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Old 10-14-2021, 07:40 PM   #1
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Safe to put solar electrical connector above propane tank?

I'd like to put an SAE surface mount female connector in the little cabinet just above my propane tank. That would keep it out of the weather, and make it very convenient to hook up a portable solar panel. I would have that jack hardwired to the house batteries.

Does anyone see a safety problem with this? I want to put it where the red dot is.

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Old 10-14-2021, 08:08 PM   #2
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I would be worried about having the propane in a closed environment.
I have a female SAE connector for my portable SA panel mounted so it goes into my pass through. I have my MPPT controller also in the pass through (SA Panel to SAE connectors to MPPT to Battery). Works really well for me.
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Old 10-14-2021, 08:40 PM   #3
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Absolutely no problem.

Propane is heavier then air and leaks down, thats why the bottom of the tank compartment is open.

If you smell propane when you open that compartment, get the system checked. Something is wrong.
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Old 10-14-2021, 08:49 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tomahawk View Post
I would be worried about having the propane in a closed environment.

I have a female SAE connector for my portable SA panel mounted so it goes into my pass through. I have my MPPT controller also in the pass through (SA Panel to SAE connectors to MPPT to Battery). Works really well for me.
What is the "pass through"?

Oh, you mean a shelf that goes all the way through to the other side? Yes, that shelf is a pass-through.
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Old 10-14-2021, 08:50 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by twinboat View Post
Absolutely no problem.

Propane is heavier then air and leaks down, thats why the bottom of the tank compartment is open.

If you smell propane when you open that compartment, get the system checked. Something is wrong.
That's what I was thinking, propane would not travel up into that shelf area. I was planning on putting the controller into the fuse compartment next to the battery box, under the entry step.
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Old 10-14-2021, 08:56 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by tap4154 View Post
That's what I was thinking, propane would not travel up into that shelf area. I was planning on putting the controller into the fuse compartment next to the battery box, under the entry step.
I agree
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Old 10-14-2021, 10:57 PM   #7
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What you would want to worry about is a "sparking device" like contactor or or switch.These are way more protected/sealed in and explosion proof wiring system. Just don't plug or unplug if leaking propane.
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Old 10-15-2021, 09:38 AM   #8
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What you would want to worry about is a "sparking device" like contactor or or switch.These are way more protected/sealed in and explosion proof wiring system. Just don't plug or unplug if leaking propane.
Yep I agree, and it's the most convenient spot anyway so I'm going to put it there. Also, if I have the panel inside laying on the shelf (or covered, or turned away from the Sun) when I plug it in, there probably wouldn't even be a spark. I just wanted to toss it out there to better minds than mine before I went ahead and did it
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Old 10-15-2021, 11:11 AM   #9
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Put a switch wired after the plug.



Plug in the panel and then turn on the switch, no spark
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Old 10-15-2021, 05:42 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by R Cabesa View Post
Put a switch wired after the plug.



Plug in the panel and then turn on the switch, no spark
That's a great suggestion, thanks.
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Old 10-16-2021, 06:54 PM   #11
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I received those surface-mount plugs today, and I'm going to try an experiment before I hook one up to the house batteries.

A while back when I got a little 10 watt solar panel I posted here asking if that could possibly charge the chassis battery, then kick in the BIRD unit in charge the house batteries. No one seemed to know for sure, but it definitely did not do that. Being only 10 watts, I didn't think it would have enough power. However it has kept the chassis battery fully charged, even with some parasitic draws like an ultrasonic rodent deterrent device.

So I'm going to try it with a 30 watt solar panel, and see what happens. By the way, an interesting thing, I found that that surface mount receptacle actually fits into the grill on my E450. It's a tight fit and I don't even have to secure it. So I went ahead and wired it up to the controller, and now I can plug the solar panel in without even opening the hood if I want to. I think I will run a wire through a couple of the screw holes to secure it better to the grill, just to be sure.

I have two of those receptacles, so if this doesn't work to charge the house batteries I'll go ahead and install the other one back where I originally planned. Then I'll keep a solar panel on the cab hood, and another one for the house batteries. By the way when the motorhome is parked in my backyard it's facing south, so setting a solar panel up on the hood gives it good sun exposure.

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Old 10-18-2021, 07:11 PM   #12
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As expected, the experiment failed and the 30 watt panel on the chassis battery would not kick in the BIRD device, so I put the second surface mount receptacle above the LP tank, and have a controller hooked up in the battery box. I put a 10 amp blade fuse on the positive side going to the battery. Now I can just leave those set up and they will maintain my chassis and house batteries, as it's parked in my backyard.

I'm not under any illusion that a 30 watt panel on the house batteries, and 10 watt panel on the chassis battery, are going to allow me to boondock for days without running a generator, but it's a start. I mainly wanted the batteries maintained while it's here in storage, without plugging it in.

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Old 10-18-2021, 07:46 PM   #13
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Your 2 panels should keep the batteries happy for sure.

Keep an eye on the voltage just to be on the safe side.

Here's a little chart for you......
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Old 10-18-2021, 07:56 PM   #14
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Your 2 panels should keep the batteries happy for sure.



Keep an eye on the voltage just to be on the safe side.



Here's a little chart for you......
I appreciate the chart. I've been using the 10-watt panel on the chassis battery for months now, and it's kept it up around 13 volts. I have a voltmeter in my back bedroom wall, and my house batteries, two Trojan T105s, usually stay around 12.6, just sitting without any charger. Just having that 30 watt panel hooked up for about 15 minutes, before the sun went behind my house, bumped them up to 12.9 v. So I'll keep an eye on them, and I'm pretty good about checking the water. I think those Trojans are about five years old now, and I don't know how long they're going to last, but they still seem fine.
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