Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Replacing the Factory Vent Fan with a MaxxAir MaxxFan

If you read our post about our first trip you'll remember the trailer was deathly hot during the night and better ventilation would have been MUCH appreciated.  On our subsequent trips, the temperature was better (Lord bless the inventor of air conditioning) but with our big trip out West coming up we wanted maximum venting power for any nights we might spend guests of Campground de Walmart.  

The standard stock vent that came with the trailer was 14" x 14" wide but the fan itself was only about 6 inches wide and had one speed... SLOW.  Also, the switch to control the fan and the manual crank to open the vent were located up on the unit itself (over 8 feet in the air) so Lauren needed a step stool to reach them. Thankfully with our MaxxAir II vent cover (read about that here) we could leave the vent open all the time but that still left the need to reach the on/off switch way up on the ceiling.

So we bought ourselves the MaxxAir MaxxFan to help really move some air!  The new fan works so well that that if the main entrance door is slightly ajar it will pull the door completely shut if the fan is on 100% velocity!  That's amazing! 



The MaxxFan is the same 14"x 14" size but the fan blades span the whole opening.  It's also easily controlled via remote control (or by the surface mounted control panel.)  I mounted the remote control holder next to the bathroom door so it's within easy reach.   It has variable speed and a rain sensor to open and close the vent should rain start out of nowhere.

My big mistake (there's always one!) was not to research this enough beforehand when I spent the money on the original MaxxAir cover from the previously mentioned blog post.

It does not fit with this new fan, nor would it allow enough airflow if I somehow squished it down on top.

So, while the original cover did serve us well on the trips we have already taken and allowed us to keep the trailer ventilated while it sat in our backyard, I now had to spend money and buy a new vent cover, the MaxxAir Fan Mate with EZ Clip Hardware.  I suppose if we had the money to purchase the MaxxFan first I would have known better.  Oh well, I'll chalk it up to a learning curve.



My other mistake (more for you folks than myself) was that halfway through this installation I got into the groove and forgot to keep taking photos... Sorry!  I'll do my best to describe the steps.

Let's Do It!

You'll need some tools.  I used my drill gun with Phillips Head screw drill bit, a dull edged flat blade to scrape off the old sealant, Dicor Lap Sealant, and some Eternabond tape (I just love this stuff!).  I needed a small wrench to remove the nuts on the old vent cover, but you might not need that.  That's really about it!

Step One:  I removed the old vent cover.  One side of the cover just used large Cotter pins to hold it in place so they slid out easily.  I then removed the old brackets using the drill and wrench.

Our original MaxxAir II vent cover.

STEP TWO:  I carefully removed the original sealant around the vent fan to expose the screws holding it to the roof.  There is about 6 or 7 screws per side that need to be removed.  Be sure to be careful not to puncture your roof during this step!  

Carefully scraping sealant away.  
Notice how small the actual fan is compared to the size of the vent.

The screws have been removed.

STEP THREE:  After disconnecting the electricity to the entire trailer, I disconnected the wire clip that connected the trailer's 12 volt DC power to the fan.  Back up on the roof, I used the same flat edge to carefully pry up the fan away from the roof.

Before the new fan was installed I finished removing all traces of the old sealant that might prevent a tight seal later.

STEP FOUR:  I used this opportunity to tighten the rubber roof lining as I had loosened it slightly by pulling the old vent off the roof.  I removed the original staples that held the roof lining to the inside of the vent opening, pulled it tight, and then used my staple gun to keep them securely in place.  I also cleaned the roof completely of any old sealant before seating the new fan.  


Looking down into our bathroom.  You can see the positive wires coming in off the right.  The blue clip is a factory installed connection to another short positive line that dead ends and is capped off in the event the customer wants to install a better vent fan they can easily tie into the trailer's electrical system.  I guess they realize the factory fan sucks but that's a post for another day.

STEP FIVE:  I seated the new fan properly and went into the trailer to connect the electrical hookups.  The MaxxFan comes with two insulated connectors that easily screw on to the provided negative and positive lines.  As I mentioned above, Jayco provides easy connections should you want to install a new vent fan.  Black to black and white to white and I was finished in a quick minute.  Some electrical tape to make sure the insulated connectors were protected and I tucked the wires back into their little insulation filled cubby on the side of the vent opening.  

