Of Solar Panels For Caravans

The biggest concern after shifting to solar power is the weather. You need to get more than three hours of solar energy in your Caravan to ensure proper efficiency in your solar array. Therefore, you need to keep track of the weather and fill up the battery bank before it starts to rain.

Similarly, it would be best if you kept the solar panels clean to maintain their efficiency intact.

Finding The Right Solar Panel Setup For Your Home Is Easy

Whether you are interested in thin-film solar panels or more traditional monocrystalline and polycrystalline modules, it is important to compare solar quotes from many installers to select the best one for your property. On the EnergySage Solar Marketplace, you can solicit quotes from qualified, pre-vetted installers and compare them side by side. Our installers offer many types of solar installation, and can work with you to customize a perfect home solar solution to meet your energy needs while tailoring their installation for your unique home. If you are interested in a certain type or manufacturer of solar panels, simply leave a note on your property profile for installers to see.

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The Use Of Solar Cells In Caravans

A Caravan solar panel array should have the ability to convert sunlight to create enough energy for a relaxed life on the road.

So, how is that possible? Crystalline panels will have the maximum power output for your Caravan or motorhome. These are made from a single silicon crystal that can power any electrical equipment.

Even so, the dilemma between Monocrystalline solar panels and Polycrystalline solar panels have been a debate for a long time. But, which one is more efficient?

Ideally, monocrystalline solar panels will be more efficient since they take up less installation space. They have a black hue to their anatomy. On the other hand, polycrystalline solar panels do not have the same efficiency level, having a blue tint.

Does the option seem simple? Indeed, monocrystalline seems like a better Caravan solar transformation option, but they are more expensive. The latter is cheaper and larger to offer the same power output.

Both can be viable for Caravan solar panels due to their matched durability and lifespan. However, the requirement for panel size compared to your energy requirements should determine what the best solar panels are for you.

Are Solar Panel Kits Suitable

How To Install a Flexible Solar Panel on an RV

Are you looking to DIY the solar panel installation? While installing a solar panel on your Caravan, using rigid solar panel kits will be a great option.

Such equipment includes the necessary parts involved in the process. Therefore, you can start sustainable generation energy on your own using the charge controller and other equipment. They have a pulse width modulation controller that is cheaper.

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Caravan Solar Panels Guide

Imagine going around the hinterland with your holiday home on wheels. Does that sound intriguing? Did you know that approximately 555,000 Caravans are touring the UK right now?

What is the main thing you will not have access to while being on the road? Electricity!

That is where effective solar panels for Caravans come in. Due to technological advancements, a solar power system can now be installed on top of moving vehicles. Moreover, it will be an economical and self-sufficient option.

Solar panel efficiency is the answer to your power requirements while living in your Caravan. These solar panels will require direct sunlight to generate electricity like standard panels. Furthermore, all your appliances and car batteries will remain charged while giving you total freedom.

Yet, there are some considerations before installing solar panels on your Caravan roof. What are they? How can you effectively make your Caravan solar? Read on to find out!


They Dont Last As Long

The shelf life on flexible panels isnt as long as their rigid counterparts. Where rigid panels can last anywhere from 25 to 40 years, flexible panels might be functional for just 15 to 25 years. They dont have a very high efficiency to begin with, so when their power output starts to drop, they arent going to be useful for much longer. This also has to do with durability. Since flexible solar panels are often used in recreational settings, theyre more likely to get damaged, which lowers the shelf life.

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Tips For Taping Solar Panels To Roof

  • Dont tape directly to the roof. Dont tape flexible solar panels directly to a roof. Instead, using something like corrugated plastic will help to keep the solar panels at a lower temperature.
  • Use extra-wide tape. Eternabond comes in different sizes. I used 4-inch tape on mine and recommend using the largest size that you can.
  • Be sure its water-sealed. Close all the gaps that you can with the tape. Make sure the tape is stuck down flat with no areas that might peel up. If there are stubborn areas that have peeled up around the panels, you can add some caulking to those areas. This will keep them sealed and help keep the tape from peeling up.

Cost Of Etfe Solar Panels/ Buying Guide

How to Install SunPower Flexible Solar Panels

The cost of ETFE solar panels varies depending on 2 main factors: Power rating and backing material.

Here are some examples to illustrate this:

  • A typical 100W, 12V ETFE solar panel should cost you around $180-$190.
  • A 20W, 12V ETFE aluminum back sheet solar panel goes for around $50-$60.
  • A 50W, 18V ETFE fiberglass back sheet module costs around $140-$150.
  • A 300W monocrystalline solar cells panel costs approximately $750.

Are ETFE PVs cheap?

