Have finished the roof installation of the hot water solar panels on the roof. I want to put the two new tarps up for the next months and wanted to finish the work on the roof for now. I was missing some insulation material for the pipes otherwise I would have done more but got some more of it yesterday. In the coming days I will work on the hot water plumbing inside.

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Above image shows the two panels mounted on the roof between the extractor fan in the bathroom and the hatch of the bedroom. It is really great when you can optimise roof space right from the start and don’t just have to deal with a given when everything is all over the place and you try to find space for the solar panels. I have no shading on any solar panel unless we install the dish for which I left some space, however it will not be a TV antenna. It is not important enough for us to install a satellite dish for TV. The space for the satellite dish is meant for an Internet connection and not TV, although you can get ABC and SBS over the same satellite, and that is pretty much what we may watch occasionally if at all.

The image below shows the pass through of one pipe through the roof. This is not the final cover of the pipes. I will have a plastic cover over all the pipes and screwed down onto the roof to protect the insulation material from tears or weather.

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I was sorting my Pex fittings I got from Masters before they closed. Plenty of material for next to no cost. I would never ever use these push in fittings you find in most vans. Tiny pipes with flimsy fittings. They maybe good for a couple of years but if installed wrong with a pipe a bit under sideways pressure they leak. I had this problem with my airlines. I listened to a so called expert, but I should have known better. I through them all out again and replaced them with screw clamps. The Pex system is also available as push in, but also only ok in a stationary installation. For an off road van I prefer the crimp system.

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Below is the solar hot water circulation pump. It is driven by it’s own 10W solar panel and circulates the glycol mixture through the roof panels and the heat exchanger of the hot water system. ¬†When the sun shines and the water is hot then the pump will have enough power to pump the water. I also can override the solar panel and connect to the house battery in case the 10W panel might be in shade and not deliver enough power.

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Below is the low meter and flow switch. The central system can actually measure the flow in the circulation pipe as well as the temperature and I can calculate energy harvest and heating times from that. All done out of interest to get a good understanding of our energy balance in the van and the basis for the decision if I ever put a diesel heater in. The hot water system is also used as a heat source for the room heaters.

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The image below shows a one way valve and flow switch. This is not a flow meter it only closes a circuit when the liquid actually flows. I use these in the heating lines as feedback for the central system that the hot water is actually flowing. I also have one of these in the hot water circulation line. It is purely to identify if the liquid flows or if there is a blockage somewhere. The pump current is not a good indicator of actual flow or restricted flow.

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I also have one way valve with a stop function. I use these as isolation valves in case I have to dismantle or remove a heater from the system without emptying the whole system.