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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
In the SW USA, the Sun and heat are BRUTAL on my 05 Armada, which, amazingly shows no signs of heat damage to the interior. But sometimes it has to be 150+ F inside, even with all six windows cracked. I've been wanting to play with solar, so I got this idea to run interior exhaust fans from a roof mounted solar panel and use any excess power to charge the battery.

It works great, the truck is 30 degrees cooler inside. Total cost is about $160, a small price to save your interior IMO. I wish I had done this 200,000 miles ago!

Parts List:
1. Solar panel of your choosing, at least 50W ($105)
2. Solar Controller ($20)
3. Two 12V brushless motor centrifugal fans (2 x $17)

DIY:
1. Screw the solar panel to the roof. I laid a zigzag bead of silicon under the panel to minimize heat transfer from the roof. My panel came with metal grommets which I filled with silicon for water proofing, then secured the panel using large washers and sheet metal screws to squish the silicon tight (see solar panel photo).

2. The panel comes with a positive and negative wire, which soldered w/heat-shrink to a dual wire cable off the roof, down the outside of the driver-side roof rack, into the top of the air deflector (plastic, easy to drill a hole and insert a rubber grommet), down the outside of the rear door weather stripping, underneath the door on top of the rear bumper, and into the cargo area under the rug, under the side moldings, under the driver seat and up into the driver center storage console.

3. Put the Solar controller on the underside of the driver's center console. It's important to get a programmable controller so you can set the fan on/off voltages. Some non-programmable controllers are designed for a separate solar battery system - these will usually run the load until the battery is down to around 10.5V, then use the Sun to recharge it. That won't work tied into a car's system, since the battery might not be available to start the car.

4. Used 1" double sided outdoor 3M tape to secure the fans to the rear side window glass, when the rear windows are vented open, the fans move on the glass and blow air out/in. Wire them to the controller like the panel. I have one fan blowing inward (drivers side so it blows on me when the rear windows are closed, and the other fan blow air out the passenger side rear window. These fans are a strong 42 CFM x 2, so there is solid airflow. Noise is subdued, you can hear them running on solar power, but they are not as loud as the stock rear fan system. Most controllers have an on/off switch.

5. The hardest wire to run is from the control to the battery. There is a hole in the firewall over the driver's left footrest with plenty of room to run another wire thought. I inserted a long claw grabber from the inside of the truck, through the hole and pushed it til it appeared in the engine bay, then pulled the cord back through.

6. Hook up the wires per controller instructions. The yellow wire in my photo is a 50 cent blocking diode to prevent any current from running backwards from the battery to the solar cell at night. I think the controller has one inherent to the design, but I wasn't sure.

Done!

How it works:
My fans (solor controller calls these "the load") are set up to turn on at 13.2V and turn off at 13.0V. The controller charges the battery at a maximum system voltage of 13.5V (assuming the alternator is not running). This controller is not super efficient since its the cheap kind, more expensive ones don't eat power, so it only can use and direct around 40W after losses. After 0.94A for each fan = 1.88A, the controller directs around 1.5A to charge the battery in full Sun with the fans cranking.

Using this setup, the truck system V is around 12.6V to 12.8V each morning. There is enough solar to reach 13.0V and kick the fans on by around 9 AM while the truck is still cool inside. The system voltage reaches the 13.5V limiter about an hour later with the fans running. The photo shows 13.7, I've since reduced it. The fans run as long as the Sun is out, or they draw the system V down to 13.2, then kick off.

Enjoy!
 

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Clever! I like it!
 

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Do you have any pictures you can share of the wire coming around from the top to the inside?

Thanks,
Zak

In the SW USA, the Sun and heat are BRUTAL on my 05 Armada, which, amazingly shows no signs of heat damage to the interior. But sometimes it has to be 150+ F inside, even with all six windows cracked. I've been wanting to play with solar, so I got this idea to run interior exhaust fans from a roof mounted solar panel and use any excess power to charge the battery.

It works great, the truck is 30 degrees cooler inside. Total cost is about $160, a small price to save your interior IMO. I wish I had done this 200,000 miles ago!

Parts List:
1. Solar panel of your choosing, at least 50W ($105)
2. Solar Controller ($20)
3. Two 12V brushless motor centrifugal fans (2 x $17)

DIY:
1. Screw the solar panel to the roof. I laid a zigzag bead of silicon under the panel to minimize heat transfer from the roof. My panel came with metal grommets which I filled with silicon for water proofing, then secured the panel using large washers and sheet metal screws to squish the silicon tight (see solar panel photo).

2. The panel comes with a positive and negative wire, which soldered w/heat-shrink to a dual wire cable off the roof, down the outside of the driver-side roof rack, into the top of the air deflector (plastic, easy to drill a hole and insert a rubber grommet), down the outside of the rear door weather stripping, underneath the door on top of the rear bumper, and into the cargo area under the rug, under the side moldings, under the driver seat and up into the driver center storage console.

3. Put the Solar controller on the underside of the driver's center console. It's important to get a programmable controller so you can set the fan on/off voltages. Some non-programmable controllers are designed for a separate solar battery system - these will usually run the load until the battery is down to around 10.5V, then use the Sun to recharge it. That won't work tied into a car's system, since the battery might not be available to start the car.

4. Used 1" double sided outdoor 3M tape to secure the fans to the rear side window glass, when the rear windows are vented open, the fans move on the glass and blow air out/in. Wire them to the controller like the panel. I have one fan blowing inward (drivers side so it blows on me when the rear windows are closed, and the other fan blow air out the passenger side rear window. These fans are a strong 42 CFM x 2, so there is solid airflow. Noise is subdued, you can hear them running on solar power, but they are not as loud as the stock rear fan system. Most controllers have an on/off switch.

5. The hardest wire to run is from the control to the battery. There is a hole in the firewall over the driver's left footrest with plenty of room to run another wire thought. I inserted a long claw grabber from the inside of the truck, through the hole and pushed it til it appeared in the engine bay, then pulled the cord back through.

6. Hook up the wires per controller instructions. The yellow wire in my photo is a 50 cent blocking diode to prevent any current from running backwards from the battery to the solar cell at night. I think the controller has one inherent to the design, but I wasn't sure.

Done!

How it works:
My fans (solor controller calls these "the load") are set up to turn on at 13.2V and turn off at 13.0V. The controller charges the battery at a maximum system voltage of 13.5V (assuming the alternator is not running). This controller is not super efficient since its the cheap kind, more expensive ones don't eat power, so it only can use and direct around 40W after losses. After 0.94A for each fan = 1.88A, the controller directs around 1.5A to charge the battery in full Sun with the fans cranking.

Using this setup, the truck system V is around 12.6V to 12.8V each morning. There is enough solar to reach 13.0V and kick the fans on by around 9 AM while the truck is still cool inside. The system voltage reaches the 13.5V limiter about an hour later with the fans running. The photo shows 13.7, I've since reduced it. The fans run as long as the Sun is out, or they draw the system V down to 13.2, then kick off.

Enjoy!
 

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Has anyone added a soloar panel and charge controller to top off their batteries, either for camping or just to deal with the fact our battery system regularly under charges our batteries?
 

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I have on my camper. Same should apply to a vehicle.

Battery Tender makes a lot of nice little solar options.
 

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I just put these on my camper yesterday. This is for a little bit more than topping off since I'm setting up this rig for boondocking, but the same principles apply.

Two 200W 24V panels $418 delivered
30A MPPT Charge Controller $152 delivered
Strut track, cone nuts, and tilting solar mounts - about $120
Various cables - $25
 

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