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Old 01-31-2009, 09:22 AM   #1
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Has anyone installed solar themselves?

I'm not quite convinced that it would be that hard to accomplish. *EDITED*-> Does anyone have a picture of the preconnected wiring connection?

Joe
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Old 02-01-2009, 10:11 AM   #2
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Re: Has anyone installed solar themselves?

I installed the solar panel myself. Bought the van 'PreWired for Solar'.

The solar controller is a simple hookup - 2 wires in from the panel, and +/- out to the system electrical tie points for the battery.

Mechanically mounting the solar panel seems more challenging than wiring the panel/controller.

I'm not exactly sure what you want pictures of.

Mike
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Old 02-01-2009, 12:25 PM   #3
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Re: Has anyone installed solar themselves?

Didn't do the solar panesl on my SMB, but many years ago I did retrofit my VW Adventurewagen with solar panels. The VW had a fiberglass top similar to the SMB Voyager top.

If you have patience and modest mechanical ability, the most difficult parts of the job are (1) designing the attachment of the panels to the roof and (2) routing the wires.

I built a frame to hold the panels off the roof about 1/2" out of aluminum stock from the local hardware store. The sides were angle stock, allowing one side to bolt to the van roof and the other to stick up to bolt to the panels. I sandwiched the panels inside the angle stock and then used nuts and bolts to connect them. I put fairly dense outdoor weatherstripping between the angle stock and the roof to buffer vibration and keep the roof undamaged (except for the screw holes, of course).

I found that marine supply stores, like West Marine, were good sources for materials that can stand up to the elements. I used stainless steel nuts and bolts, and a marine "through-deck" fitting to run the wires from the panel through the roof. With these, the wires are not continuous from the panels to the battery; rather, the wires from the battery terminate at the deck fitting, and I installed a marine 12v plug at the end of the solar wiring to plug into the deck fitting. This allowed me to unplug the panels whenever I wished.

I also installed a second 12v connection in one of the wheel wells, so when I pulled the panels off the roof I could plug them in there. This let me park in the shade and put the panels in the sun. To help with this, I bought a 50 foot extension cord, cut off the 110v ends, and attached 12v versions.

The specifics of my experience routing the wires wouldn't help much, as the roofs are different, but there are plenty of opportunities to do this. You might want to give Peter at SMB a call for specific advice on the best locations.

All in all, the project took me one weekend, and I was pretty much making things up as I went. When I sold my VW to buy the SMB, with over 150,000 miles of the solar system, all of the mechanical aspects of the system were going strong, without leaks, cracks, or other problems. I did upgrade the panels once to get more power.

Hope this helps.
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Old 02-01-2009, 12:27 PM   #4
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Re: Has anyone installed solar themselves?

I did mine myself without the pre-wiring. Most difficult part was coming through the pop top roof, and mounting the panels. Wiring is simple. There are pictures in my album.

Tom
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Old 02-01-2009, 10:33 PM   #5
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Re: Has anyone installed solar themselves?



If necessary I have panion's (and everybody else's) album, so if you need to see something before I manage to get the albums up again just PM me...
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Old 02-02-2009, 09:43 AM   #6
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Re: Has anyone installed solar themselves?

Quote:
Originally Posted by panion
I did mine myself without the pre-wiring. Most difficult part was coming through the pop top roof, and mounting the panels. Wiring is simple. There are pictures in my album.

Tom
When you go through the penthouse top, go through outside of the softwall. Then if it ever leaks, it is outside the living quarters. I used a watertight electrical fitting (probably overkill) just to be safe.

Mike
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Old 02-02-2009, 10:45 AM   #7
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Re: Has anyone installed solar themselves?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jlrray
*EDITED*-> Does anyone have a picture of the preconnected wiring connection?
I can get you one later, if it's just from the outside you want. Here's the plug end:
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Old 02-02-2009, 10:52 AM   #8
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Re: Has anyone installed solar themselves?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ford_6L_E350
Quote:
Originally Posted by panion
I did mine myself without the pre-wiring. Most difficult part was coming through the pop top roof, and mounting the panels. Wiring is simple. There are pictures in my album.

Tom
When you go through the penthouse top, go through outside of the softwall. Then if it ever leaks, it is outside the living quarters. I used a watertight electrical fitting (probably overkill) just to be safe.

Mike
That's what we did with the Kyocera 130 GT's (Thinner then TM). DIY Custom Job. No Pre-wire.
Using a Morningstart 20amp charge controller with a relay to flip it on when it's not on shore power.


Here are some pics:


We built our own rails to mount the panels on. Replaced the rusty Sportsmobile Penthouse bolts, nuts and washers, went stainless(rust proof) and got longer Grade 8 bolts and secured it through the rails:



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