These were the lowest readings gathered during our experiment and occurred as we were running the heat to take off the morning chill. Fortunately, our eleven-foot floor plan offered plenty of roof real estate options to place a panel of this size. The junction box was then screwed into the roof with stainless steel screws. Again, stainless steel screws were used with a dab of Sikaflex 715 to secure the panel to the camper’s roof. Solar Power: Solar panels are sold in varying sizes, but a 100 watt panel is a commonly found size – particularly for RVs. A third panel is not likely, but could be added on an available space towards the rear of the camper roof. The first step toward installing solar power is doing a power-consumption survey of your motorhome; figuring out the cumulative amp-hours (Ah) or watts being used during a typical outing, or over an extended period of time. Above: Gordon and Tom checking and re-checking the wiring. Next we connected the wire leads from the Zamp solar panel to the corresponding wires from the junction box. Once the controller detected the battery bank was at 85% charge, the controller changed to absorption charge mode. Securing the solar panel to the roof was next. After that, get on the roof get it exact measurements. With Team Emerick on board, we were ready to go. Most single or double panel solar panel systems are installed by professionals who regularly install solar panels in a few hours. Even before the project camper arrived, we acquired a 150-watt Zamp solar panel system and solar controller. On the back wall of our wardrobe closet, we discovered a removable panel where the original manufacturer ran wires for the entertainment system. Copyright © 2007-2020. Above: The connectors and resettable circuit breaker was included in the kit. WindyNation 400 Watt Solar Kit. You can also get tilting hardware, make custom brackets, or use brand-specific hardware like Renogy’s brackets. Above: Michael Emerick applying Sikaflex 715 around the 8 gauge wire, Above: Caulking the junction box tight to the roof. The bad news is that our HOA doesn’t permit us to keep our truck camper rig in front of our house for more than a few hours. With the hole drilled, the 8-gauge wire was fed into the camper and underlying wardrobe through the hole. These results impressed us, especially considering the fact that the weather had varied during our experiment between full sun and partly cloudy. Even on cloudy days, the system reached float charge, but did so later in the day. Colorado Standby now offers RV solar panel installation & kits. If you’re looking to DIY install your RV solar system, you’ll need to know how to mount solar panels to your RV roof. RV Solar Components. If the wrapping paper can fly off, the photo will, too. Tom is a retired Plant Facility Manager from Allen Organ, and happens to own an Arctic Fox 990. We normally keep our rig in a storage lot, which costs us about $50 a month, and work on it at friends’ houses, or industry venues. After nixing a few locations that conflicted with the above requirements, we found an inset panel area under the wardrobe closet. All Rights Reserved. You’ll need mounting brackets to attach to the glass solar panels, and then you will screw them directly into your roof, being careful to place them in a way that avoids shadows and doesn’t interfere with the use of your other roof accessories. Next: Read about how Truck Camper Magazine and Team Emerick install the Zamp Controller, finish the install, and test the solar system. The most common RV roof type is rubber, made out of a material known as EPDM or TPO. This kit includes physically flexible solar panels that can be mounted on the curved roof of any RV. The simplest solar panel mounting hardware is known as a Z-bracket. Many new RVs on the market even come pre-wired for solar power. Above: Drilling the hole in the roof for the 8 gauge wire. The sheet of rubber lays over a layer of wood, so the best way to mount solar panels to this type of roof is to screw them in with lag bolts. This DIY Camper Solar System Guide is a multi step, complete educational series that by the end, you will know what all of the parts of a solar system do, how they work together, what you'll need for YOUR specific system… The guide details everything you need to install a campervan solar panel system. Available Wattage: 90, 140 | Weight: 39.8 lbs | Dimensions: 42 x 24.5 x 4.5 in. You don’t need holes for flexible solar panels! Panels must be mounted to avoid shading from the air conditioner, TV antenna and storage pods. Once you know the size of system required for your needs, it takes some planning to correctly mount the panels on the roof of the RV. For a complete step by step guide check out our detailed guide on how to install solar panels on RVs, campervan and motorhomes. An additional panel could later be placed on the passenger’s side front leaving just enough space between the panels to walk and inspect roof seals. The installers know what to do and work without any … Then, we measured the dimensions of the Zamp 150-watt solar panel. If you are trying to find an RV Solar Panel Installation Company, you can count on Bob's RV Solar Panels to match you with professionals in your area who can take care of your solar panel … As he explained, the solar panel system would preserve more of the power it collected from the sun if the wire lengths between the panels, junction box, controller, and batteries were kept to a minimum. Solar + Battery Powered RV Air