Solar Install – Day 2

morning traffic up on Solar Hill

Day one ended with Eddie not putting down the solar panels due to some crazy flying ants that seemed to favor the roof color of our camper.  They don’t seem to bite, but they really like to fly in your ears, nose and mouth by the hundreds.  So, just as Eddie was set to connect the panels, he decided it was a task for day 2.

Another issue with the order of things :  we are short a few parts (which we had planned on) which will require a Home Depot run into Gillette, WY which is at least 1 hr drive each way.  Due to my work schedule during the install, we had planned to push this Depot run off to Friday if possible.  One of the main missing pieces is the junction box for the panels to wire into on the roof, some extra cabling and miscellaneous electrical parts needed to rewire and repurpose some existing A/C sockets.

Guardian of the panels where we left them overnight (under the camper) due to the flying ant debacle
Eddie getting started re-laying down the panels on the roof in their final configuration before being attached.
marking the position of the bracket, then pre-drilling two holes for each bracket, applying some initial dicor
this is the Dicor sealant used on the roof attachments
and the lag screws that Eddie used
close up of the lag screws for the panels

here is a little video clip of how Eddie screwed these down :

another tip or two on screwing down and sealing:

Up next, positioning the 3 new control panels on the wall with our existing electrical controls.  After outlining the dimensions of the new panels, Eddie cut nice straight lines through the flimsy paperboard wall with a fancy saw (that i cannot remember the name of).


Here are the new panels attached to the wall, with their wires available in the hole behind the electrical box.  They are attached but not hooked up to anything, Eddie needs to fish the control wires from the passenger compartment (where the system is installed).  How they get fished from the compartment to the panel area is still a bit of a mystery.

the TriStar solar controller panel, The Bogart Trimetric Battery Monitor, and the Samlex inverter remote.

—S T O R M  B R E A K  —

Well, as it often does in Wyoming, some heavy wind and threatening weather started to come in and Eddie had to secure the area around his house, as well as check for a few packages that were waiting for my neighbors John and Brenda.

Reason I mention the storm break is, after the little micro storm rolled on past, I got lucky enough to see this scene from my camper.  A little blurry as I took it with my phone from a great distance, but you get the idea.

lone Pronghorn after a little thunderstorm up on Solar Hill

OK, so up next, finding an easy path from the install location over to the “Power Center” which will allow us to connect the following :

  • shore power to the new converter
  • cabling from the new control panels to the system
  • the inverter to the transfer switch

the question is… how to do that ?  Eddie took a look underneath the trailer, that way he could just punch a hole in the passenger side storage compartment and go UNDER the trailer.  The trailer has a covered underbelly, which is a good thing (protecting the guts of the camper below), but unfortunately… most of this side of the trailer is riveted / nailed down (not screwed).  This made for a speedy install at the Rockwood plant, but would require drilling out these nails (most likely), then peeling back the belly (possibly only to find no good route for the cabling?) and then screwing back down the underbelly where the nails used to be.  Not the greatest option.

here is the gist of what we were up against.  As you can see below, we needed to get from point A to point B.  Going underneath the trailer seemed like not the best choice due to the way the underbelly was connected at the Rockwood factory
Eddie taking a look at a possible Point A, drilling a hole in the floor next to the exit / wiring point of the inverter
Eddie taking a look at a possible Point B, which is the open space behind the power center
time for cutting some holes !  Eddie cut a drop right behind where the direct wiring for the inverter pops out. Eddie made this hole big enough so he could get his hand down there (all twisted and crumpled up, if need be). This “should” allow Eddie to fish wire through the spacing in the floor, which is mostly insulation (and hopefully not many physical barriers)
Here is the little wood puck that came out of that hole.  Eddie approved of the thickness and quality of the Plywood that Rockwood used in their flooring.  This “should” allow Eddie to fish wire through the spacing in the floor, which is mostly insulation (and hopefully not many physical barriers)
Here is Point B, behind the power center (check out the rainbow color coded wiring, pretty handy actually).  This new hole is directly across from the inverter hole.  SUCCESS ! that little black wire you see coming up from the floor is Eddie’s fish line.
Eddie is now pulling wire from hole to hole (point A to point B)
Wiring the inverter direct, passing the inverter line under the entry way.  Passing the Controller, Battery Monitor and Inverter remote under the floor.
Success !  the controller remote is talking to the controller, the Bogart Battery panel is ON, (the samlex remote doesnt have power just yet)
disconnected the old “stock” converter from the system.  Getting ready to install the transfer switch
hooking up the transfer switch and inverter into the power center

what is a transfer switch and why do we need one ? Brian with RV with Tito has a good explainer as well as how he did his own install 

making sure all the breakers match up for the new setup

Well… that about wraps up day two, the shadows were starting to get long, and it was a long busy day for Eddie.

After the afternoon storm, it was a gorgeously clear sunset and early evening (except for some heavy haze that some fires in Oregon were sending down our way)

A quick walk up to the western edge of Solar hill.  In the center you can see the 4 campers, beyond that : The Missouri Buttes and Devils Tower
Looking due west from the western edge of Solar Hill


here is my last 50 yards cresting the west side of Solar hill, sweeping views from west, to south to east across the valley to the Missouri Buttes


4 thoughts on “Solar Install – Day 2

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