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Solar panel (for new T6.1) advice please

This curly cable or through the roof debate could rage for years, ultimately it depends on the priorities of the owner.

There is nothing inherently wrong with either approach, there are facts and there are opinions.

The facts are:

Through the roof requires drilling holes in the pop-top - 5 in total if a Scanstrut cable seal is used.
A curly cable is in certain circumstances inherently vulnerable as it is a loose extendable cable on the roof of your van.

Whether either of these facts cause you a problem in the long term will depend entirely on usage and skill when fitting.

In my personal case my logic is as follows:

1. I bought the Cali because of its compact dimensions - It needs to be fit for daily use - I need to be able to use multi-storey and underground car parks and some of them have very limited height - therefore I will go for the solar solution that adds the least height to the van. For me this meant either glued to the roof directly or mounted on sunken carrier panels.

2. I want to use car washes - a car wash takes a few minutes and there is a car wash 200 metres from my home which the Cali fits in, washing by hand takes 45 mins or so and if travelling time is added, even more - I live in a town where the water table is protected by law and the nearest "Wash Box" where you can wash by hand is 20 mins away. Washing on your driveway where I live is illegal. By using a car wash I reckon I save around 80-90 mins a wash, over the expected life of the van that really adds up. I put my van through the car wash about 40 times in the year, that's 53-60 hours a year where I could be doing something more interesting than washing a van.

3. Where I live there are also no speed limits on the motorways. I have driven my Cali at over 180 kph - it tops out at about 200 kmh - it's quite happy cruising at 160-170 kmh, which in other countries isn't legal. As the Cali was built in Germany, it is designed to travel at those speeds - the pop-top won't flip off (I hope). The difference in wind speed and therefore power going over the roof between 70 mph (112 kmh) and 180 kmh is considerable. I simply don't know if a curly cable is OK when regularly subjected to this kind of speed. It's a moot point, because the car wash requirement kills the curly cable solution for me anyway.

These requirements mean that my solar solution needs to be very flat and with no exposed loose cabling.

As I said earlier there is no "right" solution. You just have to be happy with the choices you make for your personal circumstances. Either option is fine IMO, I've chosen through roof but I am in no place to judge others for choosing curly cables.

PS: I can also see Rogers point about glueing flexible panels to flat surfaces, when you sell kits for self-installation you have no idea how the owner that buys the kit is going to glue the panel down - even with explicit instructions on how to avoid air locks, water traps and other problems.
 

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