Power runs through it . . .

The story of A Little White Wire and How It Runs

Pay attention.  This is going to get highly technical.

Ready?  Okay.  Here goes.  The solar panel came wired with two fat, round, black wires with connections on the ends (See Nov. 30 slideshow.).  Kathy climbs up on the roof of the Perfect Tow Vehicle and scrapes out the RTV.  That’s RTV, not PTV.

Admit it.  You don’t know what RTV is, do you . . .

It’s Room Temperature Vulcanizing, an elastomer sealant, used for potting and encapsulating electronic components. In other words it’s blue, glommy goo that you squeeze out of a tube over things you want to stay put (no, not your dog . . . don’t be silly!).  When dry it’s like a rubbery plastic and it seals things from the elements.

Okay?  Got it?  Can we move on now?

After Kathy gets all the RTV scraped out, she climbs back down.

I hold the ladder.  Then Bill gets up on the roof.  I hold the ladder.  He pulls out the wires from the box on the back of the panel and replaces them with a long, flat, white wire.

Underside of the solar panel

He then covers the connectors and wires with RTV, which you know all about because you read the second paragraph very carefully.  He replaces the little black plastic cover on the box.

The white wire runs to the crossbar of the roof rack.

Well, it doesn’t actually run.  It goes to the crossbar.  Not goes as in moving from one place to another, it starts at the . . . Oh, never mind.  Bill asks for some duct tape.  All I have is neon green duct tape.  He globs some RTV onto the wire and puts the neon green duct tape over it all to hold the wire to the back of the solar panel.  Now stop skimming!  Focus! 

Bill reads my mind which is not especially difficult to do, given my screwed-up face.  “Don’t worry.  I’m going to paint it white.”  He spray paints and looks down at me for approval.  I approve.

The wire must be secure to prevent flapping when the PTV is on the highway.

Next Bill brings the white wire along the crossbar, securing it with plastic ties.

The wire enters the PTV through the door.  The door closes easily on the wire, as the spongy trim compresses.

See the little white wire running into the PTV? See the neon green duct tape painted white? See the tree in the window?

Now you know why it is important to have flat wire!

Wire from roof rack through closed door. Duh.

Isn’t this fascinating?

The wire runs . . . well, whatever . . . to the solar charge controller mounted on the battery box.  (See Nov. 30 slideshow.)   Bill climbs down off the roof.  I hold the ladder.

Kathy, who has many wonderful qualities not the least of which is being slim and tiny, crawls in between the bench seat and the battery box/inverter/controller area, and connects the temperature sensor wire from the interior of the battery box.

Bill picks up the remote meter and pushes buttons. 

The three of us ooh and ahh over the digital window.  “Wow!  It’s up to ten amp hours!”  “And the panel isn’t even pointed at the sun!”   “The PTV’s temperature is 73 degrees!”  “The batteries’ temperature is 66 degrees!”  “Let me get a picture of that!”

You get the idea.  (We are very happy with the results.)

For the finishing touch, Bill climbs up with a spray can of Valspar anti-rust white paint and sprays the four edges of the rack supports that were sawed off previously.

I hold the ladder.


P.S. from Spike . . .

“I LOVE the sun!”


About rvsueandcrew

Fulltime nomad
This entry was posted in Casita, Simple living, Spike The CoPilot, Tow Vehicle and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Power runs through it . . .

  1. butterbean carpenter says:

    Howdy Sue & crew,

    HEE!!! HEE!!! HEE!!! This is the funniest blog since you ran from the coyote!!!! Of course, it
    is very informative too, also!!! I know you are very proud of the new solar system and it really looks nice!!!
    Hope your day is going great!!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hey there, Butterbean!

      Um, running from a coyote is NOT FUNNY. Anyway . . . It’s good to have the panel up on the roof. Glad you like the way it looks! Now I’m laying low til the weather settles down.

      I hope you are having a great day, too!

