Solar panel covers

 
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Peter & Karen Wear



Joined: 14 Jan 2010
Posts: 10
Location: McCullys Gap
State:: N.S.W.
Current Bushtracker owner:: Yes
PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2020 12:55 pm    Post subject: Solar panel covers Reply with quote

Hi All,
Wondering if anyone out there has made a solar panel cover for use on rocky gravel roads?
Back story - 2 years ago travelling very rocky gravel road, pulled up one day and 2 of 4 solar panels shattered. Travelling with 4 others, camper trailers and all types of set ups. Everyone sustained damage, from back windows to underbody vehicle damage.
Have been considering canvas cover attached with press studs. Perspex/ polycarbonate lid with straps over lid and under panel ( could allow some solar gain ). We have a small ladder to check out the top, this would be used to attach whatever the solution is.
I’ve got itchy feet and I’m ready to go again. This time we have Rock tamers, stone Stomper skirt, large mud flap under Bushtracker stone deflector and a rear window cover.
We can construct pretty much anything. We will just call it lack of imagination - looking for ideas. Laughing
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P & K. Wear
Wear2now
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niknoff



Joined: 25 Jul 2007
Posts: 382
Location: Safety Bay
State:: WA
Current Bushtracker owner:: Yes
PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2020 2:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

13 years traveling throughout Australia on a mix of road surfaces and we have not had any solar damage, nil .. the only stone damage has been to the front RHS of the van and thats mainly stones from on coming vehicles.

No stone stomper, no rock tamers, ... now I’ve mozzed myself I can expect damage. lol
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Mick & Vickie
www.niknoff.com
07' 19' BushTracker
2015 VX 200, 3800kg GVM Upgrade
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datama



Joined: 28 Oct 2010
Posts: 158
Location: Perth North Eastern Metro
State:: WA
Current Bushtracker owner:: Yes
PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2020 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Peter,

Understand where you are coming from as I have found small gravel up top a few times, despite the gravel roads we have traversed being quite “tame” and the fact that we keep to around 60-70KPH on any gravel.

However, may I suggest you go to Bunnings and buy some of the “Corrugated” panels of CORFLUTE as they use in signs and possibly bend them down on the ends and long sides to use under any cover. Perspex/polycarbonate is a bit more rigid and should you get any sand particles between them and the panel glass, the constant rubbing with a flexible cover could scratch your panel glass. Corflute being somewhat softer, would more than likely allow anything to press into its surface.

https://www.bunnings.com.au/search/products?page=1&q=corflute&facets=CategoryIdPath%3Dbfa7e4dc-1acd-4499-819c-12c0c7dea779%2CSubCategoryIdPath%3D84c7dae5-9241-440d-9f10-0d70b1ab3ea8&sort=BoostOrder&pageSize=60

They weigh next to nothing, cost little but would be a buffer under any type of flexible cover, to pad out any deflected stones from causing damage.

All the best and let us know what you eventually do please as would be interested?

Regards,
Dave
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Grumpy



Joined: 20 May 2014
Posts: 251
Location: Townsville
State:: Qld
Current Bushtracker owner:: Yes
PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2020 3:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As per niknoff, 6 yrs travelling most of the outback tracks and no damage to our 4 panels or any vehicle rear window damage. No stomper only the std mudflaps on BT stone guard. And as Mick says we travel at 60/70km/hr or less on gravel and enjoy scenery. And when with company leave a significant gap between vehicles and slow down when passing oncoming vehicles a majority we find these days show no similar common courtesy.
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Bushtracker
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Joined: 12 Jul 2007
Posts: 5262
Location: Kunda Park
State:: Queensland
Current Bushtracker owner:: Yes
PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2020 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Friends,

I will add one thing. As most of you would know, some of the Bushtracker technology came from Yachting... And I have some early experience trying to cover solar panels ...

I go back a long way with that. I had one of the first Yachts, a Challenger 41 in 1981-83 and I was one of the first I saw adding solar panels on the top of the main cabin roof. It was Pioneering with ARCO Solar back in those days.