STEP SIX:  Back on the roof, I used the provided screws to fasten the fan to the roof.  The MaxxFan is plastic and rather than include pre-drilled holes that might weaken over time, it has dimples along the edge to show you wear to screw.  That way, screwing through these dimples tightens the grip on the fan as the screw goes through the outer flange.  

STEP SEVEN:  WATER PROTECTION!  I used ample amounts of Dicor Self Leveling Lap Sealant around the edge and over any screw heads to prevent water intrusion.

The fan is installed and the trim is replaced around the inside of the fan.  Notice the size difference in the fan blades compared to our old one!

STEP EIGHT:  Back inside, I installed the trim piece around the unit and attached the holder clip for the remote control next to the door for easy use.

The remote installed above the light switch.

The finished product on the roof.

The two clips on each side made installing the new vent cover a breeze.  No screwing or bolting clips into place required; just 4 quick connect Cotter pins hold the MaxxAir FanMate cover in place.

STEP NINE:  I used my EternaBond Roof Repair Tape to create an additional seal around the new fan.  The next day once the Dicor had dried, I wrapped the area in the very sticky tape to create a guaranteed waterproof seal.  Plus, I think it looks much better having the nice straight lines of the tape.

THE FINISHED PRODUCT!



It also has reverse direction capability so it can pull air in as well as expel air out of the trailer.  Variable speeds, rain sensor, remote control, and volume of air movement all make this "Trailer Upgrade" very worthwhile.  

All in all, it was a fairly simple task to complete.  MaxxAir provides detailed instructions and the tools required most people have laying around the garage.  While this upgrade was fairly expensive (about $150 for the fan) and the new cover (about $65), we feel it will be a great help in allowing us to use our trailer off grid without the need to run a noisy generator for air conditioning on those warmer days.

Happy Trail(er)s!  

Monday, August 8, 2016

Give Your RV a Bath! How I Wash and Wax Our Travel Trailer!

It was such a beautiful day when I woke up this morning.  It was slightly cooler than it has been so far this August in New York and with Lauren out of town on business, I decided today would be a great day to give our Jayco a bath!  After I was done admiring my handy work, I thought it'd be a good idea to write up a blog post about how I typically wash our Travel Trailer in case anyone is looking for any guidance or new ideas!  

SOME INFO

It's typically a good idea to wash and wax your RV every 6 months or so.  Most people usually do so at the start and the end of each season with a few quick washes in between during each camping season.  A good waxing not only protects your trailer or motor home (or car!) but it also helps make the cleanup easier and faster for those quick mid-season washes.  

The easy way to wash your RV is to hire someone to do it for you.  I've heard anywhere from $150-400 for a wash.  It's recommended for someone who can't easily climb ladders, doesn't feel comfortable exerting several hours of effort and elbow grease, or are just the type of person who prefers to go to a drive through car wash!  I have to admit, I'm guilty of running down to the car wash a lot more often lately as life is just busy sometimes!

It's a little hard to tell from this photo, but, it shines real nice once washed!  Unfortunately, the skies clouded up right after I finished!

Before starting out on your own, know that it requires the ability to climb on ladders and spend some time on the roof of your trailer.  Being on the roof is dangerous enough but when water and soap is involved, the roof is extra slippery!  Use extra caution, stay away from the edge, and wear good soled shoes that have a bit of grip (boat shoes or good sneakers) will help you avoid a fall from heights of 10 feet or higher that could be disastrous!  BE CAREFUL!


However, if you are a DIY'er like myself, then here's a quick guide on what products I use and how I wash our Travel Trailer!

UP ON THE ROOF!

Just like washing your car, start from the top down!  Why wash the bottom just to have the dirty water from the roof run down and ruin your hard work?

On the roof, the first thing is to check the seals and sealant for ANY points of water intrusion.  I added a bit of extra Dicor Lap Sealant in a few spots that looked suspect to me where the factory might have been a little more light handed than I would have been.

