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ReverendQ

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With all the battery issues of modern vehicles with their varied thirsty loads it’s a bit surprising that nobody on this forum appeared to have tried a hood solar panel. This appears to be one solution for our F150 that are parked outside, used for boondoggling, using WAN/LAN to provide Ford data and retrieve OTA updates, and simply just not driven enough to keep the 12.6VDC batteries charged. Mine is an F150 PowerBoost with the Black Appearance Package (BAP aka Tremor) hood and some modifications that require 12VDC power while the truck is not ON/Ready or in accessory mode i.e. a dual camera dashcam with wireless capabilities in Parking Mode.

After doing a limited amount of research I decided upon the LensunSolar (Lensun Solar?) kit at Ford F-150 4th Gen (2021-Present) Lensun 60W Hood Solar Panel (lensunsolar.com) . I really don’t think there are any other choices and the other manufacturer considered, Cascadia 4x4 did not appear to have a panel for the Gen14 F150.
Ford F-150 LensunSolar Hood Solar Panel F-150 Powerboost BAP/Tremor Hood Installation The Kit
Ford F-150 LensunSolar Hood Solar Panel F-150 Powerboost BAP/Tremor Hood Installation The Panel

The following are my tips for installation, some cautions, photos, and very early data from the installation. I am not a paid influencer, Youtuber, etc. I did not get this panel for free. I paid $370.80 for a complete kit that included the panel, MPPT controller, and vinyl underlay. I paid for all the products mentioned in this article too including the tape, sealants, caulk, etc. I am not liable for your installation using these tips. The following is provided as free advice, but keep in mind you get what you pay for 😊

TIP: Make sure the panel is functional before you install it.
Temporarily wire up the MPPT controller to the F150 battery, Ford BMS in-line (negative to frame not battery terminal) is suggested, download, and configure the SolarLifeBT Application (see included instructions), connect the panel to the controller and in full sun observe system operation on the application. The point is to understand that the system is functioning correctly. To realize its performance is beyond what can be explained in this thread. Consult with LensunSolar if you have doubts as to the system operation.

TIP: Use an application like SunCalc to determine the best sun time for the calendar day, sun direction and panel inclination. Move the panel around to provide maximum sun. You may not get the full 60WDC if the sun is not at its apex, your panel not at optimum inclination, and weather (clouds) filtering light. In SoCal, late February with wisping clouds at 2:00 PM I was able to realize about 20WDC.
Ford F-150 LensunSolar Hood Solar Panel F-150 Powerboost BAP/Tremor Hood Installation 20WDC A


The well written instructions advised installing it at above 70F degrees ambient, I assume to aid forming the rigid 3mm flat panel to a varying hood geography. TIP: LensunSolar Sales replied quickly to my inquiries as to if the panel could/should pre-formed. They advised it possibly could with heat lamps; I didn’t have heat lamps, but remained concerned that the rigid panel may not be a feasible solution on the BAP hood and proceeded anyway.
Ford F-150 LensunSolar Hood Solar Panel F-150 Powerboost BAP/Tremor Hood Installation Rigid Panel On Curved Hood A

Ford F-150 LensunSolar Hood Solar Panel F-150 Powerboost BAP/Tremor Hood Installation Ridgid Panel On Curved Hood B


While waiting on better weather to complete the panel installation I installed the solar controller and vinyl underlay. The instructions advised using the vinyl underlay mounting it to the hood and the panel to it so that if the panel is removed there is little concern for paint damage. TIP: Use the vinyl and don’t be overly concerned about the crease in the vinyl. If you are, sandwich it between two flat objects with a little weight on the top before installation.
Ford F-150 LensunSolar Hood Solar Panel F-150 Powerboost BAP/Tremor Hood Installation Vinyl Crease


The vinyl installation instructions were helpful and made the installation of the vinyl straightforward. TIP: Use plenty of soapy water on the bottom side of the vinyl since later you will squeegee the water out (squeegee included in kit). A couple videos mentioned using a hair dryer or heat gun to aid in drying and de-creasing. I didn’t and didn’t really see the need for one even with my relatively round hood. The vinyl decal looked pretty good. Some may have considered the vinyl a decorative touch to the BAP hood.
Ford F-150 LensunSolar Hood Solar Panel F-150 Powerboost BAP/Tremor Hood Installation Vinyl on Hood


While the vinyl was drying, I mounted the solar controller in the engine bay. The instructions advise mounting the solar controller as close to the battery as possible and shortening the wires. I haven’t yet shortened the wires. I will update this post later when I do. For now, I mounted the controller on top of the fuse box using Velcro so that I can move it later if a better spot or more permeant spot is realized. I also will shorten the wires between the controller and battery then and use wire loom(s). TIP: Use a good double-sided tape or Velcro that can stand engine bay temperatures. I used an industrial Velcro and mounted it to the top of the fuse box.
Ford F-150 LensunSolar Hood Solar Panel F-150 Powerboost BAP/Tremor Hood Installation Solar Controller On Fuse Box

The MPPT solar controller comes with two power charging circuits. One is for charging the battery and one for an external load i.e. hood light. I capped off my external load wires with liquid electrical tape. I attached red battery charging wire ring terminal to the positive cable at the battery. I attached the black ring terminal to the truck body so the F150 Battery Monitoring Circuit could monitor and control batteries charging. This way the circuit is possibly powering my dash camera (at the footwell fuse panel) added ambient lights, the other and often mysterious loads, and charging the battery.

