200 watts of roof-mounted solar (2 Renogy "traditional" 100-watt panels).
100 watts of portable solar when needed (Renogy flexible 100-watt panel)
When my original 300 watts of rooftop bendable solar panels failed after 1 year, I now had to use "traditional" aluminum framed glass panels if I wanted anything to stay permanently on the roof. Due to the substantial weight gain, I decided to just put 200 watts on the roof this time around (@35 lbs total weight vs. 12 lbs for the original system).
The roof panels are mounted with AMSolar 35mm Rocker Foot Mounts that come with 3M VHB tape attached to the base of each mount. Once the tape bonded to the roof, I covered the base of each mount with a bit of self-leveling caulk to keep moisture away.
The mount bars and large knobs are very well made and easy to put on and take off. Because of way I placed the panels on the roof, I can also tilt them in either direction too!
With this 200-watt system, I'm generating 10 amps of power at "solar noon" when the panels are flat. If that ever proves to not be sufficient, I still have an unused 100-watt Renogy bendable panel stowed in my cargo bay that I can deploy as a portable panel (likely placing it on top of the A/C unit or on the roof some place). The bendable should work fine as a portable as long as outside temps are not above 80 degrees, and the rear of the panel has sufficient ventilation (I'll work on a simple PVC collapsible frame of some sorts to keep the back from touching the roof).
The final component up on the roof is the Imagine Instruments SCB-PW1-2 Rooftop Combiner Box with 2 sets of MC4 connectors pre-installed. This box allows me to easily disconnect one or more panels or add more (with MC4 branch connectors). The box came with 4 aluminum feet which attached 3M Dual Lock with VHB adhesive. I then covered the bottom with silicone roof caulk.
A single pair of 8-gauge marine wiring runs from the combiner box into a hole in the backside of my cabover "hump" beneath the gray cowling cover. By placing the hole vertically (rather than horizontally), and protecting it further beneath the cowling, this prevents moisture or snow from sitting on top of the roof hole.
On the inside of the coach, are the remainder of the components:
Morningstar SunSaver MPPT 15 amp solar controller with a red Blue Sea 6006 Mini Cut-Off Switch (turns off the rooftop solar if ever needed for maintenance or an emergency). These fit nicely into the back corner of the passenger door footwell (I'd still like to make some sort of dust cover for them though).
Morningstar RM-1 Solar/Battery Power Digital Display Panel (mounted on the wall between the door and the kitchen cabinet).
Pico Maxi In-Line Fuse Holder with a Bussman 20 amp Maxi Fuse. (This safeguards the batteries from any catastrophic power surges if the solar controller should ever fail).
Additional Items:For pictures, please see the Solar/Electrical section of the "More Gear We Love" tab above.
- Anchor Marine 8-gauge marine grade wiring was used for the main run from the roof to the solar controller, and from the controller to the batteries. I bought 25 feet of red and 25 feet of black and still had plenty left over (the excess wire length is zip-tied and stowed in the battery bay should I ever need a bit more for something).
- (2) Unlimited Solar 8-gauge 6-foot MC4 extension cables connect the front panels to the rooftop combiner box. Unlimited Solar makes excellent quality cables!
- (2) Unlimited Solar 8-gauge 10-foot MC4 extension cables connect the rear panel to the rooftop combiner box.
- Nuflex 311 Polar White Silicone Caulk. My Winnebago dealer used this to seal the small hole in the cabover cap they made beneath the passenger side gray roof wing to run the pair of 8-gauge wires down from the roof to the controller. I also caulked the combiner box to the roof. I had planned to caulk the edges of each solar panel as well, but the Dual Lock has held the panels so securely, that I've not found any need for caulking.
- Marine Heat-Shrink 8AWG Butt Connectors. I used these to connect the wires coming from the roof to the wire leads I made for the Blue Sea cut-off switch and the solar controller, and also used them to connect the in-line fuse holder to the red wire going to the battery.
- 8AWG Spade Connectors. These were used to connect wiring to the solar controller.
- Lug Connectors. Only a pair of these are needed to connect the red and black wires from the solar controller to the batteries.
- Zip-Ties. I used these on the roof to secure up the solar cables (and then caulked the zip tie to the roof and cut the excess plastic from the tie). Also used them in the battery bay to secure excess wiring.
- 1/2" Split Loam. I used this to neaten up the little bit of wiring running from behind the bottom of the padded wall to the solar controller, and also up on the roof for the wiring running from the combiner box to the gray "bat wing."
- MC4 Unlock Tool. I have a couple of these should I ever need to disconnect any rooftop cabling or panel.
- Assorted Extras = I needed a pair of large ring connectors to connect wiring to the Blue Sea cut-off switch. I also needed 4 long bolts and nuts to secure the box closed. Why Blue Sea doesn't include this required hardware, I'm not sure. But my local Ace Hardware had these supplies for only a few bucks. I also bought some red and black 3M professional electrical tape to connect the spade connectors, lug connectors, and ring connectors to 8-gauge wire.
Total Investment =$1,382 for parts and supplies above, plus $100 for my RV dealer to drill the hole in the cabover cap and run the pair of 8-gauge wires from the roof to the passenger seat footwell.
The Wire Run (from roof to controller):
Special thanks to fellow View-Navion owner Dorrin who provided me with these detailed photos below of her installation. I had my dealer install my pair of 8-gauge wires along the same route and also had them drill the hole on the rear edge of the cabover beneath the curb-side gull wing (in the same location as Dorrin's). My installation looks almost the same (but used a 1/2" strain relief nut rather than pex tubing at the roof hole).
Seems like a really brilliant solution for folks who have the J-model Skinnie Winnie and don't have a convenient fridge vent to feed wires down to the controller and battery bay. Thank you Dorrin!
Here are Dorrin's photos & notes:
Here are Dorrin's photos & notes: