Saturday, February 16, 2019

Day 39 - Getting Prepped for More Solar

Went up on the roof today to measure the spot I am planning to put the new solar panel. You can see the location of the existing junction box. I’m pretty sure that the brackets will allow the new panel to fit over it. In case it doesn’t, I have several backup options. The tape measure is set to the length of the new panel. It is about 6” wider than the other panels so there is plenty of space.

As a refresher, I pulled out the MC4 crimp tools and installed a connector on each end of the leftover cable from the original solar panel installation. Since I needed to make cables for the new panel anyway, this just helps the process get started. The cable itself is 10 AWG with UV-resistant insulation and is designed for use in solar installations. By “designed”, I mean the insulation is the proper size for the MC4 connectors. These are most of the tools needed for crimping and I have the two MC4 connectors shown below the crimp tool.

First, the pieces for mechanically securing the cable to the connector are put in place before crimping the cable. The insulation is stripped off enough so that just the tip of the bare copper wire goes into the body of the pin. This is just so that stray strands don't get caught in the connector.

The pin is crimped using the ratcheting crimp tool specifically made for these connectors. What I did not show was a little bit of the Ox-Gard anti-oxidation compound was put into the area of the crimp before going into the tool. I didn't include a picture of the crimping process as it takes at least two hands to make sure things stay in position during the crimping process. The crimped pin is inserted into the back of the plastic connector until you feel and hear it "click" into place.

The silicone ring, plastic teeth that grip the cable jacket and the knurled nut are put onto the back of the connector. These are plastic wrenches that are specifically designed for MC4 connectors to tighten the knurled nut. The two prongs at the end of the plastic tools are used to disconnect the connectors as the clips are recessed and almost impossible to reach without these tools.

Success. I did still remember how to install the MC4 connectors. I still have two more pairs of connectors and depending on how I end up connecting the new panel into the system, I either need one pair or none. UPS says that the panel and brackets will arrive on Tuesday. Another fun project and I can drill more holes in the roof...

I just made an RV park reservation for the middle of March in Orange County. Definitely no boondocking around there. I needed to send a picture of the RV before they would finalize the reservation. I hadn’t run into that in a while. BTW, they said the RV looked fine.


  1. More holes in the wrote that to get my attention didn't you?