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Where to put solar panel

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I won a drawing for a Renogy 100 watt solar kit. It just arrived in the mail and I'd like to mount it. Not sure where to position it and how to run the cables. My house battery box is under the counter next to the stove (approximately under the blue fan in the first picture). I'm thinking I could a.) run the cable through the roof and down the side of the door frame, then drill a hole into the side of the big cabinet under the countertop to feed it into the back of the battery box. Or b.) Run the cable through the roof and through the ceiling cabinet above the counter, then another hole through the countertop and down to the battery box. The mounting screws are 1 1/2". I won't be able to mount the brackets without puncturing the ceiling wood all the way through. Trying to determine the best place to mount it and hide those screws from view. The solar panel is  22" X 47". Any advice would be much appreciated. Here are some pics to show you what I'm working with.

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Instead of mounting our 100w solar panel, we ran about thirty feet of cable out the electrical land-line door on the side of the Dolphin. When we're on the road, we carry the panel mounted on the wall of our bathroom. It just fits nicely there. The cable coils up and hangs on the back bumper. Once we reach our destination, we plug the panel in and then can move it around and position it for the best possible sun exposure. Since the goal is usually to park our rig in the shade, this gives us much better gain from the panel. I actually carry another 25 feet of extension cable, which we have used to position the panel more than fifty feet from our rig on occasion. Access to direct sunlight makes all the difference with a solar panel

We also invested in a dual controller for the panel. So we ran a second set of cables from the controller to the vehicle battery. That way we can use the panel to trickle charge both the coach and cab battery during the winter months. It works great. We don't have to remove the batteries in winter and they maintain their charge nicely. The controller allows us to direct all the juice to the solar panel when we are camping.

 

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Shorter screws are cheap, get some.;)  Find your cross trusses/rafters and screw into them. At least on the forward mounts. Research "Well Nuts" , I used them on some solar mounts..

Common  access points for solar cabling, refer vent, if a roof cap vent is used, along side of the plumbing vent stack, under the A/C and along the 110v power conduit that powers it.

Drilling more holes in the roof is a last resort. 

Edited by WME

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I don't see any controller? Is it in the kit?  A 100 watt panel will need one.  I put my panel on the roof with stainless steel screws. I would NOT use the steel screws they gave you in the kit (unless they ARE SS).   I ran the power-wires into an upper cabinet and mounted the controller there.  The rest was easy. Just had to fish some wires to the "house" battery.  A 100 amp panel will barely make 5 amps in best sunlight.  So 16 gauge wire is fine for a run 10 feet or less.  14 gauge for 15 feet, etc.

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3 hours ago, jdemaris said:

I don't see any controller? Is it in the kit?  A 100 watt panel will need one.  I put my panel on the roof with stainless steel screws. I would NOT use the steel screws they gave you in the kit (unless they ARE SS).   I ran the power-wires into an upper cabinet and mounted the controller there.  The rest was easy. Just had to fish some wires to the "house" battery.  A 100 amp panel will barely make 5 amps in best sunlight.  So 16 gauge wire is fine for a run 10 feet or less.  14 gauge for 15 feet, etc.

 

Yes, controller came with the kit. Here's a pic of it and the screws. Screws have an iridescent/rainbow shine to them. Not sure what they're made of. Online manual doesn't say. Were you able to screw solar panel brackets into he roof without the screws being visible inside the rv? What size screws? Looks like you drilled a hole through the side of the rv where you upper cabinets are located.  I like that idea. I already have a hole for the tv's coaxial cable which I never use. Could run it through the there. 

 

16 hours ago, WME said:

Shorter screws are cheap, get some.;)  Find your cross trusses/rafters and screw into them. At least on the forward mounts. Research "Well Nuts" , I used them on some solar mounts..

Common  access points for solar cabling, refer vent, if a roof cap vent is used, along side of the plumbing vent stack, under the A/C and along the 110v power conduit that powers it.

