Installing Solar Panels On Cabin Roof

So I’ve put off this post for a while, probably because mounting them on the roof was really tough and I was short hand, hence not many photo were taken. These panels were installed in August this year. I used some uni strut made I found in our dumpster at work. It’s way heavier duty than I need but it works. It weighs more than the panels I think.

I found these 75watt siemens solar panels on craigslist here in Seattle a few years ago. They were a good deal at $125 each and I got 8, selling 4 for profit and selling 2 for a friend. I wired them parallel for a maximum 150 watts, 18 volts and 9 amps in perfect conditions. They are wired to a charge controller that then charges batteries.


To get this 65lb rack and panels up to the very steep roof I put the ladder at the same angle as the roof and pushed it up as my wife pulled on the rope that went over peak of the roof back down to the other side. She could only hold the panels from slipping back down so we inched it up then the rope was tied off so I could attached the brackets to the rack and the rack to the roof. The brackets were big thick 8″ L shaped brackets that I slipped under the shingle above them and drilled through the roof with a healthy amount of caulk. Then the shingle was glued back down over the bracket.



Currently they are charging 2 deep cycle boat batteries hanging under the floor of the cabin in a wooden battery box. You can see that in an earlier video but since then I’ve added another battery.

So far this solar setup makes more power than we need for our little cabin. We only use it on the weekends to run lights all night, charge tool batteries, power stereos and my laptop.







Here’s me on the roof attaching the panels to the roof. This looks really boring but I’m hanging off a yellow rope that’s tied to my waist, definitely not OSHA certified. I ended up hammering in a few ladder jacks on the 12/12 roof but I only had enough room for a 12″ board to stand on. So glad that was done. They are attached by 4 3/8″ galvanized lag screws and raised off the roof 5 inches to let snow and rain pass below the array.










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3 Responses

  1. warren says:

    Yeah, at first glance I thought it was that super cheap yellow “rope” you can buy that isn’t good for much. Anyhow, on second look, you rope looks good (you’re welcome).

    We are somewhat remote but nothing like you. Still, even for our 1 hr trip to get stuff, I really hate forgetting anything. It has made our packing of tools and stuff pretty lean and mean though. We are off grid too but the generator saves us constantly. I have some solar on my bee yard and solar on the cabin is coming so I envy and appreciate the work on your place.

    We just got under roof and this weekend we hope to button up a lot more. We’ll see. Our place is on top of a ridge so I think we may mix solar and wind. Security remains a cause of concern for us too but we have neighbors at least. Of course, they are not too close so we are still exposed.

    Well, I don’t have much else but I enjoy reading your exploits and hope to let you learn some stuff the hard way so I can learn it the easy way! Keep writing!

  2. sola9986 says:

    Hi Mom, J/k. But 50lbs? That would probably be twine. Not sure exactly what rope you were mentioning, the one on the solar panels or the one on me? The cheap one was on the panels and I think it said 600 lbs. Not that anyone should copy me in how I do things. I’m learning as I go and am on a budget also I think the biggest challenge we’ve had on this whole project is the remoteness of the area. If we don’t bring the exact supplies, tools, adapters, fuel etc we often can’t do what we’ve planned to do. The nearest hardware store is far away and closed on Sundays nor do they have much to begin with. Often we’re forced to make do or invent new ways of doing it ie with trees instead of lumber or just not get anything done. Off grid projects just take longer than people think.

    I mounted on the roof exclusively for security. It was a bitch. It would have been so much easier to mount on a rack hanging off the shed like we had or a ground mount but they are much more secure 17 feet off the ground. Also they are not aimed perfectly but nor is our site situated optimally.

    Last weekend I was there with 8 inches of snow and 20 degrees. Snow had covered the panels so I swept them off and thought the batteries might be dead. They were full 12.8 volts and were getting charged at 13.5 even with the winter sun being filtered through the trees. We had the porch light and inside lights on for 5 hours that night while we watched a movie on my laptop and charge tool batteries. No change in the batteries. Plenty of power for our use so I’m happy about that.

    We have been prowled twice last year, nothing this year and my batteries on the trail cam were dead so nothing to report… It has new batts now!

  3. warren says:

    I don’t want to sound like your mom or anything but was that rope rated for more than 50 pounds? Anyhow, I have a 10:12 roof that I am building now and have thought about installing the panels on top but think I may go with a ground mount. Why did you choose the roof? Security? I know you have had some problems. Also, any more problems? We are not leaving much up at our new place as we build it but I am trying to decide the best trade off between leaving stuff and hauling stuff