After giving it time to dry, I used a light solution of Dawn dish soap and some water along with a long handled soft bristled brush.  The nice thing about the brush I used (and I'll include the link to Amazon below) is that you can attach a garden hose to it and spray water from the bristles making the mixture extra soapy.  This makes washing, scrubbing, and rinsing even easier!


I work in small sections side-to-side starting at the front and make my way towards the back and then down the ladder.  Again... BE CAREFUL UP ON YOUR ROOF!


ON TO THE SIDE WALLS!

Using the same extendable soft brush, I get a Home Depot Homer Bucket (those big orange 5 gallon buckets) all sudsy from Turtle Wax's "Quick and Easy Zip Wash" and water.  Using the hose attached to the brush, I wash down the trailer top to bottom, turn the water off at the brush's handle, and then dip into the soapy water.


BE CAREFUL OF ANY SEAMS, JOINTS, STORAGE BAY DOORS, LIGHTS, OR ELECTRIC OUTLETS.  Try not to spray water directly at or into these items, even though this is typically where dirt accumulates thanks to the tackiness of the sealant or caulk used around such items.  If yours are really bad, use a hand held soft bristled brush and give them a good scrubbing but be careful not to damage the seal itself.

After scrubbing down the side wall with soapy water, I turn on the water and rinse off the remaining suds.  This also cleans the brush's bristles off for the next wall as the water shoots through them.  I work one side wall at a time (street side, back, curb side, front).  It's slightly more difficult due to my ribbed siding as opposed to flat fiberglass walls of some other trailers... but I like the look of the ribbed siding better so I'll deal!

GET THAT ELBOW GREASE READY!

It's time to wax your RV!  I used Turtle Wax's Quick and Easy (Notice a trend?!) Wax and Dry spray wax.  Spray on liberally and with minimal amount of elbow grease, use a micro-fiber towel and wipe dry.  Easy enough, huh?  There are purists out there who will demand the use of carnuba type wax and lots of elbow grease... but I think this spray on-wipe off shines up just as nice, so why not?



As I said earlier, I've decided to only wax the rig twice a year.  If you choose to go with this method, you can cut out this entire time consuming step on your "mid season washes."  The wax adds an extra layer of protection against road grime, dust, and other dirt so a few quick rinses are in order to keep your rig shining like new!

THE WINDOWS

After the rig is all clean, I go around to all of the windows with a dry micro fiber cloth and a bottle of Stoner's Invisible Glass with Rain Repellent.  Just spray on and wipe clean.  It dries without streaks and looks great!  Window cleaning couldn't be any easier.  I've never had a problem with this product in my car or otherwise,  With other products like RainEx, I often have a film on the window that easily fogs up.  I've never had that with Stoner's.


THE WHEELS

While cleaning the side walls, I use a harder bristle brush to clean the wheel hubs to get any wheel or brake gunk that accumulates from towing.  Then I spray them clean using the soft bristle flow through brush and soapy water.  Then rinse clean.  

After I clean the windows I go back and use Turtle Wax "Performance Plus Tire Foam and Shine" to give the tires a slick, wet, black look that I think looks quite sharp.

THAT'S IT!

You'll notice I use the Turtle Wax brand a lot.  I do NOT get paid or any free swag from them (although if anyone from Turtle Wax is reading this... just kidding.  Maybe!)  But I've used their products on my cars for years and have never had any issues or been disappointing with the shine or ease.  You've probably also noticed I use the "quick and easy" line from Turtle Wax because it just makes my life easier.

That said, it still takes me about 4 hours to wash and wax the entire rig from roof to tires.  It's quite a bit of work and I'm in need of a good cold drink afterwards.  And I only have a 23 foot long trailer!  If you have a longer rig, it could be quite longer!  I've heard some folks break up the tasks to one step a day (roof one day, walls the next, wax the third, etc) but I prefer to take my medicine all at once just to get it out of the way.  To each his own!

