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Old 06-29-2019, 07:21 AM   #1
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Solar panel

I was thinking of installing a small solar panel to keep my battery charged between camping trips.
I go every 1 to 2 months.

Option number 2 just unhooking the battery.

Because the battery is dead in about 5 days when the trailer is not plugged in.
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Old 06-29-2019, 07:28 AM   #2
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You can add a battery disconnect switch or if you have sun you can add solar. if you add solar I do not recommend anything less than a 40-50W panel and appropriate controller. You will not be happy with the small 10W trickle charge panels.
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Old 06-29-2019, 07:29 AM   #3
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I bought a cheap little clip on solar panel on eBay for $15.00. It has done the job for 3 years now and we go 6 months between trips at times.
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Old 06-29-2019, 07:32 AM   #4
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Can a solar panel over charge it and damage the battery.
Or is keeping it constantly charged better on the battery ?
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Old 06-29-2019, 08:28 AM   #5
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Can a solar panel over charge it and damage the battery.
Or is keeping it constantly charged better on the battery ?
If it has a good controller, no. I have 2 panels on the roof with a good controller and it keeps them up with out over charging!
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Old 06-29-2019, 12:03 PM   #6
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Ok I decided just to install a disconnect switch.
Didn't realize I needed a panel and controller
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Old 06-29-2019, 12:12 PM   #7
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Some panels have a built in controller. Suitcase type I seem to have read on here.
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Old 06-29-2019, 03:14 PM   #8
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I bought a cheap little clip on solar panel on eBay for $15.00. It has done the job for 3 years now and we go 6 months between trips at times.

Small panels (less than 40-50 watts may work well in Florida but in areas where sun is more scarce, not so much.

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Some panels have a built in controller. Suitcase type I seem to have read on here.
Controllers for simple battery maintenance are plentiful at low prices. For battery maintenance one doesn't necessarily have to buy a "suitcase type" which are typically more for charging batteries while actually camping.

My old, "pre-Lithium" batteries had an internal discharge rate around 1/2 amp or so when disconnected. .5 X 13.25 volt (float voltage of Lead Acid battery) is 6.6 watts. Allow for the fact that "Solar" is only effective around 1/3 of the day and you want to keep up with the internal discharge, then panels of 20 watts or more would work OK.

Just remember, all those small "Battery Maintainer" solar panels in the 5-10 watt range are more for maintaining small batteries, not a bank of deep cycle batteries.

And yes, either turn off existing battery switch or add one so you can disconnect batteries for storage.
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Old 06-30-2019, 10:24 AM   #9
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Ok the side of my camper says solar ready
Zamp powered.
Does this mean it has a regulator built in to prevent over charging
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Old 06-30-2019, 10:37 AM   #10
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No. That means there is a connector on the trailer and a wire to the battery. Many of the Zamp systems have a controller attached to the panel. The Zamp system uses a reverse polarity standard from most so be sure to test. The Zamp system is quick and easy, but expensive and limited in capability. Also you want the distance from the controller to the battery to be minimal.
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Old 06-30-2019, 11:17 AM   #11
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Ok I decided just to install a disconnect switch.
Didn't realize I needed a panel and controller
I'm not telling you to abandon your thoughts about solar but disconnecting the battery is always a good option when not using your R/V for longer periods of time.

Even with solar, we have weather fronts that stick around for days and small solar chargers do not provide enough current to overcome the parasitic drain(s). If you plan to go BIG solar, it may be different.
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Old 06-30-2019, 11:30 AM   #12
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So it's just as easy to hook to the battery then.
They are 3 feet from each other on my trailer
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Old 06-30-2019, 11:38 AM   #13
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The critical distance is the distance from the controller to the battery. If the controller is on the panel then you need to use the distance from the panel to the battery. The output of the panel is higher than the charging voltage so some loss to the controller is OK, but after the controller any loss is a loss in effective charging. If you are looking for quick and easy low WHr solution then Zamp is fine. If you want a good higher WHr solution as a good price, I would look at stand alone panels and a good controller with new wiring.
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