Conditioning: Off Grid AC?. The camper should also be disconnected from 110 volt shore power. To properly challenge the solar and battery system, we operated the camper as normal, charging the laptops daily, using the propane furnace in the morning, and running interior lights and fans as needed. By early to mid-afternoon, the single battery had reached its float charge of 13.1 volts. Precision RV - Marvin Braun (206) 276-2462 I usually see this product being incorporated in a good Renogy flexible solar panel review considering its effectiveness and high satisfaction rating.This is an excellent choice, especially if you aim to choose the right RV solar panels. During our experiment, Angela monitored the Zamp ZS-30A solar charge controller. Once the locations for the roof mounted solar panel and junction box were determined, we moved inside the camper to plan where the Zamp solar controller should be mounted. When a battery is on float charge, it is fully charged and maintaining its full charge from the solar panel. If what you are in search of is a highly reliable solar 12-volt battery charger, then this 100-watt mono-crystalline solar starter kit from Renogy should be one of your choices. Simply search “RV solar mounting hardware” to explore your options. We took off the main negative cable and then the main positive cable. Simply use the adhesive recommended by the solar panel manufacturer to glue the panel to the roof. At the time, we were camping in a Northstar 8.5 Arrow U with a 150 watt Zamp solar panel and controller, one Group 27 battery, and all LED interior and exterior lighting. https://www.renogy.com/blog/installing-solar-panels-on-your-van-or-rv To connect the wires, we used the crimp connectors included in the Zamp kit and shrink wrapped the crimped connections with a heat gun. As Gordon drilled, rubber TPO, luan plywood, several inches of closed cell foam insulation, and more luan plywood came up. We even watched a couple movies at night with the installed television and entertainment system. Last Spring we attempted an impromptu experiment to see how long we could camp without 110 volt shore power. nuCamp RV has produced a video showcasing the 2021 Cirrus 620. Truck Camper Magazine installs a 150 watt Zamp solar panel system on their project camper and takes a big step towards cutting the cord and camping off-the-grid. This allows us to turn off the water, drain the plumbing, adjust the thermostat, lock the doors, pack the camper, and go. After the experience, we recommend blocking off at least a full day for the task. The shrink wrap was strongly recommended by Tom to protect the crimped connections from the elements. Other than loading up and filling with water, we are not permitted to work on our rig, or park it overnight. Not all panels … Given its impressive performance on the Northstar, a Zamp solar panel system was high on the list for our new-to-us camper. Founded in 2007, TCM is the RV community's number one source for news, reviews, guides, newbie advice, destination ideas, maintenance recommendations, modifications, and more. For the installation of the Zamp solar panel system, we visited Tom and Pat Emerick. This is the most common type of mounting bracket that comes in RV solar kits. Everything in life has compromises. We prepared the solar panel for installation by screwing the solar panel feet brackets to the panel. The simplest solar panel mounting hardware is known as a Z-bracket. Above: 25-feet of 8 gauge wire was included in the kit – click to enlarge, Above: A three-port solar panel junction box was also included in the kit – click to enlarge. Between the Arctic Fox and the Adventurer, Tom is always working or modifying something. Once drilled, the hole would pass the 8-gauge wire from the junction box down through the wardrobe to the solar controller. How to install a 12v Solar Panel System. Above: The wiring inside the Zamp junction box. That said, we do not anticipate needing more than one 150 watt panel. Giosolar 200 watt kit + 20 amp charge controller + cables . Run It All. This includes all installation components. Since this was our first time installing a solar panel system, and we regularly stop for photography and note taking, we gave ourselves a full day. A few months later we found a decade old camper in Oregon that fit our requirements for a camper project. The mounting hardware you’ll use for installing solar panels on your RV too depends on what type of panels you have (tempered glass or flexible), what type of roof you have (typically a rubber/TPO roof or fiberglass), and whether or not you need your panels to tilt. It was a non-slide hard side floor plan – our personal preference. Above: The diagram in the Zamp instructions for the install – click to enlarge. The experts here at AM Solar can help you install solar panels on any RV, Trailer or other rig you bring us. With the panel now on the roof, we connected the 8-gauge wires to the Zamp … We installed a Zamp Deluxe 150 Watt RV Solar Kit (ZS-150-30A-DX). Above: The Northstar 8.5 Arrow U in the Outer Banks during the solar test – click to enlarge. This method works whether you have tilting or non tilting mounting hardware. It measured 26.5” wide by 58.25” long. Precision RV is a recognized leader in RV Solar Installations nationally. We’ve written it to suit any size of system… Once they are screwed in, you’ll want to cover each hole with Dicor or another RV-safe self leveling lap-sealant. This system is nearly identical to the one in the