Designing the Van Part 31 – Installing the Solar Panel

For me the installation of the solar panel was like a grand finale, a coming together of months of anticipation and desire and on this fine June afternoon in this foul year of our lord I was going to witness my hopes and dreams come to fruition.

Okay, drama over, but I was excited to see that huge solar panel sitting on the roof and know that I was going to harvest radiation from the sun, not be polluting the planet as much as I had prior to its fitting and that I would have the option to live off grid as and when I chose.

I would need help again for this one so I called my dad in; his years of expertise cutting holes in metal would come in handy, even though the roof is made of plastic.

Before I could get into the nitty gritty fitty work I had to figure out how I was going to fix the panel to the roof, and no, blue tack wasn’t an option.

I’d looked at a lot of solar panel installations and many people had opted to fit them in a hinged window frame that could be tilted towards the sun for maximum exposure. Nice idea, I thought. And then I thought again. If my solar panel is facing the full blast of the sun in the morning it was going to get next to nothing in the afternoon unless I turned the van around.

Yes, fitting the solar panel to a window frame was a crap idea.

I figured I’d get more sunlight hours per day if I had it flat on the roof so all I needed were a handful of L-shaped brackets, some hefty nuts and retaining bolts and the magical boat window sealant to plug the grommet holes.

The van’s roof is a ridged thing, like a McCoy’s potato chip but less tasty, but the front end provided a flat area which was perfect for the solar panel so I hoisted it up there, carefully positioning myself on the rather flimsy plastic and set about marking holes for the wiring loom and brackets.

Drill, drill, screw, screw, push, tighten, done.

I dabbed some sealant over the grommet and let it all set. Later I connected the wires to the regulator only to discover I’d made a glaring error. Polarity shift disaster…

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