Drilling & Mounting-RV Solar Panel Installation

By Holy Solar

Part Two

In the previous post, we covered some of the main reasons why we chose the Unisolar 64 Watt solar panel for supplemental power in our alternative energy bus. We made the purchase at the Real Goods store in Hopland, California, but because our roof had no metal to fix the mounting brackets to, installation was pretty much up to us.

Erik at Real Goods helped us develop a plan, drew a diagram showing the proper way to hook up the wiring between the junction box of the solar panel, the regulator, and batteries, and wished us well. We had his card in the event of emergency; fortunately, we never needed it.

The first issue we confronted was the fiberglass roof. Since Mahayana was not new when we met her, we lacked electrical diagrams of the wiring scheme, although we could make some educated guesses. We decided that the region on either side of the visible wire bundle ought to be safe for drilling, and this turned out to be correct.

Along with the Unisolar Thin Film Panel, we chose the Uni-Rac RV mounting bracket seticon, which brought the total bill to just under $500. The bracket set is simple enough, but to avoid undue stress to the fiberglass, we mounted a T-plate to the roof beneath each bracket and attached the mounts to those.

This works well, but at high speeds there is some vibration noise, which makes us wish that we had insulated the T-plate with felt “washers,” such as battery terminal pads. Live and learn!

Each T-plate was mounted with a pair of fittings to the roof. The holes were drilled with a 5/8″ bit and secured with 1/2″ X 2 1/2″ mechanical bolts.

Since our solar panel is bus-mounted, we didn’t need to worry about connecting the panel to a ground, but those working on residential installations will need to ground the frame of the panel.

We drilled an additional hole through the roof in order to accommodate the positive and negative wires which passthe charge from the panel to the batteries, making a total of nine breaches in our ceiling. Preserving the integrity of the roof being a priority, we were glad to see that we made only as many as were needed. We were quite happy as well to see that the holes were confined to a relatively small area, approximately two feet across and three back. This means that there is room for at least one more panel like this if- and when- we expand our solar collection potential.

After making sure we had all of the wire, connections, splices and fuses we needed- all of which are included in the Global Solar Energy Extra Connectivity Kiticon– we proceeded to connect the SunSaver controller first to the deep-cycle marine batteries, and then to the panel. We made sure to splice the included fuse module to the positive wires on either side of the controller for overload protection.

It’s been a little more than two weeks since we added the Unisolar Thinfilm Panel to our alternative energy houseboat, and the results have exceeded expectations. The little green light, signifying charge, goes on with the first glint of dawn and stays fiercely bright, in shade and beneath cloudy skies, until the last flash of sunset disappears from the horizon.


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Topics: Green Technology, Solar Panel Installation, Solar Power, Sustainable Energy | 6 Comments »

6 Responses to “Drilling & Mounting-RV Solar Panel Installation”

  1. mukiibi frank
    1:12 am on July 25th, 2008

    85W …….300pcs

    75W …….300pcs


    60W ……….200pcs

    How much costs and freight up to Entebbe International airport?{kampala-uganda}

    send your lowest prices and make PI to me me and payee names plus your
    company full address were i can send cheque.





    PO BOX 4825



  2. Holy Solar
    3:08 pm on August 19th, 2008

    We recommend that you visit the Real Goods solar store for this type of request.

  3. Mike
    9:03 am on January 13th, 2010

    I went to the site (Real Goods) you bought your Unisolar from, but I can not find it listed there.

  4. Holy Solar
    6:25 pm on January 22nd, 2010

    Unfortunately, Real Goods has stopped carrying the UniSolar brand of solar panels. However, they are still the leading retailer of quality solar goods and have a variety of other well-rated photovoltaic modules as well as wind turbine generators for your alternative energy needs.

  5. Brittanie Sandburg
    10:15 am on March 31st, 2010

    I was searching for small solar panel data and luckily found this write-up which helps you install your very own solar panels but I need to find out where to get the solar panels.

    6:38 am on June 5th, 2016

    Your info is quite significant


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