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Old 05-19-2020, 08:50 PM   #1
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Brand: Thor Motor Coach
Model: Thor freedom elite 30fe
State: Arizona
Posts: 52
THOR #14244
Solar panels

Has anyone installed solar panels to the pre wired system on a 30fe?

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Old 05-20-2020, 11:55 AM   #2
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Brand: Thor Motor Coach
Model: 2020 Magnitude SV34
State: Florida
Posts: 3,355
THOR #12751
Solar panels

I just got done installing two Renogy 160W Flexible Panels on my Magnitude. It was prewired with a GoPower Solar Controller. I had these installed on my 2018 Outlaw 29H and now this is the second coach I have installed these panels. I have improved the way I mounted the panels this time around.

I like the flexible panels because they are much lighter and I can mount them without screwing them down into the roof.

Here is what I used to mount my flexible panels:

(2) White Corrugated Plastic Sheets. https://www.homedepot.com/p/Coroplas...896S/205351385

(12) Flanged Elevator Bolts with flat washers, lock washers and nuts and wing nuts. I used the type of elevator bolts that have points so they did in and won’t spin when tightening. https://www.mcmaster.com/elevator-bolts/

EternaBond Tape


First, I cut the corrugated plastic sheets to just over the size of the solar panels.

Next, I drilled ¼” holes into the corrugated plastic where the mounting holes were located on the panels.

Then I inserted the elevator bolts through the backside of the plastic sheets and placed some Eterna Bond Tape over the metal base of the elevator bolts so the metal would not rub into the roof when the panels were mounted. I used a washer and nut to tightened the bolt so the base firmly sunk into the plastic before covering the base of the bolt with the EternaBond.

I then placed the plastic sheets on the roof and used Eternabond Tape to secure them.

I placed two flat washers over the elevator bolts and then laid the solar panel on the plastic sheets. I added another flat washer and tightened a regular nut by hand. I then added a lock washer and wing nut to finish securing the panels. The elevator bolts were zinc plated and the washers and nuts were stainless.

Here are a few pics I took of the project along the way…..
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Old 05-20-2020, 12:25 PM   #3
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Brand: Thor Motor Coach
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Thank you for the feedback.
You did a great job with this.Just one question about mounting the panels with the tape. The amount you used,is it enough?
Still consider myself a rookie in the rv world.
Thanks
John
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Old 05-20-2020, 01:53 PM   #4
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Model: 2020 Magnitude SV34
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I used 3" wide EternaBond in 6" strips so 3" on the plastic panel and 3" on the roof. I used 7 pieces per panel with 3 pieces on the end that will catch the wind.

Both the plastic panels and solar panels are very low profile so there should not be much wind resistance. I also plastic them in line behind a MaxxAir Fan Cover, which should provide some aerodynamic protection.

I cleaned the roof over the weekend before starting and I also used Brake Parts Cleaner on the roof prior to installing the EternaBond to ensure a clean surface so the tape would react and bond with the roof.

After installing the tape and rolling them out to activate the tape, it feels pretty darn solid.

Here is a video showing how much the tape will stick when used properly.




When I installed these on my last coach I went a little crazy with the EternaBond and went down all four sides. It was a bear to remove them for sure.

I also didn't want to tape the ends of the plastic panels this time because they are actually open end-to-end from being corrugated so I think that will allow for a little airflow and better heat dissipation.

I have seen people just EternaBond tape the flexbile panels directly to the roof but I wanted a way to easily remove them if I need to replace them at some point and also to have a barrier between the panel and the roof for a little heat protection for the roof itself.

Before I take my first trip this weekend I am going to pull on the plastic panels to see how well the EternaBond setup. If they feel solid, I am going to leave them as-is. If I think they need to be secured more, I will add a little more EternaBond down the sides.


