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Solar on shell; route wires into bed?

Discussion in '2nd Gen. Tacomas (2005-2015)' started by TacoTuesday1, Apr 20, 2023.

  1. Apr 20, 2023 at 12:27 AM
    #1
    TacoTuesday1

    TacoTuesday1 [OP] Well-Known Member

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    re: solar atop a camper shell, what's the best way to route those thick wires into the bed?

    If the solar panel faces rear, with the wires rear
    it *might* route through the back door, window of the shell. But,
    -might not close anymore
    -would squeeze wires (bad)
    -could mess with seal and water

    would not want to drill a hole, which that too could ingress water

    closest thing I've found researching so far is this post/pics of wiring snuck through gaskets into the bed
    Looks like there is a bed seal to cut a hole into
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
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  2. Apr 20, 2023 at 3:23 AM
    #2
    super_white

    super_white Well-Known Member

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    Are you able to flip the solar panel so that the wires are facing the front?
     
  3. Apr 20, 2023 at 4:28 AM
    #3
    deanosaurus

    deanosaurus Caveman

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    I've already done some planning to route solar on mine.

    Pop a hole in the shell, low between the cab and the shell, and use a high pressure washdown elbow (opening facing down):

    https://www.mcmaster.com/product/6963T18

    Run the wires in the appropriate size flex conduit and use marine heat shrink on the panel end to seal.

    If you cut the bed seal it will definitely leak.
     
  4. Apr 20, 2023 at 5:03 AM
    #4
    SR-71A

    SR-71A Define "Well-Known Member"

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    I dont have solar, but my first thought looking at the pic you posted is possible water ingress issues into the cab after disturbing that rear window gasket
     
  5. Apr 20, 2023 at 5:03 AM
    #5
    Microtus

    Microtus Well-Known Member

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    I'd be surprised if you could get those wires through a 1/2" raceway and fitting, probably have to go to at least 3/4". Just thinking offhand I'd probably go with a 90 degree pvc liquidtight connector. Point the 90 down and form a drip loop to keep water out. If the gap distance is less than the radius of the fitting , you might have to go to a metal fitting instead, as they are a little more compact. If you don't want any exposed wires then encase them in liquidtight all the way to the connector, but then water intrusion at the top would be a problem. Ductseal perhaps?

    Southwire 3/4 in. Liquidtight NM 90 Degree PVC Conduit Fitting Connector (20-Pack) 58133957 - The Home Depot

    RACO 3/4 in. Insulated Liquid-Tight 90-Degree Connector, 1-Pack 3543-8 - The Home Depot

    edit entry: probably the simplist and cheapest would be using a pvc MA 90 with a rubber gasket and just form a drip loop with the wire.

    Another option would be a marine based bulkhead fitting, but my google fu skills aren't finding a 90 degree fitting.

    Stickybacks and zip ties would secure those wires pictured without having to route behind the window seal.

    Amazon.com: 100 PCS 3/4" Black 3M Back-Glue Self Adhesive Cable Zip Tie Mounts Wire Cable Clips Holders Management Anchors Organizer Holders Squares(HS-101S) : Electronics
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2023
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  6. Apr 20, 2023 at 5:09 AM
    #6
    Microtus

    Microtus Well-Known Member

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    Just an fyi. Trying to fish wires through a hard 90 designed for water at best, really sucks. The mcmaster link is for 3/8". With the wires pictured it's never going to happen.

    That does inspire another idea though. There might be some pex fittings available that would work, though I'm guessing most are going to be hard 90's. It would take some more digging.
     
  7. Apr 20, 2023 at 5:18 AM
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    Microtus

    Microtus Well-Known Member

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    Last edited: Apr 20, 2023
  8. Apr 20, 2023 at 7:14 AM
    #8
    deanosaurus

    deanosaurus Caveman

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    They have larger, of course, that's just the first p/n I clicked. It's s easy to fish with a piece of coathanger or a fiberglass fish, and some tape. Pre-bend the hanger, fish through, tape your lines, and pull.
     
  9. Apr 20, 2023 at 7:41 AM
    #9
    jameswirl

    jameswirl Well-Known Member

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    Do a google search for a solar cable entry gland-you would have to cut a hole somewhere but the cable entry would be weatherproof
     
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  10. Apr 20, 2023 at 9:39 AM
    #10
    Microtus

    Microtus Well-Known Member

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    Those are slick, nice find.

    I was an electrician for 23 years but never messed with solar. Learn something new every day. :)
     
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  11. Apr 20, 2023 at 10:04 AM
    #11
    TacoTuesday1

    TacoTuesday1 [OP] Well-Known Member

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    so I looked at the truck more, front and rear
    front (by cab) looks difficult or impossible to snake through

    Regarding the plastic trim in that area that's known to let water in from factory and people have trouble sealing during a shell install,
    any rubber there
    and gap, shining a light to see; it looks too small for these thick solar wires

    But, at least when I look at the rear window of the shell (at rearmost of truck), it looks like the glass simply closes to press down on the rubber seal, so I imagine to be quick, the wires could just go through there and probably not look TOO bad since they're black, one on each side, and straight in
    then maybe velcro to fasten inside the shell keep it out of the way

    haven't installed it yet so yes I can choose
    or later on potentially move it around
    plan is to install it on corrugated plastic (cut to match size)
    panel adhered to plastic with VHB tape, and plastic adhered to roof with VHB
    (purpose of corrugated plastic is to provide an air gap for cooling; lower temp = higher watts solar hopefully)

    I've seen videos of people get crazy using all kinds of hardware. Carriage bolts pinching plastic board from underneath, to go up through the eyelets of the panel secured with wing nuts
    that seems unnecessary compared to just using VHB tape

    which I need to be careful; 1. I ran out, 2. what little tape I had, I messed up.
    Taping panel to plastic, then plastic to roof, in centered position is tricky...
    especially when the panel flexes/bends down

    Those do look nice. Maybe one day in the future if I really draw out and set something up.
    Because right now, this might also be considered a temporary experiment.
    For one, flexible solar panels seem to have negative reviews when compared to solid. Which are protected by glass I believe, available from high-end manufacturers, with long warranties.
    I just don't have a roof rack.
    Sherpa rack $800+, panel $200+; $1k...

