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Old 07-20-2014, 11:31 PM   #1
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Roo and a Portable Solar Charging System

As many of you know, I recently explored the idea of mounting solar panels to the roof of my new Roo 21ss. I soon decided to forgo that idea and purchased the Zamp 200 Watt Portable Charging System.

We took the Roo and the new solar system on its first boondocking trip a few weeks ago. We went into the San Juan National Forest north of Durango, CO without electricity or a generator... just our dual batteries and solar charging system.

The system worked perfectly. We used everything that is powered by the batteries. We used all internal and external lights at night. We played the cd player. We used the ceiling fans occasionally throughout the day. Of course the fridge/freezer used whatever power it needed while on propane.

The batteries would usually drop down to a 1/2 charge before we went to bed. The most drop was down to 1/4 charge one night. The solar panels would charge the batteries back up to 100% by 10:30 the next morning. I was very surprised as to how quickly the batteries recharged. We boondocked for a week with no power outage... not even close.

I am completely satisfied with the portable solar unit. It comes in a durable case... and a handle for easy transport. You just take out the panels and they fold open into a rather large unit. It has legs that drop down and you can face the panels wherever you want. The kit came with a quick disconnect plug that I installed into the lid of one of the battery cases. So its just 'plug and play'.







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Old 07-21-2014, 06:48 AM   #2
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You said the batteries would recharge overnight. Does the pannel charge during the day as well? I'm a little confused as to how it charges the battery at night when the sun is down. Is there some sort of temporary storage box? I saw three boxes in the picture.
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Old 07-21-2014, 09:17 AM   #3
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You said the batteries would recharge overnight. Does the pannel charge during the day as well? I'm a little confused as to how it charges the battery at night when the sun is down. Is there some sort of temporary storage box? I saw three boxes in the picture.
I don't think the batteries charged during the night. I think they just started charging as soon as it got daylight and it only took a few hours for a full charge.
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Old 07-21-2014, 09:33 AM   #4
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Ah, Ok. that's Cool. I assume that throughout the day as well there is less drain due to a trickle from the sun. I've been looking into this as an option if we find ourselves doing more Boon-docking. Thanks for the updates on this.
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Old 07-21-2014, 09:38 AM   #5
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As fast as it charged... I could have easily gotten away with a smaller and less expensive system. But I've never been accused of doing much in moderation. I thought "better safe than sorry".
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Old 07-21-2014, 09:42 AM   #6
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You also mentioned that you were looking into mounting it on the roof. Was this not an option or a safe option?
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Old 07-21-2014, 09:53 AM   #7
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You also mentioned that you were looking into mounting it on the roof. Was this not an option or a safe option?
I really wanted to mount the panels to the roof. However, I was advised not too. I called Forest River and they strongly advised me to not attach anything to the roof. They say the Roo roof is not substantial enough and the wind could blow off the panels as well as part of my roof. They also said it would void my warranty. I realize the man was probably towing the company line on that subject... but he was very dogmatic about it.

The top layer of plywood is only 1/4" thick... then a 4" layer of foam. So it is just a little risky.

I know there are people who have successfully mounted panels to a Roo roof. I suppose there are ways to make it safe... but I just decided to not risk it for now.
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Old 07-21-2014, 09:53 AM   #8
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I lost my post due to operator error and could not find the thread again!
Bummer.

Your are misreading what is going on. Your display reports system voltage and not battery capacity. As soon as there is enough sun on the panels to generate move voltage than your current battery voltage, the charge controller (either built in to your panel set or added on) will "turn on." This will put a high enough voltage to switch your display from "Good" or "Fair" to "CHARGING."

NOTE - when using the panel display to display the battery, you can NOT use the left side (volume) of the display (Full, 2/3, 1/3, E) you must use the right side (C, G, F, L).

Your display IS NOT showing 100% but "Charging" (finally). The panels will not generate until there is FULL SUN on the panels.

Note also that when the "G" goes OUT your battery has less than 50% capacity remaining.
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Old 07-21-2014, 10:00 AM   #9
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Thumbs up

Quote:
Originally Posted by Herk7769 View Post
I lost my post due to operator error and could not find the thread again!
Bummer.

Your are misreading what is going on. Your display reports system voltage and not battery capacity. As soon as there is enough sun on the panels to generate move voltage than your current battery voltage, the charge controller (either built in to your panel set or added on) will "turn on." This will put a high enough voltage to switch your display from "Good" or "Fair" to "CHARGING."

NOTE - when using the panel display to display the battery, you can NOT use the left side (volume) of the display (Full, 2/3, 1/3, E) you must use the right side (C, G, F, L).

Your display IS NOT showing 100% but "Charging" (finally). The panels will not generate until there is FULL SUN on the panels.

Note also that when the "G" goes OUT your battery has less than 50% capacity remaining.
That is good to know. I suppose that makes more sense. I must have misinterpreted the explanation of my RV prep rep during my orientation... or he gave me some misinformation.

So what dose the the CGFL all stand for?
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Old 07-21-2014, 10:04 AM   #10
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FYI - In full sun your 200 watt panel set will generate 200 watts/13 volts of amps (or about 15 amps max possible). A dual battery set up of 150 AH at 50% discharge would require 10 hours of full sun to replace that much power used.

That also assumes 90 degree incidence (you have a system that turns to direct the correctly angled panels (for the latitude you are at) as the sun progresses across the sky. While I have an astronomer friend who built one of these, they are not for the faint of heart.

Most sites say to assume a 15-20% loss average for a non-tracking system.

Another factor is the solar charge controller will cut back on charging current as the battery bank fills to avoid over charging the batteries. I seriously doubt you are replacing 100% of your daily usage, but you should allow several "extra" days of camping until you need a full equalization charge from a true battery charger.
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