Solar Panel Install - 2nd Half - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-07-2014, 11:26 AM   #1
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Name: Huck
Trailer: ParkLiner
Virginia
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Solar Panel Install - 2nd Half

Earlier I posted my solar install from mounting solar panel on roof and running cables to charge controller. This post covers installing the charge controller and connecting solar panel(s) and batteries.

The charge controller kicked my butt. The stranded cables kept coming out no matter how tightly I screwed them down. I finally ended up using brute force. The charge controller is less than $30, so I figured if I messed it up, I would just buy another one.

I tried crimping a pin on the end of the wires and sticking that into hole in charge controller. This probably would work if I could have found a pin just the right size for the holes.

Then I tried solid instead of stranded wire. I had some bare aluminum wire and tried that. It seemed to solve the problem. Went to Lowes and Home Depot looking for 10 gauge solid copper wire with a jacket. The best I could find was 12 gauge, so I got 2 feet (1 foot red and 1 foot black).

It still didn't seem to want to stay tight so I put some marine adhesive around the holes. Checked the next morning and I think it might do the trick. Tested voltages and was OK.



I used 6" cables from the charge controller to a 30 amp terminal block. It worked fine on the solid wire side, but on the stranded side I had to cut a few strands off to get the wires under the screws. That's when I decided that super glue was the answer. I super glued each connection of the terminal block and squirted a little superglue around the holes on the charge controller.

There was a method to my madness. If I damaged the charge controller, I just had to remove the charge controller and terminal block and wire between then including wire to Y cables. From the Y cable on, everything was still good. Same with battery cables.



In the above picture, you see a bunch of MC4 connectors. I used 2 Y cables because I have 2 solar panels. The cables for the panel on the roof come into the closet and plugs into 1 connector on each of the Y cables. The cables for my portable panel plug into the other connectors on the y cable.

The output of the Y cable connects to the terminal block via 2short cables I made that are bare wire on 1 end and an MC4 on the other. MC4 connects to Y cable and bare wire connects to terminal block.

The roof panel stays hooked up all the time and if I need the additional panel, I just plug it in. For the portable panel, I have 2 cables that connect to the Y cables and run down to the floor and out 2 holes. The cables terminate just outside the trailer with MC4's and have 2 dummy MC4's (no pins and sealed with superglue) that plug into the cable connectors to keep water out when traveling. To hook up the portable panel, I just disconnect the dummy plugs and connect 2 extension cables from the trailer connectors to solar panel.

Cables from trailer terminated in MC4 and connected to portable solar panel cables.



When not in use, dummy MC4's plugged in



They slide up out of sight, but I left them sticking out just so I could take a picture.

On the battery side, I added a 30 amp fuse on the positive cable that goes from charge controller to battery. I also had to drill 2 holes through the battery box for the battery cables.
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Old 08-07-2014, 06:29 PM   #2
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Name: Steve
Trailer: Scamp 19
Arizona
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When I installed my controller I soldered the ends of the wire before installing them in the controller. Made then ends solid and worked very well. I love the solar panels mounted on the top of my camper, and my batteries are normally fully charged by 10AM.
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Old 08-07-2014, 07:55 PM   #3
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Name: Charlie Y
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Oregon
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Dunno about aluminum wire at low voltage, but aluminum wire against copper terminals will corrode the connection with humidity, which is why it was banned under the National Electrical Code due to overheated outlets causing house fires. Widely used in the 60s/70s. So you may experience a voltage drop due to the corrosion down the road..........
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Old 08-07-2014, 08:14 PM   #4
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Name: Huck
Trailer: ParkLiner
Virginia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tractors1 View Post
Dunno about aluminum wire at low voltage, but aluminum wire against copper terminals will corrode the connection with humidity, which is why it was banned under the National Electrical Code due to overheated outlets causing house fires. Widely used in the 60s/70s. So you may experience a voltage drop due to the corrosion down the road..........
I didn't use aluminum wire, I used copper.

I should have said steel wire, not aluminum. I just used it to see if it would lock down better than stranded wire and it did. So I went to Lowes and bought solid copper wire.
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