When you're done, enjoy the fruits of your labor and look at your baby shine!  She'll not only look great but will be protected from collecting dirt and debris and clean off quicker and easier next time!

Happy Trail(er)s!  

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Travel Trailer Solar Panel Install Detailed Guide and Tips



OUR SOLAR STORY

From the moment Lauren and I decided to buy a travel trailer, we knew that we'd want to add solar panels.  From the various amounts of YouTube videos that we subscribe to and the large amount of reading and studying up on RVing, we knew that solar panels were just going to be a necessity for us.  If you read my last post about our first trip out in the trailer, you'll know that we are TRAVELERS and not so much campers sitting in the middle of the woods "camping."  

We plan to use our trailer as a rolling hotel room on wheels that keeps our personal possessions with us as we explore America.  We're not in a position to quit our jobs and travel full time (although it's nice to dream!) so to use our RV the way we want to requires that we flip the script sometimes and make it more about the DESTINATION rather than the JOURNEY.  

Couple all that with living in the North Eastern USA hundreds or thousands of miles from areas we wish to spend a lot of time in, getting there is often the name of the game.  To do so requires our ability to stop for a quick night in a parking lot (Wal-Mart) or a highway rest area before getting on our way.

This is where the solar panels come in.  They'd allow us to run the lights, charge our electronics, and even run the TV for a few hours in the evening in a place where electric hook ups aren't available and saves us from running the noisy generator for hours on end.  So, in essence, it's a necessity for what we want to use our Jayco Trailer for. 

Unfortunately, it's also a very expensive necessity.

After purchasing the trailer we kept our eyes out and one day I noticed a large price drop on a Renogy 200 Watt Solar Panel Kit with MTTP Charge Controller on Amazon.  We immediately pounced on the price drop and a few days later we were selfishly pleased with ourselves to see the price go back up quite a bit.  At the same time I purchased a Micro Solar brand INV-1000PS Pure Sine Wave Inverter that puts out 1000 watts (2000 peak watts) of AC power.  The kit sat in our guest bedroom for quite a few months and finally I had the time to install it (and we're glad to have the space back!)


As I mentioned, I researched solar panel installs and had a difficult time finding a detailed explanation on the install process itself.  There are a few good videos on YouTube if you can find them, but they are mostly on Class A RV's or large 5th Wheel trailers done by professionals or other RV experts that are very well done but not an easy comparison to our Jayco Travel Trailer.  

Hopefully this post will be helpful or an inspiration to someone else looking for a way to install their solar panels on a Travel Trailer.

SOLAR BASICS 

Let's cover some VERY basic Solar Panel and Electric info here.  Your trailer batteries store DC electricity.  Anything that you plug into an outlet inside the trailer (phone charger, laptop, TV, microwave, refrigerator, etc) requires AC power.  Your trailer receives AC power when you plug it into the power provided by the campground, RV park, or from your generator.  Easy enough?

Your trailer comes from the factory pre-installed with a CONVERTER.  This converts the AC power from the campground or generator to DC so your trailer's battery (or batteries) can store it to run a few items on your trailer without needing electric hookups such as your electric hitch jack, a few lights, the water pump, etc.  

An INVERTER takes DC power from your batteries and inverts it to AC power so that you can use your electronics.  I purchased a Pure Sine Wave inverter to provide a clean, stable, output that won't ruin my electronics while using our solar set-up.  

I'll let you do your own research (I'll post some links below) on why pure sine wave inverters are best for sensitive electronics.  You'll also want to know the mathematical reason you most likely won't be able to run your Air Conditioning or Microwave off a basic solar set up similar to this.  

Also, you'll need to do some research on how much electricity each item uses, how much you personally plan to use, and how much you can expect to get out of your solar set up.  I did TONS of research on this before hand and I recommend you put similar effort in before spending money on an expensive setup you may not need or may not be enough for what you want and are unhappy with your results.  

It's easy once you understand what you need for YOU.  Nothing is cookie cutter in the world of RV'ing, but hopefully this guide helps you understand a bit better.  Also, please know that by doing this you may void your warranty.  Working with electricity could be dangerous, so please be careful!

