Tilting rooftop solar panels

VerMonsterRV

Gotta Be Nuts
Anyone know of a durable (or DIY) way of mounting solar panels on a roof that could be tilted? I would not mind turning the truck if needed so a single direction tilt would be ok.
 

VerMonsterRV

Gotta Be Nuts
Thanks Luthj, anyone have any experience with SolarVector? I have 4 200 watt panels on order, so would need 4 of them, which would exceed the cost of the panels, but if they work they might be worth it.
 

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luthj

Engineer In Residence
Camping north/south of 55 degrees latitude? It may be worth it. I agree that just adding more panels is probably the better option. If you have a lithium pack the charging needs late in the day drop dramatically (no absorb phase). In that case tilting the panels is less important.
 

VerMonsterRV

Gotta Be Nuts
2 things, I ended up ordering bifacial panels. They were on sale for the same price as the regular panels and I thought why not give them a try (supposed to be up to 25% gain, not really expecting it though but with a white fiberglass roof who knows). So tilting would possibly be beneficial for these panels beyond the normal aiming at the sun. Second is roof space is sort of at a premium. I can fit maybe one more panel but lose a bit of flexibility for rooftop equipment (trying to reserve a space for AC if we decide down the road we want one). I do already have the 400Ah lifepo4 bank (the Frey prismatic cells I mentioned in a previous post).

Oh, when on our cruising sailboat we definitely notice a drastic difference in power output depending on the time of the year (boats panels are fixed). I would bet if we could tilt these panels our output would be greater, but since we swing on anchor aiming panels is challenging.
 

Joe917

Explorer
Spend the cost of the tilting hardware on another flat panel. You will almost never go on the roof to tilt the panel, and the few times you do it will be too much of a PITA to move the truck twice a day to take advantage of the tilt. If you need AC you will be south enough to not need tilting panels. AC does not need to be on the roof, ours is under the truck,
 

VerMonsterRV

Gotta Be Nuts
Thanks Joe, I need to look into the below truck AC units. I just learned that was an option about a week ago. One thing for sure is that if I do the tilting panels I doubt I would go manual. I learned a while back that I really do not like repetitive tasks so try and avoid them. The SolarVector are electrically operated, with locking latches in the down position. Would love to see one in person though before I would commit the money, but on the flip side solid mounting means very little to break, which is a good thing.
 

akskiffer

Member
Camping north/south of 55 degrees latitude? It may be worth it. I agree that just adding more panels is probably the better option. If you have a lithium pack the charging needs late in the day drop dramatically (no absorb phase). In that case tilting the panels is less important.
Spend the cost of the tilting hardware on another flat panel. You will almost never go on the roof to tilt the panel, and the few times you do it will be too much of a PITA to move the truck twice a day to take advantage of the tilt. If you need AC you will be south enough to not need tilting panels. AC does not need to be on the roof, ours is under the truck,
I would love to look at a table outlining solar gain for PV cells at different angles.
do y'all know how much more power is gathered with the panels aligned to the ecliptic than mounted flat? I bought a renogy eclipse. It is supposed to make more power when partially shaded.
I am thinking the tilting would be in times of greatest power need like when camping and $40 or way less for a mount beats an additional panel.
I am at the point of rigging up a tilt mount vs flat with Z mounts l got with the package deal. a pinch of aluminum angle some holes and 6 nut and bolt combos is what renogy and others sell...Any thoughts?
 
I had a Bigfoot truck camper for about 13 years which I ordered with a single solar panel. Eventually I decided to add a second panel and when I did that I had the installer set up both of them much like the photo that luthj posted. The only time that they were ever raised was the day that they were installed when the installer said "there you go" (or something like that). I almost never used a generator with that rig and am always camping off grid.

Now I'm in a similar rig, a Northern Lite truck camper which I ordered with 2 solar panels. I bought this one February, 2018 and have not used my generator once. I do carry a Honda 2000EU generator in the back seat for an "emergency".
 

xvz12

New member
I mounted 2 100w panels on our trailer using mounts I manufactured that are very much like the ones luthj pictured. The only time I've tilted them was when I was installing them...lol. I have not had to use my generator or even put a charger on the battery bank since I've installed them, been 1 entire season now
 
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luthj

Engineer In Residence
This site outlines the loss from a single angle panel vs a 2 axis tracking system.

https://www.solarpaneltilt.com/

The energy loss from any angle less than 90 degress, is the SIN(angle). 90 degrees is 1 (100%), and 0 degrees is zero output. The incidence angle in the winter is roughly your latitude plus 15 degrees. In the summer it is your latitude minus 15 degrees.
 
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