(Formally "Plan V: A Van Dwelling Blog", when I lived in a 1978 Dodge Xplorer 228 Class B motorhome van)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Solar panels - Part 1

I have got my new two 100W Renogy solar panels installed to the roof. I am waiting on some MC4 wire connectors for making some custom cabling between the panels and controller. I have the wiring run part way, but no photos of that yet. Once the MC4 connectors come in, I can wire them up and I'll be all set. I am putting in-line fuses on both panels and between the charge controller and batteries so it'll all be well protected and I will be able to pull fuses to disconnect power if I need to work on the system in any way.

I had to offset them slightly so they aren't uniform. I realized that the rear one (installed second) was going to slightly interfere with the roof vent so I had to move it over a bit. It's not that noticeable and won't effect the usage of the panels. I'm not that OCD that they had to be perfectly lined up.

I used 3M 9468 VHB between the brackets and roof for a bit of adhesion of the brackets to the roof then put in a single sheet metal screw into a predrilled hole in the roof. They appear to be mounted plenty sturdy. I am tempted to add a tether to the sides at the decorative luggage rack for extra safety should one of the brackets break loose from the roof somehow. But since they are mounted low and should be pretty aerodynamic, I don't think there will be a problem. I have to seal around the brackets with some self leveling RV caulking next week after I get some.

I have room for expansion, for at least one 50W panel. If I were to remove the TV antenna, I could add another 100W as well but I think 200W to start with is plenty.


  1. Looking good, Cubey! I've had just the tape alone on the solar panels on my van since November driving 50 miles a day and so far up to 85 mph at times with 8 inches of snow on them.

    And I finally looked at my motorhome today. Under the hood it says mb300 and on the door tag it says F30.

  2. Thanks. I suddenly found out the house I'm getting rid of it about to go to closing in the next week or two. Nice how my realtor gave me notice, huh? So now I'm trying to hurry and get everything done and sell the rest of my stuff.

    Heck, i found out from the guy buuying the house before the realtor told me... by a few hours.

    Are you sure it says F30? Is it a Dodge? Could you be mistaken and it says B30?

  3. Nice. Seems like nothing in the buying selling/foreclosing house process is ever easy. You would think those that do that for a living would have it all figured out by now but it seems like they're always just winging it.

    And no mistake on the info. Check out the tag for yourself - http://bzoink.com/doortag.jpg

    The funny thing is all the VIN decoders I've tried online say I have an invalid VIN with the F3 in the beginning too. Even the ones that go back far enough.

  4. I lied. Vinwiz.com was able to decode it.

    Have you followed Chris Penn on YouTube at all? He's been living/traveling in an explorer like yours and is on his way to Alaska right now.

  5. I did a quick Google search and yeah, F30 is a Dodge chassis code. Strange. Mine says B30 and the VIN starts with a B on mine.

    My 78 Factory service manual says that VINs starting with F are Chrysler LeBarons. But then again, it says B is the Plymouth Caravelle (canada only). It says to refer to F and G carlines in the US if it starts with B. G is the Dodge Diplomat.

    So heck if I can figure out the VIN coding.

    Hmm, no, I haven't heard of him. I'll look him up.

  6. We have the same panels :)

    Come winter I plan to change out the L brackets holding my panels to hinges, so I can easily angle the panels to either side of the van.

    I also used a short strip of aluminum angle iron to mount to the front of the first panel. This prevents the air from getting under the panels at hi-way speeds.