Rigid solar panels, vibrations, and roof rack mounting. Prone to cracking?

ZeeMox

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Apr 21, 2022
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I'm building an off-grid solar system for full time nomadery. It'll need to move at least every two weeks or so. My partner and I will be setting our camp up out of a van and a Jeep Wrangler. The van can't make it into any especially unmaintained NFS/BLM roads, so I was hoping to transport the solar in or on top of the Jeep. I don't currently have a roof rack, so I'd be getting one just for this application. I was looking at some of the SanTan Solar panels, pretty great prices, but most of those suckers are pretty big. Never having set up a solar system before, I don't have a great grasp on how likely a roof-rack-mounted panel will hold up on a 4WD road with lots of bumps and vibrations. I've heard bigger panels can flex and crack pretty easily?

The other snag is that I'd like to end up drawing least 600-800 watts total, all of which is pretty unlikely to fit on the roof. This will be going into a DIY 24 volt 280Ah battery (with a charger controller of course). I'd do closer to a Kw array if I thought it was feasible, but I have a suspicion that's a lot of solar to make mobile regardless of whether it's in a vehicle or on top of one. So there's a fair chance the whole roof idea is garbage and I should just plan to carry my panels around in the vehicles.

So yeah, hoping some folks here can give me a rough idea of what kind of panels are best suited to a constantly-mobile application with rough roads being a somewhat regular occurrence. Seems like the most portable units are all super low wattage. Thanks in advance.
 

HRTKD

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Here's a current thread that might answer some of your questions.

 

12VoltInstalls

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looking at some of the SanTan Solar panels, pretty great prices, but most of those suckers are pretty big
Look for some 150W panels. A couple ‘brands’ are I think like about 60”x27” and three should fit on a wrangler roof and 450W will actually do something.
I'd like to end up drawing producing least 600-800 watts total, all of which is pretty unlikely to fit on the roof. This will be going into a DIY 24 volt 280Ah battery (with a charger controller of course). I'd do closer to a Kw array if I thought
Aim for two systems- 300W on the heep, and 750-800W on the van. LiFePo 12V 100Ah manufactured battery(batteries) for the wrangler, whatever you want in the van. Simple and no fuss, no bms thoughts, no setup.
there's a fair chance the whole roof idea is garbage and I should just plan to carry my panels around in the vehicles.
That would drive me nuts
what kind of panels are best suited to a constantly-mobile application with rough roads being a somewhat regular occurrence.
commodity 100- or 150W panels mounted on more than spaghetti are likely to succeed
Seems like the most portable units are all super low wattage.
…and I wouldn’t do that anyway
The van can't make it into any especially unmaintained NFS/BLM roads,
so why the van?
Are you flat-towing the heep?

Personally I’d build or buy a high-axle SOA trailer and tow that, skip the van, and some of the time maybe lots you can not leave the bedroom, water tanks, shower, and kitchen behind.
 

ZeeMox

New Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2022
Messages
16
Look for some 150W panels. A couple ‘brands’ are I think like about 60”x27” and three should fit on a wrangler roof and 450W will actually do something.

Aim for two systems- 300W on the heep, and 750-800W on the van. LiFePo 12V 100Ah manufactured battery(batteries) for the wrangler, whatever you want in the van. Simple and no fuss, no bms thoughts, no setup.

That would drive me nuts

commodity 100- or 150W panels mounted on more than spaghetti are likely to succeed

…and I wouldn’t do that anyway

so why the van?
Are you flat-towing the heep?

Personally I’d build or buy a high-axle SOA trailer and tow that, skip the van, and some of the time maybe lots you can not leave the bedroom, water tanks, shower, and kitchen behind.
Thanks, those are great suggestions. I was thinking hanging around the 200watt range might net me sturdy panels that still pull a decent amount. I've already got the parts for the 8s 280ah Eve battery, so I'll be using that behemoth, though I've recently discovered that cases for that size of battery are not easy to procure.

Back when I first thought seriously about going nomadic, my plan was to use a trailer like you describe. My present situation was brought on entirely by necessity, some medical BS came up last year that rendered me unable to work for a year and counting. So, all the cells, BMS, panels that I'm buying are going on credit. Trailer on credit was a little much. Going to snag that when the van takes a dump on us.
 
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