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Old 03-08-2016, 08:40 AM   #1
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Solar re-fit on RV

Hi
We are refitting our decrepit solar system because it no longer worked anyway and new solar has come down. We like to spend time at National Parks, Monuments and Forests and many have restricted generator times. We don't like to listen to the genny except in truck stops and know others don't either. We also have a problem because our ancient charger inverter was made for a single battery and won't charge our four cart batteries quickly even with the genny running.
Here is the state of the old 14w solar panels. We had four. After five years they all were shorted or dead. Cracked by the sun too. They cost Eightyd dollars each back then.





At the time I was afraid to cut holes in the roof so I ran the 14ga wire down the side. It was looking shabby.



Here are the new panels. There are four (one arrived later.) They are Monocrystaline 100w. and a hundred bucks apiece. I got one of these

100 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit | Renogy Solar

and three of these.

100 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Panel | Renogy Solar

Also three of these

Solar MC4 Branch Connectors MMF+FFM Pair | Renogy Solar

And some of these which O got at a local hardware store actually. Eight each are needed.

Robot Check

Robot Check

Stainless is a must. Here are the fittings I started out with. I actually wound up using longer expansion plugs on the later ones.



These brackets are attached to the panels before they are set in place. The screws that are supplied to screw then down are discarded or saved for something else but the nylon washers can be used here. I replaced them with better ones myself.



Panels laid out on the roof. The batteries are in the front so I want them as close as possible. This will give me just over 12' of cable to the charger. Only three are shown. The fourth will go next to the AC unit. The cables from the panels are short and need to be close to each other to connect. I used a sharpie to mark hole locations. Note the Iced Coffee in a large Tervis.



Once the holes are marked I removed the panels one at a time and drilled. They have to go back where you had them because the bracket mounts are slotted so the hole spaces might vary. The holes are drilled. Use the smallest hole that will accept the expansion plug and clean off the edges of the hole. Press the plug in with the screw in place so it does not compress then remove the screw. Then the panel goes back in place. moving the second panel makes room to work. Put a nylon washer over each screw and drive it in compressing the nut as far as you can without spinning it in the hole. I used a drill with a limiter to keep it even. Repeat for each panel. I suggest using a bit of self leveling caulk on each bolt head. This will make removal a pain and these should be completely waterproof but I have trust issued with water and RVs....

Here is one of the "Y" connectors. I have put it on the last panel in the row. They are waterproof.




Here are the first three panels connected with the "Y"'s. The fourth will be added when the rest of the hardware arrives tomorrow. They will be pushed under the center panel to reduce UV exposure.




That is it so far. Waiting for the rest of the hardware and wires to come tomorrow.
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Old 03-08-2016, 08:58 AM   #2
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I also mounted my panels with Well-Nuts (expansion plugs). It has worked out very well with no leak issues and a very solid mount. One suggestion is to use a brad point bit to drill the holes. I did this on a TPO roof and the brad point cuts a very clean hole through the roof if done carefully and have a far lower tendency to tear the roof material than a conventional drill bit. The wellnuts make a water tight seal and I added some Dicor around them as well.

DEWALT 1/2 in. Steel Brad Point Drill Bit-DW1714 - The Home Depot
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Old 03-09-2016, 10:15 AM   #3
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I also mounted my panels with Well-Nuts (expansion plugs). It has worked out very well with no leak issues and a very solid mount. One suggestion is to use a brad point bit to drill the holes. I did this on a TPO roof and the brad point cuts a very clean hole through the roof if done carefully and have a far lower tendency to tear the roof material than a conventional drill bit. The wellnuts make a water tight seal and I added some Dicor around them as well.

