Saturday, April 18, 2015

Solar panel racking system installation

I finally mounted the solar panel racks, and I have a pile of $$ saved I guess this is really happening! I built the travel trailer part, now it is time to really make is a solar powered travel trailer! The installation was quite a step by step process. The brackets that the rails mount to are anchored to the trusses with the same 1/4" steel L brackets that the trusses are mounted to the top of the walls with. First I marked the pre-drilled the position of each L bracket, and then cut away the foam roofing board. I put a piece of pressure treated 2x4" in the roof so that I could tighten the bracket to the roof and make it water proof.
The I put the L bracket back in place, making sure that the holes in the truss still lined up, and pre-drilling through the roof, which was nerve wracking! 22 holes through my water tight roof!
This is what the assembly for each bracket looks like: stainless steel rack mounting bracket with a 3.5" stainless steel bolt passing through the roof, into the chunk of wood, which was tightened with a fender washer and a nut to make it water tight. Then the bolt passes through the iron L bracket and is fastened with a lock washer and a nut.  The assembly is held perpendicular and rigid to the roof by the two nuts on either side of the iron. Then the iron is through bolted to the truss.  

I used butol on the backs of the washers on top of the stainless steel brackets and on the under side of the bracket in contact with the roof to seal the hole.

I had extra brackets and scraps of rail, so I mounted two short 2' sections on the south side of the trailer right beside the bathroom. I would like to build a solar water heater unit to mount here, so I can have an out door shower, and also plumb it through the wall to send solar heated hot water into the bathroom.

There are 26 feet of rail on the south side (port side) of the roof, and 7 feet on the north side (star-board) side, and the roof is 54 inches wide. This gives me approx. 150 square feet of roof space for solar panels. I will have to buy some high wattage panels to compensate for my limited real-estate.

Thank you to my friends for helping me out with the parts that I couldn't do by myself!

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