Fitting a Solar Panel to an 07 Autotrail Cheyenne through Sargent EC325 Power Supply Unit (1 Viewer)

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Phil J.

Free Member
Dec 21, 2014
111
70
Clay Cross, Derbyshire
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Autotrail Cheyenne 696
Exp
Newbie
Today I fitted a solar panel to our 07 Autotrail Cheyenne 696 and thought the process might be a help to anyone else who wants a similar setup.
This is a very simple as many Autotrails and other motorhomes are fitted with the Sargent EC325 power supply unit and can take a maximum of a 100W panel. Other models of Sargent units can take a panel so it’s worth checking if you have one and you want to fit one. The job is well within the scope of the average DIYer (and believe me I am average). However, the job is a lot easier with an assistant (my pal Trev!).


Parts required (prices include postage):

Ebay:

Biard 100W Solar Panel £89.99

End Mounting Brackets £19.99

Biard MC4 Connectors £3.99

Sikaflex 521 £12.99

Feed Gland £6.95

Sargent:

Solar Connecting Lead for EC325 £12.35

Total £146.26


Tools and other items required:

Drill

Soldering iron

Hole cutter

Cleaner

Corrosion resistant self tapping screws


Prior to fitting the panel I fitted the end mounting brackets. This was a simple matter of offering the end bracket up to the panel, drilling one hole and putting one screw in to hold the bracket in position. Then drill the remaining holes and screw in the remaining corrosion resistant self tapping screws. Care should be taken not to drill the actual panel.

The panel came with MC4 connectors fitted to the positive and negative leads so it was just a matter of fitting a pair to the Sargent connecting lead. This is very simple and only a low power soldering iron is required to solder the inner connectors to the leads. Confusingly, the panel had red positive and black negative leads but the connecting lead has brown positive and blue negative – ensure you fit the connectors on the correct leads.

We are now ready for fitting the panel to the motorhome. Lift the panel into the most suitable position and carefully mark out the corner positions of the mounting brackets with a pencil. I ensured that the panel couldn’t be obscured by anything on the roof, e.g. satellite dome or ariel, etc. I also positioned mine so I could reach it through the large roof light in the lounge area for cleaning purposes, apparently one of the biggest causes of reduced solar panel performance is failure to keep them clean. Remove the panel complete with mountings from the roof. Clean the marked roof area thoroughly with Tcut, cutting compound or similar and final clean with mentholated spirits.

Next, the end mountings should be temporarily removed and the mounting undersides given a scuff up with sandpaper (I used 80 grit) to improve adhesion and cleaned with the meths.

Fit the Sargent connecting lead by the MC4 connectors to the panel – its a lot easier done at this stage and you can hide the connectors under the panel.

Apply the Sikaflex to the mounting face of the end mountings and place the mountings on the area you marked on the roof. Clean of the excess Sikaflex and then refit the panel to the mountings with the self tappers.

As I knew there would be too much cable on the Sargent lead I cut the the lead about 30cms (about a foot in old money) from the EC325 plug. This made it easier to thread the lead through the roof.

Now for fitting the gland – carefully position and mark with pencil, clean with Tcut and meths in a position suitable for access to the Sargant power supply unit. Drill the hole using a hole cutter or suitable diameter drill. Scuff up and clean the underside of the gland as per the panel mountings.

Thread the lead from the panel through the gland and Sikaflex the underside – thread the lead through the hole in the roof and place the gland in position. Clean off excess Sikaflex. You can see fromm the pictures I used a duel entry gland. I placed a short length of wire in the unused gland to a. seal the hole and b. give me something to tie to if I want to pull another lead through later.

Now trim of the excess lead and rejoin the Sargent plug using a block connector – careful to connect blue to blue and brown to brown.

Connect the plug into the dedicated socket on the bottom of the EC325. There’s only one and it can only be inserted in the correct position. I had to remove the EC325 from the wall as I tried to fit it with a mirror but there wasn’t enough space. It’s only held on with 4 screws and releasing it from the wall just a centimetre or two gave me enough extra space without removing or stressing the wiring to insert the plug.


Hey presto, job done in a couple of hours! Nearest thing to scary was Trev's tea....and maybe releasing the EC325 from the wall but that was no problem at all in the end - and the best bit even on a dull Derbyshire day the panel is charging.

I hope this helps anyone who is thinking of fitting a panel to a Sargent unit.

Cheers
Phil


DSCF1483.JPG
Panel with mountings fitted

DSCF1485.JPG
From left to right - MC4 connectors fited, gland with lead threaded through and wire in spare gland, Sargent lead with dedicated EC325 plug.

DSCF1488.JPG
Location for the panel

DSCF1489.JPG
One of the markings out for the mountings.

DSCF1490.JPG
Trev doing a bit of cleaning and polishing

DSCF1492.JPG

In position

DSCF1493.JPG
Gland fitted and wires threaded

DSCF1494.JPG

Sargent plug reconnected ready for plugging in.
DSCF1495.JPG
Panel fitted and ready to go
DSCF1496.JPG
Gland fitted and sealed.
 

dave newell

Free Member
Oct 31, 2008
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Telford, Shropshire
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I sincerely hope you did more than just clean the areas for Sikaflex, it needs to be abraded before final cleaning to enable proper adhesion. Other than that minor comment well done, tidy job.

D.
 
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Phil J.

Phil J.

Free Member
Dec 21, 2014
111
70
Clay Cross, Derbyshire
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Autotrail Cheyenne 696
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Cheers Dave. Yes I agree abrading will give extra adhesion. My friend Trev is also a caravan repairer and has fitted many panels without problem and felt the compounding and cleaning is sufficient on the roof area. Time will tell but, just in case, it's best for anyone else fitting a panel to do everything possible to ensure maximum adhesion.
Great input Dave.
Cheers
Phil
 

Dazzlin

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Oct 31, 2012
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La Marina, Costa Blanca.
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Just gave a quick clean with a rag on mine before sikflexing. Recently moved panels to roof rails and having some right probs getting old brackets off after just 12 months!
 

