External ladders and safety


I watched an amazing restoration
. In the video they mentioned they have a rooftop hatch to access the roof and there is no other way up there. They did this for security reasons.

Is anyone else designing their vehicle to make it difficult to get on the roof?


I've got a Chinook RV that's got a ladder on the back. It's broken, and instead of replacing I think I might just remove it. I pulled the ceiling AC unit, and may put a deck hatch in it's place like Willywalderbeast did here:

I do have some left over folding steps from my ambo. I may just put some of those in place of the ladder.

I rarely go on the roof, and if I needed to hand something up, I could just climb up through the hatch with a telescoping RV ladder. Plus the ladder can be moved around the vehicle to work on things as needed.


Approved Vendor : Total Composites
We do not have a ladder installed. The risk for someone to pry open the roof hatch or steal the solar panels is just too high.


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Ah, good point on only having one; either ladder or hatch. The hatch seems even better for added light and ventilation.


Hillbilly of Leisure
I think I would notice if someone was crawling up my ladder in the middle of the night. The rig might "rock" and whatnot. There might be some sounds involved. Some "thumping" maybe.

If I'm not in the rig, then I'm at home. You have to believe that your rig is safe at home. If it isn't, then you have bigger issues to worry about than your solar panels. Insurance...for example. Perhaps you should invest in tall fences. Thieves totally have the ability to bring their own ladders with them. If a thief has intent, then you are probably going to find out what happened the next day regardless of whatever precautions you've taken.

Not trying to be a jerk, but you'd be better off investing in some sort of electronic anti-theft system than worrying about keeping people off your roof. I plan to keep important stuff on the roof of my van. When I want to utilize that stuff, the plan is to "pop up and utilize said stuff". Built-in ladders sound like a good idea. Easy.

That being said, I've been screwing around with the very ladder that eporter posted for a year or two for my RTT. It works. It's kindof a PITA.

I'd rather have a built-in ladder.


One of the first things we did was remove the roof access ladder. A ladder is an invitation to climb, kids, opportunistic thieves, etc. Roof access through a hatch. You can't be guarding your truck all the time.


Here is some good advice. stay the hell off the roof. No ladder , no hatch. Just stay off. If one must service something up there in most cases it will be done in a service facility or at home. Use a step ladder. Most , if not all factory built rv's are pushing the roof load limit with just a roof AC. I cant think of how many rv's that have come through repair facilities due to leaks caused by ladders and rail systems on RV's. The fewer holes through the roof , the better.


Unless of course you actually use yours full time and/or year round, regardless of weather.

Ever try to clear even just a few inches of snow off of your solar panels without access to the roof?

A roof hatch is also the best way to promote good natural airflow in warmer weather.

Our camper was designed from both a security and maintenance standpoint.
No ladder, and roof accessible vie the roof hatch.
Every portion of the camper can be serviced/cleaned without the need of a silly stepladder.

Minimize roof penetrations yes, but abandon a roof hatch all-together is a step backwards.

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speaking of ladders . . . how do those steps work out?

i'm reading through (2 specific - https://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/what-are-you-reading.7663/page-45#post-2517138 post #665 ) books regarding design & building "overland vehicles", and the authors point pros & cons of steps and ladder choices for access to the cabin.
The steps work well enough. Safe and secure both when stowed and deployed.
A bit of a pain when in between though :) Especially in the rain, as I designed the camper to shed ALL moisture to the rear.
So I get hosed down pretty good.

Currently outfitting a newer truck, and am in the process of building the bed for it.
The new bed will occomodate a slide, that will permanently house the steps.
They will simply slide out, then down to deploy. :cool:


Idashow Why bother . The best one can expect is 10% efficiency in the heat of summer on a clear day. I'm not trying to be rude . 4 season camping is nothing new. I do use my camper year round, In fact more in the colder months than the warm . That's why I have a very efficient generator , heating system and electrical system. I run a single batt. And only need to charge once every other day at worst . I recommend to Stay off the roof. By the way . How many holes through the roof are required for 1 panel? Self storing steps are a great way to go if one can accommodate them.

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10%?? what are you talking about?
Zero holes to mount a panel, properly applied adhesives can attach brackets (3m 5200), 1 hole for the wiring.
By the way there is nothing more annoying than being in the middle of nowhere and hearing a generator start up.


If it was very efficient, you wouldn't have to worry about dragging a generator around, fueling, servicing, starting, listening to....

We can go for more than a week without any recharge, including 12vDC fridge use.
Indefinitely with a bit of sun.
All without turning the key of the truck, or sucking off LP.

Its a system that pays you back, in full, many time over, that is 100% silent.

That's why bother.

Obviously if your camper cannot support the weight of you on top, stay off. All the more reason for a hatch for access.
But not all campers are created equal. And even run of the mill campers now days are designed to be walk-able.

As for holes, none to worry about. The entire roof is coated in Gacoroof.
100% silicone roof coat, that will never leak, and will most certainly outlast us all :LOL: