Replace 100W Flex with Renogy

TampaSteve

2018/2019 Unity CB
The Klipstr method is certainly the standard way to go now. Before you patent it, is that the same as the AM Solar method?

SSTraveler, while its true that once you have the mounts glued to the roof you could likely later make an adapter in the future to accommodate a different panel, I'm a bit on the OCD side and prefer everything with a disconnect plug for drop-in replacement, or, in this case, a rail.

(XR100 Rails - I could call it the "msmolow method" but he never admitted to me whether he invented it or merely copied someone else's install for the most part, as I did)

I struggle with my tendency to over-engineer everything. A few years ago when I built a deck the inspector laughed for several minutes when he saw that I had chosen carriage bolts designed for telephone poles for the ledger board. He told me that in his 30 year career he'd never seen bolts that size on a residential project. You can't even buy them in stores. While this is a harmless vice when building stuff that stays put, at times when doing RV upgrades I have to wrestle with myself not to use a fastener 10 times the size required.

Leaving the old panels on was certainly an option in my case, as LTV put enough tape and glue on them to hold for 30 years, but the thought of those carcasses up there forever was too much to bear.

Oh, and OP, leave the putty knife at home. Get two solid 3-1 tools from Home Depot. They are heavy duty scrapers with a curved blade that really do slice through tape, as long as you are willing to apply about 50 lbs of force. After that I used alcohol, Goo-Gone, and surprisingly, an auto "Spray Detailer" that really worked wonders but left a shiny waxy residue requiring more alcohol to remove.

Thanks to SSTraveler, Klipstr, Msmolow, and many others on this forum that took the time to detail their installation, allowing me to steal some ideas from each...
 

msmolow

2019 Unity CB / 2018 Chas
I could call it the "msmolow method" but he never admitted to me whether he invented it or merely copied someone else's install for the most part, as I did)
I'm one year past public disclosure so I am barred from patenting it. Who can afford to pay a patent attorney anyway?
 

Kosinar

2017 Unity TB Silver
I used Klipstr's method, and covered mine with Eternabond tape. Anything method other than just screwing the Z mounts to the roof, may require some planning and fabrication. Just screwing the Renogy Compact panel over the top of the existing flex panel is by far the easiest method. If you do just screw down the Renogy Z mounts into your roof put a dob of Dicor in/around the hole and then once screwed down cover the head and edges of the Z mount to seal everything off, https://www.amazon.com/Dicor-501LSW-1-Self-Leveling-Sealant-10-3-Fluid_Ounces/dp/B000BRF7QE/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3UY5HX7KH7JZK&dchild=1&keywords=dicor+self+leveling+lap+sealant&qid=1611143557&sprefix=Dicor,aps,244&sr=8-1. Most find it easier to just liberally apply the Dicor over the entire Z mount.

Another simple "no drill new holes in your roof" method is to use 2" 5952 VHB Tape, https://www.amazon.com/3M-Heavy-Mounting-width-length/dp/B007Y7H63Q/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=1.5"+5952+vhb+tape&qid=1611144484&sr=8-3, on the Z mounts and then cover with Eternabond tape, https://www.amazon.com/White-Eterna...words=3+eternabond+tape&qid=1611144257&sr=8-6, to seal and add a second layer of roof adhesion. Between the VHB tape and Eternabond tape that Renogy glass panel isn't going to move!
I too used Klipstr method on 3 additional flex panels on my 2017 TB nd tape is still holding them perfectly. I would not drill holes into roof unless absolutely necessary. Also I am glad that I went with flex panels so I can walk all over the roof when cleaning it. You can't step on rigid panel.
 

TampaSteve

2018/2019 Unity CB
I'm one year past public disclosure so I am barred from patenting it. Who can afford to pay a patent attorney anyway?
Ha! I remember a post from you somewhere so I get the inside joke. Being a software developer, I take a dim view of patents anyway. Companies are patenting everything these days and seemingly without regard to prior art, obviousness, etc. When I Google my brother, also a software developer, numerous patents are registered under his name. Most likely this website is in violation of several. :rolleyes: Edit: But to be clear I take a dim view of patent trolls not patent attorneys.
 
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SVidas

2018 Unity CB
Ha! I remember a post from you somewhere so I get the inside joke. Being a software developer, I take a dim view of patents anyway. Companies are patenting everything these days and seemingly without regard to prior art, obviousness, etc. When I Google my brother, also a software developer, numerous patents are registered under his name. Most likely this website is in violation of several. :rolleyes: Edit: But to be clear I take a dim view of patent trolls not patent attorneys.
you should be happy to find that software patents are much harder to obtain due to Supreme Court opinions that really scaled them back. As a retired patent lawyer I always add that I am a “patent” lawyer when my wife says I am an attorney since so many people dislike attorneys.
 

msmolow

2019 Unity CB / 2018 Chas
As a retired patent lawyer I always add that I am a “patent” lawyer when my wife says I am an attorney since so many people dislike attorneys.
I say I'm a pediatric dentist who went to law school. Everyone likes kids.
 

