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Solar panel in the luggage rack
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r39o
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 11:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The panels have spotty availability but short of a custom made panel seem to be just about the only ones that will fill the hole. I have inquired about producing a custom panel, but it is not practical (read too expensive and too much to deal with.)

Please note the combined panels only produce 60 watts total for all three combined. They only maintain or top off batteries. They help with the demand I have on the batteries. My batteries are two Costco GC2s at 220Ah. This is a weekend use system. You recharge over the week with solar or, as I do, charge them back up with a smart charger at home. Then let the solar keep them floated up.

These panels MUST be on stand offs, as they will NOT fit flat on the bottom of the luggage tray. Having them on stand offs is good as it allows water under the panels and, I hope, makes the luggage tray a bit more aerodynamic. At first I did not like the idea of stand offs, but after thinking about it, I think they are good.

At $29 each, they are not the cheapest per watt today, but the fit factor is huge to me. I know you can get 60+ Watt panels for less combined money, but they do not fit.

See:
http://www.solarblvd.com/Solar-Panels-&-System..._info.html
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Syncronoid
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 12:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

At $29, that's a smokin' deal. I rarely use my luggage rack for actual storage, so adding an additional 60 watts of removable, un-visible solar capacity to my existing 127watt panel will help keep my 110ah battery topped up.
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r39o
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 4:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Syncronoid wrote:
At $29, that's a smokin' deal.....

Not so fast!

To be clear, it is $29 per panel. You need 3 panels or $87 worth. 3 panels x 20 watts = 60 watts. That is far more than a $1 per watt where the average is like 79 cents (or less) a watt on the open market

It is good you need 3 as the luggage opening is not a rectangle nor is it flat. So you need some give in the whole setup. Using 3 panels with alumimum flat stock bracing gives you a setup with some flex built in. Don't make it too ridged.
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Syncronoid
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 5:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Compared to the price for my 127watt panel, $29 is a steal!
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John Sullivan
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 8:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What did you end up using for the charge controller?
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r39o
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 9:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

John Sullivan wrote:
What did you end up using for the charge controller?

I use a 10 amp mppt controller from yousmart.com with the remote panel the cost is under $100 including shipping. The same controller is available from a few suppliers if you google around.

Still with the 220Ah batteries you are looking at around $400 depending on what mounting and interconnects you use (or have laying around. As seen above my panel interconnects are pure surplus store!)
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1990 Multivan EJ 22, Rancho trans 0.82 4th, Small Car front AC, CLKs w/ 215/65-16, homemade big brakes 303mm, Konis, Recaros, etc....

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rumitcu
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 10:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

r39o wrote:
rumitcu wrote:
I have two 50W panels in that area with a custom mount that allows me to quickly remove each of them to be repositioned somewhere else. The panels are from Ramsond. I am assuming that the dimensions are still correct and they will still fit the cargo area.
http://www.amazon.com/Ramsond-Monocrystalline-Photovoltaic-Battery-Charging/dp/B0068WCCHS

I was planning to do a video showing them in action, but I just haven't gotten around to that in almost 2 years Smile

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

That's neat.

But, you can see them from the side of the van.

I wanted stealth......

You can not see mine from the side of the van.

They maintain my golf cart batteries, but do not supply a whole lot at only 60 watts.

Is that 50 watts per panel for 100 watts or do the 2 panels combined produce 50 watts total?


The two panels together produce 100watts. I run my ARB fridge continuously at a setting of 38F from beginning of May through end of September with drives to local rivers augmenting the power input to my 170 Amp-hours of house batteries. I am going to install a MPPT charge controller this week to get 20-30% more current from the panels compared to the Morningstart PWM controller I currently have.

Regarding the stealth aspect, no one has a clue that those are solar panels since the van is so tall and I painted the sides black to blend in with all the other roof rack parts I have up top. And I built a really slick mounting system that uses Thule locking knobs so no one can walk off with the panels. When it is time to remove them to get access to the storage under the panels or to put them in the sun, I simply unluck the knob, untwist the knob, and 15 seconds later, the panel is off. And when the panel is re-mounted, it is bomber. I've driven on countless washboard roads and in crazy front/side winds and the panels don't budge at all. I'm am stoked about the mounting.
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r39o
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 11:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

rumitcu wrote:
I built a really slick mounting system that uses Thule locking knobs so no one can walk off with the panels.

Please post some detail pictures of your mounting.

My panels never are removed. I have an aux system with 200 watts of panels I can setup when parked.

Many ways to skin this cat too.....
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1990 Multivan EJ 22, Rancho trans 0.82 4th, Small Car front AC, CLKs w/ 215/65-16, homemade big brakes 303mm, Konis, Recaros, etc....

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madspaniard
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 11:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

r39o wrote:
I use a 10 amp mppt controller from yousmart.com with the remote panel the cost is under $100 including shipping. The same controller is available from a few suppliers if you google around.

Still with the 220Ah batteries you are looking at around $400 depending on what mounting and interconnects you use (or have laying around. As seen above my panel interconnects are pure surplus store!)


how did you run the wires from luggage rack to inside?
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rumitcu
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

madspaniard wrote:


how did you run the wires from luggage rack to inside?


