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Found 1 result

  1. I love boondocking,and I hate generators. Recently, I sold my 37 ft 5th wheel and bought a 29 ft Arctic Fox 27-5L, because I was fed up with being stuck in tight National Park and State Park campgrounds. When I climbed on the roof for the first time and saw how cluttered the roof was with exhaust pipes, hoods, AC unit etc, and considering a usable roof length of less than 25 ft, I all but gave up on the dream of installing a meaningful solar power plant on this roof. But after taking exact measurements of the roof and the obstacles, and realizing how far the solar panel industry has come in terms of power output per square unit, I started some serious research. And came up with the solution of installing 5 of 350W monocrystalline JA Solar panels. They are about 38"x79" big and cost me less than $200 per piece (plus freight), which is a steal deal compared with what other dealers charge.Because several roof obstacles are about 40" away from the roof edge, I was able to squeeze 5 of these panels on the roof (see attached pic). Of course, mounting them so close to the edge and to hoods etc. was pretty challenging,and I had to use slightly different methods to fix the panels to the roof, depending on their location. Since no solar mounting hardware available on the market could be used because of the tightness, I devised my own, relatively simple method by using pairs of slotted aluminum angles in each of the four corners of a panel. Each angle was about 10" long; one was screwed to the panel, the other one on the roof in a way that aligned the slotted sides of the angles so that they could be bolted together (see pic). One of the panels had to be raised about 7" above the refrigerator exhaust hood, but that was the only more complicated construction (see pic). The 10 wires from the panels are connected in a combiner box that sits atop the hole that I had to drill right above a wall that is already used as a wire raceway. I chose AWG 1 wire from the combiner box to the solar controller (that sits in the front compartment), which probably is an overkill, but the cost difference is negligible compared to the overall cost of the project. In a subsequent post, I will talk about the installation of the solar controller, a 4000W inverter, 2 Tesla battery modules, and the necessary control and protection circuitry. And, of course, about the practical experience with running the entire coach off grid, with water heater, AC, microwave, toaster, hair dryer and all the other power hungry gadgets.
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