    Flexible panel, $150. Tape
    I'll see how it performs. Very well possible in a year it'll discolor and have power loss

    I'm gonna keep researching how people route wires on roof rack solar panels; maybe the method will be different since those are on the cab roof not a shell, and probably route the same way people have been doing lightbars

    this one looks nice, except bolting on rails which probably prevent the ability for an actual rack

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2023
  12. Apr 20, 2023 at 11:04 AM
    #12
    stickyTaco

    stickyTaco Fuck Cancer

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    Two options I considered were:

    1) Run the wire between the bed and cab and then up through the bed cubby closest to your battery.

    2) Use a solar entry gland on the top of the shell.
    074EE219-1042-402A-ABF7-455EA751D99B.jpg


    I ended up going with option 2 and will install it on the top of my GFC in the next month or two.
     
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  13. Apr 20, 2023 at 11:15 AM
    #13
    golfindia

    golfindia Well-Known Member

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    Yes.
    Vehicle:
    pickup truck
    I drilled a small hole in the front corner of my bed and ran the wires down between the cab/topper and then up into the bed.

    I had a couple of those flexible solar panels. They don't last long in the vibration/wind. A rigid panel mounted below my rhino rack wire basket has lasted 4+ years with no trouble.
     
  14. Apr 20, 2023 at 11:50 AM
    #14
    TacoTuesday1

    TacoTuesday1 [OP] Well-Known Member

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    so sneak it in from the cubby? I’ll look and see if my wires are long enough
    For solar I probably have 6+ feet worth of wires in the form of an extension and adapter, that I tried to keep short and thick but still long enough for use

    plan is plug it into power station kept in the bed which is more insulated and room for air, that I hear is better to keep a fridge and power station in rather than the cab

    which I’ll have to figure out how to secure in place cheaply and mobile, as a slide drawer setup like Dometic is both expensive and seems permanent

    I’ll mock up the wires entry through the back glass as it has the biggest and softest gasket and will see how it looks.

    I folded down my front cab 3pc window and saw the clearances are tight, gaskets are small stiff and close press fit/pressure so that front window looks worse/less possible than back window, if going through a window

    gland would be cool given a tiny hole but might not given the solar panel is likely temporary/won’t even last long due to flexible panels reputation for worse longevity


    exactly
    Eventually I’d want to switch to rigid panel and rack for storage

    I’ll try to avoid going 90mph and hope this 3M VHB (3lb per 2in strength I think, higher than the tapes I see in home depot) stays put

    plan is to surround the perimeter of the panel to stick on, in hopes that keeps any water out. Maybe a line down the center. I’ve see. People do it that way.

    idk if condensation would form. Because if yes, that might mean 3 strips along the shell is better, to provide channels, but then wind could get in and gradually work on tearing apart the tape and lifting the panel to fly off

    tape underneath looks clean
    And VHB is likely temporary/removable without paint damage

    additional tape on the outside seams from above could be nice too but I’m not sure what a good tape for that would be. Probably not duct tape; ugly and rips paint.
    Aluminum HVAC ducting tape could work. I’ve used that to cover my cab roof holes (after I got rid of my Hooke Road rack) and it seems good. But likely ugly from above. Trimming the edges rounded could help make it look a little better
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2023
  15. Apr 20, 2023 at 1:17 PM
    #15
    deanosaurus

    deanosaurus Caveman

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    If you use VHB do the entire perimeter plus a longways middle stripe. It will keep wind from getting under and keep it from flexing due to air pressure - even slight flexing, if repeated, tears those panels up fast, specifically the interconnects between the cells.

    We had a hell of a time with them in a previous life and this is the solution we ended up with.

    VHB residue comes off real easy with Goo Gone and a hair dryer on low.
     
  16. Jun 10, 2024 at 9:34 AM
    #16
    phdog

    phdog Well-Known Member

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    Did you come up with a solution for this yet? I'm going to mount a panel on the rack on my shell and still trying to figure out the cabling issue. I "think" I can go through the gap in the front bed rail that is usually a leak point. I'll have to remove my shell to do that but it looks like maybe what the person in the picture did.

    I'm kind of wanting to remove the panel when not in use. Maybe leave it up summer and fall, but take off if I don't have any winter trips planned. If so, I want to have the connection be outside the shell from the panel to the adapter/extension, but then what do you do to keep wires and connectors from banging around. If those waterproof wire glands would allow for some sort of quick connect that would be cool but I think they are just a wire pass through.
     
  17. Jun 10, 2024 at 6:23 PM
    #17
    TacoTuesday1

    TacoTuesday1 [OP] Well-Known Member

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    it was easy to find bed inlet, at the front of it like everyone else does
    but now the wire dangles around since I got rid of my panel but kept the wiring

    harder was into the cab, to my power station in the back seat area
    took apart the back seat, and found at the rear wall a little hole plugged not being used
    removed that, ran the wire through, used it as a grommet by poking a hole in it and enlarging it which was difficult. Did it in a parking lot with basic tools; would've been easier to size the grommet better if I got a whole new one or something
     
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