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Solar panel on roof with spiral cable

P

puck

Messages
2
Location
Lyon, France
Vehicle
T5 SE 130
Here are a few images and a little tutorial for the installation of a roof-mounted solar panel, using a spiral cable, inspired by material on this and other fora. I live in France so prices are in €. The California is a 2008 white T5 4motion, bought used with 182,000 km a few months ago.

01.jpg

The finished installation

Here's what I used:
  • 100 W solar panel mounted on a 3 mm thick aluminum plate, tailor-made for the California by solartx.ch (890 CHF = 830€), with low-profile mounting hardware (12.50 CHF x 4)
  • LappKabel Ölflex Spiral 400 P 500/1500 mm spiral cable (39€) bought on conrad.com, with a female AMP SuperSeal connector (parts : contact x2, inner seal x2, socket, outer seal)
  • solar charge controller: Votronic MPP 165 Duo Digital (91€), with LCD Solar Computer S (84€) and temperature sensor (17€), from eBay

02.jpg

03.jpg


I chose this 100 W solar panel, made specifically for the T5/T6 California by solartx.ch. It's rather expensive at 830€, but I like that it's perfectly shaped to follow the roofline, and can be removed. During my Christmas break I went to pick it up from the very helpful Roger Suter, who makes them in the village of Uetendorf, in Canton Bern, Switzerland.

Otherwise the same thing can be done with other kits that are less expensive, like the one by solarcampersolutions.co.uk (470 €), or other flexible panels that can be mounted on a home-made frame or directly onto the roof (about 200€).

04.jpg

Detail of the optional low-profile mounting hardware for the panel to the rails on the California's roof, and the AMP SuperSeal 2-pole connector (with a blank plug)

05.jpg

The LappKabel spiral cable (2 x 1.5mm^2), which has a 200 mm flat section, the 500/1500 mm spiral section, and another 600 mm flat section. I crimped a female AMP SuperSeal connector to the short flat end of the cable.

06.jpg

The rubber seal for cables on the rear door comes off easily

07.jpg

A cable-puller reaches the top of the rear closet

08.jpg

The cable mounted onto the panel

09.jpg

Passing the cable in a hole in the rubber seal, then into the rear closet

10.jpg

The seal back in place

11.jpg
12.jpg

The spiral cable with the roof down and up. It seems stable at speed.

14.jpg

Votronic MPP 165 Duo Digital charge controller. I might eventually pass a lead up to under the front seat to the split charge relay, so that the starter battery can be trickle-charged.

15.jpg

Passing cables towards the battery compartment, between the double wall that separates the two closets. The cables are then routed up towards the charge controller between the wall of the van and the closet.

16.jpg

Connection to the battery with a 15A inline fuse. The temperature sensor is mounted to the battery clip.

17.jpg

The controller installed on the double wall between the closets with double-sided tape and self-tapping screws

19.jpg

Preparing the interior trim to receive the Votronic LCD-Solar-Computer S. The trim piece is held in place with four clips, two on top and two on the bottom, each about 5 cm from top/bottom. To remove the trim piece, grab each side about 5 cm from the top or bottom, and pull firmly. In the center there is a little space perfect for the display.

20.jpg

The cable for the display passes through the trim above the windows. I removed the rear-most light fixture in that trim piece to pass the cable-puller all the way to the rear closet.

21.jpg

22.jpg

Charging even with a winter afternoon's angled sun.
 
sapto

sapto

Top Poster
Lifetime VIP Member
Messages
3,337
Location
Central Switzerland
Vehicle
T5 SE 130
Great pictures and description! I am impressed I wouldn't dare doing this steps by my own. Great work!
 

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