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Old 03-30-2017, 11:08 AM   #21
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I'll take a picture of the AM solar panels, they drill a hole through the aluminum to connect an attachment point, so I am not sure why drilling into that would void a warranty.
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Old 03-30-2017, 11:32 AM   #22
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Made a design change today. Decided I didn't want to potentially rewire in the future if I added to the system so I am abandoning the 10 AWG factory wire and running 6 AWG. It will arrive from Amazon tomorrow. I am going to run it along the vent pipe in the diagonal cavity in the front corner of the bathroom and then to the front corner of the trailer along the floor with the two pieces of 10/3 I had to run from the AC panel to the new inverter and enclosed in wire mold. Thinking of still keeping the panels wired as two parallel lines of two panels in series. --Frank
If you're planning to keep a series/parallel arrangement, so your losses due to the pre-wiring are already less than 2%, why bother with 6 AWG? What other additions to the system can you imagine that would negate the use of the existing pre-wiring given that you already have 4 panels?
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Old 03-30-2017, 01:45 PM   #23
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Alano I was largely going on your advice when I planned to use the factory 10 gauge wire because it was adequate for my proposed set up and easy. I agree use of the factory wire makes this a DIY project for many people and appreciate you pointing that out to people. A couple things changed my mind. I don't like the way the factory used an elbow and flexible conduit to wire the original panels, where it exits the roof the fitting may already be leaking-so I am going to a combiner box--and want to put it in the right place the first time. I may not be committed to keeping the series/ parallel arrangement--seems to still be active debate what the best arrangement is. Might add an additional panel or two in the future--don't know if 4 will be enough in colder weather with a less efficient angle and higher demand and I donít think I want to mess with adjusting the angle of panels. The original wire starts in the back and takes a non-direct route all the way to the front, it has to be 30-40 feet each way. I can do it in 20 feet by putting my combiner box behind the front AC and close to the plumbing vent. It easy enough to reroute the wiring on the roof in the future if I change the arrangement, but I want the wiring from the combiner box to the controller to be done and able to cover any options. Bottom line I could get the 6 gauge wire by the weekend for a modest cost and be done with it. --Frank
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Old 03-30-2017, 02:27 PM   #24
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Alano I was largely going on your advice when I planned to use the factory 10 gauge wire because it was adequate for my proposed set up and easy. I agree use of the factory wire makes this a DIY project for many people and appreciate you pointing that out to people. A couple things changed my mind. I don't like the way the factory used an elbow and flexible conduit to wire the original panels, where it exits the roof the fitting may already be leaking-so I am going to a combiner box--and want to put it in the right place the first time. I may not be committed to keeping the series/ parallel arrangement--seems to still be active debate what the best arrangement is. Might add an additional panel or two in the future--don't know if 4 will be enough in colder weather with a less efficient angle and higher demand and I donít think I want to mess with adjusting the angle of panels. The original wire starts in the back and takes a non-direct route all the way to the front, it has to be 30-40 feet each way. I can do it in 20 feet by putting my combiner box behind the front AC and close to the plumbing vent. It easy enough to reroute the wiring on the roof in the future if I change the arrangement, but I want the wiring from the combiner box to the controller to be done and able to cover any options. Bottom line I could get the 6 gauge wire by the weekend for a modest cost and be done with it. --Frank
Sounds like a well thought out plan. Adding additional panels or changing the configuration to a parallel-only one would surely drive you to this conclusion. Good luck and we look forward to your posts.
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Old 03-30-2017, 02:50 PM   #25
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Frank. I'm going to post my solar panel install tonight. It will have pictures etc. If you have questions about drilling holes etc let me know having just gone through it.
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Old 04-01-2017, 06:41 AM   #26
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Thanks Troutboy, I'm drilling my whole in the roof today and mounting my combiner box.--Frank
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Old 04-06-2017, 08:31 PM   #27
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Finished the wiring on my panels After drilling a whole with a whole saw through the roof, and then a whole in the ceiling next to the bathroom vent pipe, I was able to snake the 6 gauge wire through to the roof and down the vent pipe , then under the bathroom cabinet and along the bedroom wall to the front of the trailer where my controller an battery are. I used a piece of hose to protect the wires where the went through the cut aluminum.

