Considering a DIY install of our Solar

IMG_0323As discussed in our previous posts, we are starting to consider doing a permanent DIY install of our solar set up.

I have been spending a good portion of my free time trying to learn the best and safest way to install the Solar myself.

Some of my instruction and inspiration has come from the awesome folks and resources below (in no particular order, and by no means the full list)

Since my last post, I have added the following gear to my solar set up :

i have purchased but not yet used the following inverter :

Samlex Solar PST-2000-12 PST (pure sine wave 2000 watt inverter)
also the remote :  

Samlex Solar RC-200 PST Series Remote Control 

I also have a 300 amp Class T fuse to go along with the inverter

 

The goal was to have enough inverter power to run all our electronics off grid, including the Microwave as well as “maybe” even the A/C for short periods of time (theoretically this IS possible)
Not being an electrician, and having a natural healthy fear of being electrocuted and/or burning our camper to the ground… I had a LOT to learn.
Examples of things you need to worry greatly about when doing your own install :
  • having heavy gauge cabling between your Battery and your Inverter.  Depending on the amount of power you want to draw, the resistance of the copper cabling can be so high (in small gauge wire) that the heat generated can easily make the wires start on FIRE ! Example, folks are using 2/0 or 4/0 cabling between their batteries and the inverter.  This gauge wire, to give you a comparison, is thicker than the wire found in jumper cables
  • you will want to make these inverter and battery cables as short as possible.  to do this you will need to make your own runs of cabling.  the shorter the cable, the more efficient the power can be.
  • you need proper fusing at all points of the system.  Example, a catastrophic failure fuse (which is why I bought the 300 amp Class T), fusing coming in from the panels, fusing between the charge controller and the battery, etc
  • you need proper disconnects and breakers in your system for safety, failure and service to the system
  • you need a transfer switch OR a manual disconnect from your inverter to the rest or your system otherwise you create a feedback “loop” where you are charging your batteries with the power your inverter creates, and converting that back on top of itself
  • you need proper gauge wire for the run between your panels and the charge controller.  The longer the run, the bigger the gauge needed
  • you need a way to connect the panels together so that a permanent install wont fail.  generally folks use a “junction box” that has a bus bar for both poles (something like the combiner box shown in this link surely could be done DIY).  This allows you to expand your system in the future as well as potentially switch between Parallel and Series connection.
  • you need a way to connect the panels to the roof of your camper.  This involves self-leveling compounds like Dicor, special footer hardware to connect the panels, the proper screws to nail down the hardware and the panels
  • you need a waterproof way to get from the panels down to the charge controller through the roof of your camper
  • you need a way to clean and maintain the panels on top of your camper (really just space to walk, or a ladder that can reach them from the sides)
  • you need to minimize or really eliminate ANY shadows on your roof that might be caused by objects such as the TV antenna, AC units etc
  • you’ll need a way to get your new wiring to connect properly to the current “house” wiring as well as get that new solar power into the existing batteries.
  • you need a solar controller that has the proper maximum amperage that will match your current system and/or allow for more panel expansion in the future.
  • you’ll need to potentially upgrade your current batteries to allow for the storage of all that great new solar power you are collecting, otherwise… you will just be dumping power with nowhere to hold it for later consumption
  • you’ll need to really nail down all parts of the system so they can handle bouncing around on potentially off-road conditions
  • this isnt even ALL of the stuff you have to consider !  its a daunting task that takes some research
========  resources I used to learn about the solar install  ========

Solar Generator – Battery Bank & Solar Panel Expansion (ModernSurvivalists)
(this one is geared more to “preppers” than RV folks, but most of the mechanics are sound)

Pippi Peterson
great inspiration for DIY

Pure Living for Life
not RV folks, but full time off grid living

Love your RV
Ray has fabulous info and great detailed mods to his camper

RV with Tito
Brian’s videos are entertaining and cover almost all aspects of the Solar install

RV Geeks

Gone with the Wynns
top dollar installs

technomadia
the original lithium pioneers

the reckless choice

Wheeling It

Do it yourself RV

AM Solar DIY

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