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Old 10-04-2022, 04:26 PM   #1
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Oklahoma City , Oklahoma
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2023 20X Solar Plug

Just made a deposit on a 2023 20X with solar package for February 2023 delivery. I've learned a lot from reading the forums that helped me make a decision on the 20X, thank you. Now that I've made a deposit and have made the commitment, I'm pretty sure I'll have lots of questions and will look to all of you for your advice and counsel. Thanks in advance.

Here's my first two questions.

1) I want to be able to connect my unregulated 350W Bluetti solar panel to the Basecamp's exterior solar plug. What's the best way to make this possible, install a second solar controller inside that's tied to the solar plug on the outside of the Basecamp?

2) Can anyone tell me if the 300W roof-mounted solar panels and the 350W Bluetti panel (once connected to the solar plug) will work together to speed up the battery charging process?

Looking forward to being a part of this community and learning from your experience and expertise.
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Old 10-06-2022, 06:47 AM   #2
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2022 20' Basecamp
Rochester , Michigan
Join Date: Jul 2021
Posts: 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aluminated J View Post
Just made a deposit on a 2023 20X with solar package for February 2023 delivery. I've learned a lot from reading the forums that helped me make a decision on the 20X, thank you. Now that I've made a deposit and have made the commitment, I'm pretty sure I'll have lots of questions and will look to all of you for your advice and counsel. Thanks in advance.

Here's my first two questions.

1) I want to be able to connect my unregulated 350W Bluetti solar panel to the Basecamp's exterior solar plug. What's the best way to make this possible, install a second solar controller inside that's tied to the solar plug on the outside of the Basecamp?

2) Can anyone tell me if the 300W roof-mounted solar panels and the 350W Bluetti panel (once connected to the solar plug) will work together to speed up the battery charging process?

Looking forward to being a part of this community and learning from your experience and expertise.


Im a newbie but I think the answer to your first question is the portable units have to have their own solar controller. See the video below.

https://support.airstream.com/hc/en-...ont-solar-plug
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Old 10-06-2022, 09:58 AM   #3
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2022 20' Basecamp
Rochester , Michigan
Join Date: Jul 2021
Posts: 69
Just to add, I just ran across this description found at the link below.

How do the rooftop solar panels work together with the front solar access point and portable panels? They work together within the panel environment to determine charge need. If one or the other (roof or plug) is providing enough energy for the need, then only one is working and charging because that is what is needed to feed the battery.

All of the panels work in parallel for a collaborative charge, if needed. There's really not a primary or secondary source as they work around need level, environmental factors (shade, trees etc.) and energy source. The system will determine all of this as long as controllers are "on".

Once the desired battery level is detected, both solar options will shut off until solar harvest is needed again.

https://support.airstream.com/hc/en-...irstream-work-
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Old 10-06-2022, 11:39 AM   #4
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2022 20' Basecamp
Felton , California
Join Date: May 2021
Posts: 92
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aluminated J View Post
Just made a deposit on a 2023 20X with solar package for February 2023 delivery. I've learned a lot from reading the forums that helped me make a decision on the 20X, thank you. Now that I've made a deposit and have made the commitment, I'm pretty sure I'll have lots of questions and will look to all of you for your advice and counsel. Thanks in advance.

Here's my first two questions.

1) I want to be able to connect my unregulated 350W Bluetti solar panel to the Basecamp's exterior solar plug. What's the best way to make this possible, install a second solar controller inside that's tied to the solar plug on the outside of the Basecamp?

2) Can anyone tell me if the 300W roof-mounted solar panels and the 350W Bluetti panel (once connected to the solar plug) will work together to speed up the battery charging process?

Looking forward to being a part of this community and learning from your experience and expertise.
I am surprised you haven't gotten a lot more responses. I'll add my two cents, but there are people that frequent the forum that are far more knowledgeable than I.

The "solar port" on the Basecamp is wired directly to the batteries and does not go through the controller. So, you will need to put a controller between your panel and the battery. I have read about owners rewiring the port so it goes to the onboard controller first, but there are two disadvantages. 1 - your panels likely have different parameters, and you may lose significant energy. 2 - the "solar port" can be used to move electricity in either directions. I use mine to run a 12 volt water pump when I need to add water to my tank while dry camping. (Be sure to check the polarity on your port. The older (pre 2023) Zamp ports are wired differently than many other solar products.

I am looking forward to reading more answers to your question #2. I have read a in the forum about controllers fighting one another. The support article linked above indicates you shouldn't have any issues until the later stages of charging when the charge needs to be reduced to more of a trickle. At that point one charger should take over, and will be sufficient. I routinely keep our suitcase panel plugged in all day. It stops sending energy when the batteries are full.

300 W on the roof, and 350 W on the ground is a lot. Unless you add a inverter, you will have all the power you need. Our 180 W on the roof gets our batteries to 100% each day if we are parked in the sun in good weather. The 200 W suitcase allows us to reach for sun when parked in the shade.

