Weekend Project: solar + generator + tailgate storage (1 Viewer)

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As with everything on my truck, this project came out of a need that came up during a camping trip. On our last trip, we ended up with a total of 17 people for 4 days. As you might expect, between charging phones and speakers, there were a lot of little battery bricks floating around, and none were really up to the task by the end of the long weekend. We ended up running cars to charge batteries, which is obviously less than ideal.

I considered doing a dual battery setup, but we often camp a little ways from where we need to leave the car, so I'd rather have something mobile. So here is where I landed:

I found a nice solar generator that packed a reasonable capacity, was the right price, and was compact enough to build into the car. The best spot for this is the stock jack location.
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Of course, this meant I needed to find a place to put the jack. I had been meaning to do a tailgate storage box for a while, so this seemed like as good a time as any. A buddy and I made a frame and doors out of plywood, then I used the same rubber matting that I recently covered the entire cargo area of the car with. I also took the opportunity to throw in some sound mat in the tailgate and inside the fenders
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Then it was time to wire the solar and generator in. Unfortunately, the generator's plug made it too deep to fit in the desired spot, so I took it apart, soldered new leads to the input location, removed the handle and brought the wires out through that location.
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Then I attached a solar panel to my roof box, chased the wires down the A pillar and to a switch in the dash.

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It's a three position switch, with one side connecting the generator to the solar panel, the other to the car power outlet circuit, and the middle disconnected entirely. Wired everything up with a disconnect so I can remove the generator if necessary and we're good to go!

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LndXrsr

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Then it was time to wire the solar and generator in. Unfortunately, the generator's plug made it too deep to fit in the desired spot, so I took it apart, soldered new leads to the input location, removed the handle and brought the wires out through that location.View attachment 2447192View attachment 2447193

Then I attached a solar panel to my roof box, chased the wires down the A pillar and to a switch in the dash.

View attachment 2447194View attachment 2447195

It's a three position switch, with one side connecting the generator to the solar panel, the other to the car power outlet circuit, and the middle disconnected entirely. Wired everything up with a disconnect so I can remove the generator if necessary and we're good to go!

View attachment 2447197

Nice work! Next you gotta get that L vent switch flipped around!
 

mdcoa

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Nice! What panel did you use and what did you use to stick it to your car top carrier? Thinking about doing this myself, but would run the power to the REFARC that charges the 2nd battery. We have so much stuff (5 people...) we never ever camp very far from the car!
 
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Nice! What panel did you use and what did you use to stick it to your car top carrier? Thinking about doing this myself, but would run the power to the REFARC that charges the 2nd battery. We have so much stuff (5 people...) we never ever camp very far from the car!

Just a cheap aliexpress panel, have another one for the hood as well. Used 3M VHB tape to attach it.
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Thinking of doing something similar, can you go through how you wired the generator and the three position switch a little more.
 
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Sure, I used a fuse tap to pull power from the lighter circuit and wired it like the schematic below. The generator itself has a 12-20V DC input, so I opened it up and soldered wires to the board that contains that plug so I could fit the box in the jack location. The diagram software didn't have a 3 position DPDT switch, so pretend that's in there. Also ignore the "9V" on the generator battery there.

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The foot of the jack is pretty close to the same depth as the tailgate, but it goes in there, even with the foam I used to keep stuff from rattling around.
 

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