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Where Did You Route Your Solar Wires Inside Your Casita?

solar wiring

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#1 EggiWanKenobe

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Posted 12 April 2016 - 09:22 AM

Greetings eggheads,

 

I have a question for the hive mind. I'm weighing whether to do my solar set up on a portable stand or roof mounted. Part of the caluculus will be how big a pain in the butt it is to route the wires for the roof mount. I've read on the forums that a lot of folks take the wires down through the gray water vent in the closet. Anyone have any elegant solutions for routing wiring from the closet back to the battery under the back bench? Especially interested to hear how folks with the SD model managed it.

 

Micah



#2 Wally Z

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Posted 12 April 2016 - 10:06 AM

I haven't done it, but would think running it into closet, then over the bathroom ceiling inner shell and into the drivers side cabinet. Same way the antenna cable is routed for the television back to the rear of trailer from there it could be routed straight down under the carpet into the rear bench area. I think I would drill a hole right next to the vent pipe into the closet. That way it could be sealed and partially protected by vent cap using a Butyl caulk. Very easy to access area above bathroom ceiling by pulling down the carpet just above the bathroom door and ceiling. It is basically just tucked up into that space in that area.  That's where I installed cable for my Jack antenna. The cable is nicely tucked up between cabinet lip and ceiling.  If you have the factory installed antenna you'll see where and how they ran that cable. Just route solar cable the same way. If I was going to get solar I personally would want it to be portable. Easier to follow the sun. :D


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#3 Plainsman

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Posted 12 April 2016 - 02:37 PM

Not an answer to the OP's question, but I have to agree with Ted Wally that I much prefer a stand-alone unit. I stayed at several long-term locations this winter where if it had been roof mounted I wouldn't have had any solar at all. But since I was free to move mine I had good sun all day. YMMV.


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#4 Va Hillbilly

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Posted 12 April 2016 - 03:32 PM

I have a Liberty so the routing would be different.  I ran the 8 gauge marine wire down the black water vent pipe and out along the outside of the vent pipe about midway down and out through the wall of the enclosure toward the back of the toilet.  Used Proflex sealant on both the pipe and through the wall with no leak issues.  From outside the bath enclosure it was a simple run toward the back of the stove and sink cabinet to the area near the battery box where I mounted the controller and then connected to the battery.

 

I have a 50 watt roof  mounted panel and a 100 watt portable panel that I can run in parallel for a combined 150 watts.  After about 3 years of use I can say I probably have used the portable panel less than 10 percent of the time.  The roof panel stays turned on most of the time including driving so it is one of those items you turn on and forget with the exception of an occasional glimpse at the battery monitor.  When I have needed to use the portable I find I spend a lot of time changing the tilt and azimuth of the panel.  I will say when needed because of marginal solar conditions the extra capacity the portable unit brings is welcome.  If you camp in the early spring and late fall you will find more is better and it generally is at those times I tend to use the portable panel more.  If I had to do it over I probably would increase the size of the roof panel which would further decrease the time I need to fool with the portable panel.



#5 borderbrae

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Posted 12 April 2016 - 03:48 PM

I have and prefer the portable unit, too, since I prefer to park in the shade when possible. The portable unit allows me to have it in the sun. I don't spend a lot of time moving it about or worrying about the angle, etc. a 100w panel will bring your battery up pretty quickly if it is getting any rays at all. Once the battery is up then I can top off any electronics, if the sun is out. A panel flat on the roof will only get the high sun, a portable unit can start collecting the solar power as soon as the sun is up if you have a clear shot. I always set mine up the night before to get the rising sun, that way even if I'm not up it will be working. As Plainsman said, the portable unit has been the key to good boon docking for me.

 

There is no right or wrong way to do it, the more you discuss things with folks the more you will learn, then you can decide what will work best for you. It is always pleasing to me to see how well the solar panel works, even in a bit of haze. 


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#6 Dutchman

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Posted 12 April 2016 - 06:16 PM

Very easy to access area above bathroom ceiling by pulling down the carpet just above the bathroom door and ceiling. It is basically just tucked up into that space in that area.  That's where I installed cable for my Jack antenna. The cable is nicely tucked up between cabinet lip and ceiling.  I If I was going to get solar I personally would want it to be portable. Easier to follow the sun. :D

 

I had my new 100W roof panel wires routed like Wally Z suggests.  A hole was drilled right above the bathroom bulkhead, the wire tucked behind the carpet and run into the overhead storage area on the street side. From there you can see via the photos how it was led down to below the rear seat of my 17SD to the controller.   At Lowe's I found a thingy (sorry, can't recall the name), it's 5 ft long and you can enclose the wires into it and snap it shut. It had glue on one side. It is white so I bought some spray paint and painted it so it wouldn't be obvious.  I then bent it and pushed the glue end to the divider.  I like the result.  See attached. 

As far as portable vs rooftop - I've had an 80W portable panel for about 7 years. Worked well but always had to be set up.  Now that I've had some good boon dock experience I frankly prefer the rooftop.  It's there, it's fixed, it won't walk away and, best part, it charges while traveling.  Come summer and if I want to be in the shade, I still have my 80W panel on a long wire (both panels are compatible to the controller).  Or in the winter with limited sun I can use both. Best of both worlds.  Hope this gives you some insight.

