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dunefreak

Toyhauler Solar Project

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I got tired of picking my trailer up from storage with low or dead batteries. I also wanted to keep my batteries topped off during the day on dune trips while we listened to the stereo, charged phones, ran the vent fans, etc. So it was time to install a solar on the trailer. I did this on our Sprinter van when we built it so I figured it would be stupid to NOT do it on the toyhauler.

 

Everything I bought was off Amazon and extremely easy to install so I figure I would pass along the info from my install. 

 

I bought two 100W Renogy panels. I could always add more later, but for now this was plenty of juice. 

IMG_20191019_131252662_HDR.jpg

 

IMG_20191019_131528260_HDR.jpg 

 

 

Z brackets attach the panels to the roof.

IMG_20191019_131924194.jpg IMG_20191019_131916530_HDR.jpg

 

The trickiest part of the whole install was getting the wiring from the solar panels from the roof, down the walls, and to the fuse panel. I located a couple gray tank vent pipes in a wall where I wanted to mount the solar controller to. I carefully measured about 129 times and went for it. I used a long drill bit because I had to get through the roof, then about 8-10 inches of "attic"/ insulation space), then the actual ceiling of the trailer.

IMG_20191019_132947990.jpg

 

 

After I drilled the hole, I used a fish tape to make sure the wire would make it all the way down the wall. Once that was confirmed, I used a large hole saw to drill a hole in the wall in a space that you wouldn't see (behind the drawers in the kitchen area). 

IMG_20191019_132602102_HDR.jpg

 

IMG_20191019_141518852.jpg IMG_20191019_143902323.jpg

 

 

When I knew that wall would work for running the solar power wires, I fished them through a sealed cable gland. This seals them off on the roof and prevents any water from entering through the holes. (I also siliconed the holes.) Then I used some 3M Marine adhesive to seal/ glue the gland to the roof. A bucket of water worked well to keep some weight on it while it cured. 

IMG_20191019_153441140.jpg IMG_20191019_161623169_HDR.jpg

 

 

All cured and water tight.

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I made a cardboard template and cut the hole for the solar controller in the kitchen wall. I made sure the other control panel wires were clear before I cut into the wall. 

 

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The hole was cut and the wires were dropped down from the panels on the roof.

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Installing the power and ground to the solar controller is easy. Positive & negative power in and positive & negative power out. 👌

IMG_20191019_144427509.jpg

 

 

I yanked the power distribution/ converter out so I could access the back side to run the wires to it.

IMG_20191019_131310114.jpg

 

 

I ran the wires through the cabinet and connected them to an open spot in the fuse center. I added a 30A fuse and walla. Power from the sun! 

IMG_20191019_150425217.jpg

 

The controller is very simple. It takes the high voltage (approx 19-20V) produced from the solar panels, and charges the batteries according to their needs. 

IMG_20191019_152441178.jpg

 

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On an average sunny day, the solar setup produces about 7-10 amps. 

IMG_20191020_110531468.jpg

 

 

After I knew everything was working and permanent, I sealed off all the brackets, screw holes and cable gland with Dicor lap sealant.

IMG_20191020_091654604_HDR.jpg IMG_20191020_091706267_HDR.jpg

 

 

This whole system only cost me about $325. There are even better systems available and you can go much bigger, but for the money this setup is exactly what I was after. It keeps the batteries topped off at 100% all day for when it's time to run lights, heater, etc at night. There's plenty of space on the roof to add more panels too if I feel I need more. 

 

IMG_20191019_153933743_HDR.jpg

 

Here's the parts breakdown.

100W Solar panels: ~$200

Z brackets: $15

Dicor lap sealant: $10

3M 4200 adhesive: $17

Solar cables: $25

Cable adapters: $10

Solar controller: $35

Cable gland: $11

__________________________

total cost $323

 

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Nice write-up, I've been toying with adding panels on my fifth wheel since we mostly camp in remote areas.  Just hesitant to drill in my roof lol

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Nice write up! Solar is the shiz. I need to add a couple panels and move the 1 panel that the idiot manufacturer put right behind the A/C. Shade is the enemy. 

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Thanks guys. Yeah putting that drill bit to the roof can be a bit nerve-racking, but it can always be patched if you screw it up. And think about how many times you'd ever see it...it's on the roof. 😄

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How would you add an additional panel? Would you have to pull another wire into the hauler, or can you "daisy chain" the wiring from one panel to another?

 

I'd like to consider adding one panel to my existing setup.

 

I like your comment "I carefully measured about 129 times and went for it. 🤣

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5 hours ago, SandBox_Kid said:

How would you add an additional panel? Would you have to pull another wire into the hauler, or can you "daisy chain" the wiring from one panel to another?

 

I'd like to consider adding one panel to my existing setup.

 

I like your comment "I carefully measured about 129 times and went for it. 🤣

 

Super easy. They make solar cable connectors to plug them into the one set of solar wires that feed to the controller.

https://amzn.to/33z1jvD

 

Screenshot_20191106-161012.png

 

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Nice job and write up Pete. Especially like that cable gland. Most I've seen just drop the wires down the refrigerator roof vent. Clean install you have.

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14 hours ago, aceisback said:

Nice job and write up Pete. Especially like that cable gland. Most I've seen just drop the wires down the refrigerator roof vent. Clean install you have.

Yup, i agree. Down fridge vent works, but the little wire cover is so clean. I used it when i did my solar also, makes it look factory.

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Hey Pete,

 

 

if I can ask,   How does this affect the need for a generator in you consumption? 
 

can you run a tv during the day without a generator running?   I would love quiet power but I’m not sure with just 2 6 volt batteries I’d have enough juice to make it all day and then through a cold night with the furnace fan running 

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, Vegas250rr said:

Hey Pete,

 

 

if I can ask,   How does this affect the need for a generator in you consumption? 
 

can you run a tv during the day without a generator running?   I would love quiet power but I’m not sure with just 2 6 volt batteries I’d have enough juice to make it all day and then through a cold night with the furnace fan running 

 

 

 

 

We still need the generator, but only for high power consumers like the microwave, AC, etc. We don't watch TV anymore at the dunes or even have an inverter, but you could definitely watch TV throughout the day with solar alone. Newer TVs don't draw too much power. I would upgrade to at least 4 six volt batteries and 400 watts of solar to keep everything charged throughout the night. Those furnace heaters draw a ton when it's cold.

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My new rig came with a Go-Power 200 watt solar panel and a power inverter.  I used to run my generator constantly on my old rig without solar,  now I only run the generator when I have to use the microwave or AC.  Everything else is ran straight up on 2- 12v batteries. I leave my panel in "recharge boost" mode starting from the morning until night fall. I run my 40" TV that draws about 140 watts for about 3-4 hrs a day. I can go all weekend without any issues.  Would never go back to not having solar.

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6 hours ago, aseman said:

My new rig came with a Go-Power 200 watt solar panel and a power inverter.  I used to run my generator constantly on my old rig without solar,  now I only run the generator when I have to use the microwave or AC.  Everything else is ran straight up on 2- 12v batteries. I leave my panel in "recharge boost" mode starting from the morning until night fall. I run my 40" TV that draws about 140 watts for about 3-4 hrs a day. I can go all weekend without any issues.  Would never go back to not having solar.

Next time you need batteries try 2, 6 volt golf cart batteries. Like Trojans, or from Sam's club or costco. They give you more amp hours.

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