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Old 10-15-2017, 10:58 PM   #1
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Solar Wiring Through Fridge Vent - Best Practice?

Currently installing solar on my 27FB. Now to run the wire from the panels down through the fridge vent.

What is the best practice here in running the wire? Simply drill through the chimney curb, add a grommet, and run the wire? Is there a better way while retaining good leak prevention?
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Old 10-16-2017, 11:16 AM   #2
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Found my answer. What I need is a "cable gland". Essentially a fancy grommet, with a compression nut/seal that makes things water tight.

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Old 10-16-2017, 11:28 AM   #3
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I routed mine up and over the "curb" and down the fridge vent. The PV conductors (each insulated of course) have a hard plastic outer sleeve over them and it has held up well. There's no added opportunity for leaking because I didn't penetrate that curb, and there was no space problem going over the curb. I notched the bird screen (1/4" wire mesh) for the cable to pass through, as I later also did for several coax and DC cables.
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Old 10-16-2017, 05:19 PM   #4
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I used the fridge vent as well. I have six panels routed to a collector box -- then one cable through the vent to the controller. Realize, though, that in order to run that wire through the fridge compartment I had to pull the fridge out. (The upper compartment is completely and totally sealed to keep CO out of the interior of the trailer.) In order to do this right and to make sure I didn’t compromise the seal, I elected to remove the fridge and make sure that my connection didn’t do something I didn’t want it to do.
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Old 10-16-2017, 10:53 PM   #5
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I've thought about just hanging it over the curb. Likely no problem, but was thinking to penetrate the curb and use a grommet, as it would positively locate the cable and avoid chaffing over time. Perhaps there's a good way to secure it with a stick on tie wrap anchor.

Tell me more about running the wire down the chimney. It's not a continuous flute down to the side compartment that I can use a wiring fish for?

I did some research and wasn't able to find too much discussion on this.
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Old 10-16-2017, 11:11 PM   #6
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I went through the fridge vent as well. I used Blue Sea’s Cable Clams as pass-troughs for 4 AWG wire.

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Once installed I potted the wire and exposed screws inside the vent to prevent chaffing/shorts.

I had my interior skins out at the time, so I ran the cables through the walls. I also dded a flexible conduit while I was at it for future wires (cell or WiFi boosters, etc)
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Old 10-17-2017, 03:53 AM   #7
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If you run multiple wires through a single grommet, be sure to calk well between the wires, I found water likes to wick between them and get inside. Even a single wire that is not sealed in a grommet can bring water in.
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Old 10-17-2017, 01:52 PM   #8
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I notched the "bird screen" as well and ran plastic wire loom over the wire all the way down to where I exited the refrigerator compartment and entered the credenza. I have never had a problem with my 265 watt AM Solar Inc. system.
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Old 10-17-2017, 04:07 PM   #9
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What's the max temp in the refrigerator vent?

Also, our trailer was "prewired" for solar, with a #10 yellow and green wire, that comes 'down' into the exterior refrigerator compartment. How do you access these from the roof?

73/gus
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Old 10-17-2017, 04:29 PM   #10
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In running wires up thru a roof vent, I always remove the entire vent and screening, as it also generally holds the wire for the cell antenna and any other roof-mounted items that the owner might want.

The combiner box (with an 8 panel capacity) is mounted next to the fridge vent, but not close enough to worry about wire capacity. The cables (from 6/2 down to 2/2) are run thru the fridge vent with a long fiberglass pole, thru a vent in the fridge floor and then into the cabin. Its forms a very solid connection point!

That's how I do it on just about every roof installation; especially on Airstreams.

Hope this helps a bit.
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Old 10-17-2017, 04:41 PM   #11
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Thanks Lewster.

Specifically, do you drill any holes horizontally into the fridge vent column? Or do you just lay the wires over the top edge, and drop them down the screen, and down the vent?
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Old 10-17-2017, 04:44 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pteck View Post
Thanks Lewster.

