stealth panel

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landyacht.318
landyacht.318 Solar Expert Posts: 82 ✭✭✭✭
I am currently in the process of mounting my kc 130 panel on top of my conversion van. The fiberglass roof is white, and the aerodynamic fiberglass mounts will be white, and I would very much like to have the aluminum frame of the panel to be white as well.

Not only will it look better, it will be less obvious to the average passer/ driverby that it is a campervan, stuffed with valueable electronics.

Anybody have any reccomendations on getting paint to adhere to aluminum?

I'm on a pretty tight budget so I'm thinking along the lines of a rattle can or 2 of primer and paint.

Also I'm not sure if the frame of the Kyocera 130 is anondized, and if that makes a difference in prepping/ priming/ painting.

Thanks

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  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
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    Re: stealth panel

    Etch the surface with 600 grit wet or dry sandpaper, clean thoroughly with lacquer thinner and clean towels, remove dust and lint left from the towels with a tack cloth and use zinc chromate primer. Use a good quality paint designed for metal as expansion and contraction can cause cracks and crazing.

    Cheers,

    Bad Apple
  • mike95490
    mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,583 ✭✭✭✭✭
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    Re: stealth panel

    If the frame IS anondized, you don't want to sand it, just wipe it down with a good solvent to clean it, and paint away. use metal primer, and then a good weatherproof top coat. Use good expensive paint, you get one shot at it. And mask the panel first.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • crewzer
    crewzer Registered Users, Solar Expert Posts: 1,832 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: stealth panel

    Painting anodized aluminum shouldn't be a problem. The frame will get hot when exposed to the Sun, so you might want to look into engine block paint (Krylon brand?). Exhaust manifold paint is probably overkill...

    HTH,
    Jim / crewzer
  • Vic
    Vic Solar Expert Posts: 3,208 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: stealth panel

    Have had very good luck with Krylon(r) Ruddy Red Primer as a primer coat. When dry, seems to stick to anyting.

    It is also available under the Ace brand as "Rust Stop (red) Primer" -- seems to be identical.

    This stuff even sticks to chrome-plated hand tools. Good stuff.

    Vic
    Off Grid - Two systems -- 4 SW+ 5548 Inverters, Surrette 4KS25 1280 AH X2@48V, 11.1 KW STC PV, 4X MidNite Classic 150 w/ WBjrs, Beta KID on S-530s, MX-60s, MN Bkrs/Boxes.  25 KVA Polyphase Kubota diesel,  Honda Eu6500isa,  Eu3000is-es, Eu2000,  Eu1000 gensets.  Thanks Wind-Sun for this great Forum.
  • landyacht.318
    landyacht.318 Solar Expert Posts: 82 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: stealth panel

    Does anybody know if my frame is anodised? I have a spare piece of each and the KC 130 seems to fall between the 2 in texture and appearance.
  • niel
    niel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: stealth panel

    it is. i copied this straight from kyocera:
    The entire laminate is installed in an anodized aluminum frame to provide structural strength and ease of installation.
  • n3qik
    n3qik Solar Expert Posts: 741 ✭✭
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    Re: stealth panel
    Bad Apple wrote: »
    Etch the surface with 600 grit wet or dry sandpaper, clean thoroughly with lacquer thinner and clean towels, remove dust and lint left from the towels with a tack cloth and use zinc chromate primer. Use a good quality paint designed for metal as expansion and contraction can cause cracks and crazing.

    Cheers,

    Bad Apple
    This is the best way.

    You can just paint it but it will flake off it.
    We do the aluminum store fronts for shopping centers, our old painter did acid etch the frames prior to painting. The new one does not and the paint chips very easy.
  • mike95490
    mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,583 ✭✭✭✭✭
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    Re: stealth panel

    IF the panels are anodized, average grits won't cut thru the hard anodized film. A good de-greasing should be fine, prior to paint. (that's what we do with spacecraft parts, anodize & paint.)

