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fran&frank 09-04-2016 08:12 AM

Zamp or Renogy portable solar
I have the two factory 53w solar panels on my 2016 26' FC. After getting a couple years use out of the two Lifeline AGMs I plan on upgrading battery and solar capacity to extend boondocking opportunities. In the mean time I am considering a generator or some portable solar panels for when the factory installed system can't keep up. I know the Zamp 200w portable system ($899 on Amazon) is popular with users here. But is there any reason I can't consider the Renogy 200W solar kit with cable connectors and controler for just over $300 and add my own hinges and legs to make it portable? I am thinking I can just connect it directly to my battery terminals when in use and it should function fine with the factory solar?

Wayne&Sam 09-04-2016 08:32 AM

I'm using the Renogy 100 suitcase to rip off my batteries and it has Ben working well so far. The only thing they could improve is to make the controller waterproof. The one they use is not although the panels are.

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Wayne&Sam 09-04-2016 08:34 AM

By the way, my real test starts tonight as we begin a full week on batteries alone. It will be colder so we'll be using more heat too.

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AWCHIEF 09-04-2016 08:40 AM

I have no experience or opinion on Zamp products. I have a Reneogy 100 watt suitcase system that I am happy with one exception. The supplied controller is not water proof. After getting some water in the display I swapped out the controller for a better quality and higher power waterproof unit and added another 100 watt panel to the system.

Wayne&Sam 09-04-2016 08:42 AM

You only got two years out of your Lifelines?

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fran&frank 09-04-2016 08:58 AM

No my lifelines are still in use its just that before I upgrade battery capacity I want to get at least a couple of years out of them before replacing them with a matched set of 4 batteries or maybe even Lithium.

Drathaar 09-04-2016 09:01 AM

Either will do a good job for you.

KJRitchie 09-04-2016 09:06 AM

You certain can make your own portable. I thought about doing that but I couldn't find any legs to purchase that I could attach to the panels. If you find some legs please post the URL to the source. If you want join the portables to your on board you would need to plug the portables into the same wiring as the roof top's solar controller so only one controller is monitoring the panels. Verify the onboard controller can hand the extra panels.

I have the Zamp 200 currently but will be adding 200w (AMSolar kit) to the roof. I'm going to remove the Zamp controller off the back of the panels and plug into a side port the installer will provide to join the roof and Zamp panels to the Blue Sky controller so it controls both the roof and portable.


dkottum 09-04-2016 09:19 AM

We also have the factory 53w panels and AGM batteries, and thinking of the same thing. I'm thinking of Zamp 160w portable (because 200w portable looks too heavy and bulky for handling and transport). I don't know if the Zamp is any better than Renology but it's offered in larger portable size. So I think it's going to be Zamp.

The AGM's are over five years old, still seem be working well but probably have lost some storage capacity. My replacement idea (led by Air Forum info) is two Lifeline AGM 6v batteries. Apparently they will fit in the battery box but the cover needs to be raised. Lewster here has a modified cover kit, looking to see if he has any available.

I think this upgrade would be good for our particular travel combination of travel and destination camping in our annual six month snowbird trip, most of the winter months in the Southwest (Calif, Arizona, New Mexico).

Advice and suggestions welcome.

fran&frank 09-04-2016 10:35 AM

So our interest in adding a portable at this point is to see how it works and think more about what our ultimate needs and solution would be. Can any one comment on if we can supplement our existing system with the portable system with its own controller by just connecting the portable directly to the battery? Not sure we want to upgrade the factory controller at this point to run both systems through a single, upgraded controller? Or can the factory controller can handle both systems and how would we join the two inputs at the controller?

dkottum 09-04-2016 10:52 AM

I understand the Zamp or Renology portable with its own controller can be hooked directly to the batteries, and joins any other connected charging systems (factory solar system, converter/charger, Honda generator, or tow vehicle alternator) without problems.

