Barn Door for JK factory hardtops

jscherb

Expedition Leader
I got a message from Overland Outfitters last night that included this photo. They had received the photo from a customer that recently installed their new JK door pockets; the message from the customer was "These are fantastic!" It's always fun to get a message like that :).



On a related note, I stopped by the local Ford dealer yesterday to check out the new Bronco. I don't know how strong their factory door pocket net material is, but it does look like it's easily replaceable, the bezel seems to unscrew. The door pocket in the Jeep is "riveted" in place - plastic pins on the back of the bezel that are melted after they're inserted through the door panel. Not removable except by drilling. Score 1 for Ford.



Maybe I'll sew a Bronco door pocket...



Sorry for going off topic to Broncos :).
 

jscherb

Expedition Leader
It's an overcsat day, so I'm testing the solar panel again. Today's goals are to see if the panel can keep up with the fridge on an overcast day, and also to test aiming the panel to see if it makes any difference on an overcast day when the sun isn't visible.

This first photo is an initial reading with the panel flat on the roof. I've just started the fridge and it's drawing about 4 amps, although the amperage on the Trail Kitchen meter isn't showing in the photo because of the multiplexed power coming out of the solar system.

The solar panel is contributing about 1 amp as can be seen on the solar meter.



Next I angled the panel.



And in this next photo I'm trying to show the sky; there's a slight bit of brightness where the sun is but the outline of the sun isn't visible.



Output is unchanged; the solar system is still showing around 1 amp on the solar meter:



In both cases above, the voltage from the solar panel is 12-13 volts.

Once the fridge gets down to operating temp I'll monitor the system to see if the solar system is keeping up with the fridge. If the duty cycle of the fridge is low enough (it's about 70 degrees outside today), then solar may keep the battery fully charged with the occasional demand due to the fridge duty cycle.

I'll report back later.
 

jscherb

Expedition Leader
Mid-day report: the sun is starting to peek out so my overcast testing is probably at an end for today. But after about 3 1/2 hours of running the fridge with the overcast sky the fridge has cycled on and off to maintain its temperature (37 degrees) and the battery is at a higher state of charge than it was when the test started. The panel has delivered 1amp consistently in the overcast and apparently that's enough to keep the battery charged with the fridge cycling in an outdoor temperature that's now 80 degrees. Aiming the panel at where the sun probably is in the overcast sky made no difference in the output of the panel.

With the sun coming out now I'll call this morning's testing inconclusive because I wanted to run all day in the overcast, but preliminary indications are:

1. A constant 1 amp from the panel is enough to keep the battery charged as the fridge cycles on and off.

2. Aiming the panel to where the sun probably is on an overcast day doesn't make a material difference in the output of the panel.

When I tested a few weeks ago in the sun, aiming the panel at the sun did make a significant difference in the output of the panel, but since 1 amp seems to be enough to keep the battery charged, aiming the panel during full sun isn't important unless the power is to be used to run something more significant than a fridge.

I'll call all of the above inconclusive because I was hoping for a full day of overcast; I'll do more testing on the next overcast day.
 

jscherb

Expedition Leader
Got home from the Colorado trip and preproduction JL/Gladiator door pockets were waiting for me. They're pictured just out of the box, wrinkled from shipping. I don't have a JL or Gladiator here to test them on but I can use a JL door panel I've got here to test the fit. I'll give any feedback I have to the company so they can get them into production ASAP.

 

jscherb

Expedition Leader
So far my testing of the solar panel indicates that even on a cloudy day the 1 amp output of the panel in those conditions is enough to keep the kitchen battery fully charged. In thinking about various designs for the mount and storage of the panel, I'm wondering what the output is when the panel is in the shade? For example, if the panel was mounted on a slide-out from under the rack as shown below, if the sun was behind the Jeep and the tent was erected, the panel would be in the shade. I wonder what the output would be in that situation? If it's 1 amp or so, then that could be a good location for the panel. If it's much less when in the shade (which is what I suspect), then either the Jeep would need to be parked so the panel wasn't in the shade (not always convenient) or that's not a good mounting location.

So I need to do some additional testing - in the shade. If the tent is erected and the panel is in its shade, is there any output or if so enough output to keep the fridge battery charged?

My guess is that in the shade the panel won't output the 1 amp needed but this will be my next test.

 

jscherb

Expedition Leader
I've posted about Robert's JK2dr in this thread a bunch of times. We bought it about two years ago and outfitted it with a JL-Style grille, a Modular hardtop with roll-up soft sides and fiberglass flat fenders. He's moving and won't need a vehicle anymore so he's decided to sell it. We decided to return it to stock for the sale. He drive it here today looking like this:



And when he drove away it looked like this:



In about two hours, we created a large pile of parts... in the foreground are the flat fenders, the JL-Style grille and the roll-up soft sides (in a bag), and the modular hardtop is in the back.







