Sunday, September 18, 2016

Solar Power!

Our upcoming trip to Utah and the Grand Canyon was the excuse. We hope to do some extended back country camping. One concern with extended stays in the back country is running out of battery power. 

I've been watching for sales on solar panels for some time. I finally found a deal and bought a panel. 

I bought one of the 160 watt panels on sale at Solar Boulevard and a Morningstar 10 amp PMW controller. I shopped around the internet to assemble the various parts necessary for the installation. The solar will charge a Trojan sealed true deep-cycle battery with 110 amp-hour capacity. We expect to run the fridge and a CPAP machine off this battery. 

 Our setup also includes an auxiliary battery in the truck engine bay which is charged by the truck and is wired to the camper. After the solar addition, I think we will use that battery only for lights, charging electronics and to occasionally run the furnace. It will be a nice backup. 

Since the two batteries are different, I didn't try to hook both of them up to the solar panel. It is a long wire run and I don't know if I will get sufficient voltage to the battery. The wire from the roof into the camper is only 14 AWG and about 15 feet long- not the best. At the time I ordered the camper, I didn't know enough to ask for larger wire. Even so, I might try to connect the truck battery in the future with larger wire and an additional controller. For now, I think we have enough capacity as it sits. 

When all the pieces finally arrived, I set to work. The day was threatening rain but I decided to blast ahead anyway. I finished just as the rain came. I was rushing to finish so I didn't take pictures along the way. I mounted the battery in the only space I had- under the bench by the door. It's a good out-of the-way place. I mounted the controller directly above the battery. 

 Here are a few photos of how it turned out. It was fun to see the controller charging the battery even in a rain storm. 

Rain on the new panel.

A view underneath the panel.

I attached the panel using z-clips to the Yakima tracks.

The controller and battery box.

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