Drilling more holes in the roof is a last resort. 

how do I find the rafters? with a stud finder?

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Those are self-tapping screws made to go into thick metal and not made of stainless-steel. Not made for thin sheet metal and not made to grip wood.

You are not going to find any rafters in the ceiling that are just where you need them.  This is not a frame-built house where rafters and studs are spaced evenly on 16" or 24" centers.   You've got supports going across sideways.  Might be aluminum or steel square tubing and might be wood.  All depends where you happen to catch one.  In my Minicruiser - I can easily see where they are just by looking up at the ceiling.  

How you attach depends on how your roof is constructed.  If there is a sound layer of 3/8" plywood on the outside, under the aluminum skin - some stainless-steel screws MADE for wood will work fine.  That way you don't have to go through to the inside.  If the plywood is too thin or semi-rotted and wood-screws can't get a good bit - then yeah - going though to the inside is a one option. I've done that with many things.  If you use Nylock nuts on the inside - you can just tighten enough to make snug without causing depressions in the ceiling.  Trim off the excess of the threaded bolt and it's hardly noticeable (at least to me).  IF you can locate a sideways support -  and its location is OK for where you want your solar panel - then you can get a good hold screwing into that.  The chances of finding two sideways supports - spaced just as you'd like for your solar-mount are pretty slim. 

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As I recall - I think on my Minicruiser - the plywood was sound enough to just use SS screws that were only 3/4" long and did not go all the way through.

Nice thing about places like Home Depot is you can buy just what you need in SS and no shipping costs. When I buy on-line I often have to buy boxes of 100 or more to make it worth the shipping cost.

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The screws you have are Cadmium (Cad) plated, it helps some to prevent corrosion. Just go to your local big box store and show one to the bolt person and get a shorter one with a self drilling tip out of stainless steel.   Good, better, best would be- zinc plated, Cad plated, Stainless steel

Look at you ceiling and see if you can find nails or screws in the ceiling. No luck then a stud finder might work, just be aware that there is stuff in the ceiling that may upset the finder. There SHOULD be a crossbeam at the front and rear of the AC, see if you can find them.

The cable feed might work

Just cover all screws, bracket, holes with LOTS of the lap sealant.

 

 

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On March 5, 2016 at 0:55 PM, jdemaris said:

Those are self-tapping screws made to go into thick metal and not made of stainless-steel. Not made for thin sheet metal and not made to grip wood.

You are not going to find any rafters in the ceiling that are just where you need them.  This is not a frame-built house where rafters and studs are spaced evenly on 16" or 24" centers.   You've got supports going across sideways.  Might be aluminum or steel square tubing and might be wood.  All depends where you happen to catch one.  In my Minicruiser - I can easily see where they are just by looking up at the ceiling.  

How you attach depends on how your roof is constructed.  If there is a sound layer of 3/8" plywood on the outside, under the aluminum skin - some stainless-steel screws MADE for wood will work fine.  That way you don't have to go through to the inside.  If the plywood is too thin or semi-rotted and wood-screws can't get a good bit - then yeah - going though to the inside is a one option. I've done that with many things.  If you use Nylock nuts on the inside - you can just tighten enough to make snug without causing depressions in the ceiling.  Trim off the excess of the threaded bolt and it's hardly noticeable (at least to me).  IF you can locate a sideways support -  and its location is OK for where you want your solar panel - then you can get a good hold screwing into that.  The chances of finding two sideways supports - spaced just as you'd like for your solar-mount are pretty slim. 

My plan is to just connect the solar to my deep cycle battery. I need a new deep cycle battery as mine is shot. Is there a special battery I should buy considering I'll now be using the solar panel as well?

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I ran the wires from the panel down the fridge vent, along the side of the fridge then drilled two holes for the wires to go down into the cabinet below the fridge. From there I had easy access to run the wires through the lower cabinetry to the battery box. It's working great!

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