Friday, November 3, 2017

Vista Solar, Part 3

With the controller and the portable panel components in place, it was time to install the roof-mounted panel. We'd already determined that our feed cable would pass down the wall the creates the inboard side of the bathroom and serves as a wire chase for all the annunciators, slide controls, etc. The vent pipe is in the forward end of that wall.

A 3/4 inch Forster bit made quick work of drilling through the fiberglass roof without getting crazy with the 3 inches of foam below the roof.

A matching hole was drilled in the center of a 4x4 plastic junction box and then that box was attached with the fiberglass roof with 3M Very High Bond tape, followed by a bead of 3M5200 marine adhesive sealant around the outer edge.

The mounts that we got from AM Solar came with 3M VHB tape pre-installed on the feet. I marked where they were going to go and wiped down the fiberglass roof with alcohol to insure a clean surface before sticking one pair and then the other to the roof. Like contact cement, you only get one chance! A bead of 3M5200 sealant around the edges of the feet completed the installation.

With the feet in place, the cable was run through conduit from the junction box to the panel and then connected to the panel with the same style waterproof heat-shrink connectors that I used on the portable panel. Both panels have an in-line fuse installed at the panel end of the wiring.

I used flex conduit to provide UV protection to the solar cabling. The conduit is attached to the fiberglass roof with 3M5200.

There's lots of real estate left if additional panels are desired.

I left extra cable in the junction box. If extra panels are added, the junction box can serve as a combiner box.

Inside the bathroom at the ceiling is a triangular box. I'd hoped I wouldn't have to open it, but I couldn't get the solar wiring to feed more than 18 inches down the wall so I popped the four staples that held the wall covering in place to make it easier to feed the wires.

The vent pipe that I pointed out on the roof is at the right side of the wall opening. The solar cables go through a pre-existing hole in the floor, across the top of the grey tank*,

over to the corner of the sink cabinet,
and then down through a hole I drilled in the tunnel cover just ahead of the grey tank,

leaving a short run to the terminal blocks.

* The grey tank has inlets from the shower, the bathroom sink, and the kitchen sink. When we went to pull the wires from the electrical chase to the kitchen cabinet, we discovered the top of the grey tank was wet. Turns out one drain had a hose clamp, one had a hose clamp that had never been tightened, and the kitchen sink one didn't have a hose clamp AND WASN'T EVEN ALIGNED with the tank port. Quality Assurance anyone???

With both panels wired, but being too lazy to go back up on the roof and tilt the roof panel, it was time to install the Bluetooth adapter to the controller and see what we had for results.

This was about 9 a.m. with neither panel oriented optimally. Can't complain! I wasn't sure that the Bluetooth dongle was going to be worthwhile, but once I've played with it a bit, I'm convinced it's required equipment.

The solar install has been fun. Time to do some more mods one of these days soon.


  1. If I am reading this correctly, the kitchen sink drain wasn't even connected to the grey tank? If that is the case I have two thoughts: 1) Thank goodness you just happened to stumble across it; and 2) Quality assurance indeed! I would have thought Winnebago to be better than such a glaring faux-pas.

    1. You read it correctly. The drain pipe was sitting on the coupling but offset by about 40-50% of the diameter.