SunnyFlex RV, Marine Solar Mobil Kit Installation Tips

UNLIMITED SOLAR  SUNNYFLEX RV and Mobile Solar Kits

INSTALLATION MANUAL

Unlimited Solar recommends having the SUNNYFLEX MOBILE Solar Kit professionally installed. Although the kit is relatively straightforward to install, working with high current battery systems and working on the roof of the RV can be dangerous.

Unlimited Solar will be happy to work directly with your dealer or service center of choice to ensure a proper, long lasting installation. Just send us their contact information or have them contact us and we’ll take care of the rest.

READ THIS PRIOR TO INSTALLING

The SUNNYFLEX  MOBILE Solar Charging Kit is intended for use on newer roofs that are in good condition Cleaning the roof is critical in obtaining a safe, secure and long-lasting installation. Failure to follow the included instructions can result in loss of adhesion, damage or loss of the product, and shortened product life. Mechanical fasteners such as screws or rivets are recommended in any installation where the quality of the roof is questionable or if the vehicle is to be used in extreme environments. Contact Unlimited Solar Technical Support if you have any questions, concerns or would like to discuss you special application.

INTRODUCTION & SAFETY INFORMATION

The SUNNYFLEX  MOBILE Kit product line, the premier solar solution for RV’s , has been specifically developed for use on recreational vehicles and will provide years of reliable service when properly installed.

IMPORTANT

READ THESE INSTRUCTIONS COMPLETELY BEFORE BEGINNING INSTALLATION FAILURE TO FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS CAN RESULT IN DAMAGED PRODUCT, DAMAGE TO THE RV, AND/OR PERSONAL INJURY UNLIMITED SOLAR HIGHLY RECOMMENDS HAVING THIS SYSTEM INSTALLED BY A PROFESSIONAL RV TECHNICIAN THE INSTALLER SHOULD BE FAMILIAR WITH: DC electrical systems and wiring in RVs Working with high capacity battery systems

ADDITIONAL PRECAUTIONS

NEVER MIX SOLAR PANELS OF DIFFERING BRANDS, PART NUMBERS OR POWER RATINGS IN THE SAME SYSTEM. DOING SO WILL RESULT IN POOR PERFORMANCE AND MAY DAMAGE COMPONENTS WORKING WITH ELECTRICITY AND LEAD ACID BATTERIES CAN BE DANGEROUS INSTALLATION OF THE SOLAR PANELS REQUIRES WORKING ON THE ROOF OF THE RV WHERE THERE IS A RISK OF FALLING

WARNING!

SOLAR PANELS PRODUCE ELECTRICITY WHEN EXPOSED TO LIGHT EVEN WHEN NOT CONNECTED TO THE SYSTEM. THE SOLAR PANELS SHOULD BE COVERED WHENEVER WORKING ON THE SOLAR POWER SYSTEM IN ORDER TO AVOID ELECTRICAL SHOCK AND/OR ARCING. 

Your SUNNYFLEX  MOBILE Solar Power Kit includes the following items                         

UFLX Solar Panel                                                                                                                                               

Solar Charge Controller Kit                                                                                                                                          

Charge Controller

20’(ft) Cable with PV connector (1 Pos / RED)

20’(ft) Cable with PV connector (1 Neg / BLACK)                     

20’(ft) Cable (1 Pos / RED)

20’(ft) Cable (1 Neg / BLACK)                                                                

Cable Through Cover Cup

Dicor Sealand Elastic Polyurethane Adhensive

Inline ATC Fuse Holder w/15A Fuses                                              

MC4 Connectors

MC4 Tool

Battery Ring Terminal                                                                                                                                 

Cable Ties                                                                                                       

TOOLS REQUIRED FOR INSTALLATION

  • Safety glasses suitable for use around liquid chemicals
  • Phillips screw driver
  • Wire cutters and strippers
  • Caulking gun
  • Utility knife

OTHER ITEMS

  • Roof cleaning supplies appropriate for roof type
  • Medium Synthetic Bristle Brush (E.g. deck scrub brush)
  • Mild Liquid Dish Soap or RV-dealer-recommended wash
  • Warm Water
  • Isopropyl Alcohol >70%
  • Pressure Washer / Hose With Spray Nozzle
  • Tape measure

STORAGE & HANDLING PRECAUTIONS

Failure to follow these Storage and Handling guidelines can lead to product damage and premature failure and violate the SUNNYFLEX  MOBILE KITS Limited Warranty.