    IF they are raw aluminum (mill finish) then they get the soft, white powder anodized film which nothing sticks to, and you will have to sand. Most frames, I would think, would be anodized, so they will last 20+ years, without turning to dust.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
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    Re: stealth panel

    One easy way to check if anodized, is with a common multimeter, set on OHMS.
    Check for continuity between two locations on the surface of the metal. Non anodized and you should easily get an indication of low resistance, while if it's anodized, you will have to basically scratch hard, with lots of pressure, to get through the surface layer with the meter probes before getting continuity.
    I remember as a kid, being "educated" that Aluminum was a non conductor. I knew better, but kept my mouth shut, as I was only a kid who knew nothing.
    Guess if I had come across a piece of anodized aluminum at that early age, I would have believed it too.
    Wayne
  • landyacht.318
    landyacht.318 Solar Expert Posts: 82 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: stealth panel

    Thank you everybody for the information!!

    I searched all over google and couldn't find 2 sites which didn't contradict each other or try to sell me a gallon of super primer for 125$. The brand specifications are welcome info as well.

    It's nice to be in the final stages of my project. For the last 5 months I've been thinking up Ideas how to best mount this panel, so it will be difficult for it to grow legs, and be able to tilt toward the sun (on either side of the van)when boondocking in Baja. I've gotten it all designed and 75% built. Now to apply my fiberglassing skills to adhere it to the roof.

    I really appreciate all the replies I've gotten to all my questions since June.

    I'll post some photos when the project is done.
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,471 admin
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    Re: stealth panel

    Ending up with something that looks a little "used" may not be the worst thing (not many would know to steal a $1,000 solar panel that has chipped/old looking paint on the frame).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Ralph Day
    Ralph Day Solar Expert Posts: 1,019 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: stealth panel

    I think that's called "distressed" in the antiques (or fake antiques) trade.

    When fibreglassing/bonding your mounts be sure to use West System epoxy and it's associated additives, they can't be beat! (not a product endoresement, It's just never failed me).

    ralp;hhttp://forum.solar-electric.com/images/icons/icon10.gif
    Talking
  • landyacht.318
    landyacht.318 Solar Expert Posts: 82 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: stealth panel
    Ralph Day wrote: »
    I think that's called "distressed" in the antiques (or fake antiques) trade.

    When fibreglassing/bonding your mounts be sure to use West System epoxy and it's associated additives, they can't be beat! (not a product endoresement, It's just never failed me).

    ralp;hhttp://forum.solar-electric.com/images/icons/icon10.gif
    Talking

    One thing I don't like about west system epoxy is the 5 to 1 mixing ratio. It leaves too much room for error. Nothing is worse than having a soft epoxy that has to be removed and redone. Another thing is the prolific Amine blush which must be removed before successive layers or paint is added.

    I always preferred System 3 epoxies, the clear coat and the sb-112 with the uv stabilizers. Both dry without any amine blush and don't need to be sanded before successive layers are added. The 2 parts resin to one part hardener makes it easier to fall with in the 3 Percent mixing margin for error that ALL epoxies demand for proper curing and structural strength.

    Since epoxies are expensive, and are more succeptable to heat and uv degradation than polyester resin, the latter is what I'm going to use for this application.

    One other thing to consider is that fiberglass mat is not compatable with epoxy. The adhesive holds the mat together is dissolved by the styrene in polyester resin, allowing the mat to be stretched or compressed. Epoxy will not dissolve this adhesive and will not penetrate the fibers of the mat.

    Those qualities ( stretching and compressing) are not easy to obtain with fiberglass cloth, which must be pulled tight and squeegeed flat for maximum strength. Another factor in my application is heat. I don't have any shade. My van won't fit in the garage. With polyester resin I can add just a little catalyst, and not have to worry about the sun's uv degrading the hardener in the epoxy while it attempts to cure, which it will not do properly in direct sunlight, even with a slow hardener.

    If I felt I needed the extra bonding and tensile strength of epoxy over polyester resin, I would pay the extra, and devise some shade to work in, but having built many Boats and thousands of surfboards I know the polyester is more than adequate for my application
  • System2
    System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
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    Re: stealth panel
    One thing I don't like about west system epoxy is the 5 to 1 mixing ratio. It leaves too much room for error.
    <snip>
    Since epoxies are expensive, and are more succeptable to heat and uv degradation than polyester resin, the latter is what I'm going to use for this application.

    Catalyst to resin ratio for polyester resin is on the order of drops per pint so don't base selection on that. Also, if you buy it from a supply house and not a kit from Pep Boys or such, make sure that you specify "with wax" or the resin will be tacky forever, much like myself. Supply houses have a variety of roving weights and rollers as well to help make the job easier and look better.

    Cheers,

    Bad Apple
  • landyacht.318
    landyacht.318 Solar Expert Posts: 82 ✭✭✭✭
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    polyester resin 101

    Yep, I'm well aware of the difference between sanding and laminating resin, having learned the hard way over 2 decades ago in my early teens.

    In the spirit of passing on knowledge about polyester resin to those that might not know, surfectant(wax) can be added to any laminating resin to make it into sanding/ finishing resin. A lot of people just use the sanding resin to wet out cloth and mat, and this will work, but there is a trade off. Sanding resin is more brittle and does not adhere as strongly as laminating resin. Sanding resin must also be sanded with at maximum of 120 grit paper before any additional layers will properly bond, much like epoxies that form an amine blush when they cure. Epoxies must be rinsed after this blush is physically removed, unless it is a blush free epoxy.

    The proper method of layering fiberglass cloth with polyester resin is to wet out the cloth with laminating resin and let dry till tacky. Most likely before another layer can be added if needed, areas(high spots or loose strands) will need to be knocked down so as not to cause bubbles under the next layer. Generally the accepted method is the use of sacrificial 36 grit sandpaper. The paper will get gummed up quickly and become useless. The only way around this is to paint a layer of sanding resin over it, wait till that cures , then sand that. This will compromise the bond of the sucessive layer of fiberglass to some degree.

    When enough layers of cloth, saturated with laminating resin are down, then sanding resin can be brushed on over the layers of laminating resin and cloth, allowing the laminating resin to cure fully to it's maximum strength. The resin can now be sanded down through all the layers of cloth now if desired(not) without gumming up the sandpaper.

    Covering your laminating resin with a layer of sanding/finishing/gloss resin yields at least a 30 % increase in strength, as opposed to using sanding resin to wet out the cloth. You can paint on the sanding resin just after the laminating resin has 'tacked off' generally after 20 minutes, depending on the amount of catalyst used.

    Gloss resin is formulated with extra UV inhibitors and is designed to be polished to a mirror finish. It is also thinner and self levelling. Makes the final product less microscopically porous.

    From a non production, maximum strength viewpoint, you want the resin to cure as slow as possible, without the resin draining from the cloth or mat due to gravity and excessive time. Over catalyzing the resin causes it to heat up, and expand excessivly, then contract as it cures seriously impairing its strength and bond to the underlaying material. I've witnessed more than one surfer trying to fix a ding, panic as their repair started to turn brown, smoke, and maybee even catch fire.

    One among many advantages of Polyester resin over Epoxy resin is that it will always eventually cure. Even uncatalyzed resin, in contact with cured resin will eventually cure 100%. After 24 hours or so, if epoxy is still gummy or tacky, means it was improperly mixed, and will never attain it's maximum flexural and tensile strengths. It will always be soft.

    Epoxy resins when properly mixed are stronger, lighter, less porous and bond much stronger to many more substrates than polyester resin.
    Vinyl ester resin falls between the 2 in terms of price and strength, but is mixed and applied in a similar manner as Polyester.

    But this has nothing to do with Solar, unless of course you are fabricating fiberglass solar panel mounts for your fiberglass roofed RV. Maybee this info can help someone down the road avoid an aggravating mishap when attempting to use fiberglass.

    Thanks again for all the info about painting my panel frames.