well I purchased my solar package

Converting Cargo Trailers into TTTs

well I purchased my solar package

Postby yycwrangler » Sun Mar 03, 2024 4:43 pm

Purchased a renogy package including 4x100 rigid panels, mppt, 2 - 100 lipeo4 batteries..and all wiring etc..still need to buy some breakers and fuses...So question....

Has anyone installed solar on their CT. Did you drill directly into the roof beams inside or use a metal frame on the outside and mount the panels to the frame. Obviously the frame must be mounted to the trailer but perhaps less screws than mounting the panels directly to the roof crossmembers. I have 4.... 100 watt panels I'm mounting on my 6x12. Any pics would be great..lastly, I'd think there would a fair bit of lift when travelling at highway sppeds. I worry about the wind tearing the panels free while driving. Thoughts on putting a deflector in front of the front most panels to deflect the wind over the panels.Thanks for any feedback..Cheers Al in Calgary
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Re: well I purchased my solar package

Postby Grummy » Mon Mar 04, 2024 12:15 am

I too have a 6x12 with (4) 100 watt panels. I have a pair in front of the center roof vent as well as a pair behind. Keep in mind that you will add about 30lbs per pair to the weight of the trailer just with the panels.

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It is/was way to risky to drill thru the roof of the trailer for a whole lot of reasons. One is that the roof is really thin.. don't ever expect to hold much of anything just to that thin aluminum. If you drilled thru it into a beam, you would ave to shim with something solid between the outer skin and the beam because usually, there is a substantial gap between the two. We see a lot of trailers that have a scrap of 6mm ply between the beams and the skin in order to provide a little bit of roof curvature for rail run off. It all seems like a guaranty for water breach.

I opted to mount two panels first to 1/16" x 1" x 1" aluminum angle as seen in the photo above, then attach the panels on this angle to one that runs fully across the roof, where each end is riveted into the side wall upper tubes. The image does not show it, but while this full width angle is also only 1/16" angle (but 1-1/2" x 1-1/2"), it is captured by an additional plate of aluminum acting like a square washer.

The 1-1/16" aluminum can easily be formed to any roof curvature by expanding or shrinking the upright most edge (metalworking or bodywork guys understand this). And, for added structural strength and depending on your roof (mine is a flat top), you can use 3M highbond tape between the angle and the roof.

The method above allows for a gap between the roof and the panels without being too high up catching wind. It also allows you to make the panels removable or even tilt-able if desired.

Wires are brought in via typical RV roof glands like in the link below, however, where the glands are mounted, the aluminum holes in the roof are flanged upwards so that even if the caulking is jeopardized, water will not just run in because of the flange.

There is one more picture of this in my Album, but not any better at showing the ends unfortunately....



https://www.amazon.com/Waterproof-Restm ... 154&sr=8-3
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Re: well I purchased my solar package

Postby yycwrangler » Wed Mar 13, 2024 11:24 am

Hi Grummy

Thank you for the update on your solar panels. I like your idea..Just so I'm clear, the only drilling into the roof is at both ends of the roof and not in the middle portion. Do you not get any flexing of aluminum angle in the middle of it with no anchor, to the roof in the middle

cheers
Al
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Re: well I purchased my solar package

Postby Grummy » Wed Mar 13, 2024 12:07 pm

Correct, mine are only riveted, with 4 really good 3/16" rivets into the side rails of the roof line on each angle running across. Of course I have a flat top, so if I had a radius-ed edge roof, it would be different, but even then, I would probably come down the sides with 1/4" aluminum flat stock bent to match the radius, and tie that into the top angle and also the uppermost available horizontal tube or rail on the sides.

Nothing moves in the middle because 1). I do use 3M HB tape between the angle and the aluminum (though was a challenge to get it to hit perfectly - had to push up the aluminum roof material from the bottom once aluminum angle was riveted in place), and 2). With the panels attached to their own angle and then the roof mounted angle, everything is somewhat a "bridge".

