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Old 08-24-2017, 12:37 AM   #1
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Zamp, Go Power or Renogy solar panels? Recommendations and why. My trailer is solar ready. My usage would typically be 2-4 days. Can anything power my furnace/heater? I only have one battery. Would I need another?
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Old 08-24-2017, 01:22 AM   #2
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Zamp is overpriced.
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Old 08-24-2017, 02:36 AM   #3
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Zamp, Go Power or Renogy solar panels? Recommendations and why. My trailer is solar ready. My usage would typically be 2-4 days. Can anything power my furnace/heater? I only have one battery. Would I need another?
To be safe yes a second battery, think of the cloudy days, you just can't only depend on solar...
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Old 08-24-2017, 02:40 AM   #4
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Not if you buy at their parking lot sale ... I agree though, their list prices are on the steep side, and I wouldn't have bought at those prices. I will say though, after seeing some discussions about issues with solar charge controllers, that the Zamp controllers seem to be rock solid. Mine does not require a battery to work (it will flash error codes, expectedly), and it can charge a battery from 3V. I'd expect the brand name solar products to be at a similar level though.

On a small trailer a single battery should provide enough power for 2-3 days of use with some restraint. I can stretch it to 4 days running the furnace in the evenings but not all through the night. That's without solar.
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Old 08-24-2017, 11:04 AM   #5
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Would a 25' Micro Lite 25brds be considered small?
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Old 08-24-2017, 11:13 AM   #6
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Before you buy anything, I suggest you do an analysis of what you want to run and for how long. Then add up the total power requirement ( AHrs). The furnace fan uses a lot of power. A good rule of thumb is 3-4 times that number in battery capacity and 2-3 times that number in solar capacity. You do not want to draw your batteries below 40-50%. You have to account for cloudy/rainy days. I like Renogy as you can build a system to meet your needs and their pricing and service is great. My last solar panel purchase from them was $1.00 a watt.
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Old 08-24-2017, 11:46 AM   #7
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Good info flybob, I have been watching this thread
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Old 08-24-2017, 04:11 PM   #8
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I bought a Grape Solar 150 watt kit for $200 from Home Depot. I also 2 additional 100 Watt panels (just because they were $100 each and I thought it was a good deal). This weekend I will create my reverse plug to work with the Zamp plug on my trailer.
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Old 08-24-2017, 04:27 PM   #9
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Old 08-24-2017, 04:35 PM   #10
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My 2017 XLR Nitro is solar ready also. However, the quicker it says 20 amp solar only. Just pay attention to what it is pre-wired for.
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Old 08-24-2017, 04:48 PM   #11
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My 2017 XLR Nitro is solar ready also. However, the quicker it says 20 amp solar only. Just pay attention to what it is pre-wired for.
It may say that and it could possibly handle 20A but likely the gauge of the wire is such that you would have a huge voltage drop on most of these pre-installed wiring.
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Old 08-24-2017, 04:49 PM   #12
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Sorry, that should say hookup, not quicker.
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Old 08-24-2017, 05:14 PM   #13
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Am I correct in assuming that the prewired Zamp Solar that comes with the Rockwood is 20 Amps? I have the Rockwood Extreme with prewired Zamp Solar that I'm going to connect my Grape Solar charge controller and 150W ~ 350W panels.
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Old 08-24-2017, 05:30 PM   #14
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My 2017 XLR Nitro has a sticker at the solar hookups on the toy hauler that says 20 amps. If there is no identification, call the Forest River technician phone line would be my recommendation.
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Old 08-24-2017, 05:53 PM   #15
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Good idea. Will do.
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Old 08-29-2017, 04:46 PM   #16
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My 2017 XLR Nitro has a sticker at the solar hookups on the toy hauler that says 20 amps. If there is no identification, call the Forest River technician phone line would be my recommendation.
20 amps is fine. You can use any watt solar panel you want.
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Old 08-29-2017, 04:48 PM   #17
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Thank you!
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Old 08-31-2017, 03:18 PM   #18
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The biggest thing to understand about solar is that solar doesn't really power anything in your camper. Solar charges your batteries and the things in your camper run off the batteries. Now, during the day you might be lightly using your 12 volt system and the solar panels might be a high enough wattage to keep up and always keep your batteries full. It becomes a wash, and so in an indirect way, your usage in the camper is running off the solar panels.

If you are doing any amount of dry camping I would immediately get 2 batteries.

As for the solar panels. I bought the Zamp 200 watt portable. I will tell you right off that Zamp are way over priced. I got ripped off, however, here is why I did it. Convenience. The more I thought about it, the camper is wired for Zamp and it would be plug and play. I considered other portable units but I would have adapt the connection for the Zamp plug on the trailer as Zamp reverses their polarity for some proprietary reason. If I purchased individual panels and controller which would be much much cheaper I would have to get them wired together and potentially wire in some connection to the batteries. I didn't want to just use alligator clips on the batteries. It was getting close to trip time and I had too much other stuff to do in setting up our new camper.

While I still say I got ripped off, after using them, I am glad I bought the Zamp. Plugged them in and they work. Here is my short review of the 200 watt portable panels. Lots of power, they work very well. Recharged the batteries from about 70% to 100% in bright sunlight in just under 2 hours. The portables were great in that we were camping in the trees and I could move the panels so they were always in the sun and pointed directly at the sun for maximum effect. The bad. The 200 watt panels are heavy. They are also kind of large so it makes them a bit awkward to deploy. They do come folded in a case which again is heavy. 70 lbs maybe? Maybe more?

The other bad, and this is about solar in general. No sun, very little charge. On our second to last day it was cloudy most of the day and partly cloudy the day before so I didn't quite get a full charge then. If it wasn't for our 2 batteries we would have been dead electric wise. By the time we left, we were at just over 50% at 12.12 volts.

For those curious about tow vehicle charging, during the 2.5 hour trip home, the batteries charged from 12.12 volts to 12.42 volts. Tow vehicle connection is a very slow charge.
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Old 08-31-2017, 06:28 PM   #19
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@ joeuncool

Attached is the reverse plug I made to wire to Zamp to fit my Grape Solar panels and the charge controller I installed. As soon as the original battery dies, I'll get 2 6V Trojan batteries. I also think my 2 100 watt panels are around 50lbs together.
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Old 08-31-2017, 08:32 PM   #20
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When a camper says 'solar ready' does that include a charge controller in the camper or is it basically a 12v battery connector on the side of the camper and you have to get your own solar panels and charge controller?
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