I’ve #PutSolarOnIt! A 150w array on the back of my 97 Toyota Tacoma will do primarily three things: 1. Take the electronic load off the alternator and therefore save gas, 2. float my batteries and 3. Provide juice to charge the batteries for the 1500w inverter I installed for work and, of course, tailgating.
First I obtained 6 25w mono-crystalline solar panels. I took each module’s bypass diode and reconfigured it into a blocking diode, since this is a parallel array. Once I finished wiring the array I laid them out for testing. That radiator fan is screaming!
Under the hood I installed a circuit breaker for the dedicated line going to the auxiliary battery in the bed, and for the interior load center.
The auxiliary battery in the bed of the truck is where the solar is fed. An MPPT controller keeps both this battery as well as the main starting battery in tip-top shape.
Here you can see the battery box and 1500w inverter in the bed.
This is the load center in the cab, which allows individual control of each device. You can also see the extra socket and 175w small AC inverter. There is a direct line from the circuit breaker under the hood, and then 5 individually fused circuits for each device in the cab.
I managed to get all those wires looking pretty alright with the help of some split loom and zip ties.
The array on the tonneau cover of my truck. They’re siliconed on, so no holes were made.
I’ve replaced every single incandescent light bulb with LEDs to further reduce power load. Even the headlights are monster CREE bulbs!
I plan to replace the engine fan with an electric radiator fan, to take even more vampire load off the good ‘ol Toyota 3RZ-FE 4-banger.
The next major thing to do would be to add 6 more panels, as it looks like they’d fit and I’m gonna need it 😀
UPDATE: R.I.P. 97 Tacoma. 18 eighteen years of age, the frame broke in half. 2 years past the 15 year Toyota frame warranty 🙁
I got a new 2015 Tacoma and put solar on it!