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Old 03-15-2016, 12:18 AM   #1
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Non-Bicep Powered Solar Panel Tilter

I've read about how tilting solar panels can allow you to generate more power. I've seen the tilting mounts that AM Solar carries and they look good. What I don't like about them is that they're bicep powered and require climbing up on the roof to operate. I'd love to be able to stand on the ground and press a button.

Are there any automatic panel raisers for RVs that:

a. Don't weigh a ton and don't require a ton of electricity to operate.

b. Are simple, with as few moving parts as possible.

c. Are reasonably priced?
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Old 03-15-2016, 12:28 AM   #2
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Even if such a thing existed, would it continuously try to point the panels in the optimal direction? Would you need to constantly adjust accordingly to the sun's angle. How would it work if your trailer is not aligned in the preferred orientation?

i think the easiest solution is to compensate by oversizing your array to some degree.
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Old 03-15-2016, 03:46 AM   #3
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I use the AM Solar rocker mounts, I had to modify them to be able to get a tilt range of 10 to 20 degrees on a curved Airstream roof and even then the left & right panels are not aiming at the same angle, I can only get them close.

You still have to find the perfect parking position for the suns arc to align with the panel orientation.
Most of my wanders are less than a week so I am leaving my panels in a fixed position, and I try to park for best sun to panel angle and live with the results.
As mentioned by Alano, more panels is the easiest solution, if you have the room. The chart & link below is made for stationary panels, but it gives you a good idea of the losses you will have for all angles.

https://www.civicsolar.com/resource/...-energy-output
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Old 03-15-2016, 07:16 AM   #4
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A reasonable, remote controlled tilt mechanism for RV-mounted panels would be sort of a holy grail. I'm certain that it can be engineered, but not cheaply!!

OTOH, I set all of the panels the I install as flat as possible by using extended rocker feet on the outside edges of an Airstream trailer, with shorter feet towards the center. This allows for the same amount of solar radiance to reach all panels at the same time.

I also have lots of folks that are using a Telesteps ladder with a padded top for manual panel tilting. Small, light and no problems, as the panels require almost no effort to lift for the addition of the tilt bars.
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Old 03-15-2016, 09:24 AM   #5
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[QUOTE=lewster;1762626]A reasonable, remote controlled tilt mechanism for RV-mounted panels would be sort of a holy grail. I'm certain that it can be engineered, but not cheaply

I am certainly not an engineer but since I think there are quite a few here i would like to know what they think of using an electric window opener for this application. you can see some at solarbreezeinfo.com and the beauty of it is that they run on solar. I am sure it is not the perfect solution but it could be a starting point. What do you see as potential problems with this solution and do you think there is a way to tweak it to make it usable.
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Old 03-15-2016, 01:29 PM   #6
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Tracking the sun

I've seen RV mounted sun tracking solar setup at quartzite. I didn't get the vender information - The class A it was on was way out of our reach. Here are some links that look to be RV compatible that track the sun:
  1. This is real close to the system I saw (youtube)
  2. Solar tracking with Satellite.
  3. DIY Solar tracker
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Old 03-15-2016, 08:56 PM   #7
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The Oyster SamySolar Automatic Satellite Dish and Solar Panel System looks like what I envisioned, but each mechanism/75 watt panel/satellite dish combo costs almost $3900 US. I couldn't find a price for a system without a satellite dish to allow for a configuration with multiple movable panels. Somebody who knows more about enginering than I do should go back to the drawing board and come up with a cheaper system.
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Old 03-15-2016, 09:30 PM   #8
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Full-on solar trackers are a whole other ball of wax, as they say. A mechanism for simple panel tilting is far simpler to conceive. The problem is making it withstand driving down the road at highway speeds and be ready to use when parked. It also must be able to tilt the panels from either side (one side would be far less complicated to fabricate).

For my money (and yes, I have a master's degree in engineering also), I would buy that ladder and simply use AM Solar's tilting rocket feet on your panels and their tilt bars. On a 4 panel system, it might take 10 minutes to tilt all 4 panels for your net 30% gain. Put the money you save into more vacation time, more adult beverages or whatever you desire, as the savings will be substantial!!
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Old 03-17-2016, 09:11 AM   #9
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Since tracking panels don't sound reasonable, what's the maximun solar power that anybody has gotten mounted on their EXT Grand Tour? I'm still in the planning stages and I love camping along the foggy coast. I figure that if I install as much power as possible, I should get about half of the maximum amount of juice out of the system.

It also looks like a ladder aerobics class is in my future. It will do my ticker some good.
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Old 03-17-2016, 09:59 AM   #10
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Non-Bicep Powered Solar Panel Tilter

Depending on the amount of roof space it maybe cheaper in the long run to simply add two more panels to your system to make up for the 10% to 15% loss of not being directed to the sun... I like too have 1/3 of my panels mounted on my roof and the other 2/3 of my panels that plug into the system when boondocking so I can position them for optimum use... I agree this can be a hassle but it gives my flexibility in my system and allows me to park under trees and still get sun to most of my panels. I find that you are also better off having more battery storage than solar system and would rather put my $$$ into the battery.... Hope this helps give other options.
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Old 03-17-2016, 11:57 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SiennaGuy View Post
Since tracking panels don't sound reasonable, what's the maximun solar power that anybody has gotten mounted on their EXT Grand Tour?
I have 2x85 watt panels on my 2007 classic, on good days, my meter reads incoming about 8.5 amps with full sun.

See Solar Calculations
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Old 03-17-2016, 07:08 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SiennaGuy View Post
Since tracking panels don't sound reasonable, what's the maximun solar power that anybody has gotten mounted on their EXT Grand Tour? I'm still in the planning stages and I love camping along the foggy coast. I figure that if I install as much power as possible, I should get about half of the maximum amount of juice out of the system.

It also looks like a ladder aerobics class is in my future. It will do my ticker some good.
Here is a shot of brandy new Grand Tour that is getting 400 watts of solar, Blue Sky 2512 iX-HV with iPN-PRO remote, 800 amp/hour lithium battery and Magnum MSH-3012M Hybrid inverter/charger. Along with being able to operate everything in the coach from the inverter, the A/C will run for around 5 hours during the day just from the solar and battery!
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Old 03-17-2016, 08:04 PM   #13
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Why did you use the Blue Sky 2512 iX-HV when they say in their datasheet, "Recommended maximum, 340W with 36 cell modules / 270W with 60 cell modules"
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Old 03-17-2016, 09:01 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alano View Post
Why did you use the Blue Sky 2512 iX-HV when they say in their datasheet, "Recommended maximum, 340W with 36 cell modules / 270W with 60 cell modules"
These are 32 cell panels. Have been using the 2512iX-HV for many years with no controller problems. We (AM Solar) typically place up to 400 watts with the 2512 Blue Sky unit: http://www.amsolar.com/home/amr/page...6pro_core.html

I'll post a shot of the iPN-PRO output screen when it goes live in a couple of days.
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