Solar install – Day 3

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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.

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Eddie rocking out in the Electrical aisle at the Depot

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.

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the combiner box for all 4 panels to connect and drop into the trailer.

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

 

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the proposed drop point from a month prior to the install

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)

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more holes !  this is the light coming down from the roof.  This will be the location of the combiner box on top of the camper
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a new hole inside the cabinet allowing us to still use the bedside cabinet
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a new hole in the bedside stand counter top.  this is light coming up from underneath the counter top, with a direct shot to the solar controller
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covering and securing the cable from the roof combiner box
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making the run from the roof drop, within the cabinet.  the idea here was to NOT block the hangar rail at the top of the cabinet so the cable would not interfere with hanging clothes
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securing and covering the roof drop cable in the back corner of the passenger side bed stand. this passes through at the bottom down into the side compartment where the Solar Controller lives

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)!
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example of a panel connection on the bus bar within 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.

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