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Old 12-30-2016, 11:40 AM   #1
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Solar panel kits

Hello, I just bought a wildcat maxx 285RKX. Does anyone have recommendations on a solar kit that has everything I need? I am very new to this and appreciate any help, thank you.
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Old 12-30-2016, 12:21 PM   #2
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Lots of discussions on the forum on solar installations as well as many examples. You need to do a lot of homework before you jump. You need to determine what your power requirements are, Where/When you are camping ( AC/ heat required, sun/shade percentage). How many batteries you have/plan to have. Once you have this data, you are ready to look for a solution. A few tips. Kits are usually not the best way to go as they include inferior or wrong components. Always get a larger controller than you estimate you need so you have the ability to add panels and not purchase a new controller. See the Library ( green bar on top of the page) for more info.
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Old 12-30-2016, 12:34 PM   #3
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A buddy of mine that I was stationed with while in the Navy just retired and had RV Solar Solutions (RV Solar Solutions) install solar panels on his Tiffin Allegro 37AP. He loves it and the package they developed and installed for him generates 43 amps while his normal running mode pulls 25 to 30 amps. They have a lot of information on their web site that might help you make a more informed decision.
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Old 12-30-2016, 12:38 PM   #4
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While it may not be entirely 'green', an inverter genny is a lot cheaper initially and works fine even in the dark....

You have to spend a lot of jack to equal the output of even a small inverter.

Cost versus payback is lopsided with solar.
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Old 12-30-2016, 01:10 PM   #5
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The most important part of adding solar is the homework. I agree with Flybob. Determine how much power in amp hrs you will need. Account for 12 volt power use for all "run on propane" appliances ( refridge, hot water,heater, water pump) , lights,fan, tv etc. then look at your battery capacity. Do you have 1,2 or more batteries. Will you need more batteries to stay above 50% drain for dry camp based on your demand? Solar will give 20 amp hrs per day per 100 watts but only if well designed and perfect weather. You may need to be one panel extra if you dry camp frequently. Kits can be bought for any watt requirement but often fall short on the wire gauge and controller. The answers to most of these topics can be found on the forums with a little research. I found this site helpful in designing my system:
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Old 12-30-2016, 01:16 PM   #6
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This is one of those subjects that is very opinionated.
What works for some, would never be good enough for someone else.

With that said... many of the Forest River units are pre-wired to work with the ZAMP solar charging kits. If you know nothing about solar (and don't care to) but simply want to replenish your battery (ies) with solar power, take a look at them.

See them *HERE*
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Old 12-30-2016, 01:44 PM   #7
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X3 with Flybob.
He pretty much covered it all. Make sure you go one step higher than you figure you need.
I've used both solar and several gens and really don't think there is a comparison unless you do a lot of foliage cover campsites. Still, you will get some charge.
With solar, you will never worry about keeping your batteries charged while in storage unless you are inside.
I personally found gens to be noisy, nasty and dangerous having to change their oil, carry gasoline in your truck and do maintenance. The flipside of that is you won't be able to run the A/C on solar or at least not long and that requires an inverter and a large battery bank.
I did my full solar with Renogy Solar equipment. The have a super customer service dept. Once you install solar, you spend no more. No gas, oil or maintenance and you can buy about 500 watts of panels, controller and wire for about the same money as a SMALL inverter gen.
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Old 12-30-2016, 02:12 PM   #8
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For me, solar is still in the hobby stage. Fantastic idea, but too much $$$ up front for a system large enough to make a real difference in your camping experience. But if you have the time and money, it's a great hobby to experiment with
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Old 12-30-2016, 02:20 PM   #9
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Thank you all for the help, for a while I will be hooked up to electric but once I retire from the Navy we will do a lot of traveling and the solar may be the way to go. I appreciate the help
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Old 12-30-2016, 02:30 PM   #10
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http://www.zampsolar.com/product/480...-480-30a-srrv/

This is pretty cool and expandable.
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Old 12-30-2016, 02:57 PM   #11
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X3 with Flybob.
He pretty much covered it all. Make sure you go one step higher than you figure you need.
I've used both solar and several gens and really don't think there is a comparison unless you do a lot of foliage cover campsites. Still, you will get some charge.
With solar, you will never worry about keeping your batteries charged while in storage unless you are inside.
I personally found gens to be noisy, nasty and dangerous having to change their oil, carry gasoline in your truck and do maintenance. The flipside of that is you won't be able to run the A/C on solar or at least not long and that requires an inverter and a large battery bank.
I did my full solar with Renogy Solar equipment. The have a super customer service dept. Once you install solar, you spend no more. No gas, oil or maintenance and you can buy about 500 watts of panels, controller and wire for about the same money as a SMALL inverter gen.
Really? tell me where, I want to know... I can buy 2000 watts if PSW Inverter genny power for 500 bucks. I want to know where I can buy 500 paltry watts of solar with controller and components for 500 bucks

Inquiring minds want to know???
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Old 12-30-2016, 03:08 PM   #12
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I've yet to see a 2000 watt inverter generator for under $1000 and generally for much more.
Renogy sells their 100 watt panels for $150 each and a converter for around $200 for a good one. I haven't looked at their site since I installed my systems on my RV, summer house and full time residence, but I doubt their prices have increased that much.
I would be interested in what brand of INVERTER generator and it's price you paid.
OBTW, those "500 paultry watts" are forever and don't have to be fed AND they keep your batteries charge while you aren't around. Pretty sure a generator of any type, brand or money will not do that, plus you don't have to listen to them, panels are very quiet.
I see "Wen" makes one for $500. Never heard of them and I'm sure you would have a tough time getting parts for them.
I wonder if you figured out the cost effect of fuel burned for watts used against watts used against price of solar system, which would work out exponentially more efficient.
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Old 12-30-2016, 03:25 PM   #13
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I've yet to see a 2000 watt inverter generator for under $1000 and generally for much more.
Renogy sells their 100 watt panels for $150 each and a converter for around $200 for a good one. I haven't looked at their site since I installed my systems on my RV, summer house and fulltime residence, but I doubt their prices have increased that much.
I would be interested in what brand of INVERTER generator and it's price you paid.
No problem sir....

