2017 AF 1140 Solar Install

This was the first project undertaken. We knew we wanted solar panels to enable use to stay off grid and not use the generator which is NOISY!

Much research lead us to decide upon an MPPT controller allowing us to generate 40A to the battery bank when possible. Note the existing wiring to the battery is only 30A and will need replacing when or if we ever have sufficient panels to produce this amount of current. Wiring the panels in series on the roof allow them to make as much use of the lower solar power produced when cloudy or toward the end of the day/season when the sun is lower in the sky. This also reduces the current in the wiring from the roof. The plan is to have two panels on the roof and perhaps two more mobile on the ground to enable us to chase the sun when the camper is in the shade. It will also allow us to tilt the panels to remain perpendicular to the sun as much as possible. So far we just have two panels installed on the roof. And so far this has been sufficient except over thanksgiving when we were parked in the shade.

Do some research and determine what sort of install will work for you. MPPT controllers are better overall but cost a little more.

All parts were acquired from Amazon and the panels were on sale over Amazon’s Prime Week.

The MPPT controller chosen was the Tracer 4150BN with the remote display and temperature sensor. The panels chosen were two 100W monocrystalline panels from HQST (but were identical panels to those provided from several distributors such as Renogy and others.

The intent was to place the controller under the the sink area (on the port (left) ) side of the camper with the remote panel next to the other panels over the sink. This is where things got sticky.  Passing a cable from under the sink to above the sink is not possible without drilling holes through some nasty stuff. I wimped out. My friend Kevin did not wimp out, soldiered on, and has an excellent write-up here. The install would necessitate drilling through two aluminum trusses between the cabover and the main camper. This seems to be what Northwood has done and so theoretically should be ok. But, I just don’t feel like drilling those holes just yet. This limitation lead to the decision to mount the controller on the wall inside the cupboard behind the AF control panel. This enabled the use of the existing wiring but not the use of the temperature sensor to the battery compartment. A concern was potential temperature increase and damage to the unit. So far the unit as not even become warm. It was partially for this reason I purchase the 40A unit and not the 20A unit. It has a larger heat sink.

Renogy mounting brackets
Sunway solar connectors
Temperature sensor
HQST 100W panels (twin pack)
MT-50 remote panel
Solar Epic 40A MPPT controller (Tracer 4150BN)
SAE connector to connect the roof panels to the roof connector.
Inline Fuse holder
10AWG wire