For a while now I’ve been thinking about putting solar hot water and solar photovoltaic panels on slide out mechanisms on the roof of my RTS bus conversion.
Today I found a supplier that would make this plan easy to implement.
I imagine that when camped I could push a button and solar panels could extend from the street and curb side of the conversion.
There would be the primary panels about a foot over the top of the roof, flush with the top of the roof deck shroud I’m planning. The extra panels would be under the primary set, and these are the panels that would slide out.
At first I thought I would use stainless steel heavy duty drawer slides for this project, but they are very costly and would require that I build a frame to use them with. Then, on YouTube, I found the solution: Glide N Grab
This company makes slide out platforms for pickup trucks, work vehicles and RVs. The platforms are available made from aluminum, which I like for weight savings and corrosion resistance. The aluminum slides are available in capacities up to 1,000 pounds. Photovoltaic panels weigh about 50 pounds, and I probably could fit two at once on one of these slide out platforms. That would leave unused capacity of 900 pounds to battle the forces of the wind, which could be ferocious. The Glide and Grab company even sells a motorized extend and retract option, so I wouldn’t have to build something special.
These slides are quite affordable compared to drawer slides, and I think they’re much more suited to the task. I probably won’t implement this plan for years, as I still have so much work to do, and I’m busy with work and my urban homestead. But I wanted to write about this today as I am really excited about this idea. For bus converters where money is of little object, these slides are cheap, and if you covered the roof of a $2,000,000 Prevost with panels and slide out panels on the street and curb side, that’s probably enough power to run an air conditioner to keep 1/4 or a 1/3rd of the vehicle cool without running a generator. This would be a green selling point, and it would certainly be a conversation starter in the high end resorts where the owners of these vehicles vacation. These 45 foot monsters could be segmented with doors or curtains so the entire vehicle doesn’t need to be cooled at once.
If I build shipping container houses, these slides make sense, since a key goal is to not need grid electricity. For extreme climates, the area on the roof of a container may not be large enough to generate all the energy needed. With these Glide N Grab slides, one can at least triple the solar capture area. I suspect that the slide area does not count as ‘projected roof area’ when building codes are applied, since the panels can be retracted each day when the sun goes down or during severe winds. Using slides on the roof of a shipping container house would also allow more of the roof of the container itself to be used for food production, increasing the potential for self sufficiency.
This idea is certainly less adventuresome than the idea of making entire rooms slide out of an RV or bus conversion, which must have seemed crazy when first proposed. Room slides caught on, and even inexpensive RVs and travel trailers now offer them.
I see no reason why solar hot water heating panels can’t be placed on these Glide N Grab slides, though perhaps the heavier duty steel slides would have to be used, and special water tubing would have to be used that is both flexible and resistant to ultraviolet radiation.
If you implement this sliding solar panel plan before I do, please send me some pictures.
I suspect someone has already thought of this idea and has implemented it. I couldn’t find any references after a brief search online. If you know of a writeup that predates this one, please add a comment to this post. Thank you!