New to Heartland group


I am a retired Military electronics E6 currently a mechanic for the light rail system in the Phoenix Metro area. My wife is employed by Earnhardt Auto dealership and we both are very much part-time RV'ers with our fur baby Belle and 4 word vocabulary parrot Bob. The kids left the nest for military and currently police duty getting married and all now creating families of their own.

My wife and I purchased a 2013 North Trail 28BRS this last November from Toms Camperland in Avondale AZ and have only been able to use it once for a boondocking outing to NASCAR March 2020. We found that running a 3.5Kw generator to supply power was great until the nightly curfew hit and was asked to shut off the generator. Well, that didn't set well so we looked into Solar glamping not flashlight camping as per the wife.

We originally had a 1/2 ton GMC step side truck but that proved to be scary just driving a few miles on the highway to the CAT scales, then finding that the weight was quoted wrong that we only had 250 lbs left of the towing capacity on the truck. So we traded the 1/2 ton in for a F350 6.0 Powerstroke Kings Ranch edition SWD. Now it handles great on the highway across the Phoenix Metro freeway system.

My wife and I wanted the TT to see the Grandkids in Seattle and Fort Worth areas and NASCAR events in the Southwest. So far we love our unit but Covid has put a temporary hold on our travels and outings. This has given me time to build a solar system to provide all but the AC in glamping the wife wants. ( even found you can have 24/7 AC Solar but that's a bit pricey in the 7.5K range)

If you've camped in the AZ heat when its 117 outside the 13.5K BTU AC does not work so well. Keeps the TT around 85 still a tad warm, nights tolerable at 80. Our Solar system in place now provides a constant fan to cool the cellular based alarm system and the alarm control, the house battery charged, the TV, LP & CO detection units and Micro. Have not tried to fully power the trailer with fridge water heater and coffee maker yet knowing the backup won't last more than an hour. inverter T={(10(400)/(load))/2} but a quick cup of Keurig coffee in the am and a hot cinnabon before the generator curfew is up would be great.

We found this forum from the Service people at Heartland as they recommended the forum to help with answers as they could not do so as per policy. "HOW TO INSTALL SOLAR, can it be done?"

I have purchased a 500W system: (2) 250W hard panels (31"x61"), 3.5Kw inverter, (4) 100ah sealed AGM batteries and MPPT from Epever 4210. Panels & Battery tied in parallel. 4 awg wire inside and 6 awg to panels with inline fuses from panels. Inside a 50 amp and 300 amp breaker/switch from bussmann.

I used the conduit for the fridge to run wires down to the dining booth where I store the equipment so no holes into roof. Up to this point the system is working but the panels are not mounted to the roof just sitting there.

That's the issue I have. Too chicken to proceed without a TM or advice.

can't move the trailer without removing the panels inside. HOW DO you properly install them on a North Trail? was my question to service.
I found that the Service Department was not able to supply any diagrams or cut sheets on the roof other than the supplied to the original owner brochures on the roof construction. I have tried to contact and search the threads on install of hard panels found a few old ones and have extracted information and presenting it here to see if I am on target or getting ready to destroy a roof.

Using a walabot stud finder find that the roof rafters are spaced 48" apart and thru one thread on this forum that uni-strut base needed to be made as the wood decking is a whopping 1/4" thick. I plan on using the z brackets provided in the kit to fasten the panels to the uni-strut and the uni-strut to the roof into the rafters using a 1/4" x 1" 1/4 long self tap zinc screws with neoprene washers and lots of diclor lap sealant. The uni-strut is 1/2" thick and 9' long to secure to 3 different rafters over the master bedroom and 8" in on the starboard side. plan on setting the panels side by side in the center of the 9' span of uni-strut. Will have 3 columns of uni-strut lined up stern to aft. The Starboard Center and Port sides of the panels will be secured to the uni-strut but still don't know if the forward and aft sides need anything.

So after this long post, any comments or suggestions as to the future of my 2013 Heartland North Trail Caliber editions roof would be appreciated.
Thanks for getting thru this long post, admin types sorry if it's too long.




Staff member
Hi Stew116,

Welcome to the Heartland Owners Forum. We've got a great bunch of friendly and helpful folks here who are quick to share what they've learned. That includes a number who have installed solar, so I expect you'll hear from some of them soon.


Well-known member
Stew 116:
First of all, heartfelt thanks for all all the time from your and your children's lives given to all the rest of us in the defense of freedom. See this link about the disintegration of religious freedom in China, where people are told to worship the party leadership as Gods:

I too, was a military electronics technician in the now disbanded Naval Security Group, 1968-1974. I have a Bighorn, and at one time started a solar installation, trying to use the undersized hardware I found at the local home improvements stores for mounting the panel on the roof. I got as far as hoisting the heavy, residential panel on the roof and finding that my mounting hardware was bending without even being screwed down. I ended up NOT installing the panel. Although I have a generator, I don't do NASCAR, and have a general attitude that the best place to stop in the hot Western states is in an RV park with electrical power. I have heard that quiet fuel cell generators are on the horizon.

I suggest you call back Heartland Service and ask for a diagram of the roof studs layout to be sent to you (e-mail attachment?). They sent me such a diagram for my Bighorn.

I don't know if you have done this, but here is a Google search on " RV Solar Panel Mounting Hardware" that has lots of items, You Tube Videos, etc.:

Good luck, and thanks again!