SOME CAVEATS ABOUT MY INSTALLATION

Wiring the Inverter There are several options and ways to go about actually getting the AC power to the entire trailer from the inverter, ranging from very basic to very difficult. 

For the extremely basic setup, you can literally run a household extension cord from the inverter into the trailer and plug various items into said extension cord.  To me, this isn't feasible as I want to run all of my outlets and my TV without having extension cords running all over an already small space.  

For the advanced expert installation, you can back feed your trailer's electric panel.  I had no idea how to go about doing this and it was quite daunting to think of doing so.  My Father-in-Law, who is EXTREMELY skilled when it comes to electrical work around the house, didn't even want to attempt it.  The difficulty in running the wire from where the inverter sits to the electric panel was another major deterrent in going this route.  I know this is the most professional looking and best overall set up, but we decided to go with option three.

Option Three was to run a cable from the inverter to a 30 amp receptacle that we installed on the outside of the trailer.  Then, we plug the trailer power cord into the 30 amp receptacle, and by basically plugging the trailer into itself, we have now powered the trailer's electrical panel.  A little hack and Rube Goldberg-esque, but it works well and was easy enough to install.  

The only trick is you have to remember to TURN OFF the circuit breaker for the CONVERTER when using the INVERTER.  Otherwise you'd be using the batteries to charge the batteries (through the inverter) and most likely would end up in draining them completely.  

What Can We Power?  -  Without going into specifics of wattage, amps, and volts... we plan to use the solar panels and the inverter to power all of our electric outlets inside the trailer just like we were in our house.  Does this mean we can use a hair dryer, charge a laptop, and watch TV all at once?  Nope, but we could do one at a time depending on battery charge.  

What we WON'T be able to power is our refrigerator, microwave, or our air conditioner because they are high draw items.  If we need to, we can run the generator for a bit to cool off the trailer or run the microwave.  

We plan to use propane for the refrigerator and for any other cooking that we can get by without using the microwave.

Batteries, Batteries, Batteries - Again, I'm not going to go into the nitty gritty of battery amp-hours, but, most people go with either two or four 6 VOLT golf cart batteries because of the large amount of amps per hour they create.  Using 6V batteries wired in SERIES gives you double the voltage and same capacity.  If you have four 6V batteries you can wire them in series AND parallel to double the voltage (to meet the trailers 12V needs) and double the output (amp/hour). 

Sadly, those golf cart batteries are EXPENSIVE!  With plans for expensive solar panels, other upgrades, and the expense of the new trailer, the 6 Volt batteries had to be put on hold for awhile, even though they would provide much better and longer output then mine do.

Within days of getting the trailer, I went to Coscto and bought myself another 12 volt RV battery identical to the one that the dealer provided.  I wired these two 12V batteries in PARALLEL so I'd receive the same voltage but double the output. 


WHAT WE PURCHASED FOR OUR SET UP  

  • 200 Watt (100 Watt each) Renogy Solar Panel Kit with MPPT "Tracer" Charge Controller
  • Renogy "Tracer" Remote Charge Display
  • Micro-Solar 1000 (2000 Peak) Watt Pure Sine Wave Inverter
  • 30 Amp ANL style fuse
  • 40 Amp and 80 Amp Circuit Breakers
I also went to an electric supply store and purchased heavy rubber wrapped 12 gauge 3-wire and a heavy duty 15 amp plug to wire the 30 amp receptacle.  The Solar Kit came with 8 gauge wire to run from the charge controller to the batteries, so the only other wire we needed was to run from the battery to the inverter, so we purchased several feet of (red and black) 6 gauge wire.


It also greatly helped to already have an array of tools, and most importantly, a helpful Father-in-Law that knows electrical work well and can crimp and solder ring terminals.

I had also purchased "Rural Power Systems" angle brackets for the panels so that we could get a better angle for the sun, but upon attempting to install them, we got so frustrated with them that we opted to use the Z brackets provided by Renogy and just live with flat panels.  The Rural Power System instructions were so poorly written that it took several tries to get the brackets put together properly.  Once installed the bracket arms scraped against the roof during extension, and if you know anything about travel trailers with a rubber roof, the last thing you want is a sharp metal object scraping against your roof repeatedly!