Polycarbonate seemed a good idea and it was definitely not, with like a 10% or more loss. I cannot remember, it might have been more like 20% from memory, but anyway it was significant. Polycarbonate, called Lexan in those days, polycarbonate clear panels does not work.

What worked was Acrylic panels. About 10mm, hinged for opening up and washing down, and supported by teak sort of posts all around as they also needed a cooling breeze. It made sense on a yacht with easy access and now you hardly see a cruising yacht without solar...

However: Panels broken? like not ten in ten years have we replaced broken by stones on Bushtrackers. In all fairness I do not think it is the way to go. Too much hassle and liability trying to climb up there to clean them, and you cannot seal the panel down for heat reasons. Secondly, the best cleaner of panels is good rain.. You make maintenance a necessity by trying to put laminar cooling air flow over the panels...

The other main issues is: I would say it is dangerous to be doing the maintenance up there, as we have had a few Owners break bones on high ladders doing that sort of thing.. Mad

Kind regards, Steven Gibbs, Director, Mad Scientist..

Laughing
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The Hob



Joined: 21 Aug 2007
Posts: 250
Location: Narangba
State:: QLD
Current Bushtracker owner:: Yes
PostPosted: Mon Aug 03, 2020 7:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A few years ago we broke one panel (RH rear one) and I have spoken to another van owner who also broke the same panel. But this one incident is in 12 years of use along a lot of dirt roads.
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Peter & Karen Wear



Joined: 14 Jan 2010
Posts: 10
Location: McCullys Gap
State:: N.S.W.
Current Bushtracker owner:: Yes
PostPosted: Mon Aug 03, 2020 8:31 am    Post subject: Solar panel covers Reply with quote

Thanks everyone for the input thus far.
We also have had 8 years trouble free. However over this time we have added a canopy to the tug - no issues. Put more aggressive tyres on the tug and headed off 2018. Not sure if the stones came from some of the 100’s of 4x4’s that were out there travelling at 100 kmph- or those new tyres!
So we had thought to have a removable cover placed only when traveling said gravel roads. So temporary use only, approx 4-6 hours per day and then remove to charge batteries.
Not terribly worried about ladders - not retired yet and from building industry.
Concerns are - damage to solar panel through heat or Unsecured cover coming off and hitting some other traveller.
If we had a foam padded canvas cover - would it cause heat damage to the panels?
We have a sailmaker son in law, we were hoping to utilise his talents.
Any advise is greatly appreciated.
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Wear2now
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Bushtracker
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Joined: 12 Jul 2007
Posts: 5262
Location: Kunda Park
State:: Queensland
Current Bushtracker owner:: Yes
PostPosted: Mon Aug 03, 2020 9:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Honestly,

You need all the solar you can get, and no I would not be putting covers on them... Waay too much work and danger and liability.

You may have had a bit of bad luck, but I can assure you it is very rare to have broken the solar panels with rocks like that... In 25 years: Hail has gotten a few, kids have thrown rocks and gotten a few, but road rocks from travel?? Very very rare. Most common of all is kids: It may have even be kids in your case...

Maybe put your money and efforts in a stone tamer mud flap system for the back of the tow vehicle..

Kind regards, Director...
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Bushtrek



Joined: 03 Jun 2011
Posts: 153
Location: BONNET BAY , Sydney
State:: NSW
Current Bushtracker owner:: Yes
PostPosted: Mon Aug 03, 2020 1:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Peter,
Like you and many others I have seen plenty of stones and a few rocks on the roof. Even had a couple of wheel weights fly off a high speed "idiot" on the Peninsula Development Road
near Bamaga and land on the roof, after they bounced off the van front window shield.
Never had an issue with breaking/cracking Solar panels though, over more than 8 years of travel.
If you do decide you need this, personally I wouldn't bother, but if you go this way I would use clear PVC vinyl sheeting as used in factory clear doors.
They can be rolled up when not in use. As to thickness, you would only need 3 to 4mm max as the energy dissipating effect across the glass surface will be quite high.
They can be attached to holes in the side supports of each panel.
Lot of mucking around really, but then peace of mind is sometimes expensive of effort.
Edit::
Link deleted 8;41 pm 3 August 2020
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Graeme & Chris
July 2012, 20 foot Bushtracker
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