  • For the protection of SUNNYFLEX  MOBILE kits, the kit contents and sealed boxes must always be stored between temperatures of 60°F (15°C) and 85°F (30°C).
  • Do not use screws, nails, staples or otherwise puncture any part of the solar panel. _ The UFLX solar panel must not be rolled to a diameter smaller than 20”. Doing so may result in permanent internal damage and lead to immediate or premature failure. Do not fold or crease the solar panel.
  • Scratches on the panel surface can occur if walked on improperly. Guidelines to avoid such damage include:
    • Keep walking on the solar panel to an absolute minimum.
    • Do not walk on the solar panel with hard soled shoes.
    • Inspect shoe tread for rocks or debris before stepping on the panel.
    • Be careful not to drop objects on the solar panel.
    • The solar panel surface is slippery. Use extreme caution.                  
    • Do not attempt to open the solar panel’s junction box. The junction box contains no user serviceable parts.
    • Do not attempt to open the solar charge controller. The controller contains no user serviceable parts.
    • The solar panel can become very hot when left in direct Sun light. Gloves may be required in hotter climates.

INSTALLATION OVERVIEW

The installation of the SUNNYFLEX  MOBILE solar kit is fairly simple and straight forward with a little planning. The key installation steps are:

  • Choose a suitable location for the solar panel(s).
  • Prepare roof surface.
  • Install the solar panels
  • Choose the internal RV location for the charge controller.
  • Route the cable from the solar panels to the charge controller and then to the batteries.
  • Connect the wiring.

SOLAR PANEL LOCATON

The following recommendations for location of the UFLX solar panels are important to ensure best performance and aesthetics. The UFLX solar panels:

  • Need to be placed close enough to each other so that the pre-fabricated cables will reach. The “Y” ( when use more than 1 panel ) cables in the two panel system will allow the panels to be placed 6’-7’ apart.
  • Route the cables such that they are not pulling or placing stress on the panel’s junction box. Bends or turns in the wiring should be gentle and as large as possible.
  • Can be positioned either in-line with the RV or across it.
  • Should be located in an area that is not shaded by the AC unit, satellite or TV antenna, roof vents, etc…
  • Require a minimum of 21.5” x 81.5” area, including edging.

Note: It is a good idea to “dry fit” the solar panels and edge trim components prior to permanently adhering them to the roof.

ROOF SURFACE PREPARATION

PROPER ROOF PREPARATION IS PARAMOUNT TO ATTAIN THE NECESSARY LONG-TERM

ADHESION OF THE PANEL AND MOUNTING STRUCTURE

Follow all recommendations in this section for Roof Preparation and associated precautions

Additional Precautions and Warnings

  • New EPDM roofing surfaces may contain a layer of mica or other nonstick layer. This layer must be removed.
  • Citrus based cleaners, denatured alcohol, or mineral spirits are not recommended for use on EPDM rubber roofing materials.
  • All roofing surfaces can be very slippery when wet. Extreme caution should be taken and it is recommended to navigate the roofing surface on your hands and knees. This will greatly reduce the risk of falling.
  • Note: For older rubber (EPDM) roofs, the solar panels should be adhered to the roof with screws as described in “SPECIAL ROOF TYPES” section.

Directions for Roof Preparation

  • Use a pressure washer or a hose with a spray nozzle to remove loose dirt and debris from the entire roof.
  • Combine your mild liquid dish soap solution with warm water in a bucket or spray bottle.
    • A 20:1 ratio of warm water and mild liquid dish soap cleaner should be sufficient for new roofing surfaces (about 6oz of soap per gallon of water). Using cold or tepid water is not recommended as this will reduce the strength of the adhesive bond.
    •  Always consult with the RV manufacturer for optimal cleaning methods.
    • Using a medium bristle brush and the cleaning solution begin scrubbing the roofing surface in small areas that are easily reachable on your hands and knees (E.g. arm’s length or 3’ X 3’ areas).
      • Beginning at one end of the roof and working toward the point of exit on the roof where the solar panels will be placed.
      • Be sure to also prepare the areas where the cable tie mounts will be placed [See section for ROUTING THE CABLE].
      • Scrub the roofing surface in a circular motion applying a moderate amount of pressure until any visible evidence of dirt and debris is removed. Often, after surface dirt is removed, a light yellow surface coloration is observable. If such a yellow surface is visible, repeat the scrubbing step until the yellow disappears, leaving a clean white colored surface.
      • Rinse the roof with water thoroughly to avoid any residue buildup. F. For EPDM roofs, wipe the area where the UFLX panels will be adhered with Isopropyl Alcohol.
      • In the case of Gel-coated Fiberglass roofs, the isopropyl alcohol wipe is not required. However, a final surface wax removal step is required with an appropriate wax-remover or acetone is required. All the other surface preparation steps are identical to EPDM roofs.

