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Old 02-26-2020, 05:15 PM   #1
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Outdoors RV Solar Built Out Recommendations

Outdoors RV Solar Built Out Recommendations

We just bought an Outdoors RV 2019 Creekside 21 RBS and Iím trying to outfit it myself for boondocking as the dealer wanted a lot to do it for me. Iím currently wading through the mess of choices. I know that itís possible to spend a fortune on all this stuff, but weíre not full-timing or anything, I just want to build a good system, spend the least possible, but not buy such cheap components that they break after a couple years and I end up spending more than I would have on better components.

As cool as they sound I couldnít justify putting out a couple thousand for lithium batteries, so I just picked up a couple more US Batteries 2200 - 6volt golf cart batteries for a total of 4 which will provide a total of 464 Ah.

Our trailer has the Zamp prewiring for 3 panels on the roof and 1 portable. My plan is to put 3 on the roof and see if thatís enough, if not, then add a portable one.

Just wondering, is there something special about Zamp?

Canít figure out why their 170w panel is $500, when there are a lot of panels on Amazon that size for as low as $140, is their panel really that much better?

Tried researching the connecting solar in parallel vs in series and couldnít really come to a conclusion to which is better, any ideas?

Is an MPPT controller really that much better than a PWM?

I also want to tie a pure sine wave inverter, probably 2000 W to the distribution panel so that I can use any of the 120 volt outlets that are already in the trailer. Here again though I'm a bit confused by all the choices and whether to go with one of the cheaper ones off Amazon or what are the more expensive brands that everyone loves like Magnum or Xantrex. In our old trailer we were using the GoWISE Power PS1003 Pure SINE Wave Inverter 2000w Cont/4000w Peak, that I got off Amazon for $233 and it seem to work fine for the couple years that we had it. I'm also not sure whether I need an inverter/charger. Probably the only time we would use the charger is when we are at home, so I may not even need that as the panels on the roof will probably keep the batteries topped off just fine, right?

Sorry for so many questions. I'm just kind of stuck at the moment trying to decide on all these things.
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Old 02-26-2020, 06:10 PM   #2
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I feel your pain.... In the same boat, not looking to go as robust as you just want to throw some panels up but dont need an inverter....

Some people talk about breakers and putting in front pass thru and all sorts of stuff... It kinda makes your head spin...

I personally think zamp is over priced... Plenty of other items and cheaper ditto for panels...
Check these out I have been thinking about getting a couple of these
https://www.ebay.com/itm/200-25-Watt...AAAOSwbWZacTa~

Here is some more reading.

https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/
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Old 02-26-2020, 06:22 PM   #3
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I have a those US batteries and they have served me well over the last 5 years or so.

Dunno anything about the built-in wiring but suspect that the cables are not very big. So I would want higher voltage panels or panels in series to reduce line loss. But with the higher voltage you need an MPPT controller. Mine is an Epever Tracer A series.

I paid about 1$ per watt for my panels. They were designed for and left overs from home installations.

Got a deal on a Kisae 2000W inverter so that's what we have. Been fine so far.

You can use any quality 120VAC battery charger when you have shore power. Not really necessary to have it built in with the inverter.

All my chargers have temperature probes and correct for battery temperature when charging. Not sure how necessary that is but it does give me a warm and fuzzy feeling.
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Old 02-26-2020, 06:28 PM   #4
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The charger you already have is fine so I would not bother with it. You can get connectors that reverse the polarity of other branded solar panels so they connect properly to the Zamp combiner box on the roof. Check the wring of that box for tightness. Locating the charge controller as close to the batteries as possible reduces the voltage loss but I don't think it is that big a deal, although it is nice having all the equipment in one place. You should use a breaker before the charge controller for maintenance purposes and safety. If the input is not shut off before you disconnect a wire from the controller it will fry it.

The inverter you mentioned is fine. Renogy or similar panels are pretty good value. Zamp makes a great panel too just very expensive for the output.
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Old 02-26-2020, 07:21 PM   #5
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Check out AM Solar website for excellent solar and power conversion resources.
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Old 02-26-2020, 08:35 PM   #6
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Check out BestConverter.com then call and talk to Randy. He knows his stuff. I just did the inverter in the front storage with a automatic cut over in the main electric area. Just put the converter on it's own breaker. I can now run my microwave off my batteries for a quick hot muffin. I still have that huge 15W solar from the factory.
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Old 02-26-2020, 09:15 PM   #7
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My 2015 20fq came with pre-wired and I had the selling dealer install 300w of Samlex solar somewhat bastardized with the Zamp combiner box. I've since removed the Zamp combiner and ran new #4 wire to the pass thru where I relocated the charge controller to. But if I were in your shoes and planning to use the ORV Solar pre-wire, I'd:
1. Get an MPPT Controller good for more than 75v input, put it in the pass thru.
2.Replace the Zamp Box with most anything else
3. Replace the conductor from the Zamp Combiner to the "ORV propose controller location" over the bed.(about 4-5 ft of #8) That wire is only good for 30 volts if its the same as mine. Tie the new wire from the new combiner box to the existing pre-wire that goes down to the breaker, then to the battery
4. Research and get three panels, hopefully around 200w each wire them in series.
5. That should send a max of 65volts(a little less actually) to the controller and your voltage loss down the rather small 8ga wire wont be so bad. I was losing 1/2 volt while my panels were in parallel and the controller was over the bed.