Goggle up Champion 200 watt inverter

Generators Direct has them for $499 with free shipping (where I bought mine btw).....

Cabelas has them for $599 every day and 499 on sale

Costo is 500 bucks everyday

If you really want to cheap out, Harbor Freight has their Predator 2000 watt inverter, parallel capable, for $429.00 every day.

Not everyone needs a $1000.00 Honda.

My Champ is so quiet I cannot hear it running in the camper.... and it's 50 State Carb Certified so it's pretty green for an internal combustion motor.

I guess you are not well informed.
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Old 12-30-2016, 03:31 PM   #14
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I forgot to bring my popcorn
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Old 12-30-2016, 03:41 PM   #15
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One of the main things I have learned in my 70 years is you get what you pay for. Anyone can buy cheap, but a lack of quality soon shows itself.
Sorry, but I don't buy trash, but the best I can get for the money.
Just curious, but do you run that gen while you are away from your unit? Does it keep your batteries charged while in storage? What does it cost in gas and oil over time and where do you carry the gen and gasoline while traveling?
IMHO, that is why they race horses...a difference of opinion.
I own three Champion 3500/4000 gens that have served me well, but I'm not big on throwing around 100 lbs in and out of the truck and there is no way I'm carrying gas in the closed bed of my truck.
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Old 12-30-2016, 03:42 PM   #16
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I've yet to see a 2000 watt inverter generator for under $1000
I just went over to the dark side this week - bought myself a late Christmas present. Scored a Champion 2000W inverter generator from Rural King for $399! The champion is a close second to the Honda & Yamaha 2000's. Free shipping and no sales tax sealed the deal for me, since we even get nicked sales tax on Amazon in NY. Bought it mostly as an emergency backup for the boiler at home. We have hot water baseboard heat from an outdoor wood pellet boiler. 17 years at the house, never had a power outage over 8 hrs, but if we did, we would be in trouble.

http://www.ruralking.com/champion-po...or-73536i.html

But - I'm totally in the solar camp after 3 seasons with my 200 watt portable setup. Have about $350 invested in components from solarblvd.com and love it. 200 watts is enough to charge the batteries for 4-5 day trips, even with some cloudy days. I had to keep it portable because we are usually in the trees. So the solar takes some extra planning to get a site with sun exposure and usually have to move the panels a couple times during the day, but I would much rather use the solar. Just couldn't pass up the deal on the genny, but still hoping I never need to use it.
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Old 12-30-2016, 03:44 PM   #17
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I forgot to bring my popcorn
Having an attitude is like fishing, you throw out the right bait and they will bite every time.
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Old 12-30-2016, 03:48 PM   #18
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Old 12-30-2016, 04:31 PM   #19
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My 2 Cents...

I dug in the Solar Panel tech and still in its infancy. Very pricey for what you get. Is all about how comfy you want to live. Heating and Cooling are big time power hungry commodities. Solar will get you basic illumination for an adequate price and able to run your fresh water pump few times. AC eats a lot of electricity, and to use it with nothing more than Solar, it will take a pretty big array of panels. To go Solar alone, you need to rough it up a bit. If that is the style of camping you want to leave, by all means.

The other economical option is to use your own vehicle to charge the batteries at a risk to fry the alternator. The other, Power Inverters and the logistics of finding fuel.

I know the media preaches constantly the greenie agenda of Solar Panels, Solar City, Solar this, Solar that as the savior of all. What they do not tell is, how many panels and how efficient are they. Not including the maintenance of keeping them clean and degradation that comes from exposure.

Another thing to consider. There is so much energy the cell can convert out of the whole spectrum. You cannot ask the sun for more energy.

In short, the idea is great but the tech still not there yet.


You could mix and match the tech... Solar for the batteries, inverter for heavy duty when need it.

Check this link http://mb-soft.com/public2/energyso.html Will give you an idea how much energy you can extract from the sun rays on the surface.
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Old 12-30-2016, 05:06 PM   #20
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I have gone from 6 x 100 panels to 8x 100 watt panels, but never with the intention of using the A/C, although I can for short periods of time. My battery bank is 600 amp hrs and my inverter is an industrial grade 5,000 watt run, 10,000 watt surge. All much more than I will ever need, but it will power the microwave, TVs, Blueray system and electrical fireplace with no trouble.
If you run the furnace off of gas, the fan is 12 vdc and draws very little power considering the size of my battery bank and inverter.
My main reason for the inverter is for the microwave and TVs, Using every possible 12vdc device in the unit does not even put a dent in my available power.
I haven't turned on my onboard converter but to make sure it works before each trip. The rest of the time we rely on solar for the 12 vdc power. We leave it on when plugged into shore power. I have found the only maintenance I have to do to my system is to clean bird poo off a panel now and then, but not often. I've yet to run into anyone that has gone solar that doesn't swear by it. Sure works for us.
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