  2. Geri says:

    I love it! Still giggling here! I agree with Butterbean….. funny lady writes funny blog! Ha! It just shows that you are happy! You were happy to be in Elephant Butte despite the coyote problem and your blog showed it! You are happy to finally have solar and this blog shows it! I am happy you are happy, especially since the weather is so…. well to be polite I will say “yuckky”! We have a few snowflakes up here in T or C! Hope your weather is better 23 miles south of here! Congratulations on finally having the last step of the solar completed! We are excited and happy for you! Now if the weather would just get nice again so you can take off and explore!!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Geri!

      No snow yet, as of 1:30 p.m. I can’t tell you the temp because the crew and I haven’t opened the door since the bathroom break at daybreak. And as long as the canine bladders hold, we’re NOT going out!

  3. Chuck says:

    Your dogs have bigger bladders than ours…..I’m walking them again!!!
    All the solar looks great!

  4. HAAA! Sue, even *I* understood this! Loved this post.

  5. Bill Kelleher says:

    One thing to watch for is water running in following the wire from the solar panel.

    I had that happen once with a coax wire from an antenna.

    Bill Kelleher

  6. So cool and such a nice professional job they did!!!! Wonderful to see you “Solared Up”

  7. Sherry says:

    Definitely the most fun to read “technical” post I’ve ever read. Pretty sure I have NEVER laughed reading technical material before. AND I understood it AND I’m going to keep all these solar panel posts together so I can get this put on my rig. Now where do I hook up with those folks who decided what you needed, ordered it all and installed all and understand it all for you????


  8. Grace says:

    If anyone else had written this, I’d have never made it through. Now I know all about the white wire and how it “runs!” Now if we could just get a good day of sun! Congrats!

  9. Old Fat Man says:

    That is an interesting panel you have installed. If you get a chance would you take a picture of the data sheet on the back of the panel so I can consider it for adding to my rig. Thank you. Barney

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hello, Barney!

      Did you look in the header of my blog? Yesterday I added a place called Solar Power where I’m going to put pages of information about components and photos, so people don’t have to wade through daily posts.

      It has a pull-down menu. Only one page added to the menu as I write this . . . the Solar Panel. You’ll find specs and a link to the solar company.

      Let me know if you want more details.

  10. JoJo says:

    So now its all finished that is great. And I must commend you on your excellant job holding the ladder. Your friends did a really nice job.

  11. Mike Leonard says:

    Sue, as usual this was another very entertaining entry! I am familiar with RTV, by the way. When I was a millwright working in an aluminum plant we used RTV to stick all kinds of things together! It is a very good adhesive as well as a waterproofing agent. Anyway, thanks, I love our writing, you always make me laugh.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hello, Mike!

      I’m always happy to hear someone got a chuckle out of my blog. I can’t promise humor all the time, as my material is my life, and life isn’t always funny. I’ve been blessed with an absence of sadness ever since I retired and became a vagabond. (Hmmm, conclusion: Working makes me sad!)

      It’s a challenge to make the blog interesting to people with varied interests. Some people want to read details on solar installation, and others probably couldn’t care less!

      Thanks for your comment!

  12. Minnesota gal says:

    What gauge is the wire from the solar panel to the controller ? And, what gauge is the wire from the controller to the Battery’s ?

    Thanks ! And…..Congratulations !

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Minnesota gal,

      Thank you. I plan to explain the wiring more fully in the pages I’m posting from the header.

      But to answer your question . . . The wire from the solar panel to the controller is 16 gauge. From the controller to the batteries is 14 gauge. (There is a 20 amp fuselink on the positive side, so in case there’s a short, we don’t have a fire.) The two batteries have #4 gauge to the inverter (DC input). The 120V AC out to the rv plug runs about 9 feet and I think it’s #14. We tested the current on these wires in these applications and the loss was miniscule or nothing because the distances are so short. I hope this is helpful.

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