Just a plan I'd use if I was gonna use the factory wiring. In my case I replaced all the wiring in mine with #4 from the panels to the controller in the controller, then #2 to the batteries. Of course there is the usual assembly of combiner box, breakers, switches, fuses and stuff to keep it safe and serviceable. Mine panels are currently in parallel due to the limited voltage input of my PWM controller, but it really works better then the messed set up that it came with.
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Old 02-26-2020, 10:07 PM   #8
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Last year, I called Renogy and ordered 2 100 watt mono panels, a 30 MPPT controller, a 30 ft cord, and fuses. I made a folding "suitcase" portable panel from the parts. I mounted the controller in the crawl/storage space, and modified the plug in Zamp connecter to bring in the power. Only ONE trip to the ER while constructing the thing.
We usually try to park in the shade, so roof top panels wouldn't be very productive in most cases.
Anyway, Renogy made the buying simple and answered my questions when I ran into a problem. The product I bought from them seems to be pretty good quality.
There is discussion about the wiring from the roof to the batteries being smaller then needed to be efficient, so some have replaced it. I think wire could be run from the roof top Zamp combiner box through the cabinets to the storage space with a little time and a couple beverages.
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Old 02-26-2020, 10:43 PM   #9
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DIY solar with the Zamps plug&play plug is not complicated... Zamp sell these plug/cable

https://www.amazon.com/Zamp-Solar-12...781737&sr=8-12

Just connect some MC4 connectors to the end and use whatever panels you want.. The one caveat is to make sure the polarity of your connection is right all the way to the charge controller...

As for charge controller I would recommend this for a 3 170w panel array...

https://www.amazon.com/Renogy-Charge...2s9dHJ1ZQ&th=1

Nice piece of kit with full access via App...

For your inverter I would choose this as it has a built in transfer switch and could be easily spliced into an existing electric run as you would like...

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074CL21FS...v_ov_lig_dp_it

Here is a brief overview of the Zamp plug polarity issue... But as I said check your polarity every step of the way with your own voltage meter to be safe...

https://teardrop-trailers.vanillacom...ions-explained

And finally I would add one more item which is a battery monitor - This one by Victron is on the pricy side but it the best product out there...

https://www.amazon.com/Victron-Energ...s%2C420&sr=8-5
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Old 02-26-2020, 11:51 PM   #10
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I added solar to my 2019 25RDS last year. Dealer installed 2 Interstate 6V GC batteries as part of their sale as they do on all ORV/NW trailers. I didn't want to dump brand new batteries so I bought 2 more.
I went with 4 Grape Solar 100W panels from Home Depot. They were on sale and I got all 4 for less than $400.
I'm using an EPEVER 40A MPPT controller.
I also installed an AIMS 2000W inverter.
I ran the solar panels through the Zamp roof top combiner box and I'm using the ORV OEM solar wiring. From asking around I was told I'm right on the edge as far as wire size and location.
The whole setup works fantastic and I only have around $1400 in it including buying the 2 extra Interstates from the dealer. I didn't itemize all the small stuff so thats a ball park figure.
I took the Zamp 12V solar connector thats on the exterior front thats supposed to be used for portable panels and bought a reversing 2 way trailer plug and some 12V outdoor lighting cord and made a 20' 12V cigarette lighter plug cord that I can use to power any small 12V devices I want to use outside.
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Old 02-27-2020, 08:54 AM   #11
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I have a 24kts that came with a Zamp 170 watt panel and a 30 amp controller.

Zamp expansion kits are expensive and as stated earlier in this thread, but very easy to install just mount plug and play, with that said I added two 100 watt Renology panels. Two Renogy panels were less than one 170 amp panel from Zamp.They were mounted at the front of the roof near the Zamp combiner box.

With the Renology vs Zamp panels you will need to reverse the polarity on the wiring. This can be accopmlished by a sae reverse polarity adapter or by cutting the wires to reverse the polarity. If cutting the wires a little solder and shrink tubing is all it takes if your handy.

We're running 3 group 27 batteries and out here in the sunny western US and with this setup we can dry camp for a week and have enough power without starting the generator.
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Old 02-27-2020, 10:15 AM   #12
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I purchased 3- 175w panels from the same vendor on eBay that camper8251 linked to.

Purchase this kit for a simple clean and compact set up, which has been fantastic.

https://www.solar-electric.com/catal.../category/854/

Picked up one of these for the array and pwm disconnect with 30a DC breakers.

https://www.solar-electric.com/baby-box.html

Been very happy with the performance. Has kept my 4- Trojan 125+ 6v topped off nicely.

Just picked up a 2 year old Magnum MM1212 for $200. That is the next phase of my little solar toy project.
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Old 02-27-2020, 12:13 PM   #13
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Click image for larger version

Name:	Solar 3.jpg
Views:	50
Size:	189.9 KB
ID:	276352

This is the "schematic" of my system. Or...it's as good as I can do with crayons and construction paper!
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Old 02-27-2020, 12:18 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by camper8251 View Post
I feel your pain.... In the same boat, not looking to go as robust as you just want to throw some panels up but dont need an inverter....

Some people talk about breakers and putting in front pass thru and all sorts of stuff... It kinda makes your head spin...

I personally think zamp is over priced... Plenty of other items and cheaper ditto for panels...
Check these out I have been thinking about getting a couple of these
https://www.ebay.com/itm/200-25-Watt...AAAOSwbWZacTa~

Here is some more reading.

https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/
Thanks for the links. I also get the sense that Zamp is overpriced...

Bob sounds trustworthy.

So hard to know who to trust these days... I get the feeling that some bloggers are getting free stuff or perks for recommending certain things and so many fake reviews on amazon and such...
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