I was working from home today, and I was hoping to sneakily finish early and go and have a fiddle with the solar wiring. But someone scheduled a conference call for 4:30 and it went on for 2 hours .
Still, after dinner it had stopped raining (as I predicted in a matter of hours it went from freezing to wet), so I wanted to get out there.
The roof work was done, but the cabling wasn't quite in the camper yet.
Here is it coming through the roof into the vent area for the fridge - notice the red tie-wrap indicating which wires are +ve:
I removed the light-weight floor of the wardrobe next to the fridge - I could see that I could probably drill a hole from the back of the fridge vent (at the bottom) through to this area below the wardrobe (behind the converter). After some careful comparing I drilled a small pilot hole through:
I then checked the inside and could see the pilot hole came out where I wanted it - you can just see it in the centre above the grey pipe:
Next I opened it out to 15mm diameter which I reckoned was just enough to get the 4 cables through:
Next I needed to feed the cables through from the top down the back of the fridge to the point I had just drilled the hole. I did it in that order to avoid having 4 cables hanging around getting in the way while drilling the bottom hole.
Remember that I had baffled the area at the top of the fridge to ensure the air flow through the compressor fridge's fan / heat exchanger assembly didn't circulate ineffectively. However this meant I now couldn't simply drop the cables down the back - I had to drill a hole to run them through the horizontal baffle. This was really difficult as the drill only just fitted in the area, and then only at an angle:
I could then feed the 4 cables through - luckily the 15mm diameter was just right to take the 4 cables:
I then screwed a cable clip in to hold the cables in place:
With the cables fed through I could then feed them into the wardrobe and tie-wrap them to tidy them up - notice I have added another red tie-wrap on the +ve cables - at each stage I fed the +ve cables through first and then tie-wrapped them at the other side to mark them as +ve before feeding the -ve cables through:
Here are the cables coming out into the area below the wardrobe. Again notice I have added a red tie-wrap (I bought some of these to attach to Sally's horse rugs so she could identify hers easily). also notice the budget brand battery charger .
So now all the cables are through into the inside - hooray, only warm internal work left to do!
'07 Ford Ranger XLT Supercab diesel + '91 Shadow Cruiser - Sky Cruiser 1
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another really precise run-down of an important installation-----really well written with good pics.
You might find that tilting the panels helps in the winter when the sun is lower and shorter days. We have seen very many vans in Portugal/Spain with their s/panels tilted.
We are thinking of fitting one for next winter away, so I am eagerly awaiting your system for tilt support/adjustment----------the ultimate I suppose is the automatic ones that follow the sun-------------but have you seen the price !!???
Nigel & Pamala----Spain--for a few more days
I looked at tilting my panels and even looked at trackers.
I decided to add an extra panel... with all of my LEDs, the future platcat, and other 12VDC conserving mods I would be able to fully charge every day even though they are flat. So far I've been wasting photons... the extra panel is too bad, it uses the wiring and controller that were already being installed.
Since Janet and I boondock every day... the flat panels aren't as noticable.... and I'd surely forget and leave them up like I sometimes leave the steps down.
I have thought about adding myler reflectors to "catch" more rays and reflect them to the panels if I ever decide to stay in one spot.
Steve... I like your installation... thanks again for sharing.
My plan was to use the metal spring from the sun screens that fit in the windshield... stretch the aluminized milar over the spring tothe reflector....
I think it would require a stiffer frame after thinking about it.
I had a prior experience that made me think about it...
In the 1970's I was into Geodesics... building large icosahedren domes from scratch... using Buckministerfullers recently issued US Patents for instructions... and doing all of the calculations on paper... no handheld calculators on the market yet.
Zomeworks then published books with a lot of info... domes started showing up in the deserts...
and sun tracking devices based on the sun, expanding gases and shade
They also talked about a hot water heater called a "Sun Flower" It use a truncated dodecahedron... the mirrors were inside the faces with the bottom face painted black to absorb the reflected light from the morrored petals... it would get extremely hot... I built some with copper plate... painted flat black... and coiled copper tubing silver soldered onto the shaded side... water pumped through the coil caried the very hot water away to storage. (Think about cutting a soccor ball in exactly half following the edges of the faces)
The single flat reflector for our PVsolar panels would increase the the amount of light, evem double it... but would also increase the heat absorbed by the solar panel... and heat degrades the output of the PVSolar panels.
