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Old 11-13-2021, 09:44 AM   #1
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2021 20' Basecamp
Olympia , Washington
Join Date: May 2021
Posts: 8
Solar panels on a Basecamp 20X

Hi All,


We have a BC 20x on order and I'm researching and designing a solar system for it. I looked at a 20X with factory solar and 2 extra panels that were installed by the dealer. They used 4 Zamp 90w long panels, two in front of the fan and two behind.

I cut out some cardboard to simulate Zamp 100w Obsidian panels (or the Zamp 90w short panels) and laid them out on the roof to see how they would fit. I have attached photos.
I'm going to start out with 2 panels because I have 2-100w briefcase panels that I can plug into the solar port on the side and chase the sun. But I want the option to add more on the roof if needed.

Thinking about the choice and placement of panels I have a few questions.
1) Should I go with the long Zamp panels like the factory install? If I tuck them behind the fan then they're shielded a little from the wind and don't affect aerodynamics as much. I can tilt them when stopped and they won't stick up very high to catch the wind. Cons, the fan and AC might shade them some.
2) Go with the short panels on the side of the AC, either the Obsidian (are they worth the extra $) or the 90w short Zamp? Pros, easier to access to clean and possibly easier to tilt; however, they would stick up higher and catch more wind.

3) AM Solar sells a Zamp 190w panel that's basically the same size as 2 90w Zamp long panels. It would fit either in between the fan and AC or in front. Is one panel better than two? Pros easier to install and wire, cheaper. Cons it would be harder to tilt than two smaller ones and I don't know if AM Solar has a tilt kit for it.


There are other combinations I can think of as well. If I go with 2 long panels now, I can add two short panels later, or vis versa.



Cheers,

MM
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Old 11-13-2021, 10:14 AM   #2
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Portland , Oregon
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I have five of the Renogy Eclipse panels with tilt ability but I haven’t tilted them once. I’ll wager with two ground panels you can reposition you’ll also find tilting not worth climbing on the roof for. The exception might be if you were going to boondock a long time in the winter in a fixed location. Even then you’d need to be parked at the right orientation in a spot with good southern exposure.

All that to say I wouldn’t worry too much about the tilt ability in your panel placement. The double size panel would be my choice.

By the way, Sunflare is the fancy flexible solar panel used on the high end nucamp trailers. Quite expensive. I’ve not been a fan of flexible panels in the past due to their short life but these are different. Most interesting is that it’s far more immune to partial shading than most panels since they have a diode on every cell! Here’s the link https://www.sunflarexplor.com/
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Old 11-13-2021, 10:26 AM   #3
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Thanks for the input. I wondered about how much I would tilt them and I was thinking I'd have to be parked for a while to make it worth while. We live in Washington and a lot of sites we park at have some shade, so having the portable panels helps a lot.
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Old 01-28-2022, 03:34 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by larchitect View Post
Thanks for the input. I wondered about how much I would tilt them and I was thinking I'd have to be parked for a while to make it worth while. We live in Washington and a lot of sites we park at have some shade, so having the portable panels helps a lot.
I have the Basecamp 20x with the factory two rooftop solar panels.
I haven’t been able to get up there to look but is there already a plug and wiring to add more panels to the two factory ones already there?
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Old 01-29-2022, 08:35 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Spicule View Post
I have the Basecamp 20x with the factory two rooftop solar panels.
I havenít been able to get up there to look but is there already a plug and wiring to add more panels to the two factory ones already there?

There are three plugs up there. The two panels probably use two of them, so if you want to put more than one more, you'd have to get an adapter to combine the others before plugging it into the box.

AM Solar has a 190 watt panel that's a little smaller than the two factory panels. That's what I'm installing on our 20x.
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Old 01-29-2022, 01:41 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by larchitect View Post
There are three plugs up there. The two panels probably use two of them, so if you want to put more than one more, you'd have to get an adapter to combine the others before plugging it into the box.

AM Solar has a 190 watt panel that's a little smaller than the two factory panels. That's what I'm installing on our 20x.
Thanks for that.
But I think if you combine two panels into one plug then those two panels are in series which combines voltages and the other two panels are in parallel which combines current. I'm not sure how you make sure that is all ok.