Northstar and, with the three-port solar panel junction box, would allow us to upgrade to two panels (300 watts) or even three panels (450 watts) in the future. That panel is rated at 100 watts at peak efficiency – meaning on a 78 degree cloudless day at solar … Our neighbors keep an eye on the homestead, and the HOA keeps the snow, leaves, and lawn in check. Best Flexible Panel Solar RV Kit. When we told Tom about our solar panel system, he offered to help. Then the hole would be filled with Sikaflex 715, the same roof sealant used on the rest of the camper roof, and covered with the junction box, itself sealed with Sikaflex 715. He and his son, Michael, have also refurbished an older Adventurer truck camper. Safety is your number one priority so remove all batteries cables before you do anything. Above: Gordon positioning the junction box after Sikaflex has been applied. Sikaflex was then applied to the bottom edges of the junction box before the junction box was placed into position above the 8-gauge wire. Above: Pat and Tom Emerick helping Gordon get the solar panel on the roof, Above: Attaching the feet brackets onto the panel. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Had we not found this removable panel, we would have carefully tacked the wires from the junction box to the side cabinet wall with plastic cable tacks. They are expert designers with a "get it done right" the first-time attitude. First, we went to the battery compartment and disconnected our camper battery bank. Simply apply VHB – Very High Bond – tape, which will be almost impossible to remove when applied correctly. Solar power is also completely silent unlike a generator, and maintaining your RV solar panels is easy once everything is set up. After asking, “Are we sure about this?” a few dozen times, we drilled the hole. Latest: Hottest Camper on Earth and Readers Choice Nominees. Getting to the point of having freedom from the need to be connected to shorepower, or from cranking up a generator for hours at a time when boondocking, requires taking a close look at one’s energy needs. Above: Crimping the connections – click to enlarge, Above: Shrink wrapping the crimped connections with a heat gun. Pretty simple so far, as we have basically just brought the power produced by the rooftop-mounted solar panels inside the RV. If you like the WindyNation approach of a complete kit but our top … Full-time RV'er Marvin Braun can help you with your RV Solar needs today! Tom recommended using this area to run the wires from the junction box on the roof to the solar controller below. It also applies to the shore power if you have them on at the moment. We prepared the solar panel for installation by screwing the solar panel feet brackets to the panel. RV Master Techs has installed a countless amount of solar panels on motorhomes here in Arizona to include: Glendale, Scottsdale, Peoria, Surprise, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert, and surrounding areas. Tom was pleased that the wire run distances between the solar panel, junction box, and solar controller would be kept as short as possible. RV SOLAR INSTALLERS. Take a look at some of the installations we have done and consider giving us a call if you would like us to set up your RV with solar … Then the panel was carefully flipped over and placed into its previously determined position on the forward driver’s side. Y… |. Once everything is set, your panels will be unmovable – and the great news is you’ll have no additional holes in your roof to monitor for leaks. Absorption charge mode charged the battery bank to 100%, decreasing the current as the battery reaches 100%. Again, we only anticipate needing one 150-watt panel given our positive experience with the 150-watt installation on the Northstar, and similar experiences with other solar-equipped truck campers. When the screws were in, Sikaflex 715 was used to cover the solar panel bracket feet. If your RV roof is made of fiberglass, you luckily do not need to drill holes into your roof to mount your solar panels. We considered several factors including (a) where we wanted the controller to be located, (b) where it would be easiest to run the required wiring, and (c) avoiding propane lines, heat ducting, and plumbing. Simply search “RV solar … Every few hours, Angela noted the battery voltage readings on the built-in LCD screen. If you have a large budget ($3000+), you can most likely skip this step. The number of solar panels and watts you will need will depend on your electronics usage in your RV meaning if you have the usual coffee maker, hair blower, a microwave perhaps, and a TV the estimated wattage you will need is between 400 to 600 watts of solar panels. Above: The wiring inside the Zamp junction box. For what we were looking for, it was perfect. Above: Removable panel in our wardrobe closet where we ran wires from the junction box. RV Master Techs has been doing solar panel installations for almost a decade and is a leader in the RV repair and consignment industry. Tom had us check and re-check these wire connections with a multi-meter to make sure they were done correctly. We’ve connected the solar panels to the combiner box, ran wire inside the RV to the location we are going to mount the solar charge controller, and installed a solar panel disconnect switch. With over 20 years of … Since we wanted to leave room for adding more panels in the future, we placed the single panel where it would fit best and work in a two or three panel installation.