Keeping in mind that available solar power (source) varies greatly depending on the sun and weather, I may change how I wire the downstream load (sinks) and battery later. I need to determine how effective the solar panel is to load keeping and battery charging or at least slowing battery discharge. I expect it to at least enhance the available power for loads while the truck is not ON/Ready/running and will update this post once completed.

After installing the MPPT solar controller I applied the included double-sided tape to the panel vertically as shown below. LensunSolar supplied plenty of tape and I used almost all of it. Tip: Tape past the corners and then trim, rounding the tape off, using scissors that cut the backed tape but not the panel. This should help with sealing under the panel later. (Don’t pull the backing of the second side of the tape yet!)
Ford F-150 LensunSolar Hood Solar Panel F-150 Powerboost BAP/Tremor Hood Installation Round The Tape with Scissors

Ford F-150 LensunSolar Hood Solar Panel F-150 Powerboost BAP/Tremor Hood Installation Use Allot of Tape

TIP: Consider applying the tape horizontally instead of vertically as shown below. This may help with adhesion since most of the bow in the hood is vertical.
Ford F-150 LensunSolar Hood Solar Panel F-150 Powerboost BAP/Tremor Hood Installation Tape It Horizontal


The instructions suggested forming a hinge of sorts using masking tape to the aligned panel on vinyl. Tip: Do it and use a bunch of tape. It will still move but this will aid top to bottom alignment when putting the panel down. And put a couple of pieces of painter’s tape down to mark the sides. The panel still can and will wobble so the painter’s tape will help align the sides it as you are dropping it in place for permanent mounting.
Ford F-150 LensunSolar Hood Solar Panel F-150 Powerboost BAP/Tremor Hood Installation Hindged Panel


Some of the video’s sent by Lensun Solar showed installations just using the tape, even less tape than shown in the pictures above, and some used only SilkaFlex 252 Black adhesive. Tip: Use both in an abundance of caution. The last thing anybody wants is for the panel to fly off into the windshield or cause mayhem. If you use both, apply the adhesive and then pull the tape backing off.
Ford F-150 LensunSolar Hood Solar Panel F-150 Powerboost BAP/Tremor Hood Installation Tape and Glue


Bringing the panel down to the hood is probably the most intimidating part of the process for most, it was for me. I had my 5’11” son on a step ladder holding it from one side while I was in front making sure it was aligned as we brought it down. Ease it down, take your time, be patient, and place it as close to aligned with the markers as you can. Tip: Don’t press down to adhere the tape until you are sure it is where you want it. If you are careful, you can pull it back up and replace it a few times. Once placed in your alignment markers, press down stating in the center of the panel moving out to the sides first, then top and bottom. Start down the middle of the longer vertical and move out to the sides. If any adhesive comes out use some WD40 to wipe it away.
Ford F-150 LensunSolar Hood Solar Panel F-150 Powerboost BAP/Tremor Hood Installation Panel Down


The instructions say to apply weight to the panel to aid in the tape adhering (and glue setting). Tip: Read the SilkaFlex instructions to understand setting time. If you can, pull your truck into the garage. Cool or use a space heater to keep the temperature around 70F degrees while the adhesive sticks and the panel forms the hood. For weight, I used a 40lb bag of salt and a couple of bags of heavy mulch with some water bottles on top of them. Use what you feel safe with but certainly don’t use anything that your hood cannot support.
Ford F-150 LensunSolar Hood Solar Panel F-150 Powerboost BAP/Tremor Hood Installation 1711171949830-a7


The instructions mentioned optionally sealing the panel from wind, water, and dust. Tip: Use a good industrial waterproof and UV resistant black caulk like Aquascape Black Silicone Sealant. You may also consider using SilkFlex here too. Tape around the panel with painters’ tape and apply the outside seal to include the sides of the panel. This may help it to not delaminate. One video on Youtube showed it delaminating, a common industry issue.
Ford F-150 LensunSolar Hood Solar Panel F-150 Powerboost BAP/Tremor Hood Installation PAINTERS TAPE


Tip: I use my fingers to force caulk into the creases and on the sides of the panel. Take the tape up quickly so you don’t adhere it to the hood/vinyl after it sets.
Ford F-150 LensunSolar Hood Solar Panel F-150 Powerboost BAP/Tremor Hood Installation Panel Caulked


While the caulk was setting route the solar panel cable under the hood, mount it, and attached it to the MPPT controller. Route the solar panel cable inline with the small trough of sorts as shown below. This should be the center of the hood and enable the cable to route through the opening in the engine bay gasket as necessary.
Ford F-150 LensunSolar Hood Solar Panel F-150 Powerboost BAP/Tremor Hood Installation CAULK DRYING