Techno

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I only abraid plastic parts, not a problem on aluminium, grp, gel coat or paint if Sika cleaner aktivator is used. No one has told me their panels have flown the coup :LOL:

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Lenny HB

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Oct 18, 2007
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Neat job just a couple of points, a 100w panel is quite large would add a couple of centre support brackets. Also not keen on fixing with self tappers, I prefer to use nuts & bolts or rivet bushes, stainless steel self tappers should not be used as you get galvanic corrosion between aluminium & stainless steel the aluminium around the screw will corrode making the fixing very insecure.
 

Lenny HB

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Oct 18, 2007
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image.jpg
Used six aluminium brackets on each panel that allow the panels too be removed easily they were a bit expensive but very easy to get a panel off if needed.

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Techno

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You have a very nice roof Len (y)
Yes I normally use alloy angle but on my van (above) four of the brackets were existing so I bought two more and three new panels.
I mask off as much as possible to make it easier & cleaner removing surplus adhesive
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In the unlikely event of replacing a panel I just drill out the rivets.
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Techno

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The brackets I make now incorporate a pan head screw which automatically ensures the recommended (minimum) thickness of Sikaflex
CA_05061409150545-XL.jpg
 
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Lenny HB

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Oct 18, 2007
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You have a very nice roof Len
Thanks van was only a few weeks old when I took that photo.
I was going to make my own brackets but couldn't be bothered, was going to buy cheap ones & drill rivets out if needed to remove panel but decided to get the ones I used before. Cost over £60 for the 12 brackets, one part fixes to the roof other to the panel, one screw to undo to separate.
 

musson

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Dec 25, 2013
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Hi
I watched the guy fit my panel and sat dome,he did not use any abrasive to the roof just cleaned done with wipes,
he did however fit 4 self tappers one in each foot on the done,(covered head with sikaflex )he said he had known them come of roof.When I changed MH I left all brackets and feet on MH.

I refitted them to my new MH with no issues,I do have the center feet on my 100watt panel
 

Techno

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Unfortunately my first dome was installed by a German dealer and they too put a screw through each mounting foot. Had I fitted it I would not have done that as it is a completely unnecessary perforation x4 into a less that half a millimetre thick roof skin beneath the anti hail coat of my Rapido. The mounting feet are plastic and should be abraided prior to cleaning and adhesive. The relatively huge surface area of the four mounting feet will render them impossible to ever remove. Dome manufacturers make a second set of feet that screw to the glued set so that a dome can be easily transfered from one van to another but these are rarely used as it is easier to just buy a new set of plates if transfering one.

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jtp890

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May 16, 2014
591
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Dazzlin, is there a connection on the dethleff control module? Wondered how you wired in yours.
 
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Phil J.

Phil J.

Free Member
Dec 21, 2014
111
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Clay Cross, Derbyshire
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Autotrail Cheyenne 696
Exp
Newbie
We've done 80 miles over the weekend and it's still solid on the roof thank goodness! It's done a great job charging over the weekend even with very limited sun.
All the parts purchased and the fitting method was based on the best advice I could get from other motorhomers, technicians and, of course, the internet.
Many people will have different opinions about the best way to fit, etc. but this appears to have worked for me and the main purpose of my post was to say that the operation is well within the scope of most diyers.
Cheers
Phil
 

Tom A

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Apr 26, 2014
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2004 Bessacarr E735
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Great bit of advice.
We pick our Bessacarr up on Friday and think it as the same control panel. If so will a solar panel charge habitation and cab battery ?
 
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Phil J.

Phil J.

Free Member
Dec 21, 2014
111
70
Clay Cross, Derbyshire
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Autotrail Cheyenne 696
Exp
Newbie
The sargeant EC325 charges both habitation and cab battery if a solar panel is fitted directly to the EC325.
 

PeteChapman65

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Mar 6, 2019
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Cheers Dave. Yes I agree abrading will give extra adhesion. My friend Trev is also a caravan repairer and has fitted many panels without problem and felt the compounding and cleaning is sufficient on the roof area. Time will tell but, just in case, it's best for anyone else fitting a panel to do everything possible to ensure maximum adhesion.
Great input Dave.
Cheers
Phil

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PeteChapman65

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Mar 6, 2019
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Hi phil just reading how you fitted your solar panel I’ve just bought the cable and white plug from Sargent but the blue and brown wires that go into the plug are not fitted , I’ve looked where plug goes and can see the prongs but don’t no positive or negative hope you can help thanks Peter
 
Jul 5, 2013
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Hi phil just reading how you fitted your solar panel I’ve just bought the cable and white plug from Sargent but the blue and brown wires that go into the plug are not fitted , I’ve looked where plug goes and can see the prongs but don’t no positive or negative hope you can help thanks Peter
I doubt you will get an answer. The original post was over 4 years ago, and the OP appears not to be a paid up member anymore. Last seen on the forum in 2016.
 
Mar 23, 2018
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East Devon
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PVC
Exp
Since 1995 + 20Yrs a 'Tugger' first.
Our previous 'van, a VW T5, had a Sargent EC325 unit and I too fitted a Baird 100W panel and wired it into the EC325 using the plug terminated cable supplied by Sargent. I never saw more than 1.5A registered as input on the Sargent panel and that on a very sunny day. The solar controller in the Sargent is a PWM. Anyway. two years later the panel failed so I fitted a new one (140W) and an MPPT controller. These two images show the resulting input with the Compressor Fridge both running and not.
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