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Roof Rack Solar Panel Installation Outline

Discussion in '2nd Gen. Tacomas (2005-2015)' started by OneFastGeek, Apr 22, 2018.

  1. Apr 22, 2018 at 6:20 PM
    #1
    OneFastGeek

    OneFastGeek [OP] Grand Master Fu

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    Preface: I'm happy to share this install, but this is not a cumulative "how-to". I'm also no expert, so if you are going to try to do this project, you need to read up on the topic and understand 12v stuff. I am not responsible for you letting the smoke out of your truck's wiring, or if you blow up your battery. :bananadead:

    Have a question? I'll try to answer it, but again, you are responsible for the outcome or any damage to your truck. With that said, I hope you enjoy my "Solar Panel Install Outline" post. :thumbsup:

    I finished my solar panel install today. I did it in three steps. Panel mount to the roof rack. Solar panel wire run to the controller located in the rear cab. Wire run from the controller to the house battery under the hood.

    I started with a Renogy 100W "Starter Kit" that included a panel, 30A controller, mounts, hardware, and a bunch of heavy duty 10AWG wire. By luck, the panel fits near perfect, side to side, within my Prinsu roof rack. I was also able to mount it using the Z-brackets included in the kit and some spare rack hardware I had laying around.
    [​IMG]
    I really like this layout, as it lays slightly below the bars. This way, if I need to mount something over the top of the panel, there is a small clearance, so nothing rubs. Also, unless you are looking closely (or you're freakishly tall), you'd never notice the panel at a casual glance. This is also a testament to the great rack that Prinsu makes, there are an almost infinite amount of ways to bolt things to it.
    [​IMG]
    I had originally planned on drilling through my roof, to accommodate the HD 10AWG wires. I already have 2 pairs of LED pods (the old ones are pictured), GPS, and Satellite radio antenna wires using the windshield channels. However, I added a new Kenwood DMX7704S head unit about 2 weeks ago, and I'm not using the OEM Satellite Radio antenna anymore. Sure enough, the hole in the roof from that antenna, was plenty large enough to accommodate my 2 panel wires. Awesome!
    [​IMG]
    So using a waterproof gland assembly, I was able to use the existing hole for the ingress wiring. I added some 3m VHB Heavy Duty mounting tape on the inside of the gland, and a bead of 3M Marine Adhesive/Sealant on the outside of the tape. It turned out pretty good. I may follow up with a fine tipped Sharpie pen to go over the white adhesive...
    [​IMG]
    Here is where I mounted the charge controller, right in the middle of my MOLLE panel. I got mine from @nat, but @docloco has an ongoing group buy for them. I highly recommend this mod, super useful! Anyhow, I ran the wires down the C-pillar and behind the MOLLE panel, up into the CC. That was part 2. (I took this pic before the wires were connected). I didn't catch his TW handle, but this gentleman has an excellent youtube video on how to drop your headliner. VERY helpful!
    [​IMG]
    Here is the honeycomb(?) thing that is located under the sat radio holes. Carefully, pop it out and you can run your wires under it. The HD 10AWG cables that come with the Renogy kit, are a pain here. Trying to route them under the honeycomb sucked. Eventually, I sawed a hole down the middle of one row, to accommodate the cables. I don't have a good photo of that part. But here is what it kind of looks like.
    [​IMG]
    And here is where I ran them into the C-pillar. If you are careful, you can peel back the edge of the plastic, and not have to remove the whole thing in order to route the wires behind it. However, you'll need to remove your OEM bins to do the same with the lower portion of the plastic. Since I removed mine in lieu of my MOLLE panel, it was a cinch.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Now, I had a good amount of extra cable pulled into the cab. I looped it once through the c-channel(?) pieces in the back wall and created what I am calling, a service loop, using zip ties. This way, if I ever need to move the Charge Controller around, I will have plenty of cable to do so, without having to re-run new wires. I then ran the wires from both runs (panel to CC & CC to house battery) behind my OEM sub/amp box. The box is the OEM "bin" box, but I cut it down to retain coverage/protection for the amp/sub and fit my MOLLE panel.
    [​IMG]
    After that, I started on part 3, the run to the house battery. This was fairly straight forward, especially since I've pulled the plastic pieces before for other stuff (Pop/Lock linked to the keyless entry). Anyhow, I popped off all the pieces and ran a pair (+&-) 10AWG wires up to the front of the cab, and out the firewall. NOTE, if you are using the Renogy "starter kit", the wires for this run are too short, by about 3 feet. I would have liked to use them, but I ended up using some 10AWG stranded wire I got from Home Depot. In hindsight, I wish I would have bought it off the web, probably would have saved $10+. Oh well. So again, if you've pulled these pieces before, and you've run wires through the firewall, this part is pretty simple. Don't forget your zip ties!
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Here is a wiring diagram of how it all works. My Invertor is installed, but I will be wiring that up another time. Still trying to get it sorted out (wiring sizes, relay, dash on/off button, etc.). Anyhow, ignore the invertor in the diagram, but follow the rest closely. Of note is the in-line fuses. I used 10AWG in-lines that appear to be well made. As for connecting them, get these! These things rock, and make your connections solid. I added an extra layer of heat shrink tubing on top, just to be sure though. DO NOT PUT FUSES IN THE HOLDERS UNTIL YOU'VE CONNECTED ALL YOUR WIRES.
    [​IMG]
    So finally, I've got all the wires run and connected to the batteries and the panel. Now it is time to connect them to the charge controller. CONNECT THE BATTERY WIRES BEFORE YOU CONNECT THE PANEL WIRES. If you are following the Renogy instructions properly, you'll do it that way. So, finally, I got the tips stripped, the + wires marked, and connect them to the CC and insert the battery in-line fuse into the holder.
    [​IMG]
    I'm using Optima Yellow Top (AGMs/Sealed) batteries, so I don't need to adjust the battery type on the CC, it defaults to "sealed". OK good, so at this point, no smoke, no burning smells. Feeling good. Now to back the truck out into the sun and insert the panel in-line fuse.
    Yay! It is working. *phew* Sure glad I didn't roast anything AND it works. Here is a picture of my Peak DBI voltmeter, showing my dirty solar panel throwing 14.2V of power at my house battery.
    [​IMG]
    So that is pretty much it. I'll come back later and edit my post to have a better list of the things I used for this project. I basically got everything off Amazon and already had the required tools, which I will outline as well.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2018
    MellyMel, Mully, Naveronski and 23 others like this.
  2. Apr 22, 2018 at 6:22 PM
    #2
    BassAckwards

