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Old 01-24-2016, 12:01 PM   #1
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Solar Power Camping

Our TT (Rockwood 2306) came already with the Zamp Solar kit installed. What seems missing is the Solar Panel/s and the cable to connect it on the Zamp port.

While looking around; I am not so sure what size of Solar Panel is need it. Perhaps is about power consumption. Since is our 1st TT we have not a good idea on how much power is need it to make good judgement on what size (Solar Panel) to buy. There are some panel arrays within the $1,000 mark and as low at about $185

I know if we are on shore power is pretty much all you can eat; dry camping, not so sure what will be the power consumption or how much I can get by.

Planning to add another 12V battery (in Parallel) to increase the Amp Hours.

Or maybe go with the portable generator route.

By the way, what appliances can be run under battery power.

Any thought, experiences, suggestions are highly appreciated.

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Old 01-24-2016, 12:13 PM   #2
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Having run solar on my home I can tell you that it is at best a battery tender/bosster. The panels can recharge your batteries when the trailer is under light electrical load or reduce some of the load when running appliances but it can't carry the entire load. Position of the panels, clouds, trees, and length of time you have sunlight all directly impact their effectiveness. Something like an AC unit won't run off of your batteries or solar thanks to its power requirement. If you're just looking to prolong your battery life I say go for the panels. Otherwise, consider a quiet generator to power the entire trailer.

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Old 01-24-2016, 12:20 PM   #3
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I was thinking about the same thing. So pretty much the AC is the only thing that is straight AC power. I believe the rest of the appliances can run on straight DC or Propane; Furnace is both, right?

Is a good idea/practice to plug the TT to the tow vehicle to recharge the battery?
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Old 01-24-2016, 01:22 PM   #4
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Down load this, it'll tell you all (well, almost all) you need to know.

There is a lot of other info in the Library tab.

Be aware that if you have a Dometic fridge it MAY have a heater that heats the door area to prevent frost up. Unfortunately, it runs on 12VDC and will suck your battery down overnight. Older models had a switch to turn it off, but they've dropped the switch and it's always on, for some unknown reason. If you're going to do a lot of dry camping, you'll want to either cut the wires to the heater or install a switch.
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Old 01-24-2016, 03:29 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by KnP View Post

By the way, what appliances can be run under battery power.

Any thought, experiences, suggestions are highly appreciated.
Everything but the a/c and microwave can run on battery power.

We went with a Honda 2000i for dry camping and boondocking.
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Old 01-24-2016, 04:09 PM   #6
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It really does come down to what you want to run and how many poeple. I went thru the same thoughts last year for our Solera. We frequent national parks and many are dry camp and limit generator hours. We wanted to run lights, fans (ceiling or heater if needed), charge 3 Iphones and 3 Ipads on 12v usb ports, run fridge and water heater on propane (their electonics need 12v), house water pump in am for 3 showers and a little bit of 12 tv or radio. I decided to install 400 watts on the roof to allow for shade and flat mount losses to charge our 2 grp 27 batteries. Went with matched Renogy panels that bring in about 275 -300 watts net at charge controller. This set up met all our needs this summer at Acadia and Dolly Copp parks. Full sun had us charged by noon. Never used more than 40% bat capacity. All power from roof distribution box wired 6 ga. I dont know what a zamp port is wired for but I hope the info helps.
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Old 01-24-2016, 04:29 PM   #7
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3000 watt Boliy inverter generator
70 amp hour Progressive Dynamics 3 stage charger with intelli charge wizard mounted within 3 feet of main battery bank.
Battery selector switch between 3 battery banks-each containing two 12 volt batteries wired in parallel. 150 amp hours on emergency bank, 200 amp on each of the other two batteries.

4 100 watt Renogy solar panels
2 main battery banks with 400 amp capacity- We run heat all night where we camp in summer it is often in the low 30's at 10,000 feet plus higher camping in Colorado.

All wires from my solar are 8 gauge but thicker such as 6 gauge is better if you can do it.

We camp in shady areas so solar doesn't always charge the batteries fully usually between 60-80%. We run generator at night to watch movies,top off the batteries before bedtime, and preheat the camper to 75 deg F with a 1500 watt heater to save on propane/battery juice during the night. Our inverter generator is VERY quiet and doesn't bother the squirrels. We camp away from other people in the boonies and have occasionally run the generator all night when its raining outside and know there will be no sunshine in the morning to charge the batteries.
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Old 01-24-2016, 08:43 PM   #8
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From what I have read is that the zamp plug is all that it is. If you get any solar panels you will also need a solar charge controller in between the batteries and the solar panels. We use two portable 100w panels wired in series with a 20 amp charger and it seems two maintain what we use on our camper just fine. It really kind of boils down to how much of the electrical appliances you use

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