Picked up a small solar panel off of eBay for 99 cents. The seller has no information about the voltage or amps, but, for 99 cents, I thought I would bid anyway. Ended up winning the panel for 99 cents and shipping was $12.00, Cool!
Did some research on the web and these panels are said to produce power in any sunlight light or cloudy days. Thought that would make an ideal trickle charger for smaller batteries that start the gas generator or future 12 volt LED lights for the cabin
When it finally arrived in the mail, I did some tests and it pushed out 24 volts at .25 amps (open, no load). The numbers are low, but the panel was lying almost flat on the ground.
Since it was small and square, thought it would be ideal to mount it to the Satellite TV Dish. There was a just enough space under 100-watt panel.
I got to work creating some “Z” clamps from a left over piece of angle metal. I measured how thick the solar panel was and marked it as the bend point of the metal. Unlike the first time make these Z clamps, I measured out spaces for the widths of the clamps. Using a permanent marker, I was able to show where to bend and cut the holes for the bolts.
Note: Might not seem like a big deal to measure, but most of the time, I’m under some imaginary deadline and I thinking about the next step even before I’m finished the step I’m working on. It’s like flying-on-the-seat-of-your-pants working. Sometimes great ideas come out of it, but, the result is sloppy workmanship.
Using a cordless drill with a 1/8th bit, made a hole in each Z-clamp so it cloud be fit to the IKEA slide rail. Grabbed the 4 amp trusty angle grinder, plugged it into the 1500 watt inverter and fired it up. With the thin cutting blade, it sliced through the metal angle iron no problem. I took my time rounding the edges of the metal, so it didn’t have nasty burrs, to slice my figures.
Once the four Z-clamps were bent and ready, I went up on the roof for sizing the panel the rails. That is when I noticed my oversight. The space left over on the satellite TV dish mount was not enough. About 3-1/2″ too short.. odd, didn’t look like that from the ground. Anyway, it was a minor set back, but I had an idea on how to add an extension arm to the bottom of the IKEA rails. Went and rummaged through my pile of old solar panel mounts from a few years back.
Found two,1″ x 9″ pieces of stainless steel metal with pre-drilled holes. The first thought was to put the two Z-Clamps on the ends and bolt it onto the rail. When I went up on to the roof to do some rough measuring, I noticed the 9″ strips slid nicely inside the rails, sweet!
That worked so much better than the previous idea. To help secure the 9″ strip in the rail, I used a small 1″ carriage bolt with a lock washer and a washer. The lock washer added just enough tension to keep the bolt from sliding out. I went back to the solar panel and measured its width, 13-3/4″. Then I slid the extension arm up into the rail and adjusted it so the panel would sit neatly. Slid in the solar panel side ways and tightened it up. Nice!
It worked out better than I thought, the panel was very secure, but not too much weight for the mount.