    BassAckwards Member

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    Nicely done! Super clean
     
    OneFastGeek [OP] and ChadsPride like this.
  3. Apr 22, 2018 at 6:25 PM
    #3
    SonnyBones

    SonnyBones I VOID WARRANTIES

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    Sub for reference
     
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  4. Apr 22, 2018 at 6:26 PM
    #4
    ChadsPride

    ChadsPride Tacoma Owner & Enthusiast

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    Excellent job, thanks for sharing!!!
     
  5. Apr 22, 2018 at 6:45 PM
    #5
    Jckdnls

    Jckdnls Roads less explored

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    Nice I am thinking of those to help charge my aux battery.
     
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  6. Apr 22, 2018 at 6:49 PM
    #6
    OneFastGeek

    OneFastGeek [OP] Grand Master Fu

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    Keeping my fridge cold while camping was the driving force behind this mod. Keeping my dual batteries topped off is nice too. I’m hoping it will extend their lives.
     
  7. Apr 22, 2018 at 7:00 PM
    #7
    Climberclimb

    Climberclimb Well-Known Member

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    Firestone air bags, some lights, heated seats, RTT.
    Nice. Cheers
     
  8. Apr 22, 2018 at 7:16 PM
    #8
    Manfred

    Manfred Well-Known Member

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    sub'd for future panel install. Thanks OP
    :thumbsup:
     
  9. Apr 22, 2018 at 7:28 PM
    #9
    kgarrett11

    kgarrett11 Master Yoda

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    This is soooo badass on so many levels! Would love to do this mod but I dont really have the need for this :pout:
     
    OneFastGeek [OP] likes this.
  10. Apr 22, 2018 at 7:57 PM
    #10
    MolonLabeTaco

    MolonLabeTaco Well-Known Member

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    Great job and write-up!!!! The pics and the links kick ass. Thanks a ton!
     
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  11. Apr 23, 2018 at 6:41 AM
    #11
    RucksackRev

    RucksackRev Well-Known Member

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    Very cool!
     
  12. Apr 23, 2018 at 11:48 AM
    #12
    Driftns2k

    Driftns2k Well-Known Member

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    Nice write up! I'm going to do a similar build. 200w kit. I m going to splurge on a lithium battery I think just running off solar, not alternator.
     
    OneFastGeek [OP] likes this.
  13. Apr 23, 2018 at 11:57 AM
    #13
    TacoCat

    TacoCat These pretzels are making me thirsty

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  14. Apr 23, 2018 at 12:04 PM
    #14
    xbxb

    xbxb Well-Known Member

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    Dude you're brilliant. Really very nice. /flip the switch!
     
  15. Apr 23, 2018 at 12:15 PM
    #15
    ilubtimmyhos

    ilubtimmyhos Brewer

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    Great job man! I did the same recently but dont have a prinsu so i bolted mine straight to the roof. Looks clean!
     
  16. Apr 23, 2018 at 12:16 PM
    #16
    the dashing ham

    the dashing ham Taco n00b

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    yes, I have done the mods
    Mounting the panel down between the prinsu rails like that is pretty genius. I have my prinsu laid out with a big renogy-sized cavity in that same front space for just this purpose - I'm gonna steal the shit out of that idea.
     
    OneFastGeek [OP] likes this.
  17. Apr 23, 2018 at 12:21 PM
    #17
    p_chinnici

    p_chinnici Well-Known Member

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    Ive been looking at the same kit to mount on my Prinsu. Its awesome to know that it fits inbetween the bards like that.
     
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  18. Dec 13, 2018 at 4:37 PM
    #18
    Toyocoma

    Toyocoma Member

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    upload_2018-12-13_16-35-24.jpg
    Where to connect the other end of the inline fuse? Thanks
     
  19. Dec 13, 2018 at 4:49 PM
    #19
    OneFastGeek

    OneFastGeek [OP] Grand Master Fu

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    It’s goes to the positive terminal of the “house” battery.

    @Toyocoma
     
  20. Dec 28, 2018 at 9:34 PM
    #20
    GZeus24

    GZeus24 bystander

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    That looks so good. Really nice job. Excuse me while I borrow your work.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2018
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