Monday, November 7, 2011

Solar challenge part one

It's November. A mere six weeks till Hazel and I take the camper on it's annual pilgrimage to Coronation Beach for a month of chilling out, windsurfing, and catching up with friends. You'd think I would have got my act together, but what with working full-time throughout September and October I now find myself scrambling to get the solar project finished in time. Here's hoping.

Last year I got so pissed off after flattening my car batteries yet again. My 60 Watt solar panel just isn't enough to keep the batteries charged while running the Engel fridge as well as some lights, so I did a massive amount of research and resolved to get my camper well and truly wired. And to do it myself.

Step one was research, which I talked about in a previous blog, then a trip to Perth to discuss panels, batteries and cables with the guys at the 12 volt shop. I bought a connection box and some sockets, but put off buying the big ticket items until I'd planned just exactly where everything would fit. Which is what I did this weekend. With help from a friend we discussed where and how to drill holes for the cables, how to secure the batteries, and other such mundane things. I should have headed down to Perth to finish off the shopping, but instead I measured up and headed out to the local stores to sort out the load wiring first.

This really taxed me. Getting the right sized cable and connectors might have helped, but no, even though I had written down the right size, I stupidly bought the wrong sizes, so had to go back into town and do some swaps, netting me a 90 cent refund! Then I drilled a big hole for the cables, wired up the connection box to a 3 socket outlet, and also rewired the external Engel connection, which had never worked since I bought the trailer. Not surprised really, given the original wiring setup. Cutting and crimping wire isn't difficult, but the right sized crimping tool makes all the difference, something that took a little getting used to via a few over squished connectors that had to be trashed. Thank goodness they aren't expensive, and at the end of the day I'm very happy with the results.

Next step is a trip to Perth for the batteries and some thick cable, and some more solar panels. Wiring up the batteries, solar regulator/charger and panels should be fairly straight forward, though I may need to get a professional to crimp lugs on some of the cables. Then I'll just have to mount the connection board, secure the batteries and I'll be done.

Sounds easy right?

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