So, when we last wrote of the Solar Solution Part 2b, we had most of the interior wiring connected, albeit temporarily to check connectivity.
Since then we have had an electrician perform the final terminations on the 4 gauge lugs to guarantee that the connections were done well and could withstand the constant “earthquake conditions” that would be caused by driving.
We also added some cheap battery boxes (Northern Tools, $12) and spray painted them white to lessen the sunshine heat that they will collect sitting in the entryway of the sliding side door of the Prairie Schooner! (Batteries don’t like too cold or too hot.)
Solar Roof Rack Begins…
Next, we had to figure out a frugal mounting system for the solar panels on the roof of the Ford Transit Cargo Van. Luckily, Ford pre-installed eight mounting points for work vans to mount ladder racks and such! We utilized six of those mounting points, forward of the vent fan, to create the solar panel rack.
We decided to use the ol’ UniStrut that buildings use to suspend HVAC and Networking in commercial buildings. It is sturdy, comes in a variety of gauges, has flexible mounting points, and is relatively inexpensive.
Home Depot has 10′ lengths of 14 gauge UniStrut for $17, so using four lengths we came in at under $80. Rock wanted to use some hella heavy nut/bolt/washer combinations because he has concerns about the panels disappearing as we drive down the highway. Those added up to a pretty penny, but that peace of mind probably only cost us another $50 or so.
We started out by figuring out the dimensions of our solar panels (which were purchased because they were of acceptable power/dimensions to fit our budget and roof) and figuring out how they would fit in front of the FanTastic Vent mounting.
The roof is about 55″ wide, the width between the bolt holes is about 51″ with big L-brackets settled in the indentations of the roof. The Renogy 150W solar panels that we procured are 39″ x 39.5″, so this means that we have about 6″ of spare space on the left and right of both panels. (Future solar panel upgrades should fit, as prices drop and technology progresses.) The rails are going to travel a little more than 80″ forward of the fan location. This takes the front panel to where the roofline begins to slope toward the windshield. (It will have about a 4″ under-space that we will need to air dam.)
The second solar panel was delivered yesterday, so we will get it mounted up and have Rock submit the technical data on the roof rack mount on Tuesday or so.
Until next time…
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