Adventures with Debra and Robert

Behind the Scenes, Nomad Tips, Tools, and DIY

Installing a Lensun ETFE Flexible Solar Panel on a Fiberglass Hightop

Solar electrical systems are found on many RVs and camper vans. I have had a portable panel that I could deploy while camping, but in our most recent video we show how I went about installing a Lensun ETFE flexible solar panel on a fiberglass hightop.

Hightops are wonderful options in camper vans and Class B RVs as they make the rig much more comfortable. One of the challenges that they introduce, however, is that it is more difficult to mount solar panels to the roof. This is particularly true if the fiberglass hightop is not reinforced with wood ribs to provide a strong point to secure the panels.

The fiberglass hightop on my conversion van camper is not reinforced, and it is curved everywhere. There is literally not a single flat spot on the hightop roof. I was also unable to find an “off the shelf” roof rack that would clear the hightop which left me with the options of custom fabricating a roof rack or installing flexible solar panels that would conform to the curve of the roof.

Lensun ETFE Flexible Solar Panel

Lensun reached out to me about the same time that I was starting to shop for a panel to see if I would be interested in trying their new ETFE flexible solar panel. Since I was actively looking for a flexible panel, and Lensun is a brand that I had heard good things about during my research, I agreed to accept a flexible solar panel to test and review.

ETFE is the new flexible solar panel technology (as opposed to the older PET technology). ETFE panels feature a stronger, fiberglass back sheet, greater efficiency, increased corrosion resistance and temperature range, and improved resistance to dirt and dust buildup. On top of all these benefits, the ETFE panels are more attractive (at least in my opinion).

Installing a Flexible Solar Panel on a Fiberglass Hightop

Drilling through the fiberglass hightop
Drilling through the fiberglass hightop

There are several options for attaching flexible solar panels to the roof of a vehicle. One option is to bolt them down to a roof rack (if one is installed or available for the vehicle). Popular options for installing flexible solar panels to fiberglass or rubber roofs include using VHB tape or Eternabond tape. We went a similar, but slightly different, route with our installation.

Our friend, Glenn, did quite a bit of testing with different products to secure flexible solar panels to the fiberglass roof of his van three years ago. His recommendation was Dual Lock Reclosable Fastener from 3M. If you are not familiar with this product, think of an industrial strength Velcro only different (Dual Lock utilizes a bunch of mushroom-shaped tabs that lock together). The stuff is incredible strong – and it comes apart should the panel ever need to be removed.

As an added layer of security, I also applied a strip of 4″ Eternabond tape to the leading edge of the flexible solar panel. It is the leading edge that will lift and fail first so this extra precautionary step allows me more peace of mind while driving down the highway.

I have had this flexible solar panel installed for several weeks now and have been pleased with the performance. Everything is working as it should and the panel is reliably putting out power all day every day.

Visit the Lensun Solar website to learn more about the 100 Watt ETFE flexible solar panel that we installed on my van.

Watch the Video

We recorded an entire video detailing installing the Lensun ETFE flexible solar panel.

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