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I'm buying a roof rack to install solar panels, which will be installed on top of plywood.
Here's the stupid question: should I buy two or three pieces? And should I buy steel or aluminum?
If you have rain gutters, I'd get the kind that attach to them.

Aluminum won't rust.

I would cover the entire roof, as it will keep the van much cooler.
Good points Off Grid!
How much power do you want? Solar grids are getting more compact.
solar panels work better if cooler. Most installs leave space under the panel for air cooling.
Thanks Zil! I'll keep that in mind.
Assuming you are using traditional solar panels with an aluminum frame, no plywood is needed and they will work better without it. Bolt them straight to the rack or use U-bolts if it's a round piece going across.

By 2 or 3 pieces do you mean the number of crossbars on the rack? I'd use two per panel. I'd probably want steel for the part that attaches to the rain gutter, aluminum would be fine for the bars.
Reducto, 2 or 3 pieces indeed refer to the number of crossbars.
The reason for the plywood is stealth. I will drill holes on the plywood for ventilation and mount the panels with a reasonable gap. That's the idea. Things can still change.
Perhaps you could box them in and hide their appearance? Unless you were looking down on the van from the second floor or something.
I'm not so concerned with people on the second floor, as much as people driving or walking next to me. I want to make them invisible from the ground level, that includes not being able to see them from underneath.
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