FINALLY... THE INSTALL!

One of the hardest tasks was figuring out how I was going to run the cables from the roof to the batteries.  Lauren didn't want any cables visible from inside the trailer (and I didn't really either) so rather then run the cables straight through the wardrobe down the wall and into the top of the night stand, I decided to run them behind the wall between the 2x2 studs.

Our Street Side Front Wardrobe Closet

I began the install by finding studs built into the wardrobe closet on the left side of the bed.  Using a basic stud finder, I located the studs and drilled a 3/4" hole at the top of the wardrobe closet.  Using a wire snake and a piece of bright yellow (for easy visibility) nylon rope, I snaked the rope down towards the pass through storage.


After snaking the line, I tied it off so it didn't accidentally get pulled through.  

In the pass through under the bed, I pulled away the thin wall panel (it was just stapled onto the frame) to locate the bright yellow rope.  Drilling another 3/4" hole I pulled the rope through and now had a perfect path for our solar panel cables.


Now... for the scariest part of the whole thing:  I had to drill a hole up through my roof.  Most people run the lines through a vent or some other pre-cut hole, but, all of those are in the back of my trailer and I'd need well over twice the length in cables to run back towards the batteries and have a much harder time running the wires through the trailer.  So, after a bit of measuring for the right spot, I took the same 3/4 drill bit and drilled up through my roof.

Luckily, when I went up on the roof to look, the drill bit was right where the factory had left a large amount of Dicor Lap Sealant where it joined the rubber roof to the sheet metal frame.

You can see the drill bit hanging through the ceiling...

... and poking through the roof.


Once that task was completed, I used the two pieces of the cardboard box the panels came in to plan out the location of the panels and made sure the wires would reach.  I also made sure to include enough room to be able to walk around the panels safely should I need to get up on the roof.


Next up, I began assembling the aforementioned angle brackets.  My first mistake of the day occurred here.  It was 95 degrees in the middle of July and I'm up on the roof of the Jayco (rather then in our air conditioned home just feet away) assembling these complicated swivel brackets that came with very poorly worded and illustrated instructions.  A little sunburn and a lesson learned!

Once they were assembled I realized I had assembled them incorrectly and had to take them apart to reassemble them. When we finally got them together right and found out the arms scraped against the roof, we scrapped the whole plan and began installation on the standard Z brackets that came with the Renogy Solar Panels.  

Once the brackets were attached to the solar panels, we placed a small square of Eterna-Bond tape directly to the roof and then a generous helping of Dicor Self Leveling Lap Sealant before even drilling.  We placed the bracket in place and using the screws provided with the Solar Kit, drilled the panels in place.

I later went back and applied a ton more lap sealant to cover the whole screw head and area around where any holes are in the roof.

Once the panels were fully installed, we identified the positive and negative wires with a piece of white tape and fed them through the roof.  We purposefully left the panels unconnected on the roof as they were already generating power in the hot July sun and didn't want to deal with any live wires.  Once through the roof we used electrical tape and attached them to the bright yellow rope I had previously run through the wall into the pass through storage.  Happy to get off the hot roof, we headed down into the shade of the trailer and after giving the rope a simple tug, we easily snaked the wires from the panel down into the storage area.

The positive and negative wires that come off one panel.

I had purchased a piece of 3/4" sanded plywood at Home Depot and cut it into a 24" x 24" piece.  Using a pencil (that you'll see in photos below) I diagrammed out onto the board the placement of the charge controller, the inverter, and the breakers.  Using a spade drill, we made a hole in the floor of the trailer that went clear through the "winter insulation" that came with the trailer to the outside.  The hole had to be big enough to feed the large wire to the inverter, plus two sets of 6 gauge wire.  This was another faint of heart moment as I put yet another large hole into my Jayco...

This is the plywood with electronics after installation.  You can see my original pencil sketches underneath.

