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Old 09-15-2011, 10:23 AM   #1
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Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 51
Has anyone installed their own solar panel?

We had ours done by the dealership last year and it cost a fair whack of cash.

If we buy another trailer we will put solar on it again, as we were very happy with it - however, rather than get it done at the dealer - is it fairly straightforward or what do we have to watch out for and are we wiser to get it professionally installed?

What size solar panels do you have? And do many of you have more than one?
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Old 09-15-2011, 12:17 PM   #2
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Other than yes, I’ve installed ours, your question is difficult to answer for several reasons, discounting the savvy of who’s installing the panel, and the romantics of green energy.
Here are some questions you, or anyone, should answer prior to any purchase.
Battery capacity, amps consumed on the average and at peak, frequented locations—north or south US – wooded areas, valley areas whereby shadows occur, angle of the sun in other words. Further, does your panel tilt or is it flat on the roof, obstructed or clean? Do you have a controller, or do these panels require additional monitor systems? If you have more than one, do you require diodes to restrict feeding the solar cells in the evening, while in the shade, or a bad cell when you are on battery power. Are you restricting or limiting AC to your units?
Anyway, you get the drift, I’m sure. However, most often folks under-size cell installations, which means spending a ton of money for little effect.
I hope this helps,
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Old 09-15-2011, 01:03 PM   #3
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Location: La Crescenta, CA
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I got a solar cell system to maintain the battery charge. I got just one cell and I liked it so well I purchased another to double the output for days when the sun was not performing all day. I got an offer from Amazon for an extension cord, controller and connectors. I mounted the cells as close to the batteries as possible, but that was 20 feet. I found on less than full sunny days the batteries were providing power to the controller so they could prevent reverse current drain. I also found the controller kit was not made by the same company as the cells and the company's did not the use the same leads from positive and negative. I now have a project to rewire the hole system and use larger wire for the extension to avoid line drain. Or I can disconnect battery one from battery 2 and connect the solar chargers to each battery independently.

I live in southern California and get maximum sun.
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Old 09-15-2011, 01:44 PM   #4
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Hmmm - I'm thinking maybe a professional install!

The system we have at the moment is a single panel I think it's a 135watt (?) - and it does have a controller/regular down by the furnace. It's mounted flat on the roof. They did a nice job, and it's a hot and sunny climate here, so we've always had power.

I thought it was expensive - but judging by things which *could* go wrong - it's worth the expense in this case!
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Old 09-15-2011, 05:26 PM   #5
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Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Orcutt, California
Posts: 32
I installed my solar panels and controller to my rig. It is pretty straightforward if you aren't afraid to drill holes in the roof of your trailer. The electrical portion of the installation is pretty trivial once you have figured out how you plan on routing everything. I installed my solar controller behind some cabinets near the converter since it was near convenient wiring to the batteries as well as near the refrigerator. I used the refrigerator vent as a cable way to the roof of the trailer. Mounting the panels themselves is highly tailored to the style of brackets used, desired location on roof, etc. I mounted my two 80W panels between the air conditioner and the bathroom vent. The panels can be tilted if desired but since I don't feel like climbing on the roof of the trailer very often they typically are kept horizontal. The key to installing brackets is to use the tacky tape/butyl tape (whatever they call it) between bracket and RV and then cover installation with a liberal coating of Dicor lap sealant
2012 Wildwood 24TBSS
2x80W Solar Panels, Morningstar MPPT Controller, Xantrex LinkLite Battery Monitor, Xantrex ProWatt 2000 Inverter

2010 Toyota Tundra DoubleCab 5.7L 4X4
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Old 09-25-2011, 08:59 PM   #6
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I installed 2-85W and 1-130W panel wired in series to an MPPT controller with a remote monitor panel for just under $1K
I did all the install work.
Solar still isn't cheap!
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Old 09-25-2011, 09:41 PM   #7
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Location: Lake Charles, La.
Posts: 1,536
Forest River Forums > Forest River Tech Talk > Modifications and Updates VERY LONG - My 12V Electrical Modifications and Solar Power System Installation

try this post. he has a short to the point post on solar panels w/pictures
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Old 10-23-2011, 11:04 PM   #8
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Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Southern California
Posts: 5
Running Wire From Panel to batteries

TimeFurnace, or anyone that can help;

I have purchased everything needed to install my 120w solar panel, but I'm stuck on how to run the wire from the panel to the battery compartment. I have been on the roof and see the fridge vent, but I don't see where it leads to.
I really don't want to have pull my fridge just to run the wire. Does anyone have pics and details on how I can snake my wire down to my battery compartment. I have 2002 Sierra Toyhauler. I've been inside every compartment in the unit, and I don't see where any vent leads to from the roof.

Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
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