Mounting our Solar Panels
***Disclaimer: Be sure to read all included instructions that come with all of the components of your electrical system. There are many ways to skin a cat as they say..or in this case install solar panels. After MASSIVE amounts of research, this is how we chose to install ours. Remember: do your own research and pick what’s best for you and your van.***
- Supplies Needed:
- Renogy 300 Watt 12v Solar Panel Kit
- Power Drill
- Lap Sealant
- Self Tapping Metal Screws
- Wire Caps
- Electrical Tape
- Aluminum Angle
- Caulk Gun
- Renogy Cable Entry Housing
- Tape Measure
This tutorial explains how we decided to install and mount our solar panels. We are creating this tutorial to share our tips and tricks. If you need help trying to figure out and understand your whole electrical system, refer to Chapter 4.
Step 1: Decide Where to Mount Your Solar Panels
Get on top of your van and figure out where your want to mount your solar panels. Take into account where your fan is and other curvatures of the roof. We wanted our solar panels to not be too noticeable as we do a lot of stealth camping. We finally decided to mount them at the very back of the van.
Step 2: Mount Aluminum Angle
We wanted to drill as little holes in our roof as possible. The less possible leak spots the better! So, we decided to mount 1.5” x 1.5” aluminum 90 degree angle onto our roof using sheet metal screws.
Step 3: Wire the Solar Panels
You’ll need to wire your solar panels before you mount them to the Aluminum Angle. There are two different ways to wire your panels, parallel and series. Check out our blog post “Solar Panel Wiring: Everything You Need to Know About Parallel vs. Series” for information on this. For our build we decided to wire our panels in parallel, this means all of the negative wires are connected to a centralized negative wire that leads down to the charge controller. Same with all of the positive wires leading to one centralized positive wire that leads down to the charge controller.
Step 4: Mount Solar Panels to Aluminum Angle
After the aluminum angle is mounted to your roof. Mount the solar panels to the aluminum angles using the brackets and screws included in your solar panel kit.
Step 5: Seal Everything!
Apple Lap Sealant liberally to drill holes from the aluminum angle.
Step 6: Drill Hole for Solar Panel Wires
Drill a hole towards the planned battery bank area on the roof. Follow the provided instructions and mount the Renogy Cable Entry Housing on the outside of the van. This will be used to feed the wires from the solar panels down to the rest of your electrical system.
Once your solar panels are wired together and in the sun, they’ll be producing power resulting in hot wires. Use wire caps and electrical tape to cover the negative and positive wires until they are ready to be installed into your charge controller.