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Old 07-22-2018, 10:47 PM   #1
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External Solar Panel Hookup

I have a 2017 Georgetown 31L5, it has a plug that looks like a spot I can plug in an external solar panel. If I get a portable panel, can I simply plug it into this outlet and have if charge my house batteries, or do I need more equipment?
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Old 07-22-2018, 11:30 PM   #2
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Nope. Solar panels need a controller between panels and batteries.
Can you take a picture of the plug you are talking about?
That would help.
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Old 07-23-2018, 07:18 AM   #3
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Don't have access now

Sorry, no pictures, I am away from the coach.
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Old 07-23-2018, 12:07 PM   #4
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For my 2017 Georgetown 31L5 I have a solar connector that uses the 2 Pin Furrion plug.

I wanted to try it out and went ahead and bought a Furrion FSPP95SA-BL 95W Portable Solar Suitcase on ebay. This has the contoller and cables built-in. Plug and charge type. Here is the exact item on Amamzon - https://www.amazon.com/Furrion-FSPP9.../dp/B017P8H8SQ

I did some testing in the spring and did get a small increase in charge to the batteries but so far this year it has rained or been cloudy the few times we have been out. Later this month we are headed to Myrtle Beach and I plan on more testing.

Solar is awesome but the bottom line for me in the year and a half I have owned a motorhome, we have yet to dry camp and been in the need to charge off the grid. I hope to at some point. I have seen products you can buy for less that will do what this item does but you will have to modify the connector to use the one supplied with the motorhome.

Also, 95 watt is by no means enough to live off the grid and keep batteries charged. From my calculations I see this as being able to extend my use for an extra day if the panels are in optimal placement of the sun for a 12 hour day. Hoping to get 75 amps of recharge.
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Old 07-23-2018, 12:18 PM   #5
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Thanks

Thanks, that is exactly the information I was looking for. Added to my amazon wish list 😎😎
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Old 07-23-2018, 12:42 PM   #6
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Short answer: If you have a ZAMP or Solar-on-the-Side connection, all you should need is the panel(s). RVs with these connectors have the charge controller built into the system. So it's plug and play.
A decent 30 amp charge controller only costs between $30 to $60 retail, so having this built in is not a big deal.

Longer answer:
If you are "serious" about solar, it might be better to install two to four (or more) 100-watt panels on the roof and run them through a dedicated charge controller straight to your battery bank USING THE PROPERLY SIZED WIRE GAUGE. Rumor has it that the ZAMP and SotS are wired for roughly 100 to 200 watts (7.5 to 15 amps) max - often just 12 AWG wire. Anything more than that and the wire gauge is too small, and the system gets lossy - wasting much of the gathered solar energy and turning the wires into "heaters".

If your rig has, for example, 4 x 6-volt golf cart batteries wired in series/parallel for 12 volts out, a crude estimate of demand for charging is that each battery needs a panel...4 batteries = 4 panels to have enough charging capability to top them off during an average day. In the Pacific Northwest, you'd need more panels to capture the relatively weak sunlight.
The risk is UNDERCHARGING the batteries which leads to sulfation. Sulfation is a common problem with solar-only installations.

If you're boondocking for extended periods, periodically run your generator...on the high-step throttle setting (not the low idle)...to enable your RV's converter to deliver a good burst of "bulk charging" or similar to the battery bank and bring it up to full charge.

I acknowledge that you said you don't plan to boondock much, so this may not apply, but if the opportunity presents itself, it would be wise to bone up on solar power so that you can make the most of your off-the-grid experience and protect your batteries from expensive damage.
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Old 07-23-2018, 01:42 PM   #7
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What I did for solar

My requirements are a lot less than most and we boondock often. I have 156 watts of solar and run it through a Renogy smart Controller (MPPT for best efficiency).

I have a Anderson Power Pole connectors right off the battery. The ZAMP wiring is kind of backwards and it adds a lot of wire length to the charge path (loss of current to batteries).

I did not mount my panels as we look for shade to park under - I have the panels and a cord so I can move them around to follow the sun. Most days my batteries are charged before noon from a night of CPAP use, lights, and pumps, and furnace.
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Old 07-23-2018, 03:27 PM   #8
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Any solar connector on the side of an RV is simply a direct connection to your battery. You will need a charge controller as well as panel(s). Someone mentioned that the ZAMP connectors come with a controller. That is not correct. The reason that none of the connectors come with controllers is because the controllers are scaled to the wattage of your solar panels, the length and gage of your wiring, etc


There is plenty of information on the internet about using solar for your RV. The kits are fine you but they take up space and you can’t really leave them out when you away from your site; sometimes they grow legs and just walk away… weird.
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Old 07-23-2018, 03:31 PM   #9
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The Zamp and Furrion connectors are just a gimmick to get you to buy their WAY overpriced products, both are wired with 12AWG. With a 3% power loss, it limits you to a being 15ft away from the batteries and that includes the wires from the connector to the battery.
Your never going to replenish 75 amps from a single panel, even 2 panels might not do it unless they are in full sun all day. I hope you didn't pay full price for the Furrion suitcase because you could have almost bought 2 of the Renogy monocrystalline for the same price.
I like to camp in the shade whenever possible so I only have 1 flexible 100 watt panel mounted on the roof and wired with 10awg wire back to the mppt charge controller, mostly for battery maintenance and to grab any additional amps I can. I also mounted 2 Anderson power poles connectors with weather caps on each of the front corners of my HW296 wired to the charge controller with 8AWG wire. I have 2 Renogy 100 watt solar suitcases wired in parallel with 20ft leads of 8AWG wire. They do a great job of keeping my 2 golf carts batteries charged up, but even that isn't enough if you run into a string of dismal days.
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Old 07-23-2018, 03:44 PM   #10
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if factories offered installed solar as an option, and gave us true info about how little power they actually help with, we would be aghast, and would never pay for the option...
yet we go out and do it on our own later!

just sayin’... and yes, I have 200w of ‘after market’ solar, but my generator is actually the more economical, and predictable, off-grid power source. And, we dry-camp a LOT.
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