How to Build a DIY Travel Trailer – Solar Panel Install

Hey there guys today’s. Video is gonna represent a huge milestone in the travel trailer project, as it will be. The last major build portion of this series before we take it on its first camping trip, which, as of today, is scheduled for about a week from now, so that’s, pretty exciting.

So anyway, in the video I’m, going to show you setting up the solar panels, running the wiring hooking, everything up to the charge controller and battery, and then I’m gonna run the trailer off of solar for a day Or two just to make sure everything is safe and operating as it should.

I also want to give a huge thank you to sunflower solar. They supplied these solar panels that you’re, going to see me installing today, so that was a very big boost to my budgetary portion of this project, which seems to be ever-growing and then, after that I’ll talk about plans for The future, because the trailer still has other things that I want to do to it.

So I guess we’ll get started now you so the first step in adding solar to the travel trailer project was to run the wiring, and I started this off by drilling a hole in my roof, where I wanted the wires to run up To the front cabinet – and then I installed this a specialty RV solar entry port.

This is made specifically for solar cables or solar wires, and I think I got it off of Amazon for about ten bucks, and now I am running the solar wire into the trailer and then you’ll, see me feed it through the front cabinet And then, eventually, all the way down to the battery box, all right.

So here’s, a closer look at the solar panels. I’m, going to be installing on the trailer. This is one of two solar panels. They got from Sun flare and each one of these panels is rated for a hundred and eighty watts, which will give me a total of three hundred and sixty watts for the trailer, definitely a bit of overkill for my current setup.

But it will certainly give me enough charging capabilities if I ever decide to add an additional battery in the future or more realistically, if I happen to be parked in an area that doesn’t have optimal solar exposure or has a lot of shade.

I’ll. Just simply have enough solar panel to accomplish my charging needs. So what are the advantages to using these Sun flare panels over a traditional solar panel? Well, for starters, they’re super lightweight and they’re, very durable.

There’s, no glass or anything to break on them, and they’re super flexible, so they can be mounted virtually anywhere on an RV or trailer and they require no mounting hardware. They simply attach to the trailer with adhesive tape.

Much in the same manner that I attached the aluminum panels on my trailer and they’re, pretty much good to go. In addition to that. Some Flair has also incorporated some aspects of these panels that I think are pretty cool.

They perform better in hot weather. They also get more solar gain at the very beginning of the day and end of the day, whereas traditional solar panels might not be able to collect all of that really angled Sun and then one of the coolest things I think about them about these panels.

Are that they are wired with individual diodes at each individual cell? So if one of these cells gets damaged, it only takes out the performance of that cell versus an entire string or strand of cells like a traditional solar panel might have so.

For instance, a traditional solar panel, if one strand got damaged, you might lose a third or more of the energy in that panel, whereas this you know if this individual cell is only 5 % of the panel, you’ll, only lose 5 %.

So right now I think I going to install these on the roof and we’ll, get everything hooked up you so before I install the panels on the trailer I figured it’d, be easier to lay everything out here on the Garage floor just so, I can get my wiring diagram figured out and then make all the connections down here.

So I’m, not having to do it up on the trailer. So I have the panel’s, positioned in roughly the orientation that they will be on top of the trailer. And then I just put some tape on the ground to represent my positive and negative leads, and then I have my mc4 connectors laid out and what I’ll do now is just grab some wire and start making those connections and try to mimic This layout, however, it will be just a little tighter, so it can all fit in some conduit later and here’s, a quick demo on how I made these solar connections.

These are MC for solar connectors and, like many things in life, they come in a male and a female format. They simply slide into one another and lock in place. The little metal contacts or conductors get crimped onto the solar wire and you’ll, see that it takes a specialty tool.

I got this off of Amazon for like 25 bucks, so hopefully I end up having another solar project in the future. So I can utilize it again, but you’ll, see they simply just crimp onto the wire and then once they are crimped on.

You will add the plastic male or female outer section of the connector, and then it comes with a couple of specialty. Wrenches and you’ll see me tighten them down, and if you listen closely at the end, you tighten them down until they start start slipping, and I think it’s, just a kind of a fail-safe on making sure that you get Them torqued to the right, compression or whatever, tightness, and here’s.

What it looks like with all the connections made. It’s kind of hard to see the wires, but I can assure you that they follow that taped down pattern that I had placed on the floor. I just have some weights to hold the wires down, so you can see roughly how they will lay on the roof.

Eventually, all of this will get tucked up under some sort of conduit that I will place over here just to keep everything nice and tidy. So I think I’m going to disconnect all these, and I will turn the panel’s over and start installing the tape and then I will put them on the trailer after I got all the connections and wire and figured out It was now time to install the solar panels, and I will say I think this was by far the easiest part of the entire process of adding solar.

I simply added the tape to the back of the panels and then cleaned off the roof of the trailer. Really good with some rubbing alcohol and then peeled off the backing of the adhesive tape, and these panels are definitely not going anywhere.

