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Old 07-04-2015, 05:03 PM   #21
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Here are two good value solar systems.

Renogy 60W Solar suitcase $235

Robot Check

Renogy 100W Solar Suitcase $279

Robot Check

I think the place to start when determining if/which solar system is the best for you is to start by determining your usage/load.

For example, do you have a single Group 24 battery with ~75 Amp Hour capacity and if so, how much of it do you use in a day?

Furnaces seem to be the biggest draw. Ours is a 2.3 Amp Hour furnace, many older ones are 4.7AH. Water Pumps pull a load. Lights pull a load. Etc. You need to figure out your load first..

Once you determine your load/usage you can figure out how much power you'll need to get your battery charged back up. A 60W may be enough or you may need a 100W or more.

If you get a good solar panel like Renogy/Zamp/Samlex you won't be as affected by partial shading since the solar cells are more efficient. If you get a cheap panel you'll be more affected by clouds and shade.

Flexible panels often have less cells (even though they're good, efficient cells) so they are more susceptible to partial shading as well.

The Renogy/Zamp/Samlex 60W panels will probably get around 4AH output. the 100W systems could get 5.5-6AH.

If you use 25 Amp Hours of electric overnight/during the day and you can get 3AH of charging you would need a little over 8 hours to top off your battery.

Everyone's load/usage is different but I would start by determining your load/usage first so you can put yourself into the right sized charging system.
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Old 07-04-2015, 05:48 PM   #22
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The sticker on my camper says to use only ZAMP solar panels for charging. Is this true that you can only use them or is just telling you that just buy there panels? Later RJD
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Old 07-04-2015, 06:13 PM   #23
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It's telling you to buy their panels. Nothing special about there hook up other than it's reversed. That SAE connector is cheap. mc4 connectors are higher quality and sealed better.
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Old 07-04-2015, 06:15 PM   #24
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The Renogy system (and likely others) use the same connection type to as the Zamp. However the Zamp connector in your RV is wired in reverse. If you look at the standard SAE connector on the Renogy system and how it plugs into another SAE connector such as the alligator clamps that come with it. Then look under/behind the Zamp connector in your RV you'll see the Zamp has reversed the positive/negative in order to 'force' a Zamp solar panel to be used.

If we'd kept our solar panel I would have put the polarity on the built in connector to standard (reversed their setup), peeled off the Zamp sticker and used the one in the system I bought.

To clarify: the only reason it is 'Zamp only' is because they use a backwards setup on their gear in order to be proprietary. There is no technical benefit. If a company has a good reason to be proprietary I get that. They don't.

Kind of annoying really and quite frankly it puts me off.
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Old 07-04-2015, 06:43 PM   #25
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If you wanted to stick with a partial Zamp system. You could buy the Renogy Panels and get the Zamp ZS -10AW controller.

I think it might be a better controller than the VS-1024 that comes with the renogy. If I were to do it again I'd consider that as an option.

Or just get an MPPT controller, but that might be overkill for a small <10Amp system.


Zamp Solar Digital Deluxe 10 Amp PWM Solar Controller. ZS-10AW
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Old 07-04-2015, 06:57 PM   #26
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That is really expensive for that controller. That's how much my mppt controller cost. And yes a mppt controller can help even a small system. I have 4 15 watt panels ( two suitcases ) and it gave me over 25% increase over the very basic on/off controller. Not sure how much it would help over an own controller.
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Old 07-04-2015, 08:18 PM   #27
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Yeah. Good point. For that price you could get an MPPT. And for a small system maximizing efficiency and minimizing voltage loss is probably even more important.

Either way, I'd skip the harbor freight system. Real bottom of the barrel solar panel solution for most RV'ers IMHO.

Figure out how much power you need and go from there.
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Old 07-05-2015, 07:50 AM   #28
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solar panel

I have the 100 watt panel that I bought from Amazon, $200. and it works great. I have install five of them for mt buddies this last year.
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Old 07-05-2015, 08:08 AM   #29
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Thanks for all the info on the ZAMP system. Later RJD
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Old 07-05-2015, 08:34 AM   #30
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Solar is great.

If you want information overload, check out this https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/

I didn't want more holes in my roof, so I bought a flexible flat 100w panel from eBay for $180 and glued it to the roof/. For about $40, I got a Morningstar contoller. It seems like way too much trouble to set up the panels every time, and then to worry about theft. It also maintains the batteries during storage.

I changed out my lights to led, so my summer time light amp draw is minimal. In the summer, we use the heater for an hour or so in the mornings, with no problem. By the time my wife wakes up and wants the heater, the solar panel is already producing power. At night, we use sleeping bags, so we don't care how cold it gets. We live in NM, so we gets lots of sun, but for summer campers even up north you won't use that much power if you don't run the furnace all night. The key to battery life is to not run them down below 50% ever. They do best if not down below 80%. If you have only one battery, I'd upgrade to at least two.

We use a generator on our houseboat, and it is expensive to run. In the long run, a quality solar panel will be cheaper, quieter, and so much less trouble.
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