Tips for easy solar panel removal from an RV

Valentin Fernand

If you own a camper, you know how much value it adds to your lifestyle. Whether it’s a weekend getaway or a trip with friends, owning a motorhome brings many benefits.

Not surprisingly, most RV owners also install a solar panel. After all, solar energy is one of the most convenient ways to save money and reduce your carbon footprint at the same time.

However, if you don’t use your motorhome often or if you rent it to someone else for a long period of time, you may want to remove the solar panel to save on maintenance costs or lower insurance premiums. In this article, we will tell you how you can do it safely, without too much difficulty.

Principles of solar panel attachment

Before you think about removing the solar panel, it would be interesting to understand the principle of repairing these devices. In reality, there are two ways to mount a solar panel on a motor home: by attaching it directly to the roof or fixing it with glue.

Direct attachment to the roof

If the first is quite simple, it has many disadvantages, citing only a negative impact on the waterproofing of your mobile home. This method requires drilling holes in the roof to ensure the panels are held in place. As you have already realized, this first approach is not recommended and will cause you even more problems in the future.

Fixing with glue

Another way to install the solar panel: fixing with glue. This method has the advantage of not damaging the ceiling of your motorhome because you won’t have to drill into it. According to this method, the solar panel is attached to the roof of the vehicle using four brackets located at its corners. At the top of these brackets there are screws that allow the panels to be fixed, while at the bottom they are glued to the roof using a high-performance adhesive. We can cite for example Sikaflex 252 from SIKA, which is dedicated to fixing accessories on campers and converted vans. It is an ultra-resistant adhesive mastic, specially designed for fixing solar panels and skylights.

Remove the solar panel

As you might have guessed: glue fixing is the most common way to install a solar panel today. To remove it, you can choose to unscrew the panel and leave the brackets, but this is not very aesthetically pleasing.

There is another way to remove the entire kit, by going straight to the base and peeling the whole thing off. However, it seems difficult to soak such a high-performance glue in white spirit and wait for it to soften. Here’s the best way to do it:

  • Bring brake cable or piano wire, the wire must be strong enough;
  • Make two handles from bamboo or wood by attaching them to each end of the brake cable;
  • Pass one end of the cable under the board so you can remove the handle on the other side. Find the best position for your hands and the most comfortable grip;
  • Cut the glue by pressing both handles simultaneously and gradually.

By doing this, you will easily separate the panel without too much difficulty.

Other things to do

After removing the solar panel from the roof of your motorhome, be sure to disconnect any cables connected to your equipment. These are waterproof MC4 type connectors connected to the two inputs on the panel.

One more detail: it is not necessary to remove the adhesive residue if you still plan to install another panel on the roof of your van. Generally, we install a larger and more efficient panel when considering panel replacement. So, on the aesthetic side, the glue residue will be hidden under your new panel. Otherwise, if you really want to remove the remaining glue, just rub it off with sandpaper. It might take some time, but this trick works well.

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