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Old 11-15-2015, 11:15 AM   #1
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Yet another Solar.....advice sought

A bit of background first: I have a portable Zamp 160 watt panel setup, which I will keep, as I camp in deep deciduous cover a lot; I had a 15 watt battery maintainer panel I used for storage only. Now, I keep the AS at home on a new pad and won't remove my batteries anymore.

Since the AS is at home, I wanted to be able to have lighting and furnace available for winter projects inside, and 15 watts wouldn't cut it in the dark, low sun angle days we have here. My calculations said 50 watts would be ample, but the cost was so close to a 100 watt Renogy, that I decided to go that route.

I fabbed tilt legs for 3 different required annual angles for my latitude and fashioned a bungee hold down system, with the wire running down the exterior to by battery compartment, where the pigtail is for my Zamp portable. There is a Morningstar Sunchaser 15 amp MPPT in the electrical center under the couch in the corner closest to you in the picture.

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Now I think I might as well mount the 100 watt panel permanently and utilize it when I can for my camping style. I would get feet, etc. from AM solar.

Now, finally for my question: Considering that the temporary location for the panel is best for my storage situation, due to shading, compass angle, etc. how would you all recommend getting the wire run down to the controller, where I can parallel it in with my existing portable pigtail in the electrical center?

Here are the obstacles: cross members in the side wall; no way to get around the front pano if I were to come in at the Fantastic fan; same if I came in at the radio antenna.

The alternative would be to move the panel to the rear, behind (and utilizing) the fridge vent, but that would mean a lot longer wire run....it would however, reduce my already somewhat heavy tongue weight. That location would reduce my effective sun charging time by about an hour a day, due to tree shading (maybe not a big deal with 100 watts).

Any suggestions I am overlooking?
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Old 11-15-2015, 11:40 AM   #2
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Go to the back and down the fridge vent. That will get you into a "work area" inside and to the floor. Easy from there. Also, there may be real estate for additional panel(s). You may not want to add now, but tomorrow is another day.
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Old 11-15-2015, 12:23 PM   #3
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I think you're probably right, unless someone comes up with a brilliant idea. After bringing down the fridge vent it's an easy run to under the dinette seat, where a pvc conduit spans the dinette and comes up under the credenza. A second pvc conduit runs from under the credenza and spans the living room and comes up under the couch .

I suppose I should install a combiner box for possible future expansion, and oversize the wiring as well.
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Old 11-15-2015, 12:42 PM   #4
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Absolutely install a combiner box, and size the wire from the component to the charge controller as big as you can get to fit the lugs on the ends. For solar, bigger is better. Eyeball the roof area, imagine it filled with panels, and size for that.

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Old 11-15-2015, 12:57 PM   #5
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I was going to do the fridge vent, but that's a long way. I used the combiner box sold by AMSolar, and ran my wire down along the pipe for the black tank in the bathroom and to the controller which is near the batteries. Very short run.
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Old 11-15-2015, 01:03 PM   #6
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Yeah, Bold, it's all about floorplan and access. Unfortunately, my vent pipe is across the width of the trailer and as far back as the fridge vent. Would add at least 15' of wire.
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Old 11-15-2015, 01:04 PM   #7
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I don't know when Airstream started to put solar pre wire into their trailers, but there already may be some solar pre wiring which is heavy enough to handle the 100 watt panel you have now.

You might check your manual or Airstream factory to see if it is there, and where it is available on each end (if it was installed originally)
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Old 11-15-2015, 01:05 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by dznf0g View Post
Yeah, Bold, it's all about floorplan and access. Unfortunately, my vent pipe is across the width of the trailer and as far back as the fridge vent. Would add at least 15' of wire.
Yea, finding a good drop for a cable run can be tough.
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Old 11-15-2015, 01:07 PM   #9
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Here's my floor plan

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There is a single stack just forward of the front shower wall.

OOPs, that's for a 2016...I'll have to hunt for a 2007. Basically the same except I have a sofa across the front and a credenza forward of the front dinette seat.
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Old 11-15-2015, 01:17 PM   #10
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Here it is:

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Old 11-15-2015, 04:39 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by idroba View Post
I don't know when Airstream started to put solar pre wire into their trailers, but there already may be some solar pre wiring which is heavy enough to handle the 100 watt panel you have now.

You might check your manual or Airstream factory to see if it is there, and where it is available on each end (if it was installed originally)
Yeah, I know exactly where both ends are, but they are not big enough for my use....and per solar wire charts. IIRC, it is a 12 gauge and wire chart requires at least 8 gauge for that run. (Going from memory here, will have to recheck ) but if I'm going to the trouble, I may go 6 gauge in case I want to expand in the future.
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Old 11-16-2015, 10:52 PM   #12
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Since you have two panels, put them in series and connect them to your Sunchaser MPPT controller and you shouldn't have any problem using the existing wiring. Your losses due to the wiring will most likely be less than 2%. Seems crazy to make more work for yourself if you don't need to
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Old 11-17-2015, 06:00 AM   #13
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Not sure if this will help, Go power solar makes a cable entry plate that allows you to go through the shell.


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Old 11-17-2015, 06:37 AM   #14
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Not sure if this will help, Go power solar makes a cable entry plate that allows you to go through the shell.


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Thanks, just ordered one.
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Old 11-17-2015, 06:57 AM   #15
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Since you have two panels, put them in series and connect them to your Sunchaser MPPT controller and you shouldn't have any problem using the existing wiring. Your losses due to the wiring will most likely be less than 2%. Seems crazy to make more work for yourself if you don't need to
I pondered that for awhile...but if I want to do this only once....and if I expand in the future, there may be a requirement to go series/parallel anyway. I'd rather only do the work once for the portion from the combiner box to the controller.

I have ordered the combiner box for the fridge vent, and rocker foot mounts from AM; and 6/2 marine cable and a bunch of other bits. I'll run down the fridge and through the under floor wire chases to the front. I'll install common power and ground studs in the electrical center for paralleling in the Zamp portable.
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