So... I have left the reflector on the back burner.
Sorry to be ramblig... as you noticed.. I get weird sometimes.
Valentine's day today, so only one thing to do - get back into the camper and do some wiring
I want to have the charge controller accessible, but have the wiring covered, so I'll put it in the wardrobe, but with the wiring hidden below the floor of the cupboard. So I needed to cut the floor support to make space for the charge controller:
When I got close to the side of the wardrobe I added some put some duct tape on the saw blade to prevent it scratching the surface:
Here is the resulting gap:
I had brought the two +ve and two -ve cables all the way to the point of the charge controller, but I found that twisting them together they were too large a diameter to fit reliably into the terminals of the charge controller and even if I could get them to fit I didn't want to take the risk of them popping out under vibration and causing a short circuit. So I terminated these in a terminal block and then cut short sections of cable to join that to the charge controller:
Over only 2 inches these single pieces of wire should be fine handling the current.
Since I had spare offcuts of the wire I again doubled them up to go between the charge controller and the battery. If it turns out to be difficult when I wire these to the battery I'll replace them with larger diameter single wires.
Here is the controller in place:
Next job is connecting that through to the battery.
I fed the wires through from underneath the wardrobe to the battery box next to the water tank.
The battery previously had some brass quick-release clips holding the wires onto the battery terminals, but these weren't very good and came undone easily. So I replaced these with some of the type used for attaching car starter motor cables to car batteries. I can't take the risk of the +ve terminal coming loose and floating around since there could be quite a few amps being pushed out from the solar panels so the detached wire would be a live wire looking for something to short against.
I do need to have a bit of a tidy up of the cabling under there though:
With this connected I check the charge controller and it is showing a two lights:
I think the middle green light means the battery is charged, and the right hand red light being continuous means the load output (which I haven't connected) is live. The solar panel light on the left is of course dark because 1) it is night time and 2) the panels still have that insulation on them to prevent light getting to them.
I assume from the markings that the middle LED is a tri-colour LED and will show orange if the battery is getting low on charge and red if very low.
After about 30 seconds these lights go out and you have to press the power button to illuminate them again.
Once they have gone out the solar panel LED on the left starts to flash green (or as the manual says just sola plate lighting twinkle):
The translated-from-Chinese instructions now make sense:
Save power model: If no one operate controller in 30 seconds, it will be turn into save power model automatic, just sola plate lighting twinkle , if you want to see controller working condition, press button that you can
I seriously need to tidy up the inside of the camper once I have finished this:
I did not see a fuse, between your battery and ... .
That is a very good point Wayne.
I've got to tidy up that wiring so when I do that I should look at adding appropriate fuses too.
Would you normally have a fuse between the battery and the solar charge controller? If so what sort of rating? The charge controller is 20 amps, so a 20 amp fuse?
The other wires all bundled together are:
1) Thin wire coming from that cheapo battery charger that needs replacing - it has a fuse, but in the battery charger.
2) Thick wire going to the compressor fridge - that has an inline fuse near the fridge.
3) Thick wire going to a junction box from where it goes to the converter and hence to supply the 12v appliances / lights in the camper - the converter has circuit fuses, and out to the 7-pin connector for the truck - I don't think that spur has a fuse.
Would you add some fuses as close to the battery as possible, since that is the thing that can generate the most amperage if shorted (compared to the other sources of 12v on the system: solar panels, battery charger, charging line from the truck).
Steve said, "Would you add some fuses as close to the battery as possible, since that is the thing that can generate the most amperage if shorted (compared to the other sources of 12v on the system: solar panels, battery charger, charging line from the truck)"
AMSolar recommended installing one fuse in the charge controllers output (+) wire, close to the battery. The fuse will protect the charge-controller from over-amping and shorting out.