I had to resize the cables from 12 AWG to 6 AWG to take care of voltage drop over a 22-foot run and build a control panel and cables from scratch for my four house batteries. I also put in provisions for a future inverter.
The installation was a challenge because it required to blind drill through the inside of the framing of the roof; a 2-inch space in two separate locations. Both were done from the 2-foot x 2-foot roof opening for a exhaust fan or air-conditioning unit.
The first was a 20-inch drill for the cable run from the control panel, which was located on the outside of the Alaskan, and the second was a 12-inch to a power junction box on the roof.
The Alaskan has a wood frame roof on 16-inch centers so the Z mounting brackets on the panels had to match the spacing of the 2-inch x 2-inch frames. I used 1 1/2-inch wood screws and put a very high bond (VHB) tape on the Z foot to keep moisture from entering the roof and help carry the wind load.
It has worked out well running my biggest load; a Norcold DC refrigerator 24/7. However, I want to purchase a small generator for charging the batteries on cloudy days and to run the air conditioner when needed.
It took me 45 hours to complete and cost $2,300. In my opinion, the skill level for this modification is medium for the use of the tools, and hard for some technical expertise and components.
3. Mark Siminoff, Mountain View, California
2005 Dodge Ram 3500
2004 Alpenlite Saratoga 935
We are currently traveling our with two children in a truck camper for a full year. A significant chunk of our daily routine is dedicated to education and our homeschooling curriculum, which includes music.
One of the instruments both kids are learning to play is the piano. Of course, it’s no simple task to squeeze a piano into a truck camper. So, as part of the preparation for our trip, I researched compact keyboards and came across the Alesis V49.
This MIDI keyboard is compact enough to travel with us. It has a great feeling keyboard with velocity sensitive keys, is USB powered, and can play on and through our iPad. From there it plays through the truck camper’s stereo speakers, or through headphones.
The big challenge, of course, was finding a place in our tiny truck camper to store a MIDI keyboard. After some searching and measuring, I realized that the keyboard was about the same length as the dinette table, so I decided to make a new tabletop with the keyboard tucked away inside of it.
I chose to create two separate storage compartments within the table; one for the keyboard and the other for school and craft supplies. Accordingly, the tabletop has two doors. When open, each door has small ledge which can also be used to support a book, classwork, or an iPad.