Dear RV Shrink:
My husband just had solar panels installed on our motorhome. I am constantly worried they are going to blow off during some of the windstorms we drive through. He keeps telling me to stop thinking about it. He assures me they are fastened securely and that there is no way they will ever blow off. He also said that about our awning, but it came unraveled in a storm one day and we had to pull over and tie it down. I worry so much he calls me “Disastrous Mag.” Don’t you think it is better to worry too much than too little? —Maggie in Medford
I don’t think it is a good idea to go down the road worrying all the time. It would be better to understand all your systems and equipment, do precautionary maintenance, and make sure new installations are done properly. That way you can travel confidently.
With that said, “scat happens.” I have friends that lost a solar panel. They said it sounded like a crystal vase hitting the floor and shattering. They didn’t know at first what happened, but discovered their panel was missing. In their case, it was securely fastened to the roof, but the bolts attaching the panel to the roof anchors vibrated out. Awnings also catch a lot of wind. They are designed to lock down, but I always use inexpensive Velcro straps to secure them. When one comes unlocked or fails it is always in weather you would prefer not to work in.
I have to say I went through the same anxious period you are experiencing. My system came from AM Solar in Springfield, Ore. They assured me that attaching the panels with 3M 5200, using no bolts on my fiberglass roof, would keep them secure forever. I was familiar with the product. I had read a memoir called “On Whale Island.” The author, Daniel Hays, fixed everything on the island with 3M 5200. He said “it will hold two planets together.” So far they have both been right.
I don’t think about it anymore, but it never hurts to check things out on a regular basis. So turn your worries into checklists and be confident while rolling down the road that everything is going to weather the storms. —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink
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