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Old 05-22-2014, 11:08 PM   #43
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Bravo Boxter1971! Well done!
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Old 05-23-2014, 12:19 AM   #44
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Originally Posted by RVDreamer View Post
Why is it that no one ever talks about using the ZAMP portable suitcase type solar panels with a built in controller?
(snip)

Does anyone have experience with these? Is there some sort of problem that I am not seeing?

Just curious!
The problems are centered around these areas. 1) Theft of panels at the campsite if you go off and leave them. 2) Inconvenience of storage for many people. 3) Finding a place to set them up on your campsite. 4) just one additional thing to do when setting up and leaving. 5) No charge while traveling or even stoping at a rest area or anyplace else.

The advantages would be: 1) can be placed in the sun (maybe) if you are parked in the shade. 2) nothing mounted on the roof of your Airstream. 3) may be more easily tilted for maximum power production.

I started with a portable panel but soon found the disadvantages far outweighed the advantages and went to permanent mounting on both my Argosy and my Airstream.

Others may not think my disadvantages are important to them. We all evaluate things differently.
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Old 05-23-2014, 12:20 AM   #45
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Why is it that no one ever talks about using the ZAMP portable suitcase type solar panels with a built in controller?

To me this looks to be the easiest. Just cary the suitcase in a storage compartment. When you get to the campsite, open it up, connect the alligator clips to the battery and you are all set.

Here is a link to their product.Portable Solar Systems | Zamp Solar

It puts out 200 watts at 11. 3 amps. Seems like it would be better than having the panels on your roof.

Does anyone have experience with these? Is there some sort of problem that I am not seeing?

Just curious!
A very large benefit of using a quality solar charge controller is that they offer MPPT boost charging, full temperature compensation of the charging profile and full adjustment for battery type and size of the battery bank. Zamp simply does not offer these features.

If you are going to make a significant investment in solar charging for your RV, make sure that you get all of the features that I mentioned above in the charge controller. Anything less is...............less effective!
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Old 05-23-2014, 05:30 AM   #46
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Boxster, looks great! Did you also install additional batteries under the chassis?
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Old 05-23-2014, 08:56 AM   #47
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It looks great and I also was wondering if you added mor batteries?
Real nice installation love the antenna placement. Do see any difference in antenna performance ?
Thanks
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Old 05-23-2014, 10:10 AM   #48
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Originally Posted by RVDreamer View Post
Why is it that no one ever talks about using the ZAMP portable suitcase type solar panels with a built in controller?

To me this looks to be the easiest. Just cary the suitcase in a storage compartment. When you get to the campsite, open it up, connect the alligator clips to the battery and you are all set. ....
I looked at the Zamp system before I decided to go with roof mount solar.

Another issue beyond those already mentioned is just getting to the batteries. To use a portable system requires adding a special plug as you can't just connect to the batteries with alligator clips.
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Old 05-23-2014, 10:23 AM   #49
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It looks great and I also was wondering if you added mor batteries?
Real nice installation love the antenna placement. Do see any difference in antenna performance ?
Thanks
No new batteries yet -- that will have to be a project for later on. I'm ready for a summer of traveling fun and then see how this setup works overall. I moved the inverter powered outlet under the sink to the end of galley near the stove top and added two 12V outlets. See photo below. We plan to be off the grid a lot this summer on a trip to Alaska.

TV Antenna performance seems the same on the tests I've done. I only had to add about 18 inches of coax and I used waterproofed connectors.

In a perfect world I'd like to have the 2K inverter and larger batteries like Lew installed for K9CarCrate.
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Old 05-23-2014, 12:25 PM   #50
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Boxster1971, great looking project. Question: was there the mounting strip on the roof on the driver side or did you install it? How did you anchor thru the roof the various bolts you used and then sealed them? Appears you brought all the solar wiring to a 4" box on passenger side: how did you access thru roof for that one also and how best sealed? Appears you used quality aluminum custom-made cross braces or were they available from a source? Wondering about ballpark on the 4 panels and controls as to overall cost? Appears you could have added 2 more panels forward? You've got me thinking? I also noted that the 2015 AI will have 100 watt flexible panels.
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Old 05-23-2014, 02:39 PM   #51
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Great looking installation!

What's the little doohickey up forward on the streetside?
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Old 05-23-2014, 05:01 PM   #52
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Great looking installation!

What's the little doohickey up forward on the streetside?

Thanks 73shark. That white "mushroom" is the SIRIUS-XM antenna. On later models they switched to a low profile model.
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Old 05-23-2014, 07:29 PM   #53
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Mine (2011) has one installed by the PO and it's like a hockey puck and they put it in the center by the radio antenna.
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Old 05-23-2014, 08:30 PM   #54
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Boxster1971, great looking project. Question: was there the mounting strip on the roof on the driver side or did you install it? How did you anchor thru the roof the various bolts you used and then sealed them? Appears you brought all the solar wiring to a 4" box on passenger side: how did you access thru roof for that one also and how best sealed? Appears you used quality aluminum custom-made cross braces or were they available from a source? Wondering about ballpark on the 4 panels and controls as to overall cost? Appears you could have added 2 more panels forward? You've got me thinking? I also noted that the 2015 AI will have 100 watt flexible panels.
My 2013 Interstate came with factory installed roof rails. They were used to attach the awning on pre-2014 models. From what I can tell when Airstream switched to the new awning without support arms they eliminated the roof rails from their Sprinters from MB.

That 4" box is the AM Solar combiner box. I detailed my solar upgrade last year over several post in the thread labeled "House Battery" You can start reading at the link below starting on page 2 of the thread, it continues over pages 2-4. I recommend you read the entire thread as Lewster also has some great advice on maintaining your Lifeline batteries.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f240...-110690-2.html

I used Rhino-Rack roof rack legs and cross-bars attached to the MB roof rails. I made special aluminum plates to off-set the roof rack leg from the awning, an idea I got from Upscale Automotive -- the Sprinter Store. I also made some custom hinged brackets to attach the solar panels to the Rhino-Rack cross bars. It all got very complicated -- probably from my Aerospace Engineering background.

All the parts for my installation ran about $3,000. I did all the work myself and learned a lot of lessons. I would NOT do it this way again. I'd go with AM Solar's roof mounts using 3M VBH tape and install the AM Solar combiner box as they recommend.

I can't get any more panels forward of the vent fan -- it just looks that way from the angle of the photo. By adding 100 watts of solar Airstream is headed in the right direction, but they should add 200 watts of solar and a good three-stage controller.
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Old 05-26-2014, 03:48 PM   #55
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just back from my first extended trip. (10 days out) The two 104 amp solar panels we had installed by Am solar worked great. They kept up with the refer and what few lights we used. I must say that for the first 5 days we were "camped" in my son's drive way, but kept the refer running and use the propane now and the mostly to make coffee in the morning, turning it off with the inside switch I installed. Even though we were down to like 85% in the morning we would be at a 100% by 2pm sooner if we took it any place. Once again I would like to sing the praises of the folks at AM solar their products and their service.
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Old 10-26-2014, 04:26 PM   #56
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Nice: anyone know if another panel can be added to 2013 without changing the controls and/or anything in the rig? Looking for easy DIY that doubles current capability.


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