Friday, August 12, 2011

Preparing for Our Solar System Install


On Monday, August 1st, we arrived in Missoula, Montana after leaving Yellowstone National Park area.  I’d been communicating with two Solar Installation companies in the Missoula area for a couple of weeks and this was our reason for going to Missoula. After consulting with both companies, we decided to go with Oasis Montana since they had more experience with RV installation.

We stayed a week at The Square Dance Center & RV Park in Lolo, MT. just 12 miles south of Missoula. A fairly nice RV Park that catered to weekly Square Dancing events. Our accommodations weren’t the best in the world as the only sites they had available were 30amp electric, no sewer, weren’t allowed to use our Porta-Potty on wheels for dumping (you had to pay them $10 for their Honey Wagon), but fortunately our holding tanks were large enough that we made the whole week without needing to dump.

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  Our campsite at Square Dance Center & RV. A small trout stream running right behind the trailer.





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  The Office & Large Hall for square dancing.





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  Huge dance floor. They were conducting square dance lessons in this photo.





Prior to us coming to Missoula I did a computer design of how I wanted to use our Solar Panels.  I wanted them to be portable and not permanently mounted to our roof. I wasn’t real fond of putting holes for mounting plates in our roof. Plus I wanted the Solar Panel Rack/Stand I designed to be able to pivot in order to track the suns course during the day and take full advantage of the solar energy making the system more efficient.  I’d done quite a bit of research online and read a lot of comments on several solar forums & groups and pretty well figured out what we needed in the way of materials in order run our equipment when boon docking (without shore power).  I decided that two 180 watt panels (total 360 watts) and a battery bank consisting of four Golf Cart Batteries along with other components would do the trick.

  • 2 - Trina 180watt solar modules
  • 1 - Magnum ME 2012 inverter/charger
  • 1 - Magnum RC25 controller
  • 1 – Tri-Star 45 MPPT solar controller
  • 1 – Tri-Star remote meter
  • 1 – Mid-Nite Mini-DC disconnect panel
  • 1 - 30' Panel output cable
  • 1 - Custom Array combiner/j-box
  • 1 – Out-put cable quick connect plug
  • 2 - DC breakers
  • 1 - Lightning Protection
  • 1 – Set 4/0 battery cables/interconnects
  • 4 - T-105 Trojan 225amp Golf Cart Batteries


My RV Solar Design


This is my computer design of the Solar Panel Rack/Stand using a aluminum square tubing frame to mount the panels to and a PVC Pipe design to hold the aluminum frame and solar panels allowing them to swivel and lock into 3 tracking positions.

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  I took a 3/4” flat aluminum and drilled 3/8” holes to make my guy rope locks with.




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I cut the flat alum. into 8 short pieces each with 3 holes to run my braided guy rope thru.





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  I pieced together my PVC frame, attached 4 eye bolts at top and 4 eye bolts at the bottom for attaching the rope.




  • 2 – 5’ upright pieces 2” PVC Pipe (2 – 2’, 2 – 3’)
  • 2 – 2” Tee’s
  • 2 – 2” 90’s
  • 2 – 2” PVC Pipe 3’ long. Top one notched 1” deep to hold aluminum frame.

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  Notched top bar, eye bolts, guy ropes staked out in 45 degree angles to hold frame in all directions.




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Rack & alum. frame in 45 degree angle for morning & afternoon sun.




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  Rack & alum. frame in flat position for sun at 11:00am to 2:00pm position.





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New 180 watt solar panels still in package next to the picnic table work bench.




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  Installation of all the components for the system in the front basement area w/batteries on left side.








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