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Category: About the Rig

Solar and Battery Upgrades

Solar and Battery Upgrades

As we plan to do a fair amount of boondocking, we wanted to install a solar array and upgrade the battery bank. The rig came to us “Solar Ready” which simply means there are wires pre-run to an entry gland on the roof with MC-4 connectors for connecting a single 100W panel. In addition there is a small GoPower PWM solar charge controller preinstalled along side the step well. Thor provided 4 6V lead acid golf cart batteries that I believe were rated for 200Ah in their series+parallel 12V configuration. Being lead acid, we could only use 50% of that capacity without damaging the batteries. In the weeks leading up to this project we clocked nearly 24hrs of genset runtime just to maintain the batteries. Our plan is to remove the lead acid batteries and replace with 6 100Ah Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO) batteries from Battleborn. That will give us a full 600Ah of useable capacity while also saving some weight and maintenance headaches. Here is what we are installing:

  • 6 100Ah 12V Battleborn batteries wired in parallel. (600AH Total useable)
  • 6 160W Renogy Solar Panels wired 3 pairs in parallel (960W total)
  • 1 Victron MPPT 150/85 Solar Charge Controller
  • 2 Victron Multiplus 12/3000/120-50 120V Inverter/Chargers wired in Split phase 180ยบ
  • 1 Victron BMV-712 Smart Battery Monitor
  • 1 Victron Color Control GX
  • 1 Precision Circuits LiFePO4 Battery Isolation Manager
  • 1 Precision Circuits Battery Guard

All of the above connected via Victron VE Direct bus and/or VE Net wireless bluetooth network.

I removed the stock lead acid golf cart batteries from the drivers side battery bay and cleaned up that compartment a bit. That space still holds the pump for our leveling jacks, the propane distribution manifold and the breakers for the house systems, generator and jacks. With the batteries removed, there is ample room for a tote with our septic hoses and accessories. This is a good place for such things as this bay is open to the outside air. Also installed here is the ventilation fan and filter for the new battery and electronics bay located behind the back panel of this bay on the camp side.

The new Battleborn battery bank is located above the frame rails in a space accessible from the forward camp side compartment. That space is ideal as it will center the battery weight and is the perfect size and shape to hold the batteries. I made up a plywood base covered it with some outdoor carpet and added some aluminum angle stock to keep the batteries positioned on the base.

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About our new rig

About our new rig

Our rig is a 2019 Thor Outlaw 37RB Class A Toyhauler Motorhome built onto of a Ford F53 chassis and powered by a Gas V10 10 Cylinder 3 Valve engine with a 6 speed automatic transmission. We purchased it new in April of 2019 at General RV in Huntley , IL. We has shopped around for a while and looked at a few used rigs but when we were ready to purchase none of the used ones were available. We ordered our rig through General RV and waited several months for it to reach the dealer. When it finally arrived, I made the journey from VT out to IL and Cathy and I went and to pick it up. We spent the better part of the afternoon at the dealer going through orientation and doing paperwork. During much of the orientation, I was explaining features to the dealers orientation guy as I knew far more about the specifics of the rig than they did. I have been studying the rig for months and even had Thor send me the mechanical drawings ahead of time.

Our 2019 Thor Outlaw 37RB – Delivery Day!

Repairs and overall quality.

After taking delivery and spending a few days getting to know our rig, we started to find many of the things that weren’t quite right with the rig. Overall there was nothing too serious, just lots of little things. Some of the basement compartment doors could be pulled open while locked, come of the cargo lights didn’t work. The deadbolt on the front door was misaligned and was VERY difficult to operate. The wiring for the powered steps was hanging loose beneath the rig. A few of the rear clearance lights were falling out of their holes. Several of the dash and ceiling vent louvers were falling out and needed to be snapped back together. The power to the water pump was connected using crimp on butt connecters and one wasn’t very well crimped leaving use without water after the first week. The most serious issue was the drivers seat swivel had a bent latch plate and didn’t lock into the facing forward position. I spent the next couple of weeks correcting these issues as I found them. After reading many horror stories about the problems with new rigs, I feel we made out very well with this Thor unit. After a week or two of getting to know the unit, you can tell that they do rush these through manufacturing but all in all, I’m pretty happy with the quality and I have been able to resolve all of the issues myself so far.