Route the cable and use the included zip tie mounts on the underside of the hood and over towards the passenger side hood mount, attach it to the hood mount and down to the MPPT controller connection. Complete the panel to MPPT connection. TIP: Do not pull the zip ties tight until the routing is complete. Partially close the hood observing the cable movement. Avoid pinching the cable.
Ford F-150 LensunSolar Hood Solar Panel F-150 Powerboost BAP/Tremor Hood Installation Under Hood Cable Moiuntin


Loom all wires and consider shortening wires between battery and MPPT as recommended. Stuff the wires behind the battery, see previous picture. TIP: Use zip ties to keep wires away from heat and other circuits, especially the inverter on a PowerBoost.
Ford F-150 LensunSolar Hood Solar Panel F-150 Powerboost BAP/Tremor Hood Installation 1712435279611-t8


I will be updating this thread with resulting data and operation as time permits.
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Christarpher

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Interesting solution, I think if I was going to do this, I'd put it on the roof instead of the hood. Alternatively, Ford could just make a system that works properly, batteries have been dumb charging for decades just fine. Their "smart" charging system is clearly a failure.
 
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ReverendQ

ReverendQ

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Interesting solution, I think if I was going to do this, I'd put it on the roof instead of the hood. Alternatively, Ford could just make a system that works properly, batteries have been dumb charging for decades just fine. Their "smart" charging system is clearly a failure.
Agreed, but I don't see the lack of quality or Engineering as a Ford specific issue. Some believe we Americans sold our manufacturing souls and later our engineering prowness to other lower cost geos. And now, we are selling our critical thinking to AI :)
 

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Fenrisulfr

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Made an account here just to give ya a warning and hopefully a solution about that solar panel. I had one on my f150 for 7 months and it began to delaminate along the leading edge. Lensunsolar said it was just a protective film and could safely be removed. Don’t do that, it caused the entire panel to rapidly delaminate and split apart.
I’d recommend taking that sikaflex and doing another line about half an inch over the edges on top of the solar panel. Since it starts delaminating around the edges, this should keep that from happening and it wouldn’t interfere with solar efficiency since the solar cells don’t start till about 1-2 inches in. Hope you have better luck than I did with this.
Ford F-150 LensunSolar Hood Solar Panel F-150 Powerboost BAP/Tremor Hood Installation IMG_3460
Ford F-150 LensunSolar Hood Solar Panel F-150 Powerboost BAP/Tremor Hood Installation IMG_3459
Ford F-150 LensunSolar Hood Solar Panel F-150 Powerboost BAP/Tremor Hood Installation IMG_3764
 

BILDOZER

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I love that idea but I think I would have mounted it on the roof myself. Thank you for the detailed instructions and the pics. Always great to see new ideas and creative solutions.
 
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ReverendQ

ReverendQ

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Made an account here just to give ya a warning and hopefully a solution about that solar panel. I had one on my f150 for 7 months and it began to delaminate along the leading edge. Lensunsolar said it was just a protective film and could safely be removed. Don’t do that, it caused the entire panel to rapidly delaminate and split apart.
I’d recommend taking that sikaflex and doing another line about half an inch over the edges on top of the solar panel. Since it starts delaminating around the edges, this should keep that from happening and it wouldn’t interfere with solar efficiency since the solar cells don’t start till about 1-2 inches in. Hope you have better luck than I did with this.
IMG_3460.jpeg
IMG_3459.jpeg
IMG_3764.jpeg
Thanks @Fenrisulfr , I do have concerns hence the tip above to caulk not just the mounting gap but also the side layers of the assembly. Maybe Lensolar have addressed the lack of quality assembly leading to delamination, but realistically I suspect not. If in the first few weeks the system behaves in line with at least my lowered expectations, I will implement additional adhesion as you suggest and update this thread accordingly. I also plan to update my experiences over at least the first year of ownership...if it lasts that long. I am blessed enough to have resources to experiment and enjoy doing so, but the pragmatic side of me understands I very possibly may have spent a few hundred bucks for a one-year solution to a Ford problem.

Currently, I am trying to get Lensolar to explain their application for the MPPT. Know where there might be a User Guide? Thanks again, and appreciate you getting on the forum to share.
 
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Fenrisulfr

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can’t help you there sorry. Their app never made sense to me. My battery issues was it going into low power mode all the time even if I drove it a ton the day before. I ended up just buying an interstate battery and it seems to have solved the issue if that’s what you’re experiencing
 

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Suns_PSD

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Pretty cool idea, even if the implementation is a little rough.
 

Suns_PSD

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First we'll get our plug in hybrids. Then I bet we'll start to see solar panel kits like this to assist in keeping the small battery pack charged. I'd even like to have an entire row of them on top of the camper.
 

staying_tuned

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Cascadia's 14th gen kit will be out by mid summer although it will likely be a few hundred more. Had no issue with their panel on our Gladiator for some 50k miles before we sold the truck. Anxious to see how yours holds up, really digging the price-point on this.
 

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I see it as inevitable that ICE trucks will likely have to have solar panels built in (hello sunroof) as a form of battery maintainer at the very least, hybrid battery charging at best.

This is a very good first try. Like any first attempt, issues arise that experience will teach how to overcome.
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