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Old 10-12-2012, 08:26 PM   #29
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More progress to report.

I'm almost ready to install the cut panel on the roof of my airstream.

I ended up cutting the 18 foot long ePVL-144 panel into three segments, each approximately six feet long. Each segment contains either 7 or 8 cells, there are 22 total cells in the panel.

I needed to split the panel into three segments so it would fit in the remaining open, unshaded spaces on my roof. I've got a 27 foot safari, so your mileage will vary depending on the length of your trailer.

Below find a few more pictures - once you connect leads to the conductors inside the panel, it's easy to hook the segments back up together again.

I'm pleased to report that each segment is working fine, and producing the expected amount of voltage - and the whole panel is similarly working correctly when wired back together.

I ended up using 2 inch wide, 20 mil thick PVC tape to mechanically fasten the leads to the cut ends of the panel - I didn't want the solder joints to carry any stress. What I did was liberally apply weldwood adhesive (solvent based, that I also use for laminating veneer) to the edge of the panel and to the leads, and then also to the back of the PVC tape - and then I sandwiched the end of the panel and the leads in between two pieces of PVC tape. It seems to be very strong and solidly bonded to the panel - we'll see how it holds up over time. This type of adhesive is waterproof and the bond get stronger over time.

You can see the end of one of the panels with the weldwood cement applied in one of the pictures below. I am sure there are other creative ways to do this, I happened to have these materials laying around in my shop.

I would say this is not a project for the faint of heart - you need to be comfortable with a soldering iron and with the idea of cutting into a $150 solar panel.
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Old 10-13-2012, 01:33 PM   #30
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Below is are shots of the re-connected panel happily producing 45 volts... You can see the twenty mil pvc tape I used to protect the panel cut ends and provide some extra strength to the pigtails I soldered onto the panels.

Next step is to install on the roof - and that will be the easy part.

The final step will be to reconnect the various sections of the panel after the sections are adhered to the roof of the trailer. This will be super easy, I'm using 10 gauge THHN stranded copper wire in between the sections, and will solder it to the pigtails I attached to the panels as described in earlier posts.

So I'm about to declare success - happy with the way this project turned out, and my total cost for the complete project will come in at about $700 in parts for a 288 watt system, before the 30% federal tax credit.
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Old 10-13-2012, 01:56 PM   #31
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Good job Dan,
how are you going to hold the wires down on the roof. I will need to connect three of these panels to each other and there will be several feet between panels.
Also how did you remove the roof protection for the tv antenna?(the metal plate that the antenna rests on when not in use)
Thanks,
Al
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Old 10-13-2012, 02:18 PM   #32
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For the TV antenna support -

On my trailer, the support that the antenna rests on was a simple piece of aluminum bar bent into a U-like shape, with one leg on each end. Each leg was attached with one rivet to a plate that was glued onto the roof.

What I ended up doing was cutting the curb-side leg off of the support, and using a new piece of aluminum bar to extend the support further toward the edge of the trailer, so the panel could fit underneath. I also bought a small piece of aluminum plate to glue down to the roof of the trailer - and used a small stainless steel screw in place of a rivet to attach the new plate to the new aluminum bar - so there are no roof penetrations.

For the wiring -
I plan to use a combination of wire ties and adhesive caulk (something like Vulkem) to mechanically fasten the wiring between the panels to the roof. They won't be under very much stress up there - they don't have that much mass and are relatively protected from the wind - so I'm not horrible worried about them flapping around too much. I also plan to heat shrink the individual wires together into cables to make them neater and easier to manage. On my roof layout, there isn't too much distance between sections - looks to be about three feet between the first and second section, and two feet between the second and third.

Hope this helps.
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Old 10-13-2012, 03:49 PM   #33
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Good solution, thanks,
Al
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Old 10-20-2012, 12:03 PM   #34
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Pleased to report everything is installed and working. Pictures below. Panels are wired together in series and generating about 90 volts DC. You can also see the supply cable coming up through my refrigerator vent. The colored wires are 10 gauge stranded THHN connecting back together the four conductors in each panel segment. All wire joints are soldered and shrink-tubed. I used a combination of zip ties and aluminized RV roof caulk fasten the wiring to the roof of the trailer.

