Saturday, February 1, 2020

Adding solar power to The Margaret Mee

I am waaaaaay behind the updates on my work on the MM, but one of the big projects--arguably the biggest--was adding the option of running off solar power. The camper came with a 12 volt system, which, when plugged into electric at a campground, runs just fine with the use of a converter. By adding a 100 watt solar panel and 20 amp charge controller, however, I am not tied to using only campgrounds with electrical outlets. This way I can run LED lights, charge my phone, and play a radio while in camp. The solar power is not enough to run a heater or AC, however, so if I decide to add and use those luxuries, I will have to plug in.

Anyway, here are some photos of the work:

Ordered everything online: 

Did some investigating to see how to tie into the existing system:

Tied everything into a new 75 ah AGM battery:

Hooked up the charge controller:

And then hooked up the solar panel (this should always be the last step--otherwise you can ruin the electrical system):

Made a nice panel to hide the charge controller (the botanical print is by Elaine Searle):

I will not lie, this was hard for someone with very little electrical experience, but I read up on it quite a bit, asked a lot of questions of people who do have experience on the Facebook DIY Teardrop Camper group page, and then had it checked out by a neighbor who is an electrical contractor. I think I spent about $600 total. I probably could have done it for less, but I didn't have many of the tools or materials lying around for this.

There might be one little hiccup, though: I tried hooking up the Maggie to practice backing up last week, and the trailer's brake lights now do not work. Since I did not mess with that particular wiring in the installation, I am hopeful it is not something I did. I had my car mechanic check the car, and that system is working just fine, so there is the possibility that it is the four pin connector that connects the car wiring to the trailer. It was old, so I replaced it, but I have not yet had a chance to see if that fixes the problem. If It doesn't I'll have to take it somewhere to have someone work on it.

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