Camper Mod Contest Entries

Tilting Solar Panel Install

Welcome to the PowerMod truck camper mod contest, sponsored by Goal Zero. One mod will be published in every Email Alert in February. At the end of the month, a reader vote will determine a winner. Click for information about the 2024 PowerMod Contest, including how to enter.

Tilting Solar Panel Install

Lincoln Benedict, Brunswick, Maine
Tilting Solar Panel Install
2016 Ford F-150
2022 Cirrus 620

Tilting Solar Panel Installation Deployed

I just acquired a Cirrus 620, which I use to work remotely and ski. Unfortunately, this means my highest use is when the sun is lowest in the sky and has the shortest amount of time.

This mod adds a 100-watt solar panel to my 215-watt standard panel included with the 620. But because this panel tilts, I can usually double the amount of power I generate in the day with the sun low on the horizon.

I had seen a Cirrus 820 panel mod with electric actuators. It looked like a great solution, but it was too complex for my taste and skills. I had seen tilting mounts that were made for panels that would stay tilted. I had also seen mods on YouTube where people had used gas struts, like those on a car hood or trunk, to tilt solar panels.

So, I took from each solution, leaving the original solar panel in place and locating the 100-watt panel where I could manually extend and retract it.

I purchased a 41-inch Eco-Worthy kit for tilting the panel and a pair of 30-pound push gas struts along with mounting 10mm balls.

Tilting Solar Panel Installation Strut Cut Outs

Above: The Strut Cut-Outs

All of this was assembled in the house. I figured out that the sides worked in nicely to the panel but that they had to be the same orientation, This meant the angle bar had to face the same direction and there couldn’t be an inner and outer.

Once assembled, I also figured out where the gas struts would intersect with the angle bar from the kit. I then used a Dremel to cut out a space so that the solar panel could close flat. The result wasn’t pretty, but it didn’t seem to have any noticeable effect structurally.

Tilting Solar Panel Installation Struts

I then cleaned the roof and attached VHB tape to the bottom of the angle bar from the tilt kit, the whole way. I had concerns about it not sticking but figured 41 inches was a lot of area and the load was in sheer–versus vertical–so it should be fine. I secured it to the angle bar but left the covering on the other side so it wouldn’t stick to the roof.

From there, I marked out where the panel naturally rested. I now wish I had been a little more exacting inside. The panel was slightly crooked, but I didn’t realize that at the time.

Tilting Solar Panel Installation Folded Strut Compressed

Above: Folded Strut Compressed

After marking, I tilted the whole assembly, lined the inside angle bar up with the marks, and then peeled off the VHB covering. I lowered to where there was some adhesion and then took the covering off the VHB on the outside. Similarly, I made sure it was in the right place. Then, I pressed down hard to make sure there was adhesion. After that, I covered the VHB with waterproof tape to try and protect it.

This mod has worked amazingly thus far. First off, I was worried about VHB tape. I am no longer. I cannot get it to pull up at all. I only lift the roof structure itself. I have had it driving during snowstorms and rainstorms, camping at 5-degree temps, and 80-mile-per-hour speeds on the highway.

Tilting Solar Panel Installation Deployed2

I have gone up on the ladder and checked it and it’s still fine.

Tilting Solar Panel Installation Top View

Materials Used:
Four Pieces Of Ball Mount Threaded Stud Brackets 10mm Gas Prop Strut – $11.99
Genuine 3M VHB #5952 Double-Sided Mounting Acrylic Foam Tape – $20.57
Eco-Worthy Solar Panel RV Tilt Mount Brackets Adjustable Frame Package – $29.79
Universal Lift Supports Gas Struts 16″ Force 35 Lbs – $18.57 x2
10 AWG Solar Panel Extension Cable PV Wire Solar Connectors 6ft pair – $14.20
Eco-Worthy 100 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Panel – $63.99

It took me four hours to complete this modification and cost about $175.

Disclaimer: The modifications above are submitted by Truck Camper Magazine readers. It is your responsibility to make sure that any do-it-yourself modification project you undertake is safe, effective, and legal for your situation.

Enter Your Mods Now!

If you’d like to enter a modification you’ve done on your truck camper, click here. You can enter as many mods as you want, at any time.  Good luck mod makers!

Truck Camper Chooser
To Top