We next mounted and grounded a 30 amp receptacle in a metal gang box mounted to the frame of the trailer.  We then fed the wires needed to reach the battery through a flexible waterproof conduit towards the battery.  Next we used large black zip ties to hold it in place around the A-Frame of the trailer and then used a little electrician's putty at the ends to ensure it remained waterproof.


The 30 Amp Receptacle.  


We later added a cover to the gang box to keep it waterproof and protected from anything that gets kicked up from the road while towing.

We then finished wiring up the system by connecting the solar charger to the batteries and the positive lines to the two circuit breakers.

We added a 30 amp ANL style fuse in line coming off the solar panels to protect the charge controller in case the panels put out an abnormal amount of power.

We added a 40 amp circuit breaker coming off the solar charge controller headed for the batteries as added protection in case it exceeds the 30 amps of the trailer system, which it should regulate itself anyway, but just in case.

Finally we added an 80 amp circuit breaker in line with the return from the batteries to the inverter.  We went with 80 amps based on our 1000 watt inverter.

Since Volts X Amps = Watts, 1000 divided by 12 (volt) gives us 80 amps.  That was our figuring, anyway.

At the bottom of this post, I've included my original diagram I created in Microsoft Paint to help my father in law understand the installation.  Hopefully it's of some help to you!

Our final step was to connect the panels to the charge controller by connecting the cables on the roof.

Clicking the Renogy supplied quick connectors together, we were in business!  

The panels were powering the charge controller, the charge controller was charging the batteries, the batteries were powering the inverter, and the inverter was powering the receptacle which powered the trailer's entire AC power system!

The last step of the day was to use the Eterna-Bond tape to adhere the wires to the roof to prevent them from moving as well as adding a bit of protection from the sun and rain.  I then added maybe a bit-too-much lap sealant to all of the holes I drilled in the roof.  As far as I'm concerned, in this instance you can never protect your roof against water penetration enough.  I also used basic household spray foam insulation that you can purchase at any hardware store to close up the holes in the roof and pass through storage where the wires had been fed through.

Taping up (and plenty of Dicor) the Solar Panel cables to the roof.

That was enough for one day after working nearly 9 hours in the hot summer sun!

The next day I went out to the trailer and drilled two small holes in the back of the night stand above the plywood board that holds our solar charge controller and inverter.  I fed the wires for the Renogy "Tracer" remote display for the solar panel system and the remote on/off switch for the inverter.

Inside the trailer, a quick measurement and a few screws later, I had mounted the remote display and control switch!  The nice thing about the Renogy "Tracer" display was that it was just a simple phone-type jack that plugged into the Charge Controller rather than running all sorts of wires to the battery and to the solar panels that some other remote displays require.  It was a simple plug-and-play!




A closer look at the remote display for the Charge Controller.

A closer look at the remote on/off switch for the inverter.


After a quick vacuuming of saw dust and some straightening up, Lauren and I were happy to see the trailer back to rights!



The finished product up on the roof!

I'm currently waiting on a steel wire guard type metal cage to arrive in the mail to protect the inverter and charge controller from items banging around the pass through storage during travel.


 This is how the Flying Morkies "help" Grandpa wire the trailer for solar power!


Below is my original wiring diagram.  I created it so that my Father In Law would know how I wanted the trailer wired.  While he's very skilled at electrical work, he has no experience with RV's and little solar experience, and I hoped this would help.  After it was made I saved it figuring it would be helpful to post here to explain the wiring that went into my solar setup.



This is how our panel board turned out: 


So, there you have it folks!  Our solar panel installation on our Jayco Travel Trailer.  I hope it was useful to you.  I'm happy for any and all feedback, including suggestions on how to improve this article to help others.  Have a link that should be included?  Please send it our way at 

TraileringAlong (at) Yahoo.com

or leave a comment below.  Thanks for reading!  Happy Trail(er)s!




 HELPFUL LINKS:

Explanation on Batteries in SERIES and PARALLEL:

DIY Inverter Install:

A Very Detailed and Technical Description of How Solar Works:

A Detailed Battery and Inverter Guide:

Chris and Cherie's (Technomadia's) Detailed Solar Guide: