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This is How to Install a Solar Cable Entry Gland (2024)

Cutting a hole in your van to install a solar cable entry gland can be a little scary - it's one of the first things you need to do for your van conversion and one of the most important! However fret not, it is actually very easy. In this guide I will show you the simple, no-nonsense approach to installing a solar cable entry gland in your campervan. By the end your van will be ready for solar power!


I'm Shane, I've been teaching people to convert campervans for years; I'm the author of Roaming Home; The Comprehensive Guide for Converting Your Van Into a Campervan,writer of The Van Conversion Newsletter, instructor of The Van Conversion Course over at Udemy. And full-time vanlifer for 4 years!


Now let's jump in and have a look at how to install the solar cable entry!

How to install a solar cable entry gland in your van conversion

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click a product link and buy anything from the merchant (Amazon, eBay, etc.) we will receive a commission fee. The price you pay remains the same, affiliate link or not. By using these links, you are helping me to continue writing free educational content!

 

Note: Did you know that you can get a free electrical wiring diagram by signing up to The Van Conversion Newsletter

 
van conversion book

Supplies List 🛒

Bosch power drill

​Bosch power drill (800W)

For driving and drilling


​Hammerite metal paint

For protecting bare metal from rust

Sikaflex 522

WD-40

​​WD40 oil

For keeping the hole saw lubricated

Hole saw set

​Bosch Bi-metal hole saw set

For cutting circular holes in wood and metal

Solar cable entry gland

How to use a hole saw

You will need to use a bi-metal (metal cutting) hole saw drill attachment to cut a circular hole for the solar cable entry gland.

There are a few things you should be aware of when using a bi-metal hole saw;

Oil: Use LOTS of tapping and cutting fluid on the metal you are cutting - you will destroy the hole saw if you don't.

RPM: Use the drill on a low RPM (rotations per minute) - you will destroy the hole saw if you don't. This means that you shouldn't press your finger all the way down on the trigger of the drill.

Pulsate: Pulsate the drill while you are cutting. Use a stop and start motion while drilling, this gives the holesaw a chance to cool down (it gets very hot).

Don’t cheap out: Real bi-metal hole saws cost a bit of cash - the cheap ones you find online may not work as well / at all.

Learn from my mistakes; the first time I used a hole saw, I destroyed it within 5 minutes because I didn't follow the advice above.

Careful of the swarf:

  • When using mechanical tools on metal, a lot of metal shavings are produced ( known as 'swarf'). It is vital that you remove all these shavings from the van when you are finished, if you don't they will very quickly rust and damage your vehicle. They are quite sharp, so be careful when handling them.

  • Always wear goggle while using mechanical tools on metal; if swarf gets into your eye, it could have very serious consequences. You should also wear earmuffs - these tools are VERY loud!

How to install a solar cable entry gland

A solar cable entry gland will be needed if you plan on having solar panels on your van (a necessity in my humble opinion).

I personally have 400W of solar power on the roof and it allows me to be completely off-grid most of the year. Read this article for a complete guide to campervan solar systems.


tep #1: Choose a bi-metal holesaw that fits your solar cable entry gland

A 5 cm hole saw should be perfect. You will be cutting a hole in the roof with this holesaw and it's important it doesn't overlap the cable entry!

Step #2: Trace around the hole saw

Place the hole saw on the roof and trace around it with a sharpie or pencil.

Step #3: Drill pilot holes

Drill a pilot hole in the middle of the traced circle and two more pilot holes close by on either side.

drilling solar cable entry gland

Step #4: Tape some scrap wood

Tape a piece of scrap wood to the top of the van to cover the three holes you just drilled.

scrapwood backing flange

Step #5: Secure the scrap wood

Hop on top of your van and screw some self-tapping screws into the piece of scrap wood to secure it to the roof.

screw backing flange

Step #6: Use the hole saw

Attach the hole saw to your drill and cut a hole in the roof of the van.

Note: We attached the scrapwood to the van to prevent the holesaw from wandering when we use it. If you use a hole saw on thin sheet metal it is very likely to wander.

hole saw solar panel

Step #7: Apply metal paint to the exposed metal to prevent rust

Ensure you clean all the metal shavings (swarf) before applying the metal paint.

apply metal paint

Step #8: Stick the solar cable entry gland to the roof

Run a bead of sikaflex around the solar cable entry gland. This acts as both a sealant and adhesive.

installing a solar cable entry gland with sikaflex

Stick the solar cable entry to the roof (apply some pressure!

Stick solar cable entry gland to roof

Conclusion

I hope you found this guide to installing a solar cable entry gland useful! You are well on your way to a beautiful self-build campervan!


Don't forget to subscribe to The Van Conversion Newsletter for everything you need to get started with your own van conversion (I'll send you a free wiring diagram when you join).


If you're looking for some guidance with your van conversion, you might be interested in Roaming Home; The Comprehensive Guide for Converting Your Van Into a Campervan. In the 380-page book (or ebook), you'll learn directly from me how to convert a van into your dream home - no prior experience needed!

Roaming home

Until next time,

Shane ✌️

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