Not all solar panels are alike!
Greg, a clever mechanical engineer of Dubois, Wyoming, has 12 64-watt “panels.” Four roll out from the side of his truck, and four are mounted on top. He has six lead-acid batteries. Four slide out on a drawer at the tailgate and two more are up front. Although not a camping person, Greg uses the solar power at his home and on job sites.
Watch Greg’s exciting video by clicking on comments and scrolling down!
Thatis one neat rig, hope he patents some of those ideas and makes a fortune!!! The ‘rollouts’ are unique…hope Al @ Bayfield bunch sees this!
Wow, what a brilliant idea!! I have long been a fan of the Unisolar flexible panels. At the first Rubber Tramp Rendezvous in Quartzsite, Az, Unisolar had a booth set up at the Big Tent RV Show, and several members just had to have them. So we helped install them. They are the perfect solar panel for Class B vans that have so much on their roof (and the roof is very often convoluted) they can’t fit regular solar panels. So we set them up with quick connects so they can easily plug and unplug the panels. They roll the panels up and carry them under the bed, then when they get to their next camp they unroll them, connect them to the quick connect and lay them out in the sun. A bonus is that with a 50 foot cable the panels can be in the sun while the van is in the shade.
Great work Gregg, truly innovative! Can you give us an idea of exactly what you use to roll the panels up and down on. Do you have any thoughts on how to do it on a small scale on the side of a van? Thanks, Bob
I’ve got an idea… How about a combination awning/solar panels!! (I expect they are too heavy to put on the side of a fiberglass bodied class C.) Perhaps in the future…
The only problem with mounting this kind of roll-up PV on the side of anything is not the weight, but the size … the rolled diameter. You can’t roll this particular species of thin-film PV too tightly without damaging it with repeated deployments. It should not be rolled smaller than a 12-inch diameter. Well, that would hang off the side too much and likely get lopped off by rocks and trees if traveling a narrow, winding road. The roll you see in the slide show weighs less than 10 pounds and is made of 0.020 aluminum sheet rolled around three spaced cast aluminum v-belt sheaves as the main support hubs and for the shaft. The entire rolled up conglomeration including the panel material weighs in at about 45 pounds. That’s really not allot of weight if the mounting hardware is well spread out and the load is distributed. I had considered embedding such a roll-up electricity-generating awing in the side of a motor home or trailer, but I have neither. I’d like to build and perfect one like that though. I won’t attempt to describe the support mechanism you see in the slideshow, but I’ll say it is easy to deploy at almost any angle from fully tilted downward to horizontal. It’s kinda’ neat having an awning that generates electricity while also providing shade. Greg
Greg, me thinks you are on to something here!!!! Sorage hookups in bays of motorhome & 5th wheels look to be ideal areas, have never seen the Unisolars but will look. Thanks!
Thanks for letting me share this, Greg, and for telling us more about your solar! You may get more questions as time goes by . . .
my pleasure … you have a crack group of followers.
Never heard of roll up solar panels. They seem to be “protected” from the elements like hail. Thanks for sharing.
Hubby says he has seen similar with military stuff….he thinks this just might be a solution for us if/when we get our rig set up. (RVing is our #2 choice in retirement). Thanks so much for sharing…and anything Greg wants to add will be appreciated too.
Thanks, Greg, that is extremely creative thinking!! If anyone is interested in the Unisolar flexible panels, Amazon has a very good price on the 124 watt panel.
Be aware these panels are long and narrow. The 64 watt is 9 feet long and this 124 watt is almost 20 feet long. They come with a sticky back that just sticks to the roof. And Sue, you never have to worry about hail since it will just bounce off without doing any damage!! Bob
Oh … maybe I should have put it here. I’m sure Sue will move it to the right place.
Love the video, Greg! The music fits perfectly!