Specifically, do you drill any holes horizontally into the fridge vent column? Or do you just lay the wires over the top edge, and drop them down the screen, and down the vent?
I remove the screen and cut it on replacement to fit the new wiring. Once the wiring is in place, I then add the cover over the vent and secure everything. This makes the tightest, best result when adding wiring to any Airstream, which will be totally waterproof as well.
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Old 10-17-2017, 04:59 PM   #13
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On the FB model, the fridge is on the oposise side to where all the electronics are mounted under the bed.
How do you go to the other side after running the wires down the fridge vent. Is there a chanel under the floor that is easy to access?
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Old 10-17-2017, 06:01 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Atomic_13 View Post
I went through the fridge vent as well. I used Blue Sea’s Cable Clams as pass-troughs for 4 AWG wire.
why such heavy wire? Is that typical?
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Old 10-17-2017, 09:58 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck View Post
why such heavy wire? Is that typical?

Chuck, at the time I wasn’t sure what size of solar system I would have. What I did know was that I had to run 25 feet of cable and that concerned me. Knowing that a larger wire kept more options open I opted for four gauge. Here’s a snip from AM solar‘s frequently asked questions section:

“What gauge wire should I use?
All of our SunRunnerTM System Cores come with an appropriately sized wire harness to minimize line losses and maximize value. We use 10 gauge cable from the solar panels to the combiner box. Since the panels in our systems are always connected in parallel you can assume about 6 amps per 100 watts of solar panels. For cable run lengths typical in RV applications, we recommend 10 gauge wire for 20 amp systems up to 4 gauge wire for 40 amps systems. If your system calls for more than 40 amps of charging current you will use multiple wire harnesses to multiple charge controllers.”
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Old 10-18-2017, 10:25 AM   #16
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why such heavy wire? Is that typical?
Typical, I'd say not. At least not for installs under <200-300W. Over that, it's highly recommended. Some do use 10gauge wire for 400W installs by series/parallel connection of their 4 panels, to run higher volts with an MPPT controller, to minimize losses. Yet that may give up some other losses depending on shading/angle of the panels in the set (or "string").

In my mind, it's really a value proposition to the individual. Is it worth the time, effort, and cost to optimize potential performance? It's certainly not a safety issue, even at 400W+ on 10 gauge wire. The other nature of solar, is that it's not always generating at high noon in full sun. A significant portion of generation is at partial output, for which the efficiency losses are not that substantial.

If you look at the efficiency losses, you can re-gain those losses in other ways by buying a more efficient controller, more efficient panels, or more panels. Or even on the other end by optimizing your power use.

One has to ask themselves, is a 3-6% loss of potential generation going to materially affect the nature of their power use? That's the real question here.
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Old 10-19-2017, 08:30 PM   #17
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So spent 30 minutes checking out the fridge chute. It's not a straight through shoot like I anticipated. For those of you have have run wire through there before, any tips? Is this going to require me to pull the fridge? Or is it a must to remove the top cover by drilling out some rivets?

I have a snake camera, and I can snake it up 80% of the say along the front or back of the chute. I image the top of the shoot curves in along the top which is why I'm not seeing the top of the vent with the camera. Is it clear through that I should be able to run the wiring?
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Old 10-19-2017, 08:48 PM   #18
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Some sleuthing on the internet and I think I know what I'm dealing with now.

It does go through. Just not straight as the shroud curve in. The there's the fridge condenser that resides in the middle of the vent.

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Old 10-20-2017, 08:20 AM   #19
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I used a combiner box made for the fridge vent neck. Don't see it on AM Solar's website anymore....makes me a bit nervous. Lew, any input as to why it isn't available anymore?
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Old 10-22-2017, 11:27 AM   #20
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Combiner box and new penetration would be my recommended way for the next guy. Shortening runs also.

I wound up pulling the fridge. The vent is practically over the forward part of the fridge, which makes it not easy to fish wire down the back. And it's largely obstructed by radiators.

Most pull the vent cover when doing this but that requires drilling out rivets, which is practically penetrating the roof and requires sealing again. One can run the wire without removing the cover by pulling the fridge.

I opted to pull the fridge also cause I figured I might as well also take the opportunity to do maintenance - clean vent and condenser find/tubes, install a vent fan, replace brittle fridge drain hose.
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