Mounting control panels and other equipment in your RV often requires drilling and cutting holes in cabinets and walls. It is certainly normal to feel skittish about taking on such projects. Nevertheless, sometimes poking holes just cannot be avoided. My advice is to take some time to really plan and think it through.
TAKE TIME TO THINK AND PLAN
Before making any holes in your RV, I plan out exactly where I want to mount the equipment, where I’ll get power, and how I will route any wiring to that location. Only then, will I consider drilling holes. But don’t be in a rush. Plans have a tendency to change once you learn more. Keep in mind, that your spouse may have an opinion on the matter. It’s not uncommon to spend hours planning and mounting a new control panel to have my wife say “Why did you put it there? I don’t like it.” Ugh.
MOUNTING MY SOLAR CONTROL PANEL
After careful planning, I was pretty excited to finally get my new Solar Charge Controller Remote mounted inside the coach. The panel was designed to fit on a standard double sized electrical box. This would require me to make a pretty large hole in the side of the panel to fit the box. I decided to mount it right next to my inverter remote.
I wanted a nice clean cut, so I placed blue painter’s tape on the cabinet surface where I would make the cut. Then I traced around the electrical box to mark where I would cut. Using my Dremel Tool with the cutting bit, I carefully cut along the line. I finished off the cut with a utility knife and the electrical box fit perfectly.
I had to make a slight modification to the electrical box to accommodate the oversized circuit card on the monitor panel. With my Dremel, I was able to get it done quickly.
The next step was to run the provided cable over to my solar charge controller located on the other side of the RV. To do this, I needed to drill a hole in the floor and run the cable underneath the coach. I enclosed the cable in plastic wire guard and secured it along the RV frame with zip ties all the way to the charge controller compartment.
All that was left was to plug the cable into the charge controller and tidy up. This was not a difficult project, but it certainly helped to have made all of the difficult decisions up front. There were no surprises in the end and the monitor panel looks like it was installed at the factory.
The same process I went through for my solar remote panel could certainly be applied for mounting any kind of panel. Had I mounted this unit in a wall and not a cabinet, it would have been a bit more risky, both technically and aesthetically. I chose to eliminate that risk by mounting in an easier location that was out of the way but still accessible.
Materials, Equipment and Tools
1/2″ Wire Guard
For a professional outcome I use this stuff whenever running wire or cable in my RV. It helps protect from heat, dirt and critters that like to chew on things.
Morningstar TS-45 MPPT Solar Charge Controller
This MPPT charge controller has been a work horse for us. It supports up to 150 volts DC input and up to 45 amps. With the MPPT boost, this is the perfect controller for our series-wired panels.
Dremel 4000 with Attachments
I love my Dremel. It has many uses and comes in very handy for jobs like this. I used the cutting wheel attachment for this project to quickly and accurately cut the hole for my electrical box.