I had to drill a hole through the roof just behind the luggage rack and in front of the poptop tent. It was the most inelegant part of the whole installation, but with a few rubber grommets, some RTV, and the protection of the fiberglass top, it has remained weatherproof. Inside the van, the wire is encased in a black plastic loom and is run along the B-pillar to behind the cabinets where my electrical connections reside.

Also that wire terminates in a bulkhead connector in the luggage rack, so I can quickly disconnect the panels and install and extension cord when moving them farther away from the van.
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madspaniard
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 11:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

rumitcu wrote:
madspaniard wrote:


how did you run the wires from luggage rack to inside?


I had to drill a hole through the roof just behind the luggage rack and in front of the poptop tent. It was the most inelegant part of the whole installation, but with a few rubber grommets, some RTV, and the protection of the fiberglass top, it has remained weatherproof. Inside the van, the wire is encased in a black plastic loom and is run along the B-pillar to behind the cabinets where my electrical connections reside.

Also that wire terminates in a bulkhead connector in the luggage rack, so I can quickly disconnect the panels and install and extension cord when moving them farther away from the van.


Thanks!

Pics would be great if available
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rumitcu
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 11:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

madspaniard wrote:

Thanks!

Pics would be great if available


I'm going to put together a video and blog post about it, but it will be a little while before I can do so. Maybe I can pull it together this weekend.
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r39o
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 12:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rumitcu wrote:
madspaniard wrote:

Thanks!

Pics would be great if available


I'm going to put together a video and blog post about it, but it will be a little while before I can do so. Maybe I can pull it together this weekend.


rumitcu wrote:
I was planning to do a video showing them in action, but I just haven't gotten around to that in almost 2 years Smile

How many more years?
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1990 Multivan EJ 22, Rancho trans 0.82 4th, Small Car front AC, CLKs w/ 215/65-16, homemade big brakes 303mm, Konis, Recaros, etc....

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shizzon
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 12:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

yes, please share! Wink
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r39o
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 12:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

madspaniard wrote:
r39o wrote:
I use a 10 amp mppt controller from yousmart.com with the remote panel the cost is under $100 including shipping. The same controller is available from a few suppliers if you google around.

Still with the 220Ah batteries you are looking at around $400 depending on what mounting and interconnects you use (or have laying around. As seen above my panel interconnects are pure surplus store!)


how did you run the wires from luggage rack to inside?

SIMPLE!

I used 12 gauge (red and black) zip cable from the surplus store (has it in reels.) It goes through a drain hole, then under the lip of the luggage rack at the roof, over to the a spot with the kink in the roof where it goes under the aluminum that holds the tent so now it is inside. I know this is hard to follow just reading. I have some pictures to post real soon....soon as I can find them, that is, as they are somewhere I can not locate quite right now.....

From there I still need to route it along the inside of the tray above the side windows, into the rear cabinet and down under the rear seat. Right now it just snakes down the B pillar, under the carpet in the middle of the van and into the under rear seat area. No pix yet as I have to do this real routing sometime.
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1990 Multivan EJ 22, Rancho trans 0.82 4th, Small Car front AC, CLKs w/ 215/65-16, homemade big brakes 303mm, Konis, Recaros, etc....

Click to see my ads for Cup holders, Subaru clutch fix and CLK wheels (no wheels currently)
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r39o
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 12:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here are a couple of pictues from another thread where I was looking where to route the cable which is where it ended up going....http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=411354

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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1990 Multivan EJ 22, Rancho trans 0.82 4th, Small Car front AC, CLKs w/ 215/65-16, homemade big brakes 303mm, Konis, Recaros, etc....

Click to see my ads for Cup holders, Subaru clutch fix and CLK wheels (no wheels currently)
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climberjohn
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 4:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rumitcu,

1 more vote for details of your install, a video, ow the Thule locking system works, etc.

Your setup looks very elegant; nice work!

-CJ
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rumitcu
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 12:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I finally got around to making the walkthrough video of my solar panel mounting system that goes on top of the Westfalia luggage rack. Enjoy!


Link


Also, I created a short write-up and posted a few photos on my blog:
http://rumitcu.blogspot.com/2013/02/solar-panels-on-westfalia-luggage-rack.html
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luVWagn
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 3:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

rumitcu wrote:
I finally got around to making the walkthrough video of my solar panel mounting system that goes on top of the Westfalia luggage rack. Enjoy!
...

Also, I created a short write-up and posted a few photos on my blog:
http://rumitcu.blogspot.com/2013/02/solar-panels-on-westfalia-luggage-rack.html


Cold beer, charged batteries, removable panels - what's NOT to like?! Very Happy

Dancing Applause

"Patrick", you should hire yourself out on weekends (for solar panel installs, or for local weather channel stuff - you're telegenic)
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:38 am    Post subject: solar Reply with quote

Blue Bay Bus Wow, that is one of the best videos I've seen . Lot's of good info. Yes let us know how the mppt works. I have the same sun saver 10 AMP and been thinking of going to the mppt! Very Happy
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