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I made my own combiner box for about $20 in parts. Only thing I wish did differently was use a bigger box, it was pretty tight with wires for 4 panels and the two 6 gauge cables!

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Every thing wired and ready to go. Its supposed to be sunny the next two days so I'll find time to pull the trailer out and see how everything works in in the next day or two.-- Frank

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Old 04-06-2017, 08:38 PM   #28
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Franks solar upgrade on a 2016 FC 27'

Nice job Frank. I love how you make your own parts! Probably saving a ton compared to me just buying stuff. Excited to hear how it all works.
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Old 04-06-2017, 09:04 PM   #29
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Thanks Rich. I haven't totaled up my expenses yet but will do that and we can compare costs. I know I've saved some money but I've also spent many many hours planning and sourcing materials. As you implied in your post, once you do this yourself you understand why its expensive to pay someone to do this, but for many its probably worth it. --Frank
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Old 04-08-2017, 10:04 AM   #30
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Franks Solar Upgrades

Just came across your Solar upgrade project, very nice fabrication of mounts. Thanks for posting the pics and sharing the thoughts and ideas for the DIY install. I will be adding solar to my 86 Sovereign later this year and will try and utilize your methods. Also thanks to all contributors to Franks & Fran post.

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Old 04-13-2017, 10:08 AM   #31
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Frank,

Your going to have to up your forum signature from 100W to something higher.

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Old 04-24-2017, 04:32 PM   #32
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Just got back from our first real world test of our new solar system. We spent several days on the Texas coast, On one mostly sunny day with the sun not directly overhead I checked my battery monitor with and without the solar hooked up and looks like I was getting a little over 300 watts or 23 amps. For the couple of days we boondocked our 340 AH Lithium battery was always 100% by late afternoon and first thing in the morning down to around 85-90%. So far so good! Still haven't made up my mind what combination of blue tooth or remote panels I want to ultimately use to monitor the solar, batteries, and inverter/converter.-- Frank

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Old 04-24-2017, 07:27 PM   #33
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Cool Frank! Those results are great. You can boondock a lot with performance like that. What was your main use of power while on this trip?
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Old 04-24-2017, 07:37 PM   #34
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hi frank

great job!

i cant tell from your pics, but did you allow your panel to be tilted? i.e. add two alum bars under the left or right side of the panel so that it would point to the sun better especially in Northern area where the sun angle is not often 90 deg up

there were some other posts on this site showing how they did that.

keep posting bud!
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Old 04-24-2017, 08:03 PM   #35
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Rich my main use of power on this trip was the overhead fan (it was hot during the day), water pump, a little TV at night, lights, and the normal 12 v drains. Fridge and water heater were on propane. A more serious test will be when the furnace fan is needed in the fall.
Waninae39 I don't have any tilt capability at present but I installed the feet for my panels so I could add tilt bars in the future.--Frank
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Old 04-24-2017, 11:56 PM   #36
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hi frank
pls post pics when you do the tilt pls

also, where do you get the sticky 3m tape from? ie when you placed under the backets
how much is it?

i assume the caulking was an extra safety incase the tape did not hold or was it for stopping water getting under the bracket and maybe affecting the tap
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Old 04-25-2017, 12:30 AM   #37
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Use 3M VHB 4950 tape. The caulk does protect the tape, and if you use SikaFlex 221, you get added adhesion bond of the caulk as well. I bought a large roll for $30 on amazon. You can buy all kinds of sizes of the tape and lengths. You want the 1 inch thick.
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Old 04-25-2017, 04:51 PM   #38
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I bought the 3M VHB 4950 tape and sikaflex 221 from Amazon as well, think I got a smaller roll of tape for around $12.--Frank
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Old 05-07-2017, 12:44 AM   #39
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Following. Nice work
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Old 05-07-2017, 11:27 PM   #40
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Frank, we used our rig this weekend boondocking. I am really impressed with these systems. We used lights, fans, water heater, pumps, and furnace at 65 at night, because it was below 40 outside.

Each morning, we would wake up to a 92% - 93% capacity left, so we used 7% at night. By 8am, sunny mornings in Colorado, the batteries were topped off already!

Now, grey water tank space, we have a lot to learn.

Hope you are enjoying your setup as well..
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