So, day 3 started off with a run to Home Depot in Gillette. We had only a few things to get from the Depot as well as a local RV shop where Eddie wanted to buy some Dicor.
We couldn’t find everything we needed at the Depot so we also had to swing by an O’Reilly Auto Parts store, specifically to get some lower gauge wire. As mentioned previously, Gillette is about 1 hour, each way from Solar Hill.
This was kinda fun though really as we took the “scenic route” (to me : all routes around here are scenic). I got to spend some time hanging out with Eddie en route, and we managed to fill the dead air time with plenty of stories and anecdotes from days gone by.
Safely back on solar hill, the first order of business was building out a custom combiner box for the 4 panels to connect to in parallel. Why parallel ? Here are some good explainers on this subject via Renogy as well as the ever entertaining and knowledgeable Brian at RV with Tito. The basic gist in our scenario is, we want each panel to work independently so that if there is a shadow on one panel, it wont affect the overall panel system as a whole.
This combiner box will be similar to one I almost bought from AM Solar. Theirs is $80 (and only water tight if you do not over-tighten the cover). Eddies cost about $18 or so and is water tight.
Eddie hacked a longer bus bar into 2 small pieces so that it would fit in our new box.
you may recall this image if you have been following along. This is the passenger side of the bed, with a cabinet that will make for a convenient drop of the wire from the combiner box down to the solar controller
since the panels were already connected to the roof, but the MC4 connectors had not yet been removed in favor of more permanent, water-proof connectors (made by Eddie), we still could have changed the location of the cable drop.. but this just made the most sense as we could pass through the roof, through the cabinet, through the bedside stand and finally down to the solar controller (in the passenger side storage bin)
remaining tasks for as far as we can get on day 3 :
- permanently attach the combiner box to the roof
- seal the combiner box hole between the camper and the box (to keep moisture from the camper escaping into the combiner box)!
Well, that was a lot of stuff for one day, especially considering that we had a 3hr+ trip to Gillette for supplies.