ETFE solar panels are pricier than PET flexible solar panels and conventional rigid solar panels. The superior characteristics of ETFE raise the price of these panels, but youll at least get value for your money when you invest in them.

Where to buy ETFE solar panels?

The best place to get ETFE solar modules is right from manufacturers.

Some leading ETFE solar panels manufacturers/brands to consider when you want to buy your flexible solar panels include: Sunpower, Lensun, Chanve, Giaride, Tesla, LG, GC, Kingsolar, WindyNation, AllPowers, Renogy, Sunbeam, RichSolar, Solbian, LinkSolar, Gioco, Bimini and Fly Solartech.

Most of these brands have online shops where you can order your ETFE solar from wherever you are worldwide.

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Getting Started With Rv Solar

It is imperative to have a general understanding of how solar panels work in a motor-van. You will need to understand the various types of solar panels, batteries, inverters, etc. You should also be able to understand and choose the most appropriate solar mounting method. It is highly advisable to read your solar equipment manuals before setting out to install the solar panels.

The information should serve as a reference when installing your flexible solar panels, and refer to specific product manuals for detailed instructions.

Types Of Caravan Solar Panels

Mounted or Portable solar panels are the priority while looking for such systems for your Caravan. Even then, there are other options that you can look into, depending on your requirements.

The industry demand has facilitated the rise of such options for a solar power system. However, as an owner, it is up to you to choose the location for its installation.

There are disadvantages and advantages for both. For example, a portable panel is flexible that allows you to chase the sun effortlessly. On the contrary, mounted solar panels are mounted on the Caravan or motorhome roof.

Most solar panels require complete access to direct sunlight for optimal functionality. Do you want to know more about the different types of solar panels suitable for your Caravan?

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Thin Film Panels: A Flexible Panel Option

The current flexible solar panels available to homeowners on the market fall under the category of thin film panels. A thin film solar panel is made with layers that are over 300 times smaller than standard silicon solar panels, which gives them a much thinner profile and can even make some thin film panels flexible. Thin film panels are lightweight and durable, and can be an intriguing option depending on a solar projects needs. (Read more about MiaSolé, a flexible thin film solar panel manufacturer, in EnergySages company overview.

To learn more about solar panel manufacturers focusing on flexible products, check out our company reviews on Sunflare and Miasole, two companies innovating in the flexible solar space. As these types of companies continue to refine their products, you might expect flexible solar technology to begin creeping into the residential and commercial solar markets.

Connect Your Battery To Your Solar Charge Controller

How to Install a Flexible Solar Panel on an RV

Connect your solar charge controller to the battery, ensuring that the positive lead runs to the batterys positive terminal. It should be the same for the negative electrical cables. The negative cable from the battery should also be grounded to the chassis of the vehicle.

Two wires should be running from the solar panel

Lets take a look at the various connection methods available to connect your solar panel to your charge controller:

  • Plug-in type connections use a mating connector to connect the solar cables to the charge controller.
  • Machine screw connectors a ring terminal is used to connect the solar cables to the charge controller.
  • Set-screw .Uses screws to attach the solar panel cables to set screws on the charge controller.

Wires should be connected as per the detailed manual provided with the charge controller. Still, the solar panel s positive cable should always be connected to the positive terminal and vice versa with the negative wires.

Safety tip: It is advisable to block your solar panels from receiving light. You dont want any electricity running through your cables during your installation process.

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The Advantages Of Flexible Solar Panels

The biggest advantages of flexible solar panels are space and weight. They are much thinner and lighter than rigid solar panels. Sometimes they weigh up to 80% less than a comparable rigid glass panel. Being thinner and, of course, flexible allows them to be installed in locations where rigid panels could not be mounted.

Flexible panels are usually mounted with an adhesive instead of mounting brackets, allowing them to eliminate screws that add leak points in roofs. Some even come with an adhesive backing so they can be stuck down like a big sticker. Many flexible panels have grommets and can be mounted with rope temporarily because they are so lightweight.

Connect And Mount The Panels Outside

It is recommended to add an insulation layer to prevent the solar panels from overheating. Flexible panels suffer from this handicap and need to be prevented from doing so as they experience a drop in efficiency and performance. If this looks too complicated for you, you can still fix your flexible solar panels directly to your vans roof. If doing so, expect a slight drop in performance because of heat.

