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Old 12-29-2012, 10:40 AM   #1
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Has Anyone installed Solar Power Themselves?

Im looking for information on installing solar power, BUT id like to do the work myself.
Has anyone actualy put solar pannels on the roof and hooked them to their system??
Or is this one of those HOLY COW THATS HARD kind of ventures?
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Old 12-29-2012, 11:06 AM   #2
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That's something I'd like to do eventually. Seems like the most difficult part would be running the wires.
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Old 12-29-2012, 11:52 AM   #3
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Thats why Im asking first.
Id hate to get started and have to call someone to bail me out
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Old 12-29-2012, 11:56 AM   #4
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Its a pretty easy process these days as compared to just only a few years ago. There are many many folks using solar panels now on RVs.

It is in my plans as well for a 120WATT Solar charging system for my OFF-ROAD POPUP roof to run with my 2KW Honda generator to keep all of my batteries charged up.... My game plan for camping off the power grids is to run all of my 120VAC and 12VDC desired toys from the right size battery bank and then keep my batteries re-charged with my 2KW generator being run for a short three hour period each day. Having solar panels would really help this situation for us.

This is a simplified diagram what is required and they come in kits now... They even have sticky 3-M pads to support the panels on the roof now which means NO drilling holes. Like the other post said the hard part is getting the cables down to the batteries without drilling holes in the roof. The solar panel idea will integrate very well with the on-board smart mode converter/charger system.

This would give me solar charging when the sun is out during the day and I would need to run my 2KW Honda generator less often to keep my large battery bank charged up when allowed to run my generator at the camp sites..

It seems that most public operated camp grounds all have generator restrictions of some kind or another and even the Natl Forest have them as well. Running off the batteries for these remote camping off the power grid areas was the answer for me but I need to be able to re-charge the batteries the next day to at least 90% SOC to be able to do it all over again for the next day/night battery run.



Roy Ken..
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Old 12-29-2012, 03:18 PM   #5
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My battery box is only big enough for one battery.
There is a big honking open space where the generater used to sit.
I plan to put in a box to support two or three deep cycle batteries.
Then charge them from the solar pannels on the roof.
Good thing i have years to get this done.
Id love to throwe a Honda 2000 in the mix but Ill see what happens next year.
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Old 12-29-2012, 03:20 PM   #6
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I see you used to be an electrice tech. That must help with projects like this.
As a paramedic all I can do is put a bandage on and hope the rV servives to the hospital (garage)
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Old 12-29-2012, 03:24 PM   #7
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Many years ago as an installer at Camping World before I did my first install I thought I would really screw things up, but I was wrong. Motor homes and trailers are simple. Mounting the panels we installed with screws and lots of sealant, I would not be comfortable with the 3m tape myself, something about losing a panel at 60 mph doesn't appeal to me With the cabling you run it down the refrig vent being careful not to intertwine with the wiring of the frig. A lot of the installs we would place the charge controller/display within the same wall as the frig (just be careful when cutting the opening for the controller not to go too deep hitting the frig insulation. Then we just drilled down through the flooring of the frig compartment into the compartment below and then depending on where the batteries sit, we ran the cable through the compartments then out the bottom of the trailer/motorhome and connected to the batteries. It was that easy. With pop up trailers they make a coiled umbilical cord to connect between the panel and controller so when the top goes up/down cable doesn't get destroyed.

Hope that helps, good luck, have fun and happy camping.

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Old 12-29-2012, 03:32 PM   #8
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Im beginning to think Ill be able to do this one myself.
Thanks for all the info..
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Old 12-29-2012, 07:45 PM   #9
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Working as an professional electronics installer has it downfalls. You have doing it right built-in to your habits which some times make things cost alittle more... No bailing wire, duct tape, or dropping a cable through a hole drilled in the ceiling going straight down to the controller box sitting a the kitched table. It all has pass the Hanes underware inspector #12.

Electronics wise it looks pretty much like plug and pray... The charge controller will know what to do with the amps you will be getting from the sun.

The bigger thing to me looks like the mechanical items... How to mount the panels, how to route the cables, etc etc etc...

The other question to me would be do I need to have my panels mounted on hinges where they can track the sun better.

There is also another option you might do as well and that is using portable solar panels and not put them on the roof at all. Then you always keep the panels aligned with the sun for max output.

I don't think I would have much luck with the panels and have only one battery. This will require you to draw all of your power when the sun is out and no place to put it when your one battery reaches full charge state.. With no large battery capacity and no generator you will totally dependent on the sun being out. Just remember the sun goes to sleep at dark. Then what are you going to do. You one battery may not last all night.

Of course if you keep draining a battery down without re-charging right away the battery won't last very long as well... You will no PLAN B working for you...

I would do as I described above- Mod my battery system to run all the 120VAC and 12VDC toys I need to have running in a one day/night camping experience. Then re-charge my batteries the next morning to their 90% charge state using my 2KW generator. Then keep adding charge to the batteries using the solar panels to try to make 100% charge state which I really wont have enough daylight hours to be but i will add a bunch more capacity to the battery bank trying too. Doing it this way I know I can make the next with ease. If the sun is out all day long then I have put more charge into the batteries to just make it even better.

To me the Solar Panels, the batteries, and the generator all make the best 12VDC power source team I can think of.

I started with the generator first, then added more batteries, and now I can run all my 120VAC and 12VDC toys i want to run. We are very successful doing this with the generator bring us back to the 70% charge state. Now I want to add solar power to even do it better... If I added even more batteries than I would almost not ever need the generator as some of the full time camping off the power grid guys are downing now. To me the generator is best thing to fall back on as it will charge your batteries anytime you need it to do. You have to work around the sun daylight hours and hope its not cloudy for two three days in a role.

Im sure others will do this differently but I learned all about camping off the power grid in little baby steps and what i have going at the moment is very successful for us camping off the power grid....

Just me yaking...

Roy Ken.
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We live in King George VA
RETIRED DOD DOAF DON CONTRACTOR Electronics Tech 42YRS

"We're burning daylight" - John Wayne
2008 STARCRAFT 14RT OFF-ROAD POPUP with PD9260C and three 85AH 12VDC batteries
2010 F150 FX4 5.4 GAS with 3.73 gears - Super Cab - Towing Package - 2KW Honda EU2000i Gen
K9PHT (since 1957) 146.52Mhz
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Old 12-29-2012, 08:41 PM   #10
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Thank for all your info.
Ill try to start small and work my way up.
Most of the time we use a land line but there are places we want to go that are remote like Seminal Canyon.
You get a parking place and a picnick table. No showers there.
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