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My Road Tripper
I actually didn't know about Blue Sea until I searched Amazon for 12 volt hardware for this installation. The fuse block and switch panel I purchased for this project just seemed to be the best fit for my present and future plans.
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I finally found time to install my inverter today.

I mounted the inverter in the right, rear corner of the car, directly across the car from my charge controller.


I ran my wires through the rear bumper. I had to use a fish tape to do this without removing the bumper.


I got a good deal on the inverter because it was a returned item. Today I found out why it had been returned. The black knob for attaching the DC wires was stripped. A five minute walk to the local hardware store and $2.46 worth of parts fixed this problem and gave me a better electrical connection.

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I added a little extra protection from friction damage in the form of flexible plastic tubing and electrical tape where the wires enter and exit the bumper.


I tied it into my fuse block. At the connection point I stripped the 4 gauge wire down to 10 gauge so my crimp ends would fit. Yes, this increases the resistance of the wires, but the reduction is minuscule, no where near enough to be concerned about in this installation.


My multi-meter shows 118.5 Volts AC. That's well within the acceptable range for usable 120 VAC, so I'm good to go here.


Now, in order to make the AC power more accessible, I added a 30 ft. retractable cord reel. Since I was attaching it to a molded plastic panel, I made a backing plate out of a scrap of 1/4 inch thick steel which I primed to prevent corrosion. Yes, 1/4 inch is overkill, but it was free.

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While the bulk of the work is done, I had a few details to work on today.

I added a wind deflector at the front of the solar panel installation. I'm hoping that this will reduce the wind noise from the roof while I'm driving.

In order to properly fit the wind deflector, I had to trim two inches off of the mounting hardware and drill new mounting holes.

I also built a small shelf which will go inside the car on the passenger side. It will raise my gear storage drawers up three inches, allowing me to actually open the bottom drawers when I have my bed set up. The paint isn't quite dry yet, and likely won't be before I head home, but I can leave it at work and let it dry overnight.
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The following 1 user says Thank You to sephson for this post:
speedhighway46 (12-27-2017)
do a follow up on that wind deflector. highdesertranger
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I've got mixed results on the wind deflector. Yes, it quiets the roof down when I'm driving, a lot!

At least until I hit 50 miles per hour, then it starts pounding on the roof. I'll fix that issue tomorrow.
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highdesertranger (12-29-2017)
I'm thinking, if I got a custom hightop made, having a front deflector designed to be built in, along with the fan opening and roof-rack mount points.

Maybe even sides as well, possible help conceal the panels from casual passersby when attempting urban stealth...
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I've stiffened up the wind deflector so it doesn't pound on my roof at high speeds.

I bought a pair of stainless steel and aluminum turnbuckles. I attached one end to the solar panel frame using self-tapping screws and fender washers. I attached the other end to the wind deflector using the U-bolt portion of a pair of stainless steel, wire rope clamps. I wrapped a zip-tie between the rings to lock the turnbuckles after adjusting them.

The wind deflector has really cut down on wind noise from the roof. I've had the car up to 75 MPH with no problems so far.

I'll have abetter idea if there is an effect on my fuel mileage when I'm back on my daily commute for few tank refills.
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highdesertranger (12-29-2017)
Here's the bad news on my solar power system project.

I did a cost breakdown and I spent quite a bit more on this than I intended to. All told, this cost a bit more than $1,800. That's about double what I expected to spend. Fortunately, the costs were spread out over an entire year. Had I chosen different methods and materials, I could have done the project for a lot less money, but I would probably not be as happy with the end product.


Most of my hardware for this project was stainless steel or aluminum, both of which are considerable more expensive than their galvanized steel equivalents. I used the aluminum to reduce the weight on the roof and the stainless steel for increased corrosion resistance. In addition, my choice to use security hardware rather than standard hardware also added significantly to the expense.

Also, I used McMaster/Carr for a lot of my hardware and electrical components. I could probably have gotten most of this elsewhere for less, but they carried most of what I needed, saving me a lot of time trying to find various parts. Plus, they almost always deliver the next day. I only started looking for other hardware suppliers when I needed a security nut that they didn't carry. This lead me to a google search which found Albany County Fasteners, which ended up having significantly better, but still not cheap, prices on the bulk of my stainless steel hardware along with the tools I needed for the security hardware.

Other choices, such as my use of the SSD Performance Roof Rails and Wind Deflector, which are made for use on my car, were meant to save time and labor on the installation. Had I gone with universal roof rails and crossbars, I could have spent half the money on this part of the project, but the installation of the roof rack and solar panels would have required about triple the effort and time.

I was also able to get a significant portion of my supplies and even my battery for free. Most of my zip-ties, all of the wood, the carpet, some of the aluminum, my battery and a lot of the miscellaneous electrical components like crimp on connectors and such were leftover from projects at work. This probably saved me somewhere between $300 and $500.

Additionally, I was able to use the shop facilities at work, giving me access to better tools and work space than I'd have had working at home or in the field.
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The rattle on the wind deflector came back today. I figured out what was causing it, so it was fairly easy to fix, though I haven't had a chance to road test the fix yet. The method I used to attach the turnbuckles to the wind deflector has the ring on the turnbuckle loosely floating in the U-bolt. This combined with the fact that I'm using the turnbuckles to push the deflector out away from the roof rather than pull it in allows the wind to get underneath and pull the deflector away from the turnbuckle, causing an irritating rattle. My solution was to add a second pair of turnbuckles to pull the wind deflector toward the roof, essentially using counter-forces to lock the thing into place and, hopefully, get rid of the rattle.
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