unifreck 09-04-2016 02:31 PM

I have the Renology suitcase without controller and paired it with a Goal Zero product that contains -- controller, storage battery AGM, inverter with 2 AC outlets,
2 USB outlets, 2 - 6mm outlets for 12 volts, and 1 - 12 volt outlet (cigarette style) and 1 - 8mm power inlet for charging. This combination was suggested to me by an engineer at Renology when I was at the factory wanting help for charging my electric bikes without using my generator while boondocking. Combination works great as people on the 2016 Wyoming adventure with Ray and Nancy Eklund can attest.
Bought the Suitcase direct from Renology (they will match any legitimate pricing with free shipping) and bought the Goal Zero at Costco during a Road Show . I think it will soon be a regular product there over the Internet sales. Best pricing by far. AEW

GammaDog 09-04-2016 02:41 PM

Fran&frank: I did precisely what you're thinking of. I concluded I needed more than 100w of solar, wanted to put panels on the ground so I could camp in the shade (we have a term for people who camp in the direct sun in Florida... Yankees!), and didn't want to drop $800 on an approach that I wasn't sure I'd like or use.

I bought the two 100w Renogy panels with the Wanderer controller. I added two slide-apart stainless hinges to the panels with stainless steel nuts, bolts and lock washers (they fit better than rivets). I added a 12v quick disconect to the battery bank and the feed end of the controller and Voila! For under $400 I'm in business. I also made a rack from aluminum angle stock so the two panels, joined and folded ride suspended under my tonneau and directly above my generators. The controller and 15' leads ride inside the folded panels. I carry an extra 20' of 10 ga feed leads but have never needed them. There's a pic in my gallery.

I'd recommend this approach highly. Let me know if you have specific questions.

dames7 09-04-2016 03:23 PM

Just order mine extension for batteries box from, only $100. and everything you need to get the job done.

Offack 09-04-2016 03:32 PM

For those of you with 25' FC front bedroom, the zamp 160's when put away in their suitcase fit perfectly in the storage locker next to refridge drivers side, on the left side. Almost as though spot was made for them. Just added a strap to hold top against wall. Does not interfere with normal use of locker . I have two 6 volt lifeline Agm and the panels bring them up in about 4 hrs f good solid sun. The panels connect to the batteries with the optional exterior (15 buck?) adaptor I bought when I bought the panels and mounted on the side of the battery box.
Also for those with the above mentioned TT , if you extend the top of your battery box, I don't believe you can open the storage locker behind the batties on the front of the coach. I blew out the bottom of my battery box and added two inches on the bottom.

AWCHIEF 09-04-2016 03:36 PM


Originally Posted by dames7 (Post 1845862)
Just order mine extension for batteries box from, only $100. and everything you need to get the job done.

That looks like a well designed and built extension for $100. I built my own. If I had known about this I might have gone that way.

CAV 09-04-2016 04:57 PM

Look at the Go Power portable solar that is recommended in the Airstream store. I just got the panels, 39' extension cord, and the adapter that plugs into the 7 pin plug. Easy peasy.

fran&frank 09-04-2016 10:11 PM

Thanks everyone for great input. The GoPower 120w portable looks like a nice unit at a good price. However I think we're leaning towards building our own 200 w portable solar from the Renogy 200 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline Solar Bundle Kit ($309 on Amazon) since it will be half the price of the 200W Zamp unit and I consider myself pretty handy, and it sounds like GammaDog was successful at doing something similar.

greghoro 09-05-2016 08:49 AM


Originally Posted by GammaDog (Post 1845840)
I bought the two 100w Renogy panels with the Wanderer controller. I added two slide-apart stainless hinges to the panels with stainless steel nuts, bolts and lock washers (they fit better than rivets). I added a 12v quick disconect to the battery bank and the feed end of the controller and Voila!

Interested in how you support the panels when in use, especially in view of the fact you can use them together or independently.


Offack 09-05-2016 10:07 AM

Time will tell which brand is better. For me, I went all over the renogy website,and couldn't find out where they were made . I hope USA.....zamp products are according to its website and distributor 6 months ago, are made in the USA, with the exception of one or two panels made in Canada soon to be moved to plant in USA when completed. No brainier for me, I bought the Zamps. ����

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