INSTALLING THE SOLAR PANELS

WARNING!

SOLAR PANELS PRODUCE ELECTRICITY WHEN EXPOSED TO LIGHT EVEN WHEN NOT CONNECTED TO THE SYSTEM. THE SOLAR PANELS SHOULD BE COVERED WHENEVER WORKING ON THE SOLAR POWER SYSTEM IN ORDER TO AVOID ELECTRICAL SHOCK AND/OR ARCING.

  • The UFLX solar panels included a long piece of cardboard in the package. This piece of cardboard should be cut to the length of the solar panel and used to shade it during the installation. Use tape to hold the cardboard in place.
  • Start by aligning the solar panel to the position chosen when locating the panels. As shown below, roll back one end of the panel about 2 feet and remove 10”-12” of the protective paper liner to expose the adhesive. Lay the panel back down and apply pressure to bond to the roof surface.
  • Next, as shown below, go to the other end of the panel and roll it back towards the end already adhered. Pull the protective paper liner off slowly in 2 foot increments, applying pressure starting from the center and working towards the outer edges until the entire panel is affixed to the roof.

SPECIAL ROOF TYPES

  • RVs with older rubber rooftops may not be able to achieve sufficient bonding using only the solar panel adhesive due to “chalking” or severe oxidation.
    • In these cases, it is recommended that screws be used to secure the rubber edge trim components to the roof, especially on the upwind edge of the panel.
    • The edge trim parts are marked with a small dimple indicating where screws should be placed. Using these pre-marked locations will ensure that the screw will not go through the solar panel.
    • Use #8 x 1” stainless steel pan or truss head sheet metal screws.
    • RVs constructed with a metal skin, such as most Airstream travel trailers, should use pop rivets or through-bolts in addition to the adhesive mounting system. These fasteners must be located in the pre-marked dimples on the rubber edge trim components to avoid damaging the panel.

LOCATING THE SOLAR CHARGE CONTROLLER

The solar charge controller is designed to be flush mounted in an interior wall of the RV. Choose a location that is convenient for routing the cable and for viewing. Flush mounting the controller will require cutting a hole in the wall or cabinet.

ROUTING THE CABLE

  • Your SUNNYFLEX  MOBILE kit came with 20’ lengths of 10 AWG solar cable with connectors to the panels and a 20’ length of 10 AWG cable to link the controller to the battery. These lengths should be sufficient for most installations. If more cable is required, use wire that is the same conductor size or larger. Using a smaller wire size can result in performance losses and potentially create a fire hazard. See the following wire-sizing table for further information.

Wire Size (AWG) for <7% Voltage Drop

Current (A)

Distance (FT)

 

 

 

 

 

(# PFM Panels)

10

15

20

25

30

35

40

45

50

55

60

6 (1)

12

12

12

12

12

12

12

12

12

10

10

12(2)

12

12

12

12

10

10

10

8

8

8

8

18(3)

12

12

10

10

8

8

8

6

6

6

6

24(4)

12

10

10

8

8

6

6

6

6

4

4

30(5)

10

10

8

8

6

6

6

4

4

4

4

36(6)

10

8

8

6

6

4

4

4

4

3

3

Note: 90°C, Copper Conductor

  • When routing the cable, leave a foot or so extra at each end to make connections easier.
  • In most cases, the refrigerator vent is the best place to route the cable from the roof into the RV. Some RVs have the refrigerator located in a slide-out. In this case, an alternate location will be required and may require creating a roof or front cap penetration. This should be performed by a professional RV technician to ensure a watertight seal.
  • Starting at the solar panel connections, plan the routing for the Y-cables and connection cables [see below] across the roof to the entry location. Use the provided cable ties to secure the cable to the roof. Be sure to prepare the roof surface in the same manner as already described for ensuring good panel and edging adhesion prior to sticking down the cable tie mounts.

