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Old 08-12-2018, 03:43 PM   #1
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Solar panel Q's

Hey all

What is required for me to install a small 50-100w panel on my 21SS?

Id like to have a small panel I can place in a sunny spot to keep the battery charged when boondocking.

I see the ZAmp connectors. I know that the only difference between ISO standard and ZAamp is that pos/neg connections are reversed, and that if I simply swap the connections I can use any cheap solar panel.

I have read that I need a "charge controller".

Where would this go?
Where does the ZAmp wire connect to?

Essentially I would be connecting to the battery correct?

Why wouldn't I just have my panel and charge controller wired to alligator clips and connect directly to the battery leads?

Is there any benefit to using the port on the side of the camper?
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Old 08-12-2018, 04:16 PM   #2
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I'll let the solar experts give more advice but I do know that you'll need more wattage.
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Old 08-12-2018, 04:49 PM   #3
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people might not realize it, because of all the solar jargon floating around, but it's safe to say that a single panel is not going to do any justice to your batteries, not under normal off-grid usage, anyway. It's simply not enough 'juice' to warrant the massive expense for the incoming wattage, as compared to a simple 30 minutes of generator charging for the same amps.
I started to realize that Solar is slight overblown, as for what RVrs could expect, and see it as either mostly for 'fixed based' houses and homes, or those who can afford a really big 1,000w or more system deployed on the their roof, with large inverters, and larger battery banks than most of us have access to or room for.

We complain about the $3 per gallon cost of fuel, but hurry out and spend $300 or more on a 'solar' solution that makes us 'feel' like we've accomplished a lot of savings, but the opposite is probably the case. That's a hundred gallons of fuel, and probably 600-800 hours of generator usage, cost compared. Wow, I know few folks who have that many hours on their generator, and their RV is 10 years old! Think about it.
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Old 08-12-2018, 05:02 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by formerFR View Post
people might not realize it, because of all the solar jargon floating around, but it's safe to say that a single panel is not going to do any justice to your batteries, not under normal off-grid usage, anyway. It's simply not enough 'juice' to warrant the massive expense for the incoming wattage, as compared to a simple 30 minutes of generator charging for the same amps.
I started to realize that Solar is slight overblown, as for what RVrs could expect, and see it as either mostly for 'fixed based' houses and homes, or those who can afford a really big 1,000w or more system deployed on the their roof, with large inverters, and larger battery banks than most of us have access to or room for.

We complain about the $3 per gallon cost of fuel, but hurry out and spend $300 or more on a 'solar' solution that makes us 'feel' like we've accomplished a lot of savings, but the opposite is probably the case. That's a hundred gallons of fuel, and probably 600-800 hours of generator usage, cost compared. Wow, I know few folks who have that many hours on their generator, and their RV is 10 years old! Think about it.
This is certainly a good point.

I might start by using the gen to charge up the battery as needed and go from there.

I would just like to avoid using the gen when possible due to noise.

Granted I have an EU2000i and it is quiet enough to not even notice.

I realize that 100w wouldn't fully replenish the battery, but I figured that when used continuously over a 4 day trip, it might keep the battery from being fully discharged.

Thanks for the advice
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Old 08-12-2018, 05:24 PM   #5
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let me amend my calc: 200-300 hrs of gen usage

to your point, though, Solar is the VERY power source that CAN’T help you during the overnight - no sun, no solar - a generator is much more suited for that.
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Old 08-12-2018, 05:47 PM   #6
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At night I run the lights, fridge, water pump, water heater, furnace for heat (even in summer), entertainment system. My 200W of solar generates 11 amps and charges my two 12v batteries back to full by mid-day the next day. I still get 4 to 5 amps of charge in cloudy weather. I camp at high altitudes and do not use the air conditioner; anything I can heat up in the microwave I can heat up on the stove.

I do own a Honda 2000i generator that I have yet to use.

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Old 08-12-2018, 06:03 PM   #7
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Not trying to start a gen/vs solar argument. Unless you go with huge solar and batteries, you will have an extremely bad time with air conditioning.

That said, scour craigslist or offer up for deals on solar. Bought mine on the cheap. Running dual 6 volt golf cart batteries, but am looking to source some used hybrid car lithiums in the future.

Got 2 commercial grade solar panels free. Needed new terminations soldered on. Bought a Morningstar MPPT controller and Samlex inverter from C/L. A contractor gifted me some used conduit. Set it up on my 5th wheel camper. Have yet to use the generator since the install. Just back from an 8 week trip. Batteries were charged every day before 10am. This is with microwave use, heater, vent fans, tv, etc. as needed during evening and night time use. Of course, as I use electricity during the day, the panels recharge the batteries or supply the needs as used.

There were a few nights I wished I had a large enough generator to run the ar conditioning, but those days, we got a campground with electric. My genset is only 2k, and I need a 3.1 or 3.5k to run the air, or an easy start kit. Either will cost me 300-1,100.

Your results will vary.
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Old 08-12-2018, 06:29 PM   #8
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let me amend my calc: 200-300 hrs of gen usage

to your point, though, Solar is the VERY power source that CAN’T help you during the overnight - no sun, no solar - a generator is much more suited for that.
I'm ok using propane for heat and fridge duties.

Overnight if I want AC I'd obviously have to run the gen, but if I just need some airflow, the rood fans will work for that.

During the day, we will be out and about, so not much power usage there other than whatever standby usage misc items use
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Old 08-12-2018, 08:32 PM   #9
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I spent $1600 (a lot, but compared to overall rv-ing costs....not crazy). IMO, I got a pretty premo system.

600w of solar, mppt Bluetooth controller, and full sine 3k inverter with control panel and transfer switch.

Of course there's way better and bigger out there. 300w of solar and a pwm controller can be had for a very economical price though. The inverter really isn't solar, per se.
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Old 08-12-2018, 09:07 PM   #10
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This is pretty close to what I used. Install it and forget about it. Batteries stay charged all the time. It will last a decade if you install it correctly. I should have put this link in my post above.

https://www.amazon.com/Renogy-Monocr...06305481&psc=1

Good luck!
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