Mounting Solar Panels on a Bus or Tiny House
I often get asked about this topic and it's important to do this part of your system correctly! At the end of the day the best person to ask is your engineer who is signing off on the conversion and we obviously don't take any responsibility for how you go about this, but here is a few ideas/suggestions on how you could mount your solar panels!
The products I like to use are the same as what is used to mount solar panels onto house roofs. They are well built, easily fit together and are very cost effective.
The systems consist of mounting feet like these that are screwed into the roof.
You can put in as many feet as you like, generally I would suggest at every rib/structural member in the bus. Our bus is approximately every 1200mm-1400mm. To mount the brackets down, some people use bolts or, my favourite screws are fine threaded roofing tek screws like these here. I also put silicone underneath the bracket, just like Nick from Bus or Bust has, to prevent water getting into the bus.
The rail is then bolted to these feet and run length ways down the bus like this.
The width between the 2 rails depends on lots of things, generally I try to put the rails about 200-300mm in from the edge of panel. So if the solar panels was 2000mm wide, I would have the solar rails at 1400mm-1600mm apart.
After the rails are all bolted down is the hard part, getting the panels on the roof! Some people are creative in the way to do it, being careful is all I can suggest! Careful not to hurt yourself and careful not to damage the solar panels!
Once the panels are laid, you use the brackets pictured below to bolt them to the rail. I either use a 6mm Hex bit in an impact driver or a T bar style wrench to make sure they're tight!
These are the brackets for the ends (front and back) of the solar panels.
These are the brackets that go in between the panels (holding 1 solar panel down on each side of the bracket).
The important part of laying the solar panels is getting the first one to be square, as it will make a big difference by the time you get to laying the last panel!
There are other things to consider for the installation of the solar panels such as where it is best to run the cable down to your switchboard. It may be hidden somewhere like inside a wall or behind a fridge etc. Another thing is how to get the cables onto the roof, I like to use a weatherproof box like the photo below and have the cables come up into the bottom of the box and out the side. Just remember, lots of silicone to keep the water out!
A huge thank you to Bus or Bust for the awesome documentation of their solar panel installation!
Wishing you all the best with this, don't forget, my phone's always on!