  • Clean your roof with a soapy water solution, making sure you dry up the surface thoroughly. Then use rubbing alcohol as the final cleaner.
  • Clean the back of your solar panels as well.
  • To add your insulation pad to your flexible solar panels, lay each panel on a 3mm aluminum composite sandwich sheet, which you can make with a polyethylene layer to prevent the solar panels from overheating.
  • Use 3M Hi-Strength 90 Spray Adhesive as an adhesive medium between the panel and the aluminum sandwich.
  • Put your panels in position and use either glue spray or glue. Make sure you are quick and careful when setting the panels down as the cures quickly.
  • Connect your panels cables to the MC4 connectors and attach the wires to your vans roof with 3M tape so that they dont flap around.
  • Apply some pressure on the whole surface of your panels to make contact with the glue correctly. Then, you can apply a sealant all around to prevent water infiltration and moisture

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How To Make The Solar Panel Mount

Follow these steps to create the anchor points and install the flexible solar panel.

  • Cut insulator plastic sheet to fit solar panel
  • Drill ¼ inch holes through grommets
  • Cutout the bottom of the plastic insulator under each hole with utility knife deep enough for carriage bolts to be flush with surface
  • Cut six 2 inch sections of aluminum transition as anchors for the bolts
  • Round edges and remove sharp edges of aluminum anchor pieces
  • Cut 2 inch by ¼ inch notches by each hole for each aluminum anchor
  • Cut front-edge lift cover to the width of the solar panel
  • Drill ¼ inch holes in all anchors
  • Assemble insulator, bolts and anchors
  • Screw Or Bolt Directly To Roof


    The solar panels that you purchase, whether they be rigid or flexible can be screwed directly to the roof. This is probably the easiest way to accomplish it. You simply place the solar panels where you want them on the roof and then use self-tapping screws to secure them. With rigid panels, you will have brackets that will mount to the roof and then the panel itself will attach to these brackets.

    Each manufacturer may have a different mount or process for achieving this so refer to the specific instructions for the panels that you have for proper installation.

    On flexible panels, you will likely need to screw directly through the panel and into the roof.

    If you still have access to the bottom part of the roof of your van, you can choose to use bolts. This may be more secure but will be more difficult to remove if you ever need to. However, doing it this way would almost certainly lock you into always keeping solar panels on the roof. If you decided you no longer wanted solar panels, you would have bolt or screw holes in your roof that would need some attention.

    Screwing the panels to the roof is an easy way to mount and allows you to easily remove them but the holes will need to be sealed and maintained regularly so that no leaks occur in the future from those holes. This isnt difficult to do with a little caulk or Eternabond tape but it is something to consider if you are considering mounting directly to a metal van roof.

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    Here Are Some Of My Favorite Van Build Tools:

    Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it helpful as you build your own campervan. Here are some tools that I use daily while living on the road that made my life easier. I hope youll also find them as useful as me. These are affiliate links, so if you do decide to purchase any of them, Ill earn a commission.But in all honesty, these are the exact tools that I use and recommend to everyone, even my closest friends and family.

    Electricity: When I first started my van life journey, I was using the Renogy 200W Starter Kit, and Ive recently upgraded my setup to the Renogy 400W Starter Kit. Im fully autonomous regarding power now, thanks to this upgrade. I dont know why I didnt choose this option from the beginning.

    Quick Fixes: Whenever I need to fix something inside my van, I use my multitool from Victorinox. Its compact and comes with a leather pouch that lets you store it wherever you want. Whenever I need more tools, I get my Cartmann toolset out.

    Power tools: If youre converting a van, youll need some serious tools for the building process. I can assure you, good power tools can make a huge difference. Youll save time and avoid a lot of frustration while having some professional-looking final results. I personally went big with the full combo set from Dewalt.

    To see all of my most up-to-date recommendations about van build, check out this resource that I made for you!

    Which Vhb Tape Should You Use For Solar Panels

    One of the top VHB tape brands on the market is 3M. AM Solar is another popular brand that many people like to use to secure their solar panels onto their vehicle or home.

    This is best done by priming the surface of where you plan to place your solar panels, putting on the tape, then pressing it on.Advertisements

    Youll need to use an oscillating tool in order to remove this tape.

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    Do Flexible Solar Panels Need Ventilation

    Any high usage solar panel that is in the sun a lot can benefit from ventilation.

    An air gap under solar panels aids in keeping panels cool.

    Flexible solar panels can be adhered flat to surfaces, and many times they do not have ventilation underneath them. Because of their design, the lack of a flexible solar panel air gap underneath them does not affect their operation.

    Tape The Panels To Roof

    Semi Flexible Solar Panels on RV Roof

    Although taping panels to the roof does create a messy stickiness that you may have to deal with if you ever decide to remove them, it can be done. They can be mounted securely and affordably by using the right kind of tape and or caulk. If you dont use the right tape, it could be risky having them on your roof considering your van is driving down the road at 70 MPH or more.

    Lets look at how I went about taping my panels to the roof.

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