No major issues in completing the project - just had to get over the fear of cutting up the panels.

What you are seeing in the pictures - on the curbside is an uncut ePVL-144 panel. On the streetside is an ePVL-144 panel cut into three pieces and re-connected.

Now we will see how it lasts...
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Old 11-10-2012, 04:31 PM   #35
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Thanks for taking the lead on this Dan. I finally got my ePVL-144 panels ordered. The 14.5" width of the ePVL is critical for my application. I'll be splitting them in half and will have 4 sections appx. 9ft in length to go up top.

I'll take some pictures and post when I go through the install sometime in the next few weeks. My friend works at a solar installer so I may lean on them for some help with misc parts, etc.
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Old 11-10-2012, 04:42 PM   #36
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Also, what kind of feedback do you have on your Intronics charge controller? I'm intersted in springing for the Tristar 45 MPPT but it's twice the cost at $400. Thanks.
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Old 11-10-2012, 10:41 PM   #37
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it seems to be working fine. batteries have been topped off just fine for the last month. i would prefer to have a remote monitor though...
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Old 12-03-2012, 04:09 PM   #38
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Unisolar e-PVL 144 install

I've got the 2 panels cut and installed on my Boles Aero. Cutting and resoldering leads (and then making sure they were protected) took quite a bit of time. The ePVL-68 panels would've made for a cleaner and less time intensive install, but I could not find any at a price comparable to the ePVL-144s. The e-PVL model was critical (as opposed to the older PVL model) because I needed the slimmer width so I could fit them side by side between my roof vent and the edge of the roof (picture #4).

The splicing of the panels was a bit tedious but not very complicated. Thanks to Dan for taking the lead.

I cut the panels in half and dug out the two leads from the rear. I used an exacto knife to cut and peel back the mastic and the plastic layer. (pic #1)

I dug into the top of the panels but did not find any copper leads - just the stainless sheet that backs the solar cell. My impression is that there is one lead on each side accessible from the bottom of the panel. I wired them back up and they seem to work fine - getting just under 48 volts each. (pic #2/3)

After I soldered up news leads I wrapped the exposed wires for protection. This was the toughest part as I had to cut around parts of the wire and wrapped it multiple times in 20mil PVC plubming tape to ensure a good seal and make for a clean install.

Upon installing I used Trempro to seal parts where the mastic had been remove, around the connections and over the wires.
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Old 12-03-2012, 04:16 PM   #39
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wire routing

I do have a question about routing the leads. Originally I thought I would run them up through to the fan vent, but I see now that I could have a much cleaner install if I ran them down through the panel next to where where they terminate (pic below - yellow circle).

That would keep the wires covered underneath the junction box on the panel - protecting the wires as well as providing additional insurance against water leaks. And the aesthetics would be cleaner.

There is a risk because there may be a copper lead embedded in that panel underneath. The next cleanest install would be to send them into the roof right below the panel.

I think I could've gotten some insight on the path of the embedded copper if I had peeled back the mastic underneath the junction box. I'm not sure if anyone provide insight or if there is a schematic of this panel floating around.

I did see some panels that were being sold on eBay without the adhesive so perhaps I can inquire there.
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Old 12-04-2012, 01:17 PM   #40
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I did find these images from a non-laminated PVL-144 for sale on eBay. I'm not sure how much the design changed on the ePVL model so it's not clear what the underside of my panels look like at the junction box, but this should add to the thread.
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Old 12-04-2012, 06:38 PM   #41
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I made my hole at the edge of the panel, put in a grommet, clipped the MC4 connector and slide the wires through. The

Still need to wire them up to a charge controller - leaning toward the Morningstar 45MPPT, but need to wait before I throw another $400-$500 at it.
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Old 12-04-2012, 07:53 PM   #42
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I'm thinking of using the same charge controller that Dan used in his setup(Intronics).
It is only $200.00. But it doesn't have the capability of adding a remote monitor which I really want. It does however have an auxilliary output which I like.
Does anyone have any ideas on how to add a remote monitor?
Al
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