As a side note, I just used EternaBond over ever seam and joint on the roof where Dicor was used for sealing such as vents, ladder mounts, solar wiring entry point, etc. EternaBond is about the best stuff to use for permanent sealing and leak protection. Now I won't have to climb on the roof every 3 - 6 months to inspect and add more Dicor to keep the roof from leaking. I have read several posts of guys who do this the moment they by their coach and they never have any leaks and minimal roof maintenance for the life of the coach.
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Old 05-20-2020, 02:44 PM   #5
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Welcome to the forum. Lots of useful info on this forum.

I think in 2019 Thor prewired most coaches and included a 10 amp GO POWER PWM Solar controller.

If thats the case your are limited to around 100 watts (Perhaps 150 watts? 10 amps total input) max unless you replace your controller. I think some have pushed 200 watts with the OEM system but im not sure how successful they were.

You may know this but I thought I would mention it.

I think most agree a flexable panels can be secured with Eternabond tape just fine. But the rigid panels some say they can glue it down (with special Calk type stuff) other say Screw it down to be safe. Im on the fence on this one.
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Old 05-20-2020, 03:01 PM   #6
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My concern with the screw-less mounts for the rigid panels is that you are using Dicor or other adhesive to glue them down to the TPO material. The TPO is flexible and can stretch. My concern is that the wind is going to get under the panels and over time will it begin to lift and pull on the TPO. I would think it could cause it to stretch and tear.

I would use EtrnaBond if I was screwing down mounts for rigid panels and would be less concerned with leaks. But I would prefer if I could find the aluminum frames to screw them into and not wood.

That is why I went with flexible panels. They are lighter, easier to mount and two panels can generate up to 320 Watts. They are more expensive but the price has been coming down.
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Old 05-20-2020, 03:16 PM   #7
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Thank you for all your help
Stay safe
John Hood
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Old 05-20-2020, 05:38 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Jahood View Post
Judge
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Stay safe
John Hood
He's our Judge...

https://www.thorforums.com/forums/at...1&d=1589996271
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Old 05-20-2020, 06:54 PM   #9
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State: California
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Long & Winding road View Post
Welcome to the forum. Lots of useful info on this forum.

I think in 2019 Thor prewired most coaches and included a 10 amp GO POWER PWM Solar controller.

If thats the case your are limited to around 100 watts (Perhaps 150 watts? 10 amps total input) max unless you replace your controller. I think some have pushed 200 watts with the OEM system but im not sure how successful they were.

You may know this but I thought I would mention it.

I think most agree a flexable panels can be secured with Eternabond tape just fine. But the rigid panels some say they can glue it down (with special Calk type stuff) other say Screw it down to be safe. Im on the fence on this one.
Just go with the flex panels like above.
If they fail or don't last very long, then buy new.

That is...from everything I've read in all the on-line reviews, they have problems/cracking in initial shipping & install, and also deteriorate when sitting in the sun for extended periods.
That's why the typical warranty is only 5 years.

I'm guessing that Judge and others on this Forum who have installed flex panels haven't had them sitting in the sun for 5 or more years yet.

So if you plan on trading-up your RV in 5 yrs or less, then you'll probably be fine.

I know you're anxious to install solar, and once you have it you'll never go back.

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Old 05-20-2020, 07:30 PM   #10
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Thank you!
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Old 05-22-2020, 12:00 AM   #11
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I've only had my Renogy Flexible 160W panels for a year now. I have a pole building for my coach so it will not be abused by the weather 365 days a year so I am not too worried about them lasting.

That being said..... technology is changing rapidly and they will only get better and less expensive. The 160W panels were the biggest they made. Now Renogy has 175W panels.

That's why I made mine easy to remove. If I need to replace them, it should not be too hard to swap them out if / when the time comes.
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Old 08-04-2020, 02:00 AM   #12
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Hi, another newbie Magnitude owner here.

I’m looking at installing solar to the prewired setup. GoPower’s info states that the OEM 10 amp controller will handle 160W max. Did you change out your controller Judge?

I’m also wondering how you secured your wire run to the plugs. Did you Eternabond them too?

I plan on duplicating your install, that’s a slick method!

Thanks for the info, I’m already learning new stuff...

GB
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