Road Pickle Solar Panel Install


Steve and Sash, who document their fulltime RV lifestyle under the moniker, “Road Pickle” wanted to upgrade their existing solar system. They previously had a single, 160 watt flexible solar panel on the roof of their trailer going into a non-programmable solar charge controller. Their battery bank consisted of two 6 volt golf cart batteries made by Interstate. This system was good enough to charge their batteries up to about 80% as long as they remained away from their trailer all day long.

Problems With Their Old System

Because Steve and Sash live in their trailer full time, they use a lot of battery power. They spend their day light hours operating their marketing business, building websites, and managing social media accounts for their customers. Their single, 160 watt solar panel was not enough to keep up their demands. Moreover, they did not have an inverter to convert battery power into 110 volt power to charge their laptops and electronics. This required them to run their generator each day just to plug in their charging cables.

The non-programmable solar charge controller they had was fixed to bulk charge at 14.4 volts. Their Interstate golf carts batteries, however, wanted a bulk charge voltage of 15.2. This meant their batteries could recharge to about 80%. After about 18 months of being set up this way, their batteries became damaged and it comprised their ability to hold charge.

My Solution

I installed two 360 watt residential grade solar panels on their roof, for a total of 720 watts. I mounted them into the crossbeams with rivets and VHB tape, them sealed off the rivets with Dicor caulking. I ran the wiring into the front storage compartment.

I replaced their old solar charge controller with a 100/50 MPPT from Victron Energy that could programmed to deliver the 15.2 volts that their Interstate batteries wanted. I also got them a set of new batteries.

In addition, I installed a 400 watt inverter, which I wired directly into the electrical panel of their RV. This allowed them to plug their laptop charging cables directly into the 12 volt system, relieving them from having to run their generator so much.

To top it off, I installed Victron Energy’s app on Steve’s phone so that he could monitor the activity of their solar panels and solar charge controller.

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