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Old 05-26-2016, 01:50 PM   #1
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Free Solar Power

This spring I made two modifications to my solar panel system. First a little background. My goal is to be able to boondock a full week. My initial set-up was the purchase of a Optima blue top AGM group 34 12v battery. I mounted this in place of the factory original battery. Next I purchased a Renogy 100w solar panel with their PWM charge controller. I connected the output of the controller directly to the battery post when camping. This was okay but it did not give me the power needed for a full week of boondocking. I then bought a second Renogy 100w panel and connected in parallel and got a connector to plug the output of the controller into the factory installed Z-amp connector. Better but still not sufficient. I then got a Blue Sky MPPT charge controller which I mounted inside my TT. While doing the wiring I noticed that the factory installed Z-amp connector was only wired with 16 ga. wire. Totally too small for a solar system. I removed the Z-amp connector and replaced it with a solar port I bought from Furion. I wired everything with 10 ga wire. I just returned from a week boondocking in northern Michigan. System worked spectacular. Battery never got below 3/4 charge (about 12.6 volts). It was cold at night (36 deg) and the furnace ran a lot. My DW and I also took 2 showers each using the water pump extensively. Did not feel the need to be frugal about my usage of power. Felt great to be off the grid.
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Old 05-26-2016, 03:07 PM   #2
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nice setup Ronknroos. I just finished installing 2 265W mono panels on mine with an Outback Flex80 controller. I'm hoping to add a third panel at some point. I have a GRP 27 battery and will see how a single battery lasts this holiday weekend boondocking. I had dual batteries on my last TT.
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Old 05-26-2016, 03:18 PM   #3
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dang your title got me excited like maybe this was a "free" solar set up to the 10th comment lol

nice set up, think that will be my next project, possibly next year. trying to limit myself to so much each year. we dry camp most often, just added a second battery in hopes that will help for this year. typically borrow my old man's generator on longer trips or can always hook up the truck if need be.
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Old 06-01-2016, 08:29 AM   #4
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Nice setup - I was interested as to how my Roo233 was running the wiring for the Zamp system - since you got an Mttp charger I guess they don't allow for charging from the built in inverter system.
Cheers, Patrick
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Old 06-01-2016, 08:38 AM   #5
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Not sure what the definition of free is, but my wallet sure knows.
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Old 06-01-2016, 09:09 AM   #6
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The Z-amp connection installed from the factory was meant to go with the Z-amp panels. If the Z-amp panels where purchased it would include a charger controller. I find that the Z-amp system is expensive and not enough watts. What surprised me the most was the very small wiring that ran from the Z-amp connector to the battery (#16ga). Even thought the amps being carried are relatively small, the goal is to try reduce, as much as possible, any voltage drops in the wiring/connectors. 10ths of a volt can make a difference in a battery. I rewired everything with #10ga wire.
I get a hoot out of getting power from sunlight, but it certainly was not free. I think that I have about $500.00 in the entire set-up. For me and the DW not worrying about finding a campsite with electric is priceless.
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Old 06-02-2016, 10:36 PM   #7
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I'm glad I found this thread. I'm going to have to look into my wiring. I have a Roo 233S and got the ZAMP 350 watt system to accompany it. According to the dealer, this was the largest system I could get for the pre wired system in the camper. Based on the gauge wire you all are talking about, I'm way over it's capacity.
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Old 06-03-2016, 07:52 AM   #8
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I can't speak for the wiring on the 233S, but on my 17 it was 16ga wire. If I am thinking correctly your 350 watts of panels could possible produce a maximum of 17.5 amps although in reality it is probably something around 15 amps at best. The NEC rates 16ga wire, single conductor in free air at 24 amps, so you aren't going to overload your wiring but it will produce some unwanted voltage drops. This means that you are not getting the full benefits of your solar panels. IMO the connector is probably more of an issue than the wiring. If it is the same connector that I have then it is only rated for 10 amps. Furrion makes a 30 amp twist lock inlet connector. If you replace the Z-amp connector just make sure you label it for solar only. Wouldn't want to accidently plug a 120v extension cord into it.
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