Dutchman

exposed wires.jpg

 

hidden wires.jpg


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#7 borderbrae

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Posted 12 April 2016 - 06:30 PM

Dutchman, very nice way to cover up the wires. I'm sure folks will appreciate that tip. I made up something to cover mine but it isn't nearly as nice as yours.  They (the wires to and from my VOM/Amp meter) run up the carpet next to the escape window (I removed the partition so can't use that) but maybe I can figure out a way to attach that strip to the carpet. 


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#8 Meadowlark

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Posted 12 April 2016 - 06:46 PM

We have the portable one and I prefer it mostly for the same reasons borderbrae mentioned. Here in the PNW, we don't get much sun and most campgrounds are heavily tree-ed, so being able to move it around helps a lot. The downside is moving it around, and...unexpected things, like...dogs. Once we were in Elk Meadows campground in Prairie Creek Redwoods SP in CA.  After dark, a jerk was strolling through the park and his let his dog run off leash, the thing ran right past where we were sitting enjoying the campfire and pee'ed on the solar panel!! Did the jerk even apologize? oh, heck no, when I yelled that his dog had pee'ed on my solar panel he didn't quite run away but he sure did mosey on mos' tick. Times like that, you wish the solar panel acted like a hot fence for livestock...try peeing on a hot wire, dog!!!

However, Dutchman's comment about his rooftop mounted solar panel being available to charge all the time, even on the road...that's pretty nifty. Maybe we'll go his route...one atop the Casita and the 90 watt on the ground.


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#9 Wally Z

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Posted 12 April 2016 - 09:34 PM

When I installed my battery monitor I ran the wires behind the edge of the divider between side dinette and bed.  I had to remove the screws that hold it in place and then slide it out enough to get the wires behind it. Then push divider back up against the cable and carpet. Re-install screws and you have a nice neat install.  No need to add molding piece to cover wires. The bathroom is basically a shell that fits inside the end of the outer trailer shell.  There is a space between bathroom ceiling and roof of trailer. Easy to get to from closet and above bathroom door. That's where the factory TV antenna is laying along with other 12vdc wiring.   I mentioned this in my previous post. No cutting of carpet or re-gluing needed.


Edited by Wally Z, 12 April 2016 - 09:36 PM.

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#10 EggiWanKenobe

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Posted 12 April 2016 - 09:44 PM

Excellent insights y'all, thanks for weighing in! Follow up question: for fixed-mount folks, where do you put your charge controller?

#11 Meadowlark

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 08:07 AM

Wally, was there a gap between the divider and the wall? I'm not seeing your installation in my mind. Did you run the wires under the carpet? And where is the monitor itself, is it in the cupboard above the bed? We don't have the factory installed antenna as we don't take a TV.


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#12 Wally Z

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Posted 13 April 2016 - 11:14 AM

Wally, was there a gap between the divider and the wall? I'm not seeing your installation in my mind. Did you run the wires under the carpet? And where is the monitor itself, is it in the cupboard above the bed? We don't have the factory installed antenna as we don't take a TV.

The monitor is mounted in the upper cabinet over the dinette by the coat hook and divider.  I did not go under the carpet.  The cable is sandwiched between edge of divider and carpet. It is very tight fit. You could tape the cable to the edge of divider if you want. I didn't need to but it may make it easier to keep it in place, and the tape wouldn't be visible after pushing divider back up against carpet and wall. The gap above the bathroom ceiling will be there regardless of having the TV antenna or not. As I stated there are other wires going through there also.


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#13 Meadowlark

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Posted 14 April 2016 - 08:22 AM

Thank you!!!


These are the voyages of the small ship, "Grus Egg".

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#14 Wally Z

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Posted 14 April 2016 - 11:33 AM

Thank you!!!

You're welcome! If you do decide to go the divider route I just thought I should tell you the screws are inside the lower cabinet.  They are quit long and you'll need the #2 square driver. You don't need to pull the divider out much at all. Just enough to get the cable behind it.


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#15 MGD

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Posted 14 April 2016 - 07:32 PM

 

Very easy to access area above bathroom ceiling by pulling down the carpet just above the bathroom door and ceiling. It is basically just tucked up into that space in that area.  That's where I installed cable for my Jack antenna. The cable is nicely tucked up between cabinet lip and ceiling.  I If I was going to get solar I personally would want it to be portable. Easier to follow the sun. :D

At Lowe's I found a thingy (sorry, can't recall the name), it's 5 ft long and you can enclose the wires into it and snap it shut. It had glue on one side. It is white so I bought some spray paint and painted it so it wouldn't be obvious.

Dutchman

That "thingy" is called plastic raceway. Wiremold, Leviton and ICC all make it. I buy boxes of it to conceal network wiring where I can't get it in walls or ceilings. The ICC brand might be sold by a cabling supplier in your area. It is excellent quality and a lot less expensive than Wiremold or Leviton.







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