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Old 09-11-2016, 09:53 PM   #1
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Solar wiring on 26dbh

I'd like to add a couple of solar panels to my 2016 26dbh to keep the batteries topped off and maybe let us watch TV for a little while in the evenings when dry camping. What I can't seem to figure out is where to route the wires, put the charge controller and possible inverter, etc. I'd be happy to simply be able to plug the TV into a small inverter when using it. I don't need the whole trailer connected to it.

My best idea so far is to run the cables from the panels down the front of the trailer, right along the edge to keep them from looking too unsightly. Then I would route those cables, plus battery cables into the front storage area (just behind the batteries) by drilling a couple of holes and using cable glands to seal it off. This would keep the charger out of the elements and allow me to put an inverter under the bed where I could plug in the TV.

I would love to hear any recommendations or what others have done.
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Old 09-12-2016, 01:32 AM   #2
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I'm not familiar with your camper. I ran my cable down the sink vent, exited it above the sink and then ran it down into front storage area where I mounted all of my solar items.
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Old 09-14-2016, 03:40 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply. I'll see using a vent is an option for me. I found a video where someone goes down the refrigerator vent, which looks promising for my trailer as well. Unfortunately, the trailer is at a storage facility and I haven't had time to drive up there and scope it out.

Video:

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Old 09-14-2016, 09:19 PM   #4
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Looking at pictures online, your rounded nose makes it a bit more challenging. Also challenging is your limited outside storage access panels. Looks like you have hot water heater up front under the bed and a dead space in front of it? Batteries on the front hitch frame I presume? You may want to consider running down side along the awning support if you are going on the exterior. I would also check out your entertainment wall closely for pass through options.

I am still using the "portable" option for my panel wiring and have not gone to roof mounting. That said, I have removed and replaced all the "solar ready" psuedo prep hardware on my Rockwood 2604WS.

So I have all the solar controller type stuff mounted on a power distribution panel. This panel is the divider wall between DS and PS of my front under bed storage. The DS has the water heater somewhat like yours but with an access panel. It is through that panel that I have access to the power distribution panel with solar controller and fuses and such. With solar you will probably want better power monitoring and thus need to mount a current measuring shunt. And you will want to fuse the solar stuff. And I took the opportunity to get all the fuses and breaker off my frame. And to upgrade the battery cables to 4G. The project grew in scope as I went

The wiring is through a hole in the floor into the compartment and across to a side port as in the factory solar prep. There was already a gas line passing through the floor there so I added another hole and made my own "grommet" using some thin wall PVC pipe and a couple caps with the ends cut out. Pretty much filled up that 1" pipe with cables/wires. The side port has been replaced with a "round 4" trailer connector for it's higher current and wire size capability (still limited to 12G though but I can have 4 wires connect).
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Old 09-17-2016, 01:09 AM   #5
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Thank you so much. A lot of good information here. Your setup looks clean and organized.

The batteries are on the hitch frame, as you suggested, which makes it a little more difficult to get the solar charge controller nearby. This is my first trailer, and I'm a little skittish about drilling holes, etc. The trailer has a built-in solar charging port, which is really just a direct connection to the battery with a 10-amp fuse. Until I get a more permanent solution worked out, I've got all of the cabling, fuses, etc. to use a single 100-watt panel in a portable fashion. Hopefully, this weekend I'll get a chance to really dig in and find potential wiring paths and mounting locations.
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Old 09-17-2016, 06:28 AM   #6
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We have a 26bdh as well. Why not just use the port that is on the trailer?
I was looking to add solar as well and I am curious about your reasoning?
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Old 09-17-2016, 03:28 PM   #7
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The port on the side of the trailer is rated for 10 amps. I'm not sure if or where it's fused, but I would imagine the cabling itself not gauged for higher amperage. I'm going to start with two 100-watt panels and a 20-amp charger, so I want to make sure I've got all of right wire gauges and fuses.

Additionally, I'd like to have more of a built-in system, as opposed to a portable one. In a perfect world, I would probably get one of those solar suitcases that I would prop up somewhere, plug into the built-in port, and point in the best direction for maximum charging. However, I don't want to have anything that someone can just walk away with while we're off hiking, sitting at the beach, etc.
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Old 09-19-2016, 12:19 AM   #8
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The built in port can be a starting point...

On my Rockwood the Zamp port was probably ok for a 100 watt system but marginal for a 200 watt system. The Zamp solar port was a very simple flat-2 connector which is not very capable of handling higher currents IMHO. The wiring from the connector was probably 14 gauge. In a solar system if you are going to have ANY voltage drop you want it to be on the panel side of the controller where you have a higher voltage to begin with. On the battery side of the solar controller you just cannot tolerate any voltage drop without it being detrimental to battery charging (which is the whole point of the system...). This is the fundamental problem with putting the solar controller on the panel as the portable systems usually do.

YMMV but my Zamp solar port had NO circuit protection, fuses nor breakers.

The Zamp solar port can work... but not great and not for more than a very basic amount of power.

I used my solar this weekend in a very solar-unfriendly camp location. My TT was shaded ALL day by tall trees so a roof top mounted solar panel would have been worthless. I have a controller mounted onboard with a RV round-4 connector port to a 100W panel. I have a basic 25' run of 12G solar system wire on the panel. Anticipating the trees I made a 100' extension cord using 12G landscaping wire. I am on the low end of what I need for this distance and probably below what I need. Nonetheless I was able to get the battery voltage up from 11.8V at noon to 12.8V at 6:00 PM by moving the panel around trying to follow sun and avoid shade. This is a single 12V group 24 battery and I believe it was not really fully charged in spite of the voltage indication. It seemed to drop rather substantially overnight, more than I would expect normally. I think I need to add another battery and another 100W panel, both additions anticipated by my system to make for a simple scale up.

BTW I am using a 6' step ladder as a panel stand/mount. It worked better than just propping the panel up on the ground. And you can use the ladder shadow to assist in aiming the panel towards the sun.
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Old 09-21-2016, 12:09 PM   #9
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I think you just confirmed my suspicion about the Zamp port not being fused at all. Mine actually has the Furrion port, but I'm sure it's the same thing, just a different plug. I was able to find the matching connector on ebay, so I made my own cable and tested it out with a 100-watt panel. It works great. In fact, I'm heading out this weekend and will just be plugging it in and propping a panel up somewhere. Using a ladder is a great idea. I'm very curious to see how it's going to perform.

My goal is to make the system as transparent and minimally intrusive as possible. I'm leaning toward going down the refrigerator vent, as they did in the video I shared above. I was able to spend some time in the trailer over the weekend to check it out, and it looks like I'll really only have to drill one hole inside the camper. I can put the charge controller in the pantry to keep it out of the way. It won't be as close to the battery as I'd like, but I don't see a better option, especially with the curved nose of the trailer.
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