Sprinter Van Conversion: Solar power

Last few weeks has been a crash course in solar power and DC current in general. Studied a lot on what others have done and kinda added my needs for power and came up with a pretty good system I think.

Ordered a complete solar panel kit from Windy Nation, except for the inverter, bought that separate, still from Windy Nation though. 300 watt kit that includes (3) 100 watt panels, charge controller, and all wires and connectors needed to get power to controller. Inverter is a pure swine wave 1500 watt machine that has three AC outlets. Charge controller is a TrakMax 30 L MPPT controller. 

By stacking the brackets, I was able to keep panels rearward about 3 inches

I wanted to mount the panels on the roof as far back as I could get them, without interfering with the Fantastic Vent. I had just enough room with stacking the brackets on two of the panels. See photo. I had to lay out panels and enlarge the existing holes because they didn't line up. No big deal, one extra step. I mounted the panels to the roof for the lowest possible profile. Used plenty of caulk and lock washer. I did this by myself which was pretty tough, I would suggest two people for sure. 

I did have to drill into center of a roof support beam/bar for the rear brackets of the rear most panel. Problem with that is no easy access to secure a washer or bolt. You can cut a larger hole from the inside to gain access or just use a brass expansion nut. I chose to use the expansion nut. You can get them at Home Depot here.

I researched all over the place to find a way to get the panel wires into and through the roof of the van. There are a million ways to do this. I ended up going with a simple PCV electrical fitting. I was limited in where I could penetrate roof, because of space for wires and wanted a small hole through the roof. I plan to have a roof basket on the rear section of the roof and it will hide the fitting well. Mounting the panels and roof penetration took a couple of hours on a Sunday. I spent the next several days studying how to wire and hook up the components. Stay tuned for Part 2 of the install...