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Old 01-30-2014, 03:43 PM   #1
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Solar's roof access

I'm thinking of doing my own solar install so I can choose the panel size and use the controller of my choice. I asked ETI what the "prewire solar" option amounted to, it's the panel cable run from the area of the batteries to an upper cabinet, punching through the fiberglass shell is not included. Can someone with solar let me know what ETI did to seal the hole they ran the cable through? A picture would be helpful.

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Old 01-30-2014, 04:01 PM   #2
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I can't tell you what ETI uses to seal the hole but here's a pic (not Egbert as he is in storage) from somewhere on this forum. Note the lead coming from under the panel and over to the side of the trailer. It's partially obscured by the antenna but you can see the small hole where it goes into the trailer.

Edit: I forgot to add that it is a little gasket-type thingy (my favorite word) that the lead goes through to go into the trailer. Again, I don't know anything about the seal.
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Old 01-30-2014, 05:13 PM   #3
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Thanks, the picture helps a good deal. They must have used a rubber grommet thingy, that and a bit of caulk is probably enough. Looks like there is plenty of width for a 59" panel.
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Old 01-30-2014, 05:44 PM   #4
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I did find a pic of Egbert in which you can barely see the lead to the left. You'll also note a slightly different location for the mounting strips for the panel. (And I don't know why this picture always gets turned sideways.)
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Old 01-30-2014, 06:45 PM   #5
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Some hole seal approaches:
  • a grommet, probably plus sealant
  • a marine-style cable deck seal or gland (many designs, run the cable though a rubber insert and clamp the insert in some sort of flange installed in the hole)
  • RV roof penetration fittings (a low box on the roof with the cable coming out the side - usually the rear side - covered all over with hideous goop)
  • "cheat" and go in the refrigerator exhaust vent (if you have one on the roof) or even a regular vent (depending on cover design) - I hear that this is very common for solar
  • bulkhead connector - a double-ended cable connector which installs through a panel/wall/roof, with cables attached (by any suitable terminal type for the purpose) on the inside and the outside... the cable itself doesn't go through the roof

My moulded fiberglass trailer doesn't have any wiring to the roof; my other RVs have the RV style for antennas (regular and satellite). The marine glands look much more sound to me, but the cable sticks vertically out of a horizontal roof surface. I, too, would be interested to see some detail on how Escape is doing this.
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Old 01-30-2014, 07:12 PM   #6
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If they are still using the same method used for my April, 2011 installation, here is a photo of the feed through used by the factory for my 17. It is almost dark here along the Colorado River (but 75F) so the image is a little soft - if you need something clearer, let me know & I'll reshoot it in the morning.

I'm not sure what the feed through is called, but I purchased a replacement for the one used to feed through my cell antenna at a local real (not Radio Shack) electronics store. They are similar to a watertight conduit fitting, however are plastic, and come in a number of different sizes. After wiring, they filled the empty space with a sealant. Not sure what it was, but black in color. I've used ProFlex with good result.
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Old 01-30-2014, 07:24 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vermilye View Post
I'm not sure what the feed through is called...
It's called a thingy.
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Old 01-30-2014, 07:30 PM   #8
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Alright, I looked it up, and it is not a "Thingy", although that is a fine name for it, but hard to order on line - it is a Waytek Strain Relief.
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Old 01-30-2014, 07:37 PM   #9
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Thingy = Plastic Cable Gland \ CordGrips

s

Thanks folks.
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Old 01-30-2014, 07:44 PM   #10
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Ah, you guys are no fun.

We actually have a local hardware store here in B'ham where you can go in, describe your thingy and tell him (or her) what you are trying to do and he (or she) will lead you directly to what you need but didn't know what it was called. They've never failed me yet.
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Old 01-30-2014, 10:07 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by padlin View Post
Thingy = Plastic Cable Gland \ CordGrips

s

Thanks folks.
I have used these or very similar ones before and they work really well for me.
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Old 01-30-2014, 11:38 PM   #12
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Thanks Jon!
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Old 01-31-2014, 07:21 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KarenH View Post
Ah, you guys are no fun.

We actually have a local hardware store here in B'ham where you can go in, describe your thingy and tell him (or her) what you are trying to do and he (or she) will lead you directly to what you need but didn't know what it was called. They've never failed me yet.
I love those local hardware stores. Unfortunately they are becoming scarce.
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Old 01-31-2014, 01:15 PM   #14
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Our 2012 19 ft they used a really nice quality marine deck rubber gromet and sealant of some sort.
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Old 02-01-2014, 11:57 AM   #15
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I had our 17B rough wired for solar that I would install later. Like others have said, that amounts to running a black/red pair from the vicinity of the panel to somewhere behind the passenger side rear cabinet corner.

However, after further research, something obvious hit me. Namely that a) setting up camp in the shade is good for the trailer and me and b) although panels are really efficient these days in the shade, they always work much better in direct sun. I ended up getting portable panels from Solarland and re-using the wire pair to wire a marine grade "troll motor" connector that I installed between the shore power (AC) connector and the water access. I also ordered their 10AWG 25' extension cable.

The 135W unit easily charges our dual 6V batteries and the 25' cable seems enough to get out of the shade (except in the deep redwoods). I recommend the marine connector (West Marine) and seal everything up with marine silicone sealer. I did a quick web search for this and there are a lot more options just two years later.
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