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Installing solar panels on an RV without drilling has long been the holy grail for RV owners. The benefits of solar power are plentiful, but do you have to drill holes on your new camper to avail of it? Actually no, since there are drill free solar panels available now.
Solar panels can be attached to an RV roof by applying adhesive on the mounting brackets. The brackets are then pressed firmly on the surface, so there is no need to drill holes
How to Install RV Solar Panels without Drilling
In this example we will be using the Renogy Corner Bracket Drill Free Set, but the installation should be similar with other adhesive based PV modules. As always, check the instructions that came with your product. Note: Sealant may be applied around the brackets for extra strength.
These are not included with the product. Make sure you have these or their equivalents before proceeding with the installation.
- Masking tape
- Caulking gun
- Tape measure
- Spirit level
- hand pads
- Adhesive (Sikaflex 252 recommended)
- Apply the adhesive on the corner bracket top side, right where the solar panel will be placed. Repeat this for all the brackets. There should be six brackets in the package.
- Apply the brackets onto the solar panel.
- Put adhesive on the back of each bracket.
- Lift the solar panel onto the RV roof and press it down.
- Optional: apply Dicor sealant around the brackets.
That is all there is to the installation. Give the adhesive 72 hours to dry and it is good to go. Compared to installing solar panels the usual way , this process is simpler and more straightforward.
- Read the instructions. While the process is easy, there might be additional information particular to the bracket you bought.
- You do not have to use Sikaflex 252. That is what Renogy recommends but you can try another adhesive. Just make sure it is compatible with solar panel mounting brackets. Follow the manufacturer instructions if you are going to use another adhesive brand.
- Installation should be done during sunny weather, as the adhesive needs at least three days to fully dry.
- Mark the roof area where you want to mount the solar panel. The adhesive bonds tightly and will be very difficult to remove once in place.
Do I Have to Install All Six Brackets, or Will Four Corner Brackets be Enough? The four corner brackets may be enough for casual / normal RV driving, but just to be safe you should install all six brackets.
Does the Renogy Corner Bracket Include Nuts and Bolts? No, because the system is drill free. This is true of other drill free solar bracket systems too. You can install them with nuts and bolts, but these are not bundled.
- If you are installing a large solar panel, have someone assist you in lifting the modules on the roof.
- If you are not comfortable installing solar panels, have a professional installer do it for you.
- Renogy Corner Brackets – and adhesive solar installations in general – are for RVs only. Solar panels for homes have to be drilled and fastened.
- Drill free solar brackets work only for rigid solar panels. If you have a curved roof, consider flexible solar panels instead.
Are Drill Free Solar Panel Installations Secure?
Drill free solar brackets are secure when installed properly, so there is no reason to worry the panel will fly off. It is important to follow the instructions though, and you must give the adhesive sufficient time to dry.
The concern is understandable of course. If you have always installed solar panels by drilling, adhesive doesn’t seem too secure. But a lot of RV owners have used VHB tape, SikaFlex 252 and other types of adhesive and it has proven effective. Applying Dicor or another sealant further strengthens the bond so you can do that too.
Can you combine adhesive brackets with drilling? Sure, drill holes in the roof and mount the solar panel as you usually would. Then apply the adhesive onto the brackets and sealant if you want. Wait for the sealant and adhesive to dry and it is set.
Combining drill / adhesive / sealant adds extra security and peace of mind, but it kind of defeats the purpose of drill free brackets. The whole point of adhesive is you don’t have to drill holes in your RV anymore. However you can go this route if you want extra security for your panels or you drive in difficult road conditions and weather.
Can I Use Drill Free Brackets on Flexible Solar Panels?
You cannot use drill free brackets on flexible solar panels. Flexible solar panels are bonded directly on the roof so there is no need for brackets.
You can use flex solar panels for RVs, but keep in mind that they are less sturdy than rigid PV modules. They cannot provide as much power either, though they are more affordable. If you have a large battery bank or another power source, you may get away with flexible solar panels.
What are the Benefits of Drill Free Solar Panels?
The most obvious, and for many the most important benefit is not having to drill holes on the roof. Yes the unsightly holes will be covered when you install the solar panels, but what if you decide to remove them?
Drilling holes in an RV roof could also cause leaks. Old RVs are particularly vulnerable to this which is why some people are hesitant about drilling. With a drill free solar bracket you don’t have to worry about drilling holes.
And there are benefits worth noting.
- Compatible with different RV roofs. Drill free solar brackets are compatible with various types of roofing materials like wood and aluminum. If you have a modern camper chances are solar mount adhesives will work with it.
- Easy to install. As showed in the steps above, installation is very easy. Even if you have to install a solar array, the process is simple.
- Compatible with almost all solar panels. Adhesive mounts are compatible with aluminum framed solar panels, which is 99% of all popular brands and models. If your solar panel has an aluminum frame, you can use adhesive for RV installation.
- Durable. Renogy corner brackets are made of heavy duty ABS and can handle extreme weather conditions.
Lastly, drill free brackets are light weight so they won’t put a lot of pressure on the roof. The installation also raises the panel by a few inches, providing the space solar panels need to keep cool.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will Drill Free Brackets Fly Off When Driving at Highway Speed?
If the adhesive had enough time to dry and was applied properly, it should not careen off. There must be sufficient amounts of adhesive on the backside of the brackets and on the corners where you installed the solar panel frame. Even driving at high speed should not cause the bracket to fly off. However if you have a tilted RV solar mount, you have to fold it before driving.
Will the Bracket Adhesive Damage My RV Roof?
Find a solar bracket adhesive that is compatible with your RV roofing material. If you have a modern or solar ready RV, use the adhesive recommended by the solar panel bracket manufacturer.
Is it Better to Drill and Apply Adhesive Than Adhesive lone?
If you drive on regular roads and highways at average speeds, adhesive alone will be fine. If your RV frequently deals with high pressure winds and challenging rod conditions, a combination of adhesive and drilling may be the better option.
Is My RV Roof Compatible with Drill Free Solar Brackets?
Adhesives for solar brackets are compatible with GRP, aluminum and wood materials so it should work with your RV roof. If you are not sure, check the product website.
Can I Use Drill Free Brackets on a Boat?
Yes, these adhesives work for RVs, caravans, boats and other vehicles. These are not however, meant for use on rooftop solar installations
Can I Use Adhesive on Flexible Solar Panels?
Yes, in fact your flex panels may already come with adhesive. However they are not as efficient as rigid solar panels. Because flexible panels are bonded directly on the roof, there is no way for air to flow between the module and the roof. This could cause overheating in high temperatures.
What Type of Adhesive Should I Use?
Whatever the bracket manufacturer recommends. Among the most popular options are VHB Tape, Sikaflex 252 and Eternal Bond. There are many other adhesives and sealants you may use.
Can I Remove the Brackets Once They are Installed?
These solar panel mounts are meant to be semi or fully permanent installations. You may be able to remove them, but only with specialized tools and it could take a while. Consult a professional installer if you are worried about damaging the roof.
Drilling holes to fasten RV solar panels is so common that some think it is the only option. but there are now drill free mounting brackets available so you don’t have to drill holes on your camper anymore. Some prefer nuts and bolts while other like adhesive, but the great thing is you have a choice.