If anyone is interested in the fenders Robert will be selling them separately. The hardtop is mine but I really don't need it taking up space here anymore so if anyone is interested in a modular hardtop will roll-up soft sides I'd probably be willing to part with it.
 

jscherb

Expedition Leader
The flat fenders. Modified factory inner fenders are part of the design.



The modular hardtop parts. The roll-up soft sides are in the bag.



Soft sides installed and rolled up:

 

Superpanga

Active member
Oh man that modular hard top looks great- I have always hesitated against having the hardtop because I didn't want to lose the open-air ability on the sides.

I'd be interested in the top if you decide to part with it.
 

jscherb

Expedition Leader
One of the things I got out of the stripping of Robert's Jeep yesterday was this JL-Style JK grille:



I had made it for him in fiberglass when he first got the Jeep and I painted subtle silver accents in the slots and headlight openings. For the past two years I've had a preproduction molded plastic JL-Style JK grille on my JKU and I left it unpainted. I installed it to test; at the time a company was going to put it in production but the company didn't survive the pandemic. Now it can be retired for good, I'll run the fiberglass one.

 

jscherb

Expedition Leader
Taking all the parts off of Robert's Jeep yesterday left me with a driveway full of parts that I had to find a place to store. How many people can say that they singlehandedly carried their hardtop through the kitchen and dining room and down a narrow flight of stairs to the basement storage room? :)

 

bitbckt

Member
6 months ago I would have been on that top in a heartbeat. Now, I have an (expensive) new hard top on my Jeep that I’m unwilling to cut apart in the near future.

I‘m sure it’ll sell in no time.
 

jscherb

Expedition Leader
I've tested the solar panel in direct sun and on an overcast day when the sun wasn't directly visible, and there was one last test I needed to do before deciding how the panel should be mounted - testing in the shade. What if the panel was in the shade either because of how the Jeep is parked or perhaps because the roof top tent is erected and is blocking the path of the sun to the panel?

I set up the panel this afternoon so it was in direct sun and I started the fridge. Current from the panel was about 2.5 amps and the fridge, starting warm, was drawing between 5 and 6 amps. Then I used a large piece of cardboard to prevent direct rays of the sun from reaching the panel. The panel was still lit by ambient light, but no direct rays were hitting it. Here's the result:



Due to display multiplexing, the camera didn't capture all of the digits of the amperage, but it was reading 5.78 at the time the photo was taken. The panel meter is showing just over 12v from the panel but basically no current.

Conclusions from all of the testing to date:

1. In full sunlight with the panel aimed at the sun, the peak power output I measured was 6 amps.

2. On an overcast day, with the sun not directly visible except as a slightly brighter area in the cloudy sky, the panel delivered 1 amp. That was enough to keep the fridge battery fully charged as the fridge cycled on and off on an 80+ degree day.

3. On a sunny day with the panel in the shade, there isn't enough output to charge the battery.

I think I've done enough testing and learned enough about the behavior of the panel in various conditions to begin the design process for a panel mount. Some initial design parameters:

a. My primary design goal for this project is to keep the kitchen battery charged. This is different than a goal of always maximizing the current output of the panel, since an output of 1 amp has tested to be enough to maintain the charge. If a mount design can also always maximize current output, that's a bonus, but not strictly necessary to meet my design goals.

b. The panel is large (26" x 36") and not light (15 lbs) so a plan is needed for stowing it when not in use. If it can stay on the mount and be stowed, perhaps by sliding/swinging it under the roof rack, that would be ideal. A slide mount as shown below would be great, except this won't meet design goal "d" below in some locations.



c. Aiming isn't strictly necessary to keep the fridge battery charged - on a sunny day there's more than enough current output to maintain the charge without aiming and on a overcast day the 1 amp output is enough to keep the battery charged and aiming doesn't make much difference under overcast skies. Since aiming doesn't seem to be strictly necessary to keep the kitchen battery charged, a mount like the one below that allows some degree of aiming may be more complexity than is required.



d. If mounted on the roof rack or the Jeep somewhere (the hood?), a fixed location will dictate which direction the Jeep is parked, especially if a roof top tent is erected and blocks the direct sun. "Aiming" the Jeep may not always be practical based on the camp location.

I've got several ideas for a mounting solution that will meet the design criteria (and possibly also the optional criteria to maximize current output from the panel) and I'll do some preliminary design work to to explore feasibility of the ideas.

In the meantime, I welcome any thoughts or comments you have on my testing, my conclusions, my design parameters or possible mount ideas you may have.
 

Alloy

Well-known member
-1 amp on overcast day keeps the fridge running but what about the loss when there is no sun? ....FLA batteries take 6-8 hours to charge
- Testing different type of panels (cells/diodes ) may tell you which ones are better in ambient light.
- use more panels
- make the mount so the panel can be portable
 

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