Thread: How to mount solar panels on the roof, with no roof rack

  1. #1
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    Default How to mount solar panels on the roof, with no roof rack

    HOpefully that title isn't too long. So, I've got a unique problem. I can't fit a roofrack on my LC80, because with the lift/tires, I have about 3" of clearance to get into my garage.

    However, I have a couple of slim solar panels that I had mounted on my truck, that I'd like to mount on the roof of the LC. There's all that space, nobody's ever going to see it anyway and the extra juice from the solar panels has come in handy from the past. These are the solar panels I'm talking about when they were mounted over my cab roof.

    http://www.brian894x4.com/images/Mods0806rear28a.jpg

    But I need suggestions on how to mount them without destroying the paint or drilling any holes.

    The only two solutions I can think of, are huge magnets, like they use on CB/Ham antennas or some kind of adhesive that is not harmful to paint and can come off, if I want to remove the panels?

    Obviously, it has to be strong enough to keep the panels on the roof over rough roads. The magnets seem like the best idea, but where to source from?

    Any ideas/suggestions?

    It was so much easier when I had a rig that I didn't mind drilling, cutting or bolting anything to anywhere.
    Brian McCamish
    In Search of History Expeditions
    Gresham, Oregon
    1995 Toyota Land Cruiser FZJ80 (new expedition rig)
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  2. #2
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    i assume you have takent he stock roof rack off? Yo say you have 3 inch clearence? you might be able to get away with a roof rack still. look at the 3 inch quick mounts there the aluminum gutter mounts. then croxx bars made of auminum. Ill double check mine tomarrow to see how much clearnce youll have but im almost posative my rack sticks up less then an inch off the roof.

    on a side note whats the details on the solar pannels? specs, prices, dealers?

    thanks
    mike

  3. #3
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    Sorry, forgot to mention that my rig didn't come with any roof rack at all. Not even the stock version.

    The solar panels are nothing fancy. As I recall only about 15 watts max per panel. But its better than nothing. I picked them at a local RV store a while back.
    Brian McCamish
    In Search of History Expeditions
    Gresham, Oregon
    1995 Toyota Land Cruiser FZJ80 (new expedition rig)
    1989 Toyota 4x4 truck w/SAS (retired expedition rig)
    www.brian894x4.com (Homepage)
    Our Land Cruiser FZJ80 Main Page
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  4. #4
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    80's Troopers and Some Jeep Cherokee's have a C channel roof rack About 1/2 inch tall and have sliding nut in the track. Very low profile with the cross bars off. I used these on my 88 Suburban so I could get a roof basket on it. The Cherokee are nearly 6ft long. The troopers are about 4ft. Got them for $20 from the Junkyard. Buddy is bringing some off a Trooper he is scrapping this weekend to use on my 4Runner.

    I used nutserts (install like a pop rivet and RTV the hole and threads) on the roof to attach them. I made custom brackets to keep the basket as tight to the roof as I could.

    Leer sells a track like it http://www.leer.com/images/trackeriiclose.jpg
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  5. #5
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    Not sure if I can describe what I'm picturing in my head...but here goes...

    Remember the ski racks that sit on the roof with suction cups? They were held in place by webbing straps that hooked to the gutters. Some variation on this might work, and could be super low profile. You'd need a base or frame of some sort on which to mount the panels. I'm sure there are better "feet" that could be made than suction cups. Some kind of vinyl maybe? Ratchet straps could be modded so an end would fit to the rain gutter. I'd mount the rachet onto the frame the holds the solar panels - this way the couldn't bounce up/down and scratch/dent the roof.

    Hope this makes sense.

  6. #6
    Do you want to permanently mount the panels to the roof, or have them removeble for traveling?
    Mike S
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  7. #7
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    The only two solutions I can think of, are huge magnets, like they use on CB/Ham antennas or some kind of adhesive that is not harmful to paint and can come off, if I want to remove the panels?

    Might try getting sheet magnet stock from a sign shop and take strips from it to reduce the cost if necessary.

  8. #8
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    I can't really contribute as far as a way to mount them up.. but.. can i ask what you use 14 watt solar panels for? What do they charge?

    I was thinking of running solar panels.. but seems like they won't do a whole lot if they're such low wattage.
    Dave & Yoshi
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  9. #9
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    Your right, they aren't worth much Which is why I've been less inclined to worry about rigging them up right away.

    They do put out enough power to keep the refrigerator running all day long without affecting the battery much and in a real pinch, they could probably charge a dead battery enough to start the rig in about a day under ideal conditions.

    I tend to park for many hours to hike and explore places. Sometimes all day long, leaving flashing strobe lights and the refrigerator turned on, so the panels help keep the battery that powers those from going completely dead. I do have a duel battery system, so its not absolutely critical.

    But other than that, our little Honda generator is more effective in terms of camp power and emergency charging.

    My panels are just pretty much cheapie consumer models that you can find at an RV store. There are much better, much more effeicent panels out there and they are pretty effective at charging batteries during the day, so you can have camp power at night. If you drive more than park, solar panels probably aren't worth it. But if you park a lot and camp and hike all day, then they can be useful in keeping batteries charged up.
    Last edited by Brian894x4; 05-26-2007 at 08:09 PM.
    Brian McCamish
    In Search of History Expeditions
    Gresham, Oregon
    1995 Toyota Land Cruiser FZJ80 (new expedition rig)
    1989 Toyota 4x4 truck w/SAS (retired expedition rig)
    www.brian894x4.com (Homepage)
    Our Land Cruiser FZJ80 Main Page
    In Search of History Page
    Abandoned & Active Railroads of the NW Page

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