A cable tie mount must be placed directly adjacent to each side of each pair of cable connectors, at the center of each “Y” cable (where the three cables join in the middle) and then at least every 4’ along the roof to the point of entry. Use additional mounts anywhere the cable is not well supported. Additional cable tie mounts can be purchased at your local hardware store if needed.

  • Continue routing the cable to the solar charge controller location and cut to the appropriate length. Remember to leave some extra cable to make the final connections easier.
  • At the charge controller end of the PV cable, strip 3/8” of insulation to expose the copper wire. Route the 10AWG, cable from the charge controller to the battery location. Strip the cable as above at the charge controller end and crimp battery ring terminal to each wire. Do not connect the cable to the charge controller yet.

CONNECTING THE WIRING

Prior to connecting any of the wires, be sure the fuses are removed from the fuse holders and the solar panels are covered.

WARNING – RISK OF EXPLOSIVE GASES

Working around lead-acid batteries can be dangerous. Batteries generate explosive gases during normal battery operation.

  • Wear complete eye and clothing protection when working with lead-acid batteries. _ Follow all safety and application precautions from the battery supplier.
  • Always operate the charge controller in an open, well-ventilated area.
  • Never smoke or allow spark or flame in the vicinity of the battery. Lead-acid batteries generate explosive gases.
  • Neutralize any acid spills thoroughly with baking soda before attempting to clean up.
  • Make sure someone is within range of your voice to come to your aid if needed while working with lead-acid batteries.
  • Have plenty of fresh water and soap nearby in case battery acid comes in contact with your skin or clothing. Wash with soap and water immediately and then get medical attention.
  • Avoid touching your eyes while working with batteries. Corrosive particles may get into your eyes. If this occurs, flush eyes immediately with running water for at least 10 minutes. Immediately seek medical attention.
  • Never attempt to charge a frozen battery.
  • Remove all personal metal items from your body such as rings, bracelets, necklaces and watches while working on or around batteries. A battery can produce a short circuit current high enough to weld a ring (or the like) to metal, causing a severe burn.
  • Take care not to drop any metal tool or object onto the battery. This may result in a spark or short circuit across the battery or other electrical device that could cause an explosion.
  • Note that in the 2-panel configuration, the panels are connected in parallel (positive-to-positive and negative-to-negative). Do not connect in series.

WHEN ALL OTHER INSTALLATION AND SAFETY ITEMS HAVE BEEN COMPLETED

Final connections should be made in the following order:

  1. 1.    Ensure that the cardboard covers over the solar panels are still in place.
  2. 2.    Select GEL or LEAD ACID battery mode.
  3. 3.    Connect the positive (+) lead of the solar array to the ARRAY POSITIVE (+) terminal of the charge controller.
  4. 4.    Connect the negative (-) lead of the solar array to the ARRAY NEGATIVE (-) terminal of the charge controller.
  5. 5.    Connect the positive cable from the battery to the BATTERY POSITIVE (+) terminal of the charge controller.
  6. 6.    Connect the negative cable from the battery to the BATTERY NEGATIVE (-) terminal of the charge controller.

MAINTENANCE

Proper maintenance is important and will ensure years of reliable performance. If your SUNFLEX MOBILE system will be stored in shaded conditions for longer than one week, it is recommended that the PV system fuse nearest to the battery first be removed at the beginning of this storage period and only while the modules are shaded.

            The solar panel(s) should be checked periodically and before each trip for the following:

  • In the case that the battery is to be disconnected the PV fuse closest to the battery must first be removed.
  • Verify there is good adhesion of each solar panel and edge trim part.
  • Check that all wiring is secure.
  • Make sure the solar panels are clean. Excessive dirt or debris will reduce the power output. Bird droppings are corrosive and should be removed as soon as possible.
  • Use only water or water with mild liquid dish soap to clean the panels. A clean, soft brush may be gently used to remove stubborn deposits. Never use high pressure sprayers to clean the solar panels.
  • Avoid long periods of standing water on the solar panels. Make sure the water channels are clear and free of obstructions.