Those pics you sent were from another trailer, not yours? And did you say that that trailer with four panels on it was factory or dealer installed? I wonder how they ended up wiring the four panels into three plugs - series and parallel wise.
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Old 01-30-2022, 09:46 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Mike Spicule View Post
Thanks for that.
But I think if you combine two panels into one plug then those two panels are in series which combines voltages and the other two panels are in parallel which combines current. I'm not sure how you make sure that is all ok.

Those pics you sent were from another trailer, not yours? And did you say that that trailer with four panels on it was factory or dealer installed? I wonder how they ended up wiring the four panels into three plugs - series and parallel wise.

Correct, that's a friend's Basecamp.



They probably used something like this https://amsolar.com/rv-cables/plug-2poleflat-2-1
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Old 01-30-2022, 11:11 PM   #8
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Evergreen , Colorado
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+1 for this challenge

Same scenario for me. New BC20X is due in five weeks and looking at maybe mounting two Zamp 100s on the long axis of the trailer saving room for the traditional mounting location of the 90W panels if needed. I like this configuration concept as there is a smaller leading edge surface area when towing for a lower wind resistance. I'm all about loading up on solar, but wondering if it's needed. Unless one has a lot of batteries, an inverter and trying to run the A/C without shore hookups, how much power is really needed? I mean, yeah, I want to make sure I have enough juice to keep the margarita machine running, but how many watts are needed to keep a healthy creature comfort level? It looks like fitting 300-400 watts worth of panels on the BC20 is easy, but is it necessary or overkill?
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Old 02-01-2022, 10:41 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KyleS View Post
Same scenario for me. New BC20X is due in five weeks and looking at maybe mounting two Zamp 100s on the long axis of the trailer saving room for the traditional mounting location of the 90W panels if needed. I like this configuration concept as there is a smaller leading edge surface area when towing for a lower wind resistance. I'm all about loading up on solar, but wondering if it's needed. Unless one has a lot of batteries, an inverter and trying to run the A/C without shore hookups, how much power is really needed? I mean, yeah, I want to make sure I have enough juice to keep the margarita machine running, but how many watts are needed to keep a healthy creature comfort level? It looks like fitting 300-400 watts worth of panels on the BC20 is easy, but is it necessary or overkill?

I'm going to mount the 190 watt panel where the factory typically mounts the two 90 watt panels. It will be shielded somewhat by the fan that way.

The thing about putting a lot of solar on the roof is that I park in the shade a lot of the time where we live. So I have two 100 watt briefcase panels that I pull out when I need them. That way I can chase the sun with them. I would have gone just with that, but I like the idea of having a panel on the roof to charge the batteries while we're driving.



I just found out that our BC arrived at the dealer this morning. We're going to pick it up next week so I'll post photos when I get everything installed. I'm putting in a 2000 watt Victron Multipass inverter as well as a battery monitor, controller, and 2 100 Ah lithium batteries. Let the tetris games begin.
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Old 02-01-2022, 10:41 PM   #10
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2022 20' Basecamp
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We're in the same boat (RV)

I also prefer parking in the shade when able. However, I'm intrigued by the idea of loading up the roof with panels that won't walk away with someone while I'm out on a hike, charge while driving, and otherwise be out of sight and out of mind. The cardboard cutouts checking roof space on the BC20 (great post) has me contemplating 200-400ish on the roof and maybe 90-100W of portable panels for a rather versatile mix.

The 190W Zamp seems like a solid plan, but I'm drawn to the smaller profile of the Zamp Obsidian panels. I need to see if there is a 190W Obsidian available or in the works. One panel and one connection for 190W is appealing for a variety of reasons. I like this concept.

Very tempted to just get the portable panels first and wait until a few of us BC20 owners have some experience on the different roof configurations to share on this forum.

Also shouldn't need the charge controller with the regulated Zamp portables which feed directly to the batteries. That allows me to avoid the full expense of a full custom solar setup (with controllers, inverters, etc) after dropping 50K on a new RV. Going to buy the portables eventually anyways... might as well start out with that piece?

I'll also be interested how the Victron 2000W inverter fits in your newly delivered toy. I'm eyeing the 3000W version (don't need 3000W) as the dimensions seem more conducive to the space available under the dining seats.
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