Though, I think if a guy gets a good two rivet attachment on each side, even with only 1/16" angle, the fact that you do have two of these, one front and one back of each set of panels, AND the panels tied into each of those, I really do not think it needs anything up there. But, without anything at all, then you have to make sure the aluminum is not rubbing on itself because it wouldn't take long to rub through once a little grit gets in there. Needs at least one or two rubber cushions between (or... 3M Tape)

If I was going to do anything different, I next time would only use the 3M tape maybe like mentioned above. One or two 4" lengths to act as an attachment via tape, but also as the rubber spacer, mostly to let water run under it. I might space the angle up by 1/8"-1/4" max. Right now, my water can not run forward and backward without catching the angle because it is taped. So, on rainy days, I get more water coming over the sides than perhaps could be running forward or backward. It mostly bothers me when I park the trailer and have no advantage of keeping the nose up or down to enhance water run-off.

Not having the panels more than the 1-1/2" or so off the roof still allows for plenty of air circulation under them without being in the jet stream when going 70mph down the road.
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Re: well I purchased my solar package

Postby yycwrangler » Wed Mar 13, 2024 1:27 pm

great info and thanks again for your response. I can see with the tape it would make a strong bond overall.My problem is I have covered my roof with that polar - white coating. To protect and also reduce heat in my tin can. I'm thinking my route may be to run my angle iron across the roof inline with the roof cross member inside. Then conbect on the two outside edges and a couple through the roof and into the roof cross members in the middle of the trailer. hate to make holes but will goop the heck out of the holes. And like you said I may have to wedge between the inside cross member and the tin roof. My roof, like yours is fairly flat but I think there is a bit of a concave to it. I also like the idea of putting a spacer/washer etc under the angle iron to allow runoff.

Seems light a daunting job but I think one step at a time. I have one of those entrance units for the cables. Did you run your cable to the front or the rear of the trailer and where did you put your mppt/batteries etc

Sorry for all the questions
Cheers
Alastair
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Re: well I purchased my solar package

Postby Gulfcoast » Wed Mar 13, 2024 2:38 pm

I'll never put holes in my cargo trailer roof, I built racks out of aluminum rectangular tubing for my solar panels.

Here's a video of a similar setup, check out his solar rack.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8g-c8st1AjA
6x12 cargo trailer - Mini Split A/C - Starlink - TMobile home internet
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Re: well I purchased my solar package

Postby Grummy » Thu Mar 14, 2024 12:00 am

yycwrangler wrote: Did you run your cable to the front or the rear of the trailer and where did you put your mppt/batteries etc


You can see where the Entry box is in this image: 158101

It shows the rearmost set of panels which was the first set I had installed. To the left is the back of the trailer. The forward set is done the same exact way.

Now I am WITH the others who do not want to cut/drill any holes in the roof. But, I didn't really want the cables to drape over the edge of the trailer either. So, I used the traditional entry boxes, but they are not mounted over just a plain old hole. I use a 1.5" hole saw, then carefully flange the aluminum UPWARDS to create a raised lip. You have to be careful to not tear the roof sheathing, just gently peen it. Next, I machined a groove centered in the bottom edge of that inlet box so that when you caulk the entrance box down, you have kind of an o-ring seal, and still have a ring of the aluminum raised lip inside of it higher than just the flat roof. Of course I had to back the underside up with a small piece of plywood so there was something to screw into.

My Charge Controller sits on the drivers side wall, behind a narrow removable wall that makes for a 10" Garage area by the ramp door. Easy to get the wires from the panels to it and also very close to my battery. For some reason when I sleep, those dang little LED's seem to bother me, so i did not want it in the living area. Glad it is not in it, because it sure blinks and flickers depending on its state of charge.

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It's kind of complicated to explain, but that little 10" area lets me store my Awning, Rear Room, Lawn Chairs, etc.outside of the living area when I am in motion. I wanted to be able to actually use the trailer in transit without unloading or tripping over things that belong elsewhere when I am parked somewhere. You would almost need to go to my build thread to see my thought process.... (viewtopic.php?f=42&t=70777&hilit=attx)

Directly opposite of the charge control is a dual 120v / 12v breaker box on the drivers side.

Battery weight and location was something that had to be calculated early on to get load distribution right for all the future additions. So this location had to be a Fender extension cabinet on the passenger side behind the wheel. Saves on interior space and easy enough to construct by using half of an already made dual axle fender.

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Last summer I had to build a Chicken Coop for my wife, so the trailer projects got back burnered. I have a lot more planned for my trailer and hope to get back on it this season !

Make sure you keep the group posted on your progress... we all like PICTURES !
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