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Old 04-13-2016, 06:14 PM   #1
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Locations for Installing Solar Panel Wiring and Charge Controller

I am interested in knowing what route people have chosen for the solar panel cables to the charge controller and where they installed the charge controller.

I realize that the choices will depend on the MH coach configuration, so I'll note that I have a Berk 34QS. It has quad slides and the battery bays and the bay for the Magnum inverter unit are underneath a bedroom slide. I have a closet in the rear, and no rear bath.

So, I really have two related questions:
1. Where to put the charge controller?
2. How to route the wires to the charge controller?

Initially, it seemed best to put the charge controller in the electrical bay behind the Magnum inverter. But, there is not much space there. A lot of other stuff is mounted on the walls, and a bunch of battery wire is looped around and fastened to the wall. I could shorten the battery wires and clean up that mess, but things will be a tight fit. I have an MPPT charge controller that is about 4" by 6" and about 2" deep.

The battery bays have more room, but the batteries are flooded, and I shouldn't put electrical equipment in with them (nothing on my MPPT controller says it is safe in an environment of explosive gas).

Other locations for the charge controller become available, depending on my wire routing, so let me describe my thinking along these lines.

My initial thought was to route the wires down through a cupboard above the TV on the back of the bathroom wall. This wall is fixed and doesn't slide. The outside of the cupboard has the panel with my Magnum ME-RC remote, thermostat and lights indicated tank fill etc. But, with this approach, I'm going through a lot of walls and could hit something buried in the walls, like other wiring. I then have to route the wiring along the coach to get to the battery bay behind he wheels.

After looking at the MH more carefully last weekend (it is in storage), it suddenly occurred to me that if I bring the wires down the back of the coach, I could go into the bedroom closet and route the wires under the floor alongside the water pipes that go from the heater and washing machine to the water bay.

Thinking further along these lines, it occurred to me that I could route the wires down the the louvered box that is for the engine air intake. I could even route the wires outside the coach until I get to the box. And, I could put the charge controller in the air intake box, out of the weather, but still allowing me to see the status lights.

So, I'm interested in people's opinions. Either let me know the hazards of the choices I've listed above, or tell me how you did it on your MH.

It sure would have been nice if FR had pre-wired a solar system.

–Gordon
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Old 04-13-2016, 07:09 PM   #2
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Gordon, let us know how it goes. Can't think of any Berkshire owners that have installed solar.
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Old 04-13-2016, 08:05 PM   #3
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I am just completing my 300 watt solar install. Last part is the remote monitor inside the coach by the rest of the controls. I was able to generate power for the first time today. What I call my electronic bay is the last bay on the passenger side of the coach. I mounted the MPPT controller there with the magnum. As the batteries are right next to this bay it was easy to get to them. I got down from the roof by going through the rear cap, It is hollow. When I get everything done I will post pictures. Plenty of dicor where ever I penetrated the roof to attach the panels and route the cable.

Other routes from the roof could be down the frig stack or down one of the breather vents for the gray or black tank. I have read where people have used all three. It is not recommended to put the charger controller with the batteries due to the explosive gases the batteries give off when charging.
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Old 04-13-2016, 08:57 PM   #4
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Silver did you mean the last bay on the driver's side?
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Old 04-13-2016, 10:38 PM   #5
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No. On my 2008 the Magnum is in the last bay on the passenger side and the batteries are next Bay. I will try to post pictures this weekend if I complete the last bit.
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Old 04-14-2016, 12:51 PM   #6
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Silver, I have a 2008 Berkshire 360QS and I am going to install solar once it comes out of storage. I talked to the people at forest river and they suggested I use inserts in the fiberglass roof to anchor the panel. They say there is only a thin piece of wood, 1/8th to 3/16 thick under the fiberglass. How did you find the roof on your Berk, was it thick enough for the screws to bite into? Thanks, Roy
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Old 04-14-2016, 06:33 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dreamin533 View Post
Silver, I have a 2008 Berkshire 360QS and I am going to install solar once it comes out of storage. I talked to the people at forest river and they suggested I use inserts in the fiberglass roof to anchor the panel. They say there is only a thin piece of wood, 1/8th to 3/16 thick under the fiberglass. How did you find the roof on your Berk, was it thick enough for the screws to bite into? Thanks, Roy
I am curious who you spoke to at Forest River and when. I contacted them with this question about a month ago and only got silence. As they are normally very responsive I thought it might be a reliability issue. Not wanting to make a recommendation it the event the panel came off while traveling.

On to your question, Yes the roof skin is only about 1/8 inch thick. Renogy recommended the use of well nuts to hold the panels on and they worked great. My next post will have part number and where you can purchase. Once installed I used generous amounts of Dicor to water proof as well as aid the bonding. They will not be going anywhere.
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Old 04-14-2016, 06:51 PM   #8
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2008 Berkshire 39QS Solar Install

As promised the pictures of my solar install on my 2008 Berkshire 39QS.

I began thinking about solar about a year ago. Did my homework and decided I needed a 200 watt MPPT system. I did not want it for cooling or cooking but wanted to run the rest of the coach. As I put together a system I wanted room for expansion so I wanted a larger controller. I also wanted 10Ag wire for the solar panels and 9 Ag wire to the batteries, and Monocrystalline panels. I found to my surprise that putting together a 200 watt system with these specifications was 20% more expensive than the Renogy 300 watt package system of the same specifications. I then waited to purchase until cyber Monday and got another 15% off. My final cost for a 300Watt MPPT system was around $733. to follow is what I ended up with.

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Old 04-15-2016, 10:07 PM   #9
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Silver,
Nice job and description.

When you got the wires through the rear cap, could you see right to the ground, or did it stop at some point where you had to fish the wires?

You've got a lot more space in the electrical (non-battery) bay than I have, so that makes the job easier.

–Gordon
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Old 04-15-2016, 10:32 PM   #10
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Silver,
Nice job and description.

When you got the wires through the rear cap, could you see right to the ground, or did it stop at some point where you had to fish the wires?

You've got a lot more space in the electrical (non-battery) bay than I have, so that makes the job easier.

–Gordon
I was able to see right down to the ground but where I drilled the hole, to the left of the ladder if facing the rear of the coach it was not a direct drop. I removed the passenger tail light and that enabled me to grab the cable and route it the remainder of the way to the bottom of the coach.

I did remove a screen that was in the bay that took up space. Made the bay look smaller. You just need to be sure that you have enough space around the controller for cooling. You might also consider the bay in front of the battery bay for the controller. Would be a shorter run to rout the MT5 monitor cable.

Can you post pictures of your back bays? Both sides so I can see what they are like?
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