DEWALT 1/2 in. Steel Brad Point Drill Bit-DW1714 - The Home Depot
Good to know that it will keep water out. Always a concern with the RV. That is a good tip about the brad point too. It is too late for me nut will help the next you, which it the "point" of the post. What size well nuts did you use?
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Old 03-10-2016, 11:49 AM   #4
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May I suggest getting a good battery monitor like the Trimetric to go along with all your new equipment? That way you can always see what is going in and out of your batteries.
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Old 03-10-2016, 12:39 PM   #5
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May I suggest getting a good battery monitor like the Trimetric to go along with all your new equipment? That way you can always see what is going in and out of your batteries.
I agree. I am glad you mentioned it since the monitor from the coach is undependable and the one under the hood with the charger is...under the hood... I plan to install a voltage meter which is not nearly as good until I can save up enough to get a monitor. I checked Amazon to see if they had a better price but their site is not working properly. That is rare. Stay tuned. Next SS check comes in the 18th..
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Old 03-10-2016, 01:36 PM   #6
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Pretty much finished (so far.) I still have to find a decent, possibly used, battery monitor, shoot some foam in where I fished the wires clean and re-install the window pillar cover over the wires.
The hardware came early yesterday afternoon. The first thing was to add the 4th panel and connect the wires. The wires from the panels to the controller run about twelve feet. They are 10ga. While I know they could be 9ga strictly speaking and some here will prefer 4ga for everything the controller will only accept 10ga and those panels will only produce 34Amps when perpendicular to the sun on the brightest day of the year on the equator and at a temperature low enough to keep the panel below 75f. I'll be lucky if I get 300w on the best day.



Then 2 holes were drilled in the roof so that they came out in the overhead, front speaker enclosure. I no longer use those speakers but it wouldn't make any difference.





Then the "bitter end" of each wire is fed through into that cabinet space.



The holes were sealed with self leveling Dicor on top and foam sprayed from beneath. A Brick was used to hold the wires down so that they would not stick up into the wind and shake. Once the Dicor sets I will add a blob of it where the wire runs on the roof to keep it in place and remove the brick.
The front pillar cover is removed and the wires fed from the cabinet into the space beneath the cover.



Next the wire is fed into the battery compartment in the front of the RV. It follows the wire harness that you can see going forward. This is a tough feed.



The space is small and filled with a sticky goo, a lot of foam and many other wires. I used a metal fish. I got it years ago for fishing cables in boats and it is great.



Because I needed to fish down because of visibility I pushed the fish through first.



Next I connected some coat-hang-wire which I pulled back. the cables were connected to the coat-hang-wire one at a time and lubricated with pulling wax. Dish soap will work too. Once one was pulled through the process was repeated.

The neighbor's dog Peetie was on hand to offer advice for this part of the job.



The wires were not marked for polarity and I did not think to do that so I checked with a meter. You can see that the meter was reversed and I was making power. Since it read negative on the meter that meant that the lead connected to the - probe was the + wire. I cut them to just a couple of inches longer than they had to be and connected then to the controller. I then connected the 10ga battery cables to the batteries and cut them to length and connected them to the controller.





The holes where the wires went get fire resistant foam since the go through the laughable joke of a firewall. The trim goes back on and we have power.
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Old 03-13-2016, 09:39 AM   #7
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Good to know that it will keep water out. Always a concern with the RV. That is a good tip about the brad point too. It is too late for me nut will help the next you, which it the "point" of the post. What size well nuts did you use?
1/4 -20 with stainless hardware. Looks like you used the same.Had the same setup on my old coach for >10 years without issue. `
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Old 03-13-2016, 10:00 AM   #8
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1/4 -20 with stainless hardware. Looks like you used the same.Had the same setup on my old coach for >10 years without issue. `
Good to know. I made another discovery too. My air ducts were in the way of several holes but the well nuts also seal the air ducts also so no harm done.
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Old 03-20-2016, 07:56 AM   #9
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great post Kahoona This should help a lot of people who eather plan on installing Solor or are instailling it needing help.


I myself always wondered if the wire had to go through the frig heat vent or the black water vent. my one question is you ran the wires inside through the speaker hole. What did you do with the wire inside the couch tape it to the sidewall??
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Old 03-20-2016, 11:35 AM   #10
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great post Kahoona This should help a lot of people who eather plan on installing Solor or are instailling it needing help.


I myself always wondered if the wire had to go through the frig heat vent or the black water vent. my one question is you ran the wires inside through the speaker hole. What did you do with the wire inside the couch tape it to the sidewall??
I am glad you asked because I forgot to put in a picture showing that. All of the wires to the upper section of the front and the antenna go up behind a vinyl covered panel that covers what passes for the windshield pillar. Here is a pic of that area with the cover off.



The wires that are already in there go to front under the hood so it was clear that that was the way to route them. Ig you have a radio antenna that runs up there too then put as much distance as you can between it and the cables you are installing to avoid interference. Even an inch makes a big difference. If you can't keep them separated then wrap one set with metal screen or foil and ground it.
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Old 03-21-2016, 07:23 AM   #11
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Thank you for the pic
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