They are pretty much locked in place and this was really kind of a cool step just to see them up there. After I get the solar panels wired up, I then wanted to make sure that I gave all of the wiring and solar connections adequate protection, since they were sitting up on top of the roof kind of exposed.

So, instead of buying a premade electrical track or a solar Raceway, I figured I would just make something custom, since 90 % of everything else on this trailer is custom. So I simply just cut one end off of a piece of aluminum tubing to make kind of a deep channel or track and then around the wires.

I added flexible plastic conduit so that it would protect them from rubbing inside of the aluminum tubing. And then I made a simple little bracket on each side of the trailer out of a smaller bit of aluminum channel, and that is what the big long piece of aluminum channel will mount to you all right.

So right now is the moment of truth. I have my solar panels installed on the roof, the wires you saw run through the trailer to those on/off switches and then up through the battery box, and they connect into the charge controller right now.

They are not providing any power to this charge control right now, because I don’t have those on/off switches on because, as per the instructions of this Vic Tron charge controller, I need to connect the battery first and let that basically set the voltage Inside the charge controller, so that is hooked up both to my 12-volt system and then each one of these wires runs back and then goes into the charge controller.

So the next step is to turn on the on-off switches for the solar panels and fingers crossed it’s, not going to start a fire. Now I’m inside where the on/off switches are, and this is going to be the moment of truth.

I will eventually put some sort of conduit around these wires, but I just want to make sure everything works before I get it all tidied up. So we will turn on the positive first and then the negative, so there should be power flowing now.

I’m, not sure if you can see this on the camera or not, but the bolt charge LED light is lit up right now and according to the manual, this is what’s supposed to be lit up it’S kind of a cloudy day, so maybe on a sunny day, it’ll, be a little bit brighter, but so far everything looks good.

Let me see if I can lower the lid, so you can see that a little bit better. So I think what I’m going to do now is just let it run for the rest of the day and throughout tomorrow, and I’m gonna test, the cooler and the fan and everything else, and I should be good Holder’s been on for a while now and all seems to be working as it should.

None of the wires or connections are hot or even warm to the touch. The charge controller is just a tad warm, but that’s. To be expected, because it & # 39, s got electricity going through it. So what I’m going to do now is start wrapping all of these solar wires in conduit and then kind of tightening everything up.

So they’re. Not just laying there and then I will reinstall this panel and then we’ll, get on to checking everything else all right, so I’ve, been running the solar all day and everything seems to be operating as it should.

I’ve had most of the lights on for the majority of the day, and I’ve been running the fan off and on, as I’ve been doing stuff in here, and everything seems to be working just fine, But really none of that was my concern mostly.

I was concerned about the 12-volt Dometic cooler that I have back here that my battery and solar panels would be able to keep up with it and so far so good. The battery is still showing just a float charge, so that means in my mind, that the solar panels are doing the job that they should and really it’s, not drawing down off the battery at all the cooler itself.

I plugged it in this morning and it was about 88 degrees at 8:30 this morning and I set it to 28 degrees Fahrenheit and it took about an hour to cool to that temperature and ever since then it has been maintaining that pretty.

Well, I’ve got some ice in here and it’s, probably about a hundred degrees today, and everything is operating really well, the vents feel hot or anything. So I’m thinking that I do have enough airflow, but that’s pretty much hit.

I’m, pretty pretty happy with it and right now the compressor is running. So if you can hear that – and that is as loud as it gets, it kicks on – maybe once or twice an hour for maybe just a 2 or 3 4 minutes.

So I’m, pretty happy with its performance all right, so that’s, pretty much it for the solar install right now it is a couple of days since you saw that last clip when I was using the Dometic cooler and everything Has been running perfectly, I’ve run the cooler overnight and didn’t seem to affect the battery at all.

Didn’t discharge it too much. So I feel pretty confident with the way everything’s set up. As for what is to come next in this series, well, that will definitely be a camping trip and, depending on when I actually leave, you may be watching this well hell.

I’m driving up to the White Mountains of Arizona, so pretty excited about that. As for those of you who have really enjoyed this series, this is definitely not the end of the series, as I still have plenty of things left to do.

For this trailer, like an awning, a shower a kind of wet bath area inside the trailer, as well as a slide-out kitchen and probably some other things, but anyway, I just wanted to let you know in case some of you were thinking that this might be the Complete end of the series – which it definitely is not, but it is a functional stage and I will be getting to some of the other projects that I have been meaning to get to for a while, namely the greenhouse some rainwater harvesting stuff.

Because right now is our monsoon season, and that is pretty much gonna do it. So as always guys, I thank you for watching. I actually have a bunch of packing to do for the first inaugural camp trip and that’s.

Probably what you get to see me on next time so check me out on Instagram, and I will see you guys later: [ Music, ]