This page is dedicated to our favorite install of the 2010 season.
This 40 foot Montana 5th wheel is probably one of the most livable 5th wheel that we've ever worked on.
The bunk area which is normally a bedroom was a living room with dual slides. With the slides open the area became a very impressive living room complete with comfy couches, 5.1 surround sound, blue ray player and a 40" plus lcd flat panel TV. All the comforts of home on the road.
Up top side the big Montana got our last four 130 watt Kyocera solar modules that were equipped with our dual tilt mounts.
We used a Blue Sky Solar Boost 3024iL to regulate the power.
In Colorado from May to early September it's really not necessary to tilt your modules. But come late season when the sun is low in the sky and day length is short... having the ability to tilt your modules really pays off.
In our tests we see and average gain of 4 amps per module on the larger 130 or 135 watt modules. 4 x 4 = 16 amps of recaptured power that would have been lost without tilting modules.
Add in a high end controller like a Blue Sky Solar Boost and you'll see maximum performance out of your system year round.
Here's the same modules pictured above in the stowed travel position.
Notice how well the three front modules are aligned with each other.
RV manufactures must think all Rvers live in RV Parks! The big Montana left the factory with a single group 24 hybrid battery. If you're not plugged in when you reach camp by time you set the landing gear and open all four slides the battery is half dead before you start camping! Amazing... when will they ever learn?
We removed the group 24 batteries (owner added a second one) and replaced them with four Interstate 6 volt true deep cycle batteries, then we built some 4/0 battery interconnects and inverter cables.
After installing and securing the new batteries we built some carpeted panels to cover the batteries to protect them from loose cargo in the front compartment.
The top cover can be easily removed for battery maintenance.
Our next challenge on the big Montana was were to put the Magnum 2800 inverter/charger. You'd think on a trailer this big there'd be all kinds of places to put it. Not!
On original inspection we were going to install the inverter in in a big underbelly compartment on the rear side of the bulkhead. The problem with that location was it would really mess up the storage space in that area. This area was also a service alley for the trailers plumbing.
We decided to build a hanging inverter rack in the front compartment directly above the batteries. This allowed us to connect the inverter to the batteries with very short runs of 4/0 cable.
The top picture shows the vertical supports of the aluminum inverter rack mounted to the iron floor supports. The back side of the rack is bolted to the bulkhead wall.
The center picture is another shot of the inverter rack before we installed the floor for the inverter to rest on.
The lower image shows the Magnum inverter in place. The inverters access door has been removed in preparation for wiring.
Once the inverter was wired and up and running we built some carpeted panels to cover the inverter and to protect if from cargo.
Opps... we forgot to get a picture of the Blue Sky Solar Boost remote display and the Magnum inverters control panel.
It is rare that we hear back from our customers, but occasionally we do get some feedback. Here's the unedited version of what Vern had to say about his solar electric and inverter system.
This is Vernon here. Different Email address as I have now disconnected my land line.
Well, I finally got on the road but after it got real cold in Wyoming, like one night of 12 degrees. I was plugged into shore power in order to run portable heaters to keep from freezing up.
I ended up spending some time in Utah Canyon lands Area south of Moab, camped out on BLM lands. I have included a photo of the camp site which is about 20 miles from the nearest power line. I stayed there 4 days and then fled farther south when they predicted 9 degrees in Moab. Note the satellite dish. I was able to watch the NASCAR finale in Homestead due to the solar system and inverter.
I am currently camped in the desert south of St George Utah and have been here for 6 days. The solar system has been keeping batteries charged up and I am watching two or so hours of TV a day including using the inverter to run my tv and my satellite system. Except for one rainy cloudy day when I had to reduce power consumption the system has been keeping up including running the furnace all night.
Having the tilt mounts for the panels sure helps. When the panels are
flat they produce about 16 to 20 amps max and when tilted I have seen
constant output of 20 or more amps and up to 28 amps peak.
I think my investment in the solar system will pay for itself over time since I would have paid between $120 and $190 to stay in an RV Park or State Park with hook ups for the six days I have been in the St George area.
I have spent 14 of the 21 days on the road camped without hook ups and part of the days I had hook ups was due to predicted cold temperatures of 20 degrees and colder when the batteries would not have supported the heaters I needed.
All said and done I am happy I invested in a solar system it’s nice to
not have to be tied to a power plug.