Well we have made a lot of progress in the last month, bought our Ram 3500 truck in Caldwell, Idaho from Dennis Dillon Chrysler Ram, drove it to Madison, South Dakota to set up our residency and then two weeks later picked up our Excel Winslow 34IKE Fifth Wheel from Holland Motor Homes sales in Holland, Michigan, what a blizzard of activity! And then there was the huge task of moving out of our house and into our new home. These have been crazy times and we hope to write more soon on some of this activity in detail.
This short post is about the first steps of our solar installation. I am splitting the process into Phase One and Phase Two. Phase One will be installing the solar panels, Trimetic Battery Meter and Morningstar 2025 Solar Controller, and a lot of wiring, fuses, etc. With the completion of Phase One we will have a system that will keep our batteries charged so we can run our DC interior lights, fans, slides, hydraulic jacks and the propane furnace, water heater and refrigerator. Phase Two will be the addition of an inverter and two more solar panels, giving us solar powered AC for things like a TV, coffee maker, computer gear and really anything that gets plugged in to a conventional AC outlet. We bought our batteries from Crown Battery Manufacturing Company in Fremont, Ohio on our way to Holland, Michigan to pick-up our Excel Winslow; four CR-260 6 volt batteries, highly recommended by the RV Solar Master and Guru Bob, of HandyBob’s Blog.
Currently we are parked in Natasha’s Mom’s driveway in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. We drove directly here from Morgantown, West Virginia just after moving out of our home there. Being here has been wonderful, providing us an opportunity to decompress from the physical and emotional stress of moving. We have learned a lot about the operation of our Fifth Wheel and have been able to get well situated.
To begin the installation of the solar panels I needed brackets to secure them to the roof of the fifth wheel, I purchased four feet of aluminum 1″ angle and stainless steel fasteners. I cut the aluminum angle into eight 3″ pieces and eight 2″ pieces, then drilled a bunch of holes for the fasteners. Here is my work space (one must improvise when living this new lifestyle) and what the brackets ended up looking like.
Then it was up on the roof with a tube of Proflex RV™ Flexible Sealant (the messiest stuff you can imagine) with Natasha and Nick (Natasha’s brother) for the final installation. It went just fine in the end, hated to be drilling holes in the roof but we squeezed enough of the Proflex Sealant around that in the end I am confident we will have no leaks.
Next up, trying to figure out how to wire up the Trimetic 2025 Battery Meter, get the cables from the solar panels on the roof to the batteries in the basement and dealing with the Morningstar Controller. It is one step at a time for us and solar.