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Old 06-21-2017, 11:36 PM   #1
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Best 200 W portable suitcase solar setup ???

Am looking to solar for my first Boondocking experience. Owners manual says ONLY ZAMP to the pre-wired exterior connection. Is this true and if not true i am looking for recommendations as to what is better/preferred/less expensive. All recs to be taken seriously. 3 weeks till the trip
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Old 06-21-2017, 11:40 PM   #2
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The only reason that says "only Zamp" is that Zamp wires their SAE connector backwards from the standard, so supposedly the Airstream inlet by the battery box is wired that way. Your mileage may vary, however... I found that *MY* trailer came from the factory wired in the standard way for the SAE connector so my smart battery tender plugs in directly, but the Zamp panel requires an adapter that reverses the negative and positive leads.
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Old 06-22-2017, 12:34 PM   #3
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I fabricated a 200 watt suitcase from the Renogy kit on Amazon for about $300 including the Wanderer controller. I added Anderson Power 12 volt, 50 amp quick disconnects to my system (2014 model year AS did not include the Zamp connectors that came later). Pics in my gallery. For more info post here or PM me. This works so well for us that on the 7 week trip we just finished I didn't run either of the Honda EU 2000s I carry... not even once.
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Old 06-22-2017, 12:54 PM   #4
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Anyone tried this one?
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XWL79L7...=2DU34OEGQSLTX
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Old 06-22-2017, 01:49 PM   #5
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I fabricated a 200 watt suitcase from the Renogy kit on Amazon for about $300 including the Wanderer controller. I added Anderson Power 12 volt, 50 amp quick disconnects to my system (2014 model year AS did not include the Zamp connectors that came later). Pics in my gallery. For more info post here or PM me. This works so well for us that on the 7 week trip we just finished I didn't run either of the Honda EU 2000s I carry... not even once.
Looked at your pic on the gallery...nice. Would you mind posting up a list of the items you purchased to make your system happen?
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Old 06-23-2017, 12:57 PM   #6
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I have a similar one by GoPower.
"Go Power! GP-PSK-120 120W Portable Folding Solar Kit with 10 Amp Solar Controller"

Output is 120 watts. When boondocking we use it regularly. Heavier than I would like but seems built to last. Very pleased with its performance. If you go this route I suggest you buy the 30' extension cord and also the 7-Pin adapter. The extension cord provides lots of flexibility when parked in shade. The 7-pin adapter w/ cable allows you to plug directly into the trailer-->TV cable. No need to hard-wire or use alligator clips. Connectors appear proprietary. All are available on Amazon.

Note: when we leave our campsite we feel compelled to stash the unit in the trailer for safe keeping, lest it grow legs.
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Old 06-23-2017, 01:46 PM   #7
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Sure. Regarding the components of the suitcase-like approach. Start with a Renogy 200 watt kit. I used this one: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BCRG22A...CRG22A5043727/

The "tray cables" to connect to the battery bank come with the kit, but a fuse block does not. I added a 30 amp auto fuse to the positive leg and (as you might see in the pics in my gallery) an Anderson power 50 amp connector to the side of the battery box . Fuse holder: http://www.ebay.com/bhp/30-amp-fuse-holder Anderson couplers: http://www.alliedelec.com/anderson-p...FdU_GwodInULrg (note, you will need someone extra 8 ga copper stranded wire to connect the output side of the Wander controller to its own Anderson connector so it can couple to the Anderson you put on the battery box. I also travel with a third Interstate Zgroup 24 battery that has two Andersons... it can hook into the trailer's connector for more capacity on cold boondocking nights and still attach the Renogy system).

