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This is the third iteration I’ve been through using solar to keep our RV’s *chassis* battery charged up when Lance is in storage.
First, there was the inexpensive solution I put together with a few off-the-shelf parts:
THEN, we visited Zamp, and they showed us an even better way to keep our battery charged using a dual charge controller:
Shortly after that, we built a carport which covered up all the solar panels on Lance and sent us back to square one. Sigh.
But now, there’s THIS:
Our friends at Zamp reached out to us to see if we’d be interested in testing out some of their newest Obsidian solar panels, and my mind immediately went back to our carport. We had all the panels we need on Lance, but would the Obsidian panels work on a structure? A short while later, here we are.
So the short answer is, yes, of course the Obsidian panels work mounted on a stationary structure. In fact, there were two main things about them that made them a great choice for this application.
First, they’re lightweight. They’re 30% lighter than their regular solar panels. The 100 watt panels you see in this video weigh less than 11 pounds each. That was actually pretty important to me, because our RV carport is a very lightweight aluminum structure. (It’s rigid in the ways it’s intended to be stressed, but like, you couldn’t walk on it, for example.) A heavy panel up there wouldn’t have been a good long-term idea.
Second, they’re low profile and aerodynamic. This was important to me because of – again – the lightweight aluminum structure. I simply couldn’t bolt down something through the roof. The low, aero profile means there will be less wind load on the panel, so it can mount with VHB tape (which was supplied in the kit).
The weather-resistant, can’t-possibly-plug-it-in-the-wrong-way connections were also a nice-to-have, though they weren’t absolutely critical for this application.
Altogether, I got the solar panels up in just a couple hours. And most of that time was simply me messing around on the roof. The actual wiring of the panels to Lance’s auxiliary solar charge port took all of 90 seconds. So far, after a day of obsessively checking solar panel output every half hour, the performance of the panels is about what I expected. The levels have held up to what you see in the video – or better – as long as there’s been sun.
Time will tell if this mounting option (with the tape) holds up to the brutal desert southwest sun. Someone remind me to come back in a year and give an update on the mounting! Seriously… remind me!