Sunday, October 5, 2014

Dog Power!

After receiving a number of emails I realized that our last post had
us camped on the Colorado River and then we dropped off line.

Sorry folks...  didn't mean to leave anyone hanging.

Well...  we're home.

We put it into high gear and did the California to NC run in 5 days.
We arrived home August 23rd after 4 1/2 months and 21,000 miles of travel
to Alaska (and points in-between) and back.

Since arriving home we've been up to NY on business, Kate has been to
Chicago, and I gave the Doodles got a well deserved haircut and baths.
I think they brought back many souvenirs of the trip with them.
In their fur that is.

We've settled into shoreside life for now but I have a real case of "hitch itch" meaning I can't
wait to get back on the road again.

One needed project while home was putting some solar panels on the Dog House.

For this job I selected 2 Kyocerra 140w Panels

The Arctic Fox comes prewired for solar.
One of the hardest jobs in installing solar is pulling the damn wires from the roof to the
solar controller and then from that to the batteries.
Arctic Fox saved me all of that work...  Thank you AF!

Up on the roof I replaced the Arctic Fox Connector with my own Combiner Box.
This is where the wires from the panels connect to the wires installed by the factory and
go thru the roof.
AM Solar sells a combiner box for $80.
I made this one for about $10 with parts from Amazon.

I positioned the panels on the roof so that I was able to catch Aluminum framing
members with 3 of the 4 screws securing the panel feet.   This ensured a solid mount.

Under each foot I placed a piece of Eternabond double sided tape.
This served 2 purposes:  
1)  It waterproofed the screw hole.
2)  The eternabond tape would hold the panels down even without a screw.

Here you can see the panel in place with the eternabond tape squeezed out below the foot.

Next I took some pieces of Eternabond tape and placed them over the screws to
add an additional waterproofing factor.

Finally - never be afraid to be accused of doing a job to overkill....
I covered the whole mounting foot with Dicor Sealant.

This is after the Dicor was applied.
This will level out mostly but keep in mind - its up on the roof - only the birds see it.

I followed the same methods for securing the panel wiring.
A piece of Eternabond tape went under each wire holder.
Then I shot a screw thru the eternabond.
Below you can see the holders at this stage.

Finally  - I followed up with some Dicor on each holder.
There will be NO water leaks on any of my work.

Inside the Dog House I needed to mount the Solar Controller.
Arctic Fox Left a label right on the wall where the wires were located so choosing
a location for the controller was simple.

Cut a hole in the wall, pull out 2 sets of wires...
1)  From the roof  2) to the batteries.
Connect the wires to the controller.

I added (2) 30amp panels mounted fuses.  
One on the Battery side and one on the panel side.
This protects the circuitry and allows me to isolate the
controller for maintenance if necessary.

Below you can see the panels are suppling 13.3v

I  also ran a temperature sensor wire from the Controller to the batteries.
While not required for the system to function - having temperature sensing by the controller
allows it to recharge the batteries much more efficiently as the charging voltages will
vary quite a bit based upon temperature.

Lastly is the Electrical System Monitor.
I put this in the Dog House last year.   I never leave home without one.

This the the heart of any system.
Think of it as a sophisticated fuel gauge.
It tells you the exact state of the batteries plus how much power is going into/from the
batteries.   The information that you gain from this device allowed me
to properly size the solar system and know that what I was putting up on the roof would
be sufficient for our needs.

So the Dog House is now ready for some serious generator free boondocking just
like the Montana.

Did I mention that on our 4 1/2 month trip to Alaska and back we never used our
generator once?  Our solar system in the Montana took care of all of our needs.

I expect the same performance out of this system.

Now...  on a different subject.

Some of you might remember my post a couple of years ago about Tom Mix,
the Western Movie star from the 1930's??

Well I found out yesterday that he was a pall bearer at the funeral of Wyatt Earp.

I thought that was a cool fact and wanted to share it with you folks.

We have a busy winter planned:

Christmas in Germany then Switzerland.
And of course Quartzsite and the Arizona/California Deserts.

We hope to hit some new spots this winter so stay tuned.


  1. Wow! Greg, that is a nice set up.. It looks great. Love that solar boost. Good choice.
    Thanks for the update. See you soon.
    Hayden and Radeen

  2. We were wondering what happened to you both. Glad to hear all is well. We just home home tonight from 8 days in Seattle and a condo on the oregon coast.

  3. Nice job on your install.


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