MSDVLD

2016 Unity MB 15 Chassis
The Klipstr method! I love it! Can I patent it and make you guys pay me $0.05/per mount? I'm gonna be rich! And, yes, the smaller mounts have worked fine for me. I think I can lift the entire rig with one of the panels.

Tampa, I love the look of your kit! Very cool!

OP, what a mess after you pull the dang flex panels off! Oh my. Simple putty knife and lots of elbow grease? I now know for sure that leaving them up there is easier! Though I gotta say I like the look of your roof better than mine (on my old unity when I ran the Renogy right over the top...).
Yes putty knife and patience are your friend. Heat gun or hair dryer helps to remove some of the Dicor. I am thinking about a bead of dicor around the base of the plates as a little insurance?
 

TampaSteve

2018/2019 Unity CB
you should be happy to find that software patents are much harder to obtain due to Supreme Court opinions that really scaled them back. As a retired patent lawyer I always add that I am a “patent” lawyer when my wife says I am an attorney since so many people dislike attorneys.
Well thats good to know. I was a victim of a particularly vicious patent troll firm that tried to extort many in my industry at the time, which was 15 years ago. That said the latest Google vs Oracle on the API itself is not over yet, so SCOTUS still has an opportunity to inflict pain. I know that is a common refrain, but I have never actually met anyone that disliked attorneys in general. Only the one that was actively making their life miserable in a divorce, civil, or other proceeding. :)
 

SSTraveler

2014 LTV Unity Murphy Bed
Yes putty knife and patience are your friend. Heat gun or hair dryer helps to remove some of the Dicor. I am thinking about a bead of dicor around the base of the plates as a little insurance?
I'm getting ready to add 200w more to my current 400w and I'm going with the Klipstr method (1/4" Aluminum plate, you pick the dimensions, 5952 VHB tape, countersunk holes for stainless steel taper head 1/4" machine screws) and 4" x 6" plates with a bead of Dicor Non-sag sealant around the plate/tape edges to seal it to the roof.
 

RV2019

2017 Wonder MB
Yes putty knife and patience are your friend. Heat gun or hair dryer helps to remove some of the Dicor. I am thinking about a bead of dicor around the base of the plates as a little insurance?
I put dicor around the edges of mine. I noticed that you used 2 strips of VHB per plate. I used a full 4X6 sheet of VHB. That "gap" in yours may allow water infiltration. Dicor is cheap insurance.
 

WinnieView1

2014 Winnebago View 24G
I put dicor around the edges of mine. I noticed that you used 2 strips of VHB per plate. I used a full 4X6 sheet of VHB. That "gap" in yours may allow water infiltration. Dicor is cheap insurance.
We did not use additional brackets but did cover and 'wrap' them with Dicor. It was somewhat tricky getting it into the backside of the bracket, under the panel's corners.
 

SSTraveler

2014 LTV Unity Murphy Bed
We did not use additional brackets but did cover and 'wrap' them with Dicor. It was somewhat tricky getting it into the backside of the bracket, under the panel's corners.
So you just put VHB tape on the feet of the Renogy Z mounts and Eternabond tape around the Z mounts to seal them to the roof and give them just a little more adhesion to the roof? That's the absolute easiest no drill method, and if I wouldn't have had all the extra plates and materials on hand from my Klipstr method I would have done this as well! After you get experience with VHB tape and Eternabond tape you realize once you use them to stick something down, it isn't going anywhere!

And be very sure before you stick them down, because there are no do overs if you made a mistake. It's takes an exceptional amount of work to remove and clean off VHB or Eternabond tape.
 
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WinnieView1

2014 Winnebago View 24G
So you just put VHB tape on the feet of the Renogy Z mounts and Eternabond tape around the Z mounts to seal them to the roof and give them just a little more adhesion to the roof? That's the absolute easiest no drill method, and if I wouldn't have had all the extra plates and materials on hand from my Klipstr method I would have done this as well! After you get experience with VHB tape and Eternabond tape you realize once you use them to stick something down, it isn't going anywhere!

And be very sure before you stick them down, because there are no do overs if you made a mistake. It's takes an exceptional amount of work to remove and clean off VHB or Eternabond tape.
Yes.
But we did 'reorganize' a few months ago finishing the installation with four 100W panels and had to remove one but it didn't take to long to clean up after using a scraper blade and sledge hammer to get under the brackets.
 

