Motor Home Photovoltaic Panel Installment Summary|Power Your Off-Grid Motor Home With The Sunlight!
One of the best things you can do to improve your boondocking experience is to install some solar panels on your RV. We install these solar panels ourselves, but because the job is already done and we can’t actually demonstrate it today and because our wiring was pre done at the factory.
This will not be a thorough tutorial, but just a general overview of how our solar panels are set up. The first big question involves real estate. How much room have you got on the roof of your RV? Obviously, a 43-foot motorhome gives us a fair amount of real estate, so we left plenty of space around the panel’s, giving us room to walk around and to access other things on the roof.
This is the two panel installation on our first motorhome. A 2002 Fleetwood bounder diesel in the summer when the Sun is high in the sky. You can leave your solar panels flat down on the roof at all times, but in the winter when the Sun is low on the horizon, you’
Ll get a lot more charging if you get an inexpensive kit to tilt the panel’s. This is all you’ll need to tilt one solar panel to prop rods threaded at one end and two extra thumb screws all. We need to do to tilt the solar panels.
Up is to remove the thumb screws from one side and install the bars at each corner, now, simply repeat the process at the other end, the trick to getting the best solar output in the winter is to have the panel’s aimed due south, Because all four corners of the solar panels are held in place with thumb screws, we can tilt either side of the panel up.
So, regardless of whether we’re facing east or west, we can aim our solar panels correctly. You’ll, be amazed how much more power your panels put out when they’re tilted in the winter. Another reason to have a tilt kit is: it makes it easy to inspect and clean underneath the panel’s.
Now that the panels are tilted out of the way we can see the junction box where the wires come up from the inside of the RV. Again, we were lucky that Newmar offered pre-wiring as an option and our wires come directly up through a panel in the roof.
If your RV isn’t already pre-wired for solar, the most common route to feed the cable into the RV is through the roof it for the refrigerator that’s, exactly how the cable was fed from the roof into the RV.
On our bounder, since it wasn’t pre-wired for solar from the factory, just like everything else, that’s installed on the roof. The junction box is set into a bed of Dicor. These watertight connections make sure that the box doesn’t leak.
All the wiring is neatly zip, tied in place map everything out in advance. So you know exactly where the panel’ S will go where the wiring will run and how everything will be connected. Once you begin installing the scariest part of the job for a do-it-yourselfer is probably drilling holes in the roof.
It wasn’t nearly as bad as we expected. We simply measured and marked carefully where the brackets were to go, set them in a bit of dicor, and it was no problem at all. When it comes to wiring, we had the advantage of custom ordering our RV from a factory that was willing to do some custom work.
Newmar offers solar panel pre wiring on their coaches. Newmar also allows a fair amount of customization and we specifically ordered six gauge wire, which is much heavier than the standard wire. We had the luxury of choosing the location of our solar controller by requesting that Newmar drop the cable that goes from the roof down to the batteries here into the cabinet in the bathroom that allowed us to install our solar controller right here in a convenient spot.
If you have the option make sure you use very heavy wire like this six gauge wire to reduce loss along the line, we also decided to install an on/off switch in our solar panel setup. This allows us to turn off all incoming power to the battery bank.
This was handy last year when we installed our new battery bank and wanted to disconnect all incoming power. While we were doing the installation, since our solar wiring was pre done at the factory. Newmar brought the wire right into our electrical compartment, where our main power comes in from the pedestal.
This is the hot lead that comes off the roof, and this is the negative right here. The wires from the roof can also be connected directly into your battery bank. That’s, how the installation was done in our bounder with the wiring coming directly to the house batteries.
You can see that the solar panels are currently putting out about 17 amps on a bright sunny day. We commonly see 23 to 24 amps from all three panels. When the batteries are fully charged, the output charge, current will drop and the charge status light will blink, letting you know that the batteries are fully charged and the solar panels are just float charging them.
Solar panels are just one more piece of the puzzle. If you want the freedom to go off the grid,