All my components arrived from NAW&S. Where do I begin the install .

misskim92008misskim92008 Registered Users Posts: 2
Hello everybody, I am new to this forum, I am KIMBERLY. Recently bought a 2014 Dodge Promaster, 159 wheelbase, high roof. I purchased a 305 watt solar panel w/ a multiplus compact inverter charger & a 100 amp hr. lifepo 12 v Battrery by Battelborn and a bunch of other things one of the fellas put together for me over the phone. All was purchased from NorthernAz Wind & Solar. Where do I begin the install. I know the location on my van it is going. ( also have a MaxxFan I will be installing too) I would love to hear advice and tips n tricks. If anyone is in the SanDiego area that has some free time I would love some help. I will buy beer or I am a massage therapist & HHP esthetician, willing to trade bodywork for instillation. Just throwing it out there. This van is my 5 year plan to get out of debt once my 17 yo. turns 18....... I call My Van "Van'Debtta" Thanks in advance Namaste' SincerelyKimberly


  • EstragonEstragon Registered Users Posts: 4,496 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Welcome to the forum.

    Personally, I would start with proper mounting of charge controller, inverter/charger, and related boxes/breakers/wiring.  Check and double check the wiring with a multimeter.  Wait a day or two, then go back and retorque all the connections as cold flow of wiring can result in surprisingly loose connections after being quite tight initially.  Triple check polarity, especially if not using different colours for +ive and -ive.

    With the gear mounted, install the batteries (with all breakers open/off to minimize sparky connections).  Be very careful working around the battery.  A dropped wrench across the posts can make for a really bad day.  I put open end wrenches in a sturdy rubber glove, and socket handles in a bit of old garden hose to insulate while working around batteries, because I'm a total klutz.  Don't wear metal jewellery etc.

    With battery installed do any programming needed on electronics, and test shore power charging circuit.  Lastly, install solar panel (again with breakers open when connecting - throwing a blanket over the panel wouldn't hurt as well).  Retorque battery and other new connections.

    When starting up, close the battery breaker first so the electronics see the stable battery power during bootup,  then close the solar breaker.

    Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
    Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter
  • misskim92008misskim92008 Registered Users Posts: 2
    edited December 2018 #3
    THANK you soooo MUCH man,.. I will hire someone . I have little knowledge and your reply re-affirmed that... I am such a DIY girl never asking for help or even accepting when offered, I am also not a total idiot. (most of the time anyways) I know when something is over my head. This is definitely one of those times.... I appreciate your reply. i will print it and show it to whomever comes to do this install for me.. HappyHolidays.,.

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,804 admin
    If all of your wiring is one color, use different colors of insulating tape on the last 1/2 foot or so of each end of the cables.

    Just to give you an idea of what wiring up a solar power system can look like, our poster here "2ManyToyz" has some very nice DIY photos on his website (1/2 way down, follow the various links). And you can see how his system(s) evolved:

    Solar power systems, in general, supply much less power than most of us are used to in day to day life... Plug in an electric room heater, and your 100 AH @ 12 volt battery will be dead in a bit more than a 1/2 hour.

    So... You need to measure and understand your energy usage... Get a Kill-a-Watt type meter to measure AC loads:

    And a DC Current Clamp DMM type meter to understand how your system works and debug if/when something goes wrong (just some starting links): (inexpensive meter) (mid-range meter)

    To give you an idea of how much energy you can harvest from solar... First an example of hours of sun per day:

    San Diego California
    Average Solar Insolation figures

    Measured in kWh/m2/day onto a horizontal surface (i.e., flat roof of van):


    December is ~3.09 hours of sun, average, per day for December (10-20 years of average conditions) for San Diego on a flat mounted collector:
    • 305 Watt panel * 0.61 average Solar AC system with Li Batt to AC power eff * 3.09 hours of sun per day = 575 Watt*Hours per day (120 VAC)
    Say you have a 30 Watt laptop computer 5 hours per day. You charge your phone 10 Watts * 1.5 hours per day, 9 Watts of LED lighting 5 hours per night:
    • 30 Watts * 5 hours = 150 WH
    • 10 Watts * 1.5 hours = 15 WH
    • 9 Watts * 5 hours = 45 WH
    • Total WH per day = 210 WH per day
    And your system, on average, For December would produce around 575 WH per day (more in summer, less in winter in other locations).

    If you have DC powered items... Say your Van radio for 5 hours a day at 6 amps:
    • 5 hours * 6 amps * 12 volts = 360 WH per day
    • 210 WH + 360 WH = 570 WH per day
    The above numbers are guesses... But give you an idea of how much power you can harvest/use per day. The Kill-a-Watt meter (and the DC Current Clamp, or other DC AH/WH meter) can give you the average usage to compare against what your system can produce.

    Note that weather is highly variable... For example if you need a laptop computer for work, then on cloudy days you will have to forgot the Van stereo (or use your cell phone+headphones) instead. You don't want to plan on using 100% of your predicted energy every day.

    To give you an idea of what your battery can do... Assume you run between 20% and 90% state of charge or 70% of usable capacity:
    • 100 AH * 12 volts * 0.70 capacity usage = 840 Watts of "stored" energy at 12 volts
    • 100 AH * 0.70 = 70 AH of stored energy (at 12 volts)
    If you run the AC inverter, then the AC useful energy would be:
    • 840 WH battery * 0.85 AC inverter eff = 714 WH @ 120 VAC of "useful" stored energy
    What AC inverter did you pick? Hopefully a smaller unit. While your battery can supply lots of power for a short period of time, the average usage is much less (AC inverters take ~6 to 20+ Watts just turned on--Larger inverters usually take more power).

    Your average usage (say 5 hours per night) from the battery would be:
    • 840 WH of battery storage * 1/5 hours of usage for one night = 168 Watt average AC load supported
    If you want two days of storage (stormy weather==Nearly zero energy harvest from solar):
    • 840 WH battery * 1/5 hours per night * 1/2 nights of usage = 84 Watts average AC load (5 hours per night, 2 nights)
    Please come back and ask questions. We are here to help. There is a lot of background information that new solar power users don't have and can make mistakes (usually end up "murdering" their first battery or two).

    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 6,226 ✭✭✭✭✭
    In San Diego you can try Downwind Marine. They often know people who do the work you may need.
    619) 225-9411
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Nevada mountain area
    E-mail [email protected]

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