Mounting panels on an aluminum RV roof: anyone tried using a roof rack?

TradiscantiaTradiscantia Solar Expert Posts: 31 ✭✭
The roof of our aluminum trailer is thin sheet over polystyrene insulation. Since we don't want the location of the panels restricted by the roof studs (we are tight for space with a total of 14' x <8'), we are thinking of using some kind of aluminum roof rack that will suspend the panels above the roof and bolt into the top of the sidewall. Also, my husband is leery of drilling holes in the roof.

Thus far, our search has only yielded fairly expensive options such as Thule roof racks and Vertirack ladder racks. If anyone has tried this, please let us know how it worked out. Did you build something or find something prebuilt that could be modified?



  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 5,248 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Mounting panels on an aluminum RV roof: anyone tried using a roof rack?

    Many yrs ago, in an effort to fit in while wandering around in the ozarks, I rigged up an old car roof rack that used piers and nylon straps to the gutters. Of course cars don't have gutters any more, but if you have a place to strap it down on the side or even if you wanted to mount such a thing through the side leaving the roof intact that might be an option.

    Drove about 10,000 miles that way and had no problems but it was on old heavy steel roof. The rack placed the panels about 8" off the roof (just 2 small panels by todays standards a 90 and 50 watt) no vibration which is what I feared. Got close to 15mpg in a Dodge 1 ton van w/318 w/burnt valve so I don't think it hurt the mpg much, but I drive slow anywho...
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, 660 ah 24v ForkLift battery. Off grid for @16 of last 17 years. Assorted other systems, and to many panels in the closet to not do
  • westendwestend Solar Expert Posts: 46
    Re: Mounting panels on an aluminum RV roof: anyone tried using a roof rack?

    Fastening a rack system to the aluminum edge trim on the roof would certainly work but you'll then need to install additional rails that need to be fairly sturdy to carry the weight of the module/s. Here's what I did on my aluminum roof:


    The mounting rails are 1 1/2" 6061 aluminum "U" channel. The channel is on top of a section of Eternabond tape to afford mounting on top of existing seams and to seal screw holes. Each channels is bedded into Geocel 4300 polymer sealant and fastened into three roof rafters with 2", #12 stainless screws.

    Good luck with the installation!
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