I riveted slip hinges (the kind that slide apart... like the ones that hold the side plexi wrap panels to the trailer) to the panels so they fold open and closed. If I ever do another set I'd use non-slip hinges. Something like this: https://www.themine.com/door-hinges/...e_8411540.html (yes... you can drill and rivet through the side framed of the Renogy panels)

The connectors to the panels are industry-standard MC4 type. You should add a 30 amp MC 4 fuse in the positive leg between the panels and the Wanderer controller. This one will do: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00YG2IAQ4...G2IAQ45043727/

You may need an extra set of mc4 cable (I carry 15 feet extra). They, too are industry standard. I also riveted magnets to the Wanderer so it hooks to the trailer frame when in use. I riveted mirror brackets (wire loops) to the panels so I can lock them to the trailer with metal chain. I've never seen it necessary to do that.

I hope that helps.
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Old 06-23-2017, 01:50 PM   #8
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We have been using the Zamp Solar 200W solar suitcase for more than two years and are very happy with it. We are full-timers who work from the road and this set-up meets our needs. We have a detailed review of our experience on our website, which you can find here: http://www.naturephotoguides.com/tra...system-zs-200p
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Old 06-23-2017, 05:27 PM   #9
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Old 06-23-2017, 06:53 PM   #10
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Flexible panels

I wonder if it would be possible to use flexible solar panels which are much lighter than the solid panels. Just to make moving them around easier.
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Old 06-23-2017, 07:48 PM   #11
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I wonder if it would be possible to use flexible solar panels which are much lighter than the solid panels. Just to make moving them around easier.
Mike
I am thinking of doing this. Best I can tell flex panels fail when overheated. If not glued to a roof I "think" they'd do much better.

2x100 w panels would probably weigh less than 10 lbs.
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Old 06-24-2017, 05:43 AM   #12
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With the do-it-yourself suitcase approach I described above you can use any panels that are compatible with the controller you've picked. Certainly the thin flexible ones could be used and they are lighter. I've considered upgrading to two of the Renogy 150 watt panels if I ever conclude that the 100's I'm using now are not enough. The challenge with this approach is that I'm the systems integrator and have to do the research to make sure it works and works right. The upside is I have precisely what I need for much less than a manufacturer-provided suitcase would cost.

P.S.: On the flexible panels... on a windy day make sure to secure them somehow. I find the frames on my current set are helpful as weights and also to allow me to prop them up at an angle aligned to the sun. Unlike fixed panels, those of us with the suitcase approach can (and I do) move them throughout the day to avoid shade and stay reasonably perpendicular to the sun.
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Old 06-24-2017, 02:05 PM   #13
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Sure. Regarding the components of the suitcase-like approach.........

I hope that helps.
THANKS a lot. I'm a DIY type from way back, so this sounds like an excellent solution for $300 and change, compared to $900 for a 'pre-built' portable system.

Very helpful....
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Old 06-24-2017, 07:29 PM   #14
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I use a pair of Renogy 100w suitcase panels, wired with 10g garden light wire thru Anderson 50a connectors and a 30a charge controller. Let's me reach for the sun while parked in the shade. Still running the group 24 batteries. Been great for a couple of boondock hunting trips in Ocala NF. Just move the panels to get the low sun thru the trees.
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Old 06-24-2017, 08:01 PM   #15
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I purchased a cheap 100w Renogy panel with included controller. I also purchased an extension chord that allows me to plug into my connector by the batteries. I added some wooden legs that prop it to the correct angle to capture the most light.

My thought was just to get my foot in the door with this solar thing. So far, it's been great. I think in the future we will put up some rooftop solar, but for now this works well.
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Old 07-04-2017, 10:30 PM   #16
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Joining this idea
This sounds like a great low cost solution to add basic solar for battery recharge
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Old 08-21-2018, 09:59 PM   #17
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Can you tell me what the extension cord was that plugs into the zamp connector? Thanks
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Old 08-21-2018, 10:38 PM   #18
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Can you tell me what the extension cord was that plugs into the zamp connector? Thanks


The ZAMP connector is just an SAE connector, which can be found in many places and from many brands. Likewise you can find adapters to go from other connectors used in solar applications to SAE.
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