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Old 11-14-2017, 08:30 AM   #1
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Zamp solar ready ORV 24KTS

I’m ready to get the solar up and running. We’re intending to take an extended trip (3-4months) out west next year, with several other (2-3 week) trips here in the northeast and the Canadian Maritimes.

The many choices of À la carte approach and the questionable quality of the various brands leaves me wondering.

Should I order a package from Zamp?

What size and brand of AGM batteries would fit under the bed and still render enough amp hours of service. It would be nice to have the ability to occasionally run the microwave without the genny being run.

What inverter works best, what size?

Some packages have three 160w panels, Zamp has plug and play panels.

I’ve read so many threads for months, and I know many of you have set ups that may work well. I’m trying to find what is the best, most cost efficient that is available here on the east coast.

Any help would be appreciated!
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Old 11-14-2017, 10:21 AM   #2
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We have the full meal 300 watt Zamp setup on the fiver. Circumstances at the time dictated going this route. On my TC I have a 200 watt system from Ecoworthy. I am thinking of adding another panel to the fiver, will probably go with Renogy for the extra panel as The quality vs $$$ appears to be the best. The Zamp setup is a 12 volt system with a PWN controller and uses SAE connectors & is wired in parallel. The system I built myself uses a MPPT controller and is wired in series. The most amps I have seen in the Zamp system is 16 & the 12 amps with my other system.

If I was going to build another system, it would be at least a 24 volt system if not a 48 volt system with a quality MPPT controller, if the roof space allowed it.

Using the Zamp combiner box might need some wiring modification, as most solar connections are MC4.

We have a 2000 watt PSW inverter in the fiver and it runs the microwave just fine, also runs a toaster, just both together. We only use a 1000 watt PSW inverter in the TC as it does not have many options.

As far as batteries are concerned the fiver has four 6 volt FLA batteries which are mounted outside in the battery compartment, and they provide enough power for all our needs ( we are power hogs ).
In the TC I have two group 31 AGM 12 volt batteries mounted inside. These also work great to satisfy our needs in the more spartan TC. Keep in mind the AGMs will cost 3to 4 times what a FLA costs.

Good luck on your install.

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Old 11-14-2017, 05:52 PM   #3
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Unless I've missed something in my research, there is virtually no benefit to going Zamp aside from being able to use the existing combiner box without modification. They're much more expensive than other brands for equivalent wattage. It's worth digging in a bit if cost is a concern.
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Old 11-14-2017, 07:46 PM   #4
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Here's an overkill system on a 24rks

900W solar with 600Ahr lithium (!!!). Probably has 10 grand in batteries...

https://youtu.be/rjAcu787iFg

What's the goal? Eliminate gen usage or minimize it? Different systems (and costs!) depending on the answer to that.
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Old 11-14-2017, 09:25 PM   #5
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Yes there are probably other systems - including roll your own - but the ZAmp products are not bad and are made here in Oregon. Another company that has been outfitting RVs with solar is AM Solar - also here in Oregon.

Not sure about how the pre-wire in our units is done, but Z-Amp does wire their connectors backwards from the rest of the industry. So if you have a Z-Amp system - don't try to mix and match panels. I suspect that as long as you wire it right the connector box and wiring down to the bedroom and the controller is done according to your panels that would "undo" the backwards connector. Also Z-Amp sells reversing connectors if you want to keep things red and black.
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Old 11-14-2017, 09:42 PM   #6
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Solar ready on our rigs is kind of a misnomer.
Sure, the combiner box is already there (with their backward wired plugs), and the wiring is run at the factory to the battery area. That's about it. It helps somewhat........I will most likely upgrade the wires during my install. I can use theirs to pull mine thorough hopefully. The wires they install are too small for a great system. Too much loss over the run.

There are many systems out there that can do what you need. Zamp has good products, but they are at the high end of the dollar scale.

I haven't installed solar yet....just the batteries and monitor. Will be following this closely for ideas. Budgeting due to retirement.
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Old 11-14-2017, 10:08 PM   #7
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The roof box also has wires down to the controller area. So in theory you can simply install the roof panels and charge controller plug and play.

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Old 11-14-2017, 11:04 PM   #8
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https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/

All you will ever want to know about solar, wiring, 12v power, and batteries.

Happy learning.
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Old 11-15-2017, 04:51 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by egwilly View Post
Solar ready on our rigs is kind of a misnomer.
Sure, the combiner box is already there (with their backward wired plugs), and the wiring is run at the factory to the battery area. That's about it. It helps somewhat........I will most likely upgrade the wires during my install. I can use theirs to pull mine thorough hopefully. The wires they install are too small for a great system. Too much loss over the run.

