Looking for a simpler life, but not too simple…

Solar Panel Installation!!

Yessssss! Tuesday this week we finally received our solar panels in the mail (I’m so excited).


I got my kit from Alter Systems. It includes:

  • 2- 80 watt Sharp solar panels
  • 8 mounting brackets
  • 30ft of #10 wire
  • 2- 6ft #10 wires
  • 2 wire connectors
  • Morning Star charge controller
  • 600 watt Samlex inverter

So I figured I would get a jump on the install first thing Wednesday morning.I had to run to the Depot and Checker for some odds and ends not included in the kit (30ft of #6 wire, misc wire ends, 30ft of split flex tubing, electrical box, 100amp inline fuse, and grommets.)

misc peices

I hooked the wires and connectors to the solar panels, and put the mounting brackets on them.

attaching wires to panels

I mounted the panels on the roof of the RV in a location where they wouldn’t be shaded by the air conditioner or any other vents. I also mounted an electrical box to put the connections in to protect them from the elements. Any place I pierced a hole in the roof ( screwing down panels and drilling holes) I sealed them with Dicor sealant.

solar panels!

electrical box with connectors

Then drilled a 1/2 inch hole directly above an existing support tube, and fed the wires from the panels to the charge controller, which I mounted under the sink, that way it would be close to the batteries and easily accessible but out of the way.

1/2 inch hole in roof to feed wires into

support tubing holding wires

charge controller

I took some of the #6 wire and ran that from the charge controller to the batteries. BAM!! Now we have free energy. πŸ™‚

battery bank - 2 for engine, 2 for solar array

Now for the fun part: hooking up the inverter. I mounted the inverter in an outside compartment on the RV and drilled a 2in hole into the compartment to feed the wires from the batteries to the inverter. If you can see to the right of the inverter on a block of wood I mounted the blue 100amp inline fuse. And the black wire plugged into the left of the inverter is the shore power cord, which runs to the a/c breaker panel inside.

inverter with inline 100amp fuse

The only thing left to do is get a breaker, and mount it above the other two, which will be the on/off switch for the RV’s automatic battery charger. The reason for the breaker is so that the inverter doesn’t charge the batteries when the panels are charging them (not good). Now I have to wait till Monday to see if one of the RV stores have the breaker, because the depot doesn’t carry 30 year old breakers.

ac breaker panel

Oh and thanks Dad for coming over and giving me a hand. πŸ™‚


22 responses

  1. Pingback: TheOrganicSister » Blog Archive » We have solar power!

  2. I’m so lucky to have such an awesome guy like you who is willing to learn something new and tackle a complicated (and at times very frustrating) project like this.

    January 1, 2010 at 7:53 pm

  3. This is SO COOL!! I’m really in awe of your learning curve!!

    January 1, 2010 at 8:17 pm

  4. miranda

    I have no idea what you just said, but, YAY solar power! Hey, I’m not an electrical engineer. If I can’t see it, I don’t get it! Great job!

    January 1, 2010 at 8:18 pm

  5. Willie

    Congrats, and thanks for sharing. Got any tips on books/websites for people who have no knowledge of this kind of stuff and yet want to do the same to their little escape pod? πŸ™‚

    Thanks! And good travels!

    January 1, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    • I had no knowledge of solar power, I just researched it on the web. Give me a day or two and I’ll post some links for ya. πŸ™‚

      January 1, 2010 at 10:56 pm

  6. Well, total new job for you, I think. Solar Consultation. I would have no idea how to even begin researching such a topic and once I did I am not sure my engineering skills would be enough to allow me success in this task.

    Whatever the case? You rock! Awesome job.

    January 2, 2010 at 3:55 am

  7. This is great! What a fantastic adventure you and your wonderful family are about to have. Can’t wait to read more about it!
    Happy travels!

    January 2, 2010 at 7:02 am

  8. Scott Dietrich

    Like christmas morning Huh!

    January 2, 2010 at 7:50 am

  9. Deb

    Justin – one thing I want to suggest is make sure every little possible entry for water is sealed up good. We’re up in Western WA and have been looking for a travel trailer on and off for over a year and have yet to find one with zero water damage and mold issues in our area. Definitely not something you want to have to deal w/ and yet I can see being in the desert not something that might be occurring to you.
    Congrats on the panels!

    January 2, 2010 at 9:21 am

  10. Congratulations dude!

    January 2, 2010 at 12:07 pm

  11. Scott Dietrich

    Hey justin did you find that breaker? If so where?

    January 4, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    • Yes I found it at Vegas trailer supply. I would think a electrical supply company that deals with breakers would also carry them, or lead you in the right direction.

      January 4, 2010 at 8:12 pm

  12. Scott Dietrich

    Hey Justin, Take a look at The Olympian catalytic heater to heat your new home . They work on low pressure LP gas and zero electricity. Give me a call sometime. We are leaving on the 30th of Jan. to start our adventure. Id like to check out how far along you guys are on your home. Thanks Scott Dietrich eskadi13@gmail.com

    January 7, 2010 at 9:37 am

  13. This is a very nice site and I like your views on this topic. If anyone is interested in saving money on their electric bill, you will love this…

    January 11, 2010 at 2:48 pm

  14. Currently traveling between Miami and Florida, reading this on my Iphone. Will read it in full when I get back, and I will also post a backlink on my website. Thanks.

    January 23, 2010 at 11:58 pm

  15. Enjoyed this site, the information would be an asset to so many people, I will be spreading the word. Thanks

    January 27, 2010 at 2:32 am

  16. This is pretty amazing! You should be proud! Thanks for sharing this – I’m thrilled that both you and Tara are sharing these ideas and experiments with the world. It’s very inspiring!

    January 29, 2010 at 8:55 pm

  17. Solar eneragy is the future for the world.
    solar water pump

    January 31, 2010 at 5:09 pm

  18. Hello I am so delighted I found your blog, I really found you by mistake, while I was looking on Yahoo for something else, Anyways I am here now and would just like to say thanks for a tremendous post and a all round entertaining blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to read it all at the moment but I have bookmarked it and also added your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read more, Please do keep up the great work.

    January 31, 2010 at 10:02 pm

  19. Lisa Zahn

    I didn’t really read the technical stuff as I’ll leave that to my hubby (I know, women’s lib in reverse or something), but this is great information if we ever get the chance to do something like you guys are doing. I’m so jealous of you and Tara!

    February 4, 2010 at 7:13 am

  20. This post is really an inspiration to those who wanted to get into solar energy, especially for home used. Really reduces the bills.

    Nice illustration here, showing that it can be done by anyone who is interested, not just by the experts.

    September 14, 2010 at 7:13 pm

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