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VW Bus and Solar: Comprehensive Guide (Updated 4-17-09)
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Emmitt2222
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2009 1:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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As you can see in this pic, I do have some cleaning up to do with the wires and trying to hide those scratches a bit (probably my worst mistake during the whole installation, which I consider a huge success.)

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Although not highly visible, these are the four bolts with rubber (black) and metal (white) washers holding down the four corners of the two panels from inside the poptop.

And just a few more pics...
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So, just some caulking, gluing and wiring and I'm all set to take off on the road! I still need to install some DC plugs under the zbed, but that should be simple. This was absolutely the hardest and most challenging aspect to get past. I will try to update this with another post soon to go into a bit more technical detail on what I did, but for now I am way tired so I'm off.
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Caleb Melvin
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2009 1:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

^-- That is cool. Nice setup! Applause
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TheTominator
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2009 9:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I too, think you have done a nice job so far. If it were my installation, I would put the rubber washers in between the bus and the brackets. Then I would have put the metal washer on top of the bracket, followed by locknuts.

I would also apply a small amount of caulk to each bolt, and underneath the rubber washer. It's best to prevent water from ever entering the bus, instead of caulking from the inside, which might trap small amounts of water in the boltholes.

Also, I think you ought to have very large metal washers or plates inside the bus, as well as between the brackets and the bus. There is a potential that there will be a huge updraft at highway speeds, from the panels. In other words, the panels might just try to rip off of your bus at high speeds. Fiber glass is not designed to withstand that type of stress. Metal plates will spread the forces over a larger area, giving you a stronger installation.

Ideally, I think preventing wind from getting under at least the front side, would be best. Good luck.
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jbeyer
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2009 8:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
generate about 220 watts per panel @ 3 volts.


Did you mean amps? If it produced three volts then you would have about 70 amps. Watts = volts * amps.
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TomWesty
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2009 12:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sweet install man. PLease keep us informed about how well it works.
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peaceful warrior
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2009 5:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a great thread! I was curious as to why you have installed solar arrays that are for home use?

I have been installing solar systems for 12 years, less the last 4, and it used to be so much more difficult to piece systems together. Nowadays manufactures are offering complete systems based on your needs, they will spec it, engineer it for you, so the guess work is taken out.....I know as I just went to a two day seminar given to contractors. Albeit, campers are another story!

I have been thinking about putting a solar system in my 68 Westy as I get closer to starting it's final restoration (still at the body shop and stripped down, paint has just begun), and I have been thinking about the thin, flexible collectors. Reason being that I will be mounting surf racks on my poptop and I would want the collectors to have some clearance between the rack, and I would not be using the solar until I am camping. I would pick up some solar gain while driving, but most will be blocked out by my longboards (though probably not every trip). Have any of you looked into the flexible collectors or had any experience with them?
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akscooter
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 2:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

my understanding is the flexible panel produce a lower output, but I could be wrong since technology in that field is moving at record pace now a days.
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wcwarrior
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 5:49 pm    Post subject: any updates on solar?? Reply with quote

I am in the midst of purchasing a '72 bus. My hippie dream is to have
solar panels on the roof so that I can have interior lights, fan, a TV
that do not drain the driving battery.

I see the last post on solar was '09

I have seen that they now make flexible stick on panels for such
uses as powering golf carts, etc.

Anyone have any new info on going solar with the bus?

Thanks much! Very Happy
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zippledippledoo
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PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 10:06 pm    Post subject: flexible and light solar panel for Westy roof Reply with quote

After searching the 'net for ages, trying to find the perfect solar panel for the roof of a Westy, I think I may just have found it: http://www.rvworldstore.co.nz/solar-panel-unisolar-pvl31t
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jpstewart19
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 7:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a Yakima rack and cargo box. My fantasy is to buy an adhesive panel and stick it to it. Unfortunately I can't find any small enough. They are all narrow and about 8' long.
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enjoispammy8
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've read through this thread and have a quick question:
how important is a controller?
I'm interested in doing solar charging small scale- all I want to run off my 2nd battery is my radio, 2 cigarette sockets and maybe a small led light.
today I bought THIS solar panel- 10 watts, 12volts, .6 amps.

If I'm just going to be using the solar panel occasionally, like while I'm camping and only when I'm also using stuff off the 2nd deep cycle battery, will I be ok without a controller and just directly hooking the solar panel up to the battery?
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Emmitt2222
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 1:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

enjoispammy8 wrote:
I've read through this thread and have a quick question:
how important is a controller?
I'm interested in doing solar charging small scale- all I want to run off my 2nd battery is my radio, 2 cigarette sockets and maybe a small led light.
today I bought THIS solar panel- 10 watts, 12volts, .6 amps.

If I'm just going to be using the solar panel occasionally, like while I'm camping and only when I'm also using stuff off the 2nd deep cycle battery, will I be ok without a controller and just directly hooking the solar panel up to the battery?


A controller, as I understand it, is very important to regulate the solar energy being transferred to your battery and electronics. Without regulation, a solar flare could break electronics and your battery could also become overcharged. The solar and battery are the biggest expenses and the controller isn't too hard to hook up, so I think you should definitely go with a controller no matter what.


An update from the future

I realized I never updated this thread. Now that I am selling my bus I found this and figured I should leave my last bit of info.

The solar that I installed worked better than I ever imagined. I ran my laptop, an overhead LED light and fans off of it very consistently when I was traveling. I never pushed it hard and tried to take it easy, but on most days in the heat of summer in the South, I never shut those fans off. And I used my laptop for hours in a day sometimes. I never ONCE ran out of battery power.

I also never had a single problem with the installation running into issues. The wiring always worked and the solar panels stuck to the roof perfectly. Even at high speeds (I usually went 55-60mph on highways) and with heavy crosswinds that really pushed the bus around, the panels never budged an inch.

Even over three years after install, the solar still runs without a single hiccup. I would consider this a huge success of an experiment. I never did hook up all the lights and radio to the solar, but I'm sure it could be done if someone wanted to and used conservatively, I think this solar setup could handle all of that well too.

I would encourage anyone who has been waiting to give it a try! It isn't too difficult as long as you take your time planning and measuring well. And the sense of freedom and accomplishment it gives you is awesome!
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Earl 78 westy
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 2:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i will trade you!

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hahaha!

i cant believe you are selling him Crying or Very sad
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