DiverBob

2018 Unity TB
Has anyone considered if these will fit? 200W Renogy panels 63"x 24"- a little more costly but 400 watts with 2 panels seems interesting especially with the easy install listed!
The problem is the available space on top of the LTV with the AC unit, various openings and other equipment. I measured my LTV roof and mapped out all the installed items. I then looked for getting the most panels that would fit in the available space. I ended up with 6, 100 watt panels and 2, 75 watt panels. This combination gave the best fit and most output for my 2018 UTB. Now each rooftop is different and it may be possible to put some larger panels on different models depending on what accessories are installed. So there really isn’t a good straight yes or no answer to your question as it depends!
 

Peter Tourin

2020 Unity RL, ex 2012 Unity MB
DiverBob, if you have 6 100ʻs and 2 75ʻs, how did you wire the panels? I havenʻt looked into solar enough to understand what you do when some of your panels donʻt match the majority.
 

DiverBob

2018 Unity TB
The panels are wired as 3 sets of 100 watt panels in series and then those are wired in parallel. The 75 watt panels are wired in series and then placed in parallel with the other panels coming down from the roof. The 2, 75 watt panels are from Newpowa and they were the largest panels that could fit into the available spaces (I actually wanted 2 Renogy 80 watt panels but they stopped making them). The VOC from the 75 watt panels is just slightly less than the 100 watt panels so that limits the output from the 100 watt panels by a couple of percentage points but not enough to make a significant impact on the power output (obviously 80 watt panels would have been even better). 50 watt panels VOC have enough differential voltage from the 100 watt panels that they would impact the total system output quite a bit without running them through their own controller. I calculated it out once using the 75 watt panels but don’t remember the actual figures anymore but with 750 watts on the roof it comes out to around 730 watts potential total due to the voltage reduction. If I wanted to maximize the output I would need to run a separate set of power lines to another controller. Decided that really wasn’t necessary in this case.
 

SSTraveler

2014 LTV Unity Murphy Bed
There is no one answer as DiverBob said, it depends! For one thing, the roof layout and whether you want any ability to still walk around on your roof. On my roof the 63.8" wouldn't be the issue it's the 25.9" width. The Renogy Compact panel I used is 19.6" wide. I placed it as far as I could to the edge because of the roof curvature on the outside edge. Then the space I have left between my skylight and air conditioner is just enough room for my foot to get in between the panel and those to be able to walk around on the roof. My shoe is less than 5" wide so this 200w panel would really take some modification on the mounting to get it to fit farther over on the curve of the edge and in between the Skylight, AC or fan housings, then there would be no way to walk around. You might be able to use tilt mounts (https://www.amazon.com/Renogy-Adjustable-Solar-Panel-Brackets/dp/B07CSKFWK7/ref=sr_1_3?crid=MS3C9BVAIS0N&dchild=1&keywords=solar+tilt+mount&qid=1613560781&sprefix=Solar+tilt,lawngarden,210&sr=8-3), adding handles on the panel frames, so you could raise them to clean under them to make space to be able to walk around.

I personally don't believe it makes sense to mix and match panel sizes (unless you can match outputs), because doing that can sacrifice efficiency. So while you may find away to shoe horn 780w-900w of panels on your roof it may only have 75% efficiency (585w-675w). Here is a great explanation video on that. I advise people who contact me about this to make cardboard cut outs of the various panel sizes they are interested in and get up on their roof and do various layouts to help decide what panel configuration they want to choose. So far everyone has selected the Renogy Compact 100w panel for their installation.

For people doing upgrades that requires installation of a DC-DC charger, I recommend the Renogy DCC50s (50a alternator charging and solar MPPT Controller) because this gives you an additional solar charge controller that you can add 25v and 25a of solar panels that sends solar charging to your house batteries and keeps your chassis battery trickle charged. This would support creating a separate small sized solar panel array for the little spots left over from the larger 100w panel array on a Victron Smart Solar MPPT Controller. Their are two nuances about the Renogy DCC50S that must be recognized. First, that in order to get the full 50a DC-DC alternator charging, you must turn off the solar panel input to the Renogy when driving, otherwise it's alternator charging is limited to 25a (25a alternator and 25a solar or 50a alternator when no solar panel output voltage detected). Secondly, you must use solar panels in a configuration which generates less than 25v (Open-Circuit Voltage [Voc]) and less than 25a. This is manageable by adding a switch or circuit breaker/Switch to use routinely to disconnect the solar panel input voltage to the Renogy when driving. Then of course just be mindful of your solar panel specifications and configuration output calculations for optimal use of the Renogy MPPT Controller. Lvuman used the Renogy DCC50s in his installation of 650w trying to maximize the solar panels on his roof with the goal of house and chassis battery maintenance charging.

So as you can see the final system outcome depends on many considerations and certainly places a huge emphasis on understanding what you are trying to achieve, planning, and the choices you make to build a system that meets your goals.

 

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Roninmonk

New member
Thanks for the photos SS- our rig is in storage right now so the visual really helps! As always thanks to everyone- you are all amazing and unfortunately continually giving us new opportunities to empty our wallets!
 

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