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Old 11-17-2017, 02:25 PM   #1
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Arrow ETFE Flexible Solar Panel Install on Ford Transit

It was finally time to install the flexible panels from Link Solar. I chose the 135W version as its length (59.5 inch), did fit the width of the Ford Transit's roof exactly. That meant optimal use of the roof area. Without a roof vent you'll be able to install 5 panels (675W), four (540W) if you have a roof vent installed and three (405W) like me, if you eliminate the front panel, because it is readily visible from the street. An Extended version of the Transit will support up to 6 panels or a whopping 810 watts.


https://youtu.be/3wdPW9I9S_Q?list=PLyrIiniKvmg5fw4iLGoeajpfCFETk2zT Y

I use 3M's VHB tape 5952 to create a leak-proof connection to the roof; the panels are virtually invisible from the street, except for the MC4 connectors.

You can read more on CargoVanConversion.com Flexible Solar Panel Installation | CargoVanConversion.com


https://youtu.be/p-ptxLDd9kw?list=PLyrIiniKvmg5fw4iLGoeajpfCFETk2zTY
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Old 11-25-2017, 04:44 PM   #2
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The panels are now installed, the wiring laid on the roof; today I am placing the cable gland on the roof and pull an 8AWG MC4 cable through the roof.

View the video here
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Old 11-25-2017, 07:27 PM   #3
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.

Flexible panel is not my first choice,
but I am glad it works for you.
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Old 11-25-2017, 08:06 PM   #4
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.
Flexible panel is not my first choice,
but I am glad it works for you.
I really don't know whether it will work for me. It's still a bit of a gamble. Preliminary tests show a good performance, but we'll have to wait and see.
Main reason is their stealthiness. Have waited years, but didn't want to buy the 'first generation' of flexible panels. Too many issues. These seem to be a lot better. I'll keep posting on their performance or issues that I may have.

Van Williams
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Old 11-25-2017, 10:15 PM   #5
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I have one 100 watt flexible Go Power! solar panel on my Transit. Seems to work very well. We have 210 ah wet cell capacity for the house and the panel keeps the DC refrigerator running.

Note that we do not have an inverter nor do we run much on battery power: refrigerator, roof fan, and some LED lights. The batteries do get run down overnight. Solar charging depends on sun and we also (usually) drive some during the day so I can't say how long we could go off grid. I'd guess, if there was sun, we could run the refrigerator indefinitely, but don't know about lights, fan and charging laptops. Right now, we just don't have the battery capacity. When these batteries die, I'll replace them with larger AGMs, then we'll know if we need to add another panel. YMMV.

As an aside, I will say that I would have preferred a rigid panel on a roof rack because it would shade the roof and reduce heat loading. I don't care about stealth, which is good because people come up and ask about the van all the time - there is no way I could pretend I'm not there.
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Old 11-25-2017, 10:27 PM   #6
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As an aside, I will say that I would have preferred a rigid panel on a roof rack because it would shade the roof and reduce heat loading.
Can you tell the difference in temperature from before having the panel until now?
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Old 11-25-2017, 11:31 PM   #7
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................
As an aside, I will say that I would have preferred a rigid panel on a roof rack because it would shade the roof and reduce heat loading. I don't care about stealth, which is good because people come up and ask about the van all the time - there is no way I could pretend I'm not there.
Indeed, one of those not often mentioned advantages of solar panels, they practically block IR from hitting the roof. Another one is the cooling effect by the airflow through the airgap underneath, solar panels are very sensitive to temperature and they do absorb a lot of radiation, but, if the stealthy look is in the driving seat everything can make sense. Time to invent an invisible paint, or a shrinking gun.
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Old 11-25-2017, 11:46 PM   #8
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I still think that if you're not into stealth, that a rigid panel is a much better option. They're much less expensive and have a good track record.

Van Williams
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Old 11-26-2017, 11:39 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Phoebe3 View Post
As an aside, I will say that I would have preferred a rigid panel on a roof rack because it would shade the roof and reduce heat loading.
Quote:
Originally Posted by peteco View Post
Can you tell the difference in temperature from before having the panel until now?
Our van came with the flexible panel so I don't have any before/after temperature comparisons. Because both the van and the panels are dark, I suspect there's not much difference. The panels are far too thin to provide insulation.

However, I once had a 1986 Mercury that was dark burgundy. We lived in the desert with daytime temps in the triple digits. The car was great but unbearably hot so we put a roof rack on it and and added a sheet of plywood painted white. VERY un-stealthy and would have reduced gas mileage except that in town, no speed limit was higher than 35 mph so there was little drag effect. We removed it if we went out of town.

I'd say it reduced the temperature inside the car by 10*F-15*F.
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Old 11-26-2017, 12:11 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Phoebe3 View Post
I have one 100 watt flexible Go Power! solar panel on my Transit. Seems to work very well. We have 210 ah wet cell capacity for the house and the panel keeps the DC refrigerator running.

Note that we do not have an inverter nor do we run much on battery power: refrigerator, roof fan, and some LED lights. The batteries do get run down overnight. Solar charging depends on sun and we also (usually) drive some during the day so I can't say how long we could go off grid. I'd guess, if there was sun, we could run the refrigerator indefinitely, but don't know about lights, fan and charging laptops. Right now, we just don't have the battery capacity. When these batteries die, I'll replace them with larger AGMs, then we'll know if we need to add another panel. YMMV.

As an aside, I will say that I would have preferred a rigid panel on a roof rack because it would shade the roof and reduce heat loading. I don't care about stealth, which is good because people come up and ask about the van all the time - there is no way I could pretend I'm not there.

When you say "the batteries do get run down overnight",
did you start the night with a full charge?

Do you have room to add a panel?
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