Part 3: Inverter and Solar Installation


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The Trip

A lot of planning and test fitting was required before final mounting locations were chosen for the inverter and solar support equipment.  Cable routing needed careful consideration as many of the routes were difficult to access or required removing appliances to gain access to the cable route.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

We needed to access both the refrigerator compartment and the heater compartment directly below to route our cables.  We used Ancor marine safety cable for both AC and DC wiring.  This wire is expensive, but the best available.

We needed to mount two meters on the wall.  To the left is the remote control terminal for the inverter.  On the right is a Blue Sea Systems "State of Charge" digital panel meter.

The inverter remote control was the bigger of the two and was installed first.  3M blue tape was applied to provide some protection from tool marks.

Holes that were big enough to pass the saw blade were drilled in the 10mm plywood walls.  The jig saw was inserted and cuts were made to remove the balance of the material.

The State of Charge meter was installed with a simple 2" hole saw.  Note the size of the existing wire bundles.

A twisted pair harness was prepared and combined with some power feed lines to supply the small meter.

The AC subpanel and solar circuit breaker were attached to the wall.

The below-the-bed cubby was measured and a plywood mount for the inverter and high-current DC lines was prepared.  The components were arranged on the mounting board to test the layout.

Components were attached to the mounting board and connecting cables were cut and fabricated.

Meanwhile, the inside of the camper was turning into a cesspool of tools and zip-tie clippings.

The solar charge controller was mounted on the forward wall of the cargo compartment and the cables were dressed and attached using screw-type zip-tie mounts.  The #4 AWG cables were repositioned for circuit testing.  During normal operation, they will be attached to the DC buss bars at the bottom of the photo above.

Once the installation and preliminary wiring was completed, we attacked the solar installation.  Panels were recovered from their installation on the HiLo and moved to the Lance.  The Lance came from the factory pre-wired for solar including a through-roof mounting setup.  I had to acquire MC4 cable connectors (Amazon) and then attached these connectors to the wires from the panels.  I also purchased Y connectors that allow parallel connections of multiple panels.

Once the panels were installed and the circuit turned-on we were able to verify the operation of the SOC meter and the polarity of the current-sensing shunt.

My buddy Vince came through town and he helped us affix the panels to the roof of Lance.  We used 1/4" pop rivets and 3M 5200 marine adhesive for the installation.  Note the white blobs on the roof.  We applied a generous coating of the 5200 adhesive to insure that there were no leaks in the cover membrane.

Visible in the photo above is the second solar panel, Fantastic fan and digital TV antenna.

We were pleased with the final installation.

Next up is the installation of the entertainment system.  For Lance, as with the HiLo, the system consists of a Mac Mini, a large hard drive with video files, an Apple TV and some support circuits including an A-B HDMI switch and an HDMI audio extractor.

The entertainment system hardware will be mounted on a shelf installed in the cabinets.  Holes were drilled in the cabinet walls to allow passage of the HDMI cable that supplies the display panel.  Mounting supports for the shelf were cut and test-fit into the cabinet.

Most of the entertainment equipment is powered by "wall warts" (small transformers that plug into a socket).  These wall warts use up more than their fair share of plug real estate thus requiring a large socket bar to support our installation.

The plan is to put our WiFi router on one of the cabinet walls, so a test fit was required to confirm feasibility.

This portion of the build-out took several weeks and required two trips to West Marine for the high current cables and support equipment.  West is a good hike from our home,  but there are a number of good restaurants along the path so we made full use of the outings.  Working in the cubby was not much fun and my knees are still sore from kneeling for extended periods of time.  But, the good news is that this is a "one-time cost" and once the wiring is fully proven and the installed systems verified, it should be a done-deal.

Next: completion of the entertainment system and re-assembly of the living quarters.

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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2019, all rights reserved.
For your enjoyment only, not for commercial use.