There are many systems out there that can do what you need. Zamp has good products, but they are at the high end of the dollar scale.

I haven't installed solar yet....just the batteries and monitor. Will be following this closely for ideas. Budgeting due to retirement.
Your comments match my concerns exactly. I retired this year and want to do this right, and right from the start. My anxiety of mix and match starts with the use of “solar ready” components. Rickeoni has suggested a higher voltage system, which has great benifits but may be more expensive and a bit overkill for my small TT useage.

My initial plans are to get the right battery bank and a set of portable panels to minimize the use of the genny. Then I would get three 160w panels, at least, and make a system with an inverter that will serve us for years.

Currently under consideration for 90% boondocking and dry camping.

Batteries: Fullriver DC400-6 AGM Sealed 6V 415Ah Battery four batteries, two sets wired in paired series and then in parallel.

Portable panels: Zamp USA Made 200 Watt Portable Solar Charging System
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Old 11-15-2017, 09:52 AM   #10
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Pretty much agree with Rickeoni. And we just added some portable panels with an mppt controller (Epever Tracer). Portable works well so far but it definitely takes some planning with respect to panel storage when not in use and how to mount the panels when in use. I have to be more than a day at a boondock site to justify the work of setting it up. So I'm glad to have the roof panels as well. And the roof panels can do their work while travelling on those long trips.

For cost reasons I went with regular house-hold 24V 72 cell panels on the roof. Got them for less than C$1 per watt. But I wouldn't want to try making a "portable" system out of those big heavy panels. Smaller panels for the "portable" systems are typically 36 cell 12V and a lot more expensive. I luckily found a pair of bigger ones (170W, ~25lbs, each) that were more reasonably priced. I run them in series effectively creating a 24V 72 cell system. The higher voltages help with the line losses of 2x75ft of cable, and the MPPT controller can handle the higher voltage as well.

Fullriver batteries have a good rep. I would love some AGMs that we could keep inside and warm as lead acid batts can lose up to 30% of their capacity at low temps.
But they are spendy ...

And from what I hear, you do want to charge AGMs up full on a regular basis. Unlike flooded batts you can't really leave them partially charged for very long before they lose capacity. With flooded batts you can, and then you Equalize them to desulphate; can't do that with sealed AGMs. Another reason we haven't got any.

But if partial charging is an issue there's been some recent advances in sealed battery chemistry that I would use over a regular AGM like FullRiver. That's the Outback Nano-Carbon https://www.altestore.com/store/deep...attery-p11954/
Reputable company but dunno anybody who has them.

We got a good deal on a Kisae 2000W PSW inverter. You'll prolly need 2000W for your microwave. The "pure" sine wave means I can run anything off it, and the only problem is that, once you have one, you start using it more and more.
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Old 11-16-2017, 10:44 AM   #11
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I emailed ORV and asked what size wires were used.

I was told 8 gauge. Which is plenty for 3 or 4 160w panels.

The main issue is the factory location of the solar charge contoller. It needs to be as close to the batteries as possible. I’ll be installing my replacement SCC in the junction box between the A-frame under the front pass through storage. I’ll then plug the hole over the queen bed with a battery monitor.

I’m going with the setup recommended by handy bob, bogart engineering.
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Old 11-16-2017, 10:49 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ModestMonk View Post
Your comments match my concerns exactly. I retired this year and want to do this right, and right from the start. My anxiety of mix and match starts with the use of “solar ready” components. Rickeoni has suggested a higher voltage system, which has great benifits but may be more expensive and a bit overkill for my small TT useage.

My initial plans are to get the right battery bank and a set of portable panels to minimize the use of the genny. Then I would get three 160w panels, at least, and make a system with an inverter that will serve us for years.

Currently under consideration for 90% boondocking and dry camping.

Batteries: Fullriver DC400-6 AGM Sealed 6V 415Ah Battery four batteries, two sets wired in paired series and then in parallel.

Portable panels: Zamp USA Made 200 Watt Portable Solar Charging System

The portable zamp system is a rip off and not efficient. Mainly because the charge controller is attached to the panels.

Trojan and Crown are excellent batteries as well.
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Old 11-16-2017, 11:23 AM   #13
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Even handy Bob says that 6' of cable in max for the battery to charger. I bet that the run from the overhead to the batteries. Is lesson than that.

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Old 11-16-2017, 03:28 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rconkling View Post
I was told 8 gauge. Which is plenty for 3 or 4 160w panels.
I can confirm it's 8 AWG. On the roof, the Zamp combiner has embossed on it 450W maximum, so three 160W panels would max that out.
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