Did you opt for lithium batteries? They will effectively double you usable power. The extra cost is worth not having to worry about bringing your AGMs below 50% even if you don't really need the extra capacity - obviously that is my opinion and not a fact.

I'll add one more thing I have learned on the forum. What Airstream does with a specific model one month can be very different that a trailer coming off the line a few months later. Something like the solar port being wired directly to the batteries may need to be verified for the new solar package on the 2023 models.

Just had another thought. 350 watts is a lot. You will need to look into your wire choices. When I did the math for my set up, I came up with 10 gauge wire and 20' length for our 200 watt suitcase. You will need thicker cables and or shorter distances. You will also need to look into the gauge of the cables from the port to the battery.
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Old 10-06-2022, 02:49 PM   #5
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2022 20' Basecamp
1968 17' Caravel
Los Osos , California
Join Date: Nov 2013
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I have a 2022 Basecamp X with two factory installed ZAMP legacy 90 watt roof panels. I'm having a third panel, ZAMP 170 installed on the roof. Also adding two Battleborn Lithium BBGC2H 100 aH heated batteries, a Victron 2000 watt inverter and Victron 712 Bluetooth battery monitor.

I just got off the phone with ZAMP. My situation is slightly different than your's in that I'm using a regulated ZAMP 140 portable panel with a ZAMP PVM controller which will stop charging when it reaches a threshold of approximately 99% battery charge. The "more accurate" Victron 100/35 MPPT Bluetooth controller for the roof panels will take over until the batteries are fully charged (100%). I assume this is what Airstream means when it says "They work together within the panels environment to determine charge needed".

I contacted ZAMP to see if I could add a Victron MPPT 100/20 Bluetooth controller in place of my 140's ZAMP PWM. They said that it would void the ZAMP warranty and could be in conflict with other aspects of the panel. I was hoping to monitor both inputs on the Victron app.

I assume that if you add a PWM controller to your 350W Bluetti, you may have the same situation as I described. It's also assumed that if the controller has a shut off threshold lower the 100% it will defer to the Victron 100/35 to do the rest of the charging to 100%. I would probably consult with Bluetti.
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Old 10-11-2022, 03:11 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JA15830 View Post
I am surprised you haven't gotten a lot more responses. I'll add my two cents, but there are people that frequent the forum that are far more knowledgeable than I.

The "solar port" on the Basecamp is wired directly to the batteries and does not go through the controller. So, you will need to put a controller between your panel and the battery. I have read about owners rewiring the port so it goes to the onboard controller first, but there are two disadvantages. 1 - your panels likely have different parameters, and you may lose significant energy. 2 - the "solar port" can be used to move electricity in either directions. I use mine to run a 12 volt water pump when I need to add water to my tank while dry camping. (Be sure to check the polarity on your port. The older (pre 2023) Zamp ports are wired differently than many other solar products.

I am looking forward to reading more answers to your question #2. I have read a in the forum about controllers fighting one another. The support article linked above indicates you shouldn't have any issues until the later stages of charging when the charge needs to be reduced to more of a trickle. At that point one charger should take over, and will be sufficient. I routinely keep our suitcase panel plugged in all day. It stops sending energy when the batteries are full.

300 W on the roof, and 350 W on the ground is a lot. Unless you add a inverter, you will have all the power you need. Our 180 W on the roof gets our batteries to 100% each day if we are parked in the sun in good weather. The 200 W suitcase allows us to reach for sun when parked in the shade.

Did you opt for lithium batteries? They will effectively double you usable power. The extra cost is worth not having to worry about bringing your AGMs below 50% even if you don't really need the extra capacity - obviously that is my opinion and not a fact.

I'll add one more thing I have learned on the forum. What Airstream does with a specific model one month can be very different that a trailer coming off the line a few months later. Something like the solar port being wired directly to the batteries may need to be verified for the new solar package on the 2023 models.

Just had another thought. 350 watts is a lot. You will need to look into your wire choices. When I did the math for my set up, I came up with 10 gauge wire and 20' length for our 200 watt suitcase. You will need thicker cables and or shorter distances. You will also need to look into the gauge of the cables from the port to the battery.
Truly appreciate your comments and feedback. Yes, we're installing lithiums. I spoke with DFW Airstream service team last week and we'll be able to install 300AH for sure and, most likely, 400AH without a significant increase in the battery compartment footprint. I did not pose the question of adding a second solar controller between the 350W external panel and the battery as my thoughts regarding power are constantly evolving with each new piece of information I uncover. With a February delivery date, I have time to continue to explore before I have to commit to a system. Right now, 300W on the roof, and my Bluetti AC 200 MAX (with 350W panel) are the only for-sure elements of the 20X power-system build.

As for the wire choices, am I to look to Airstream DFW for their expertise in this area or am I largely on my own (and this excellent community) to figure out the details?

My wife and I will travel full-time in the 20X starting next summer as we received and accepted an unsolicited offer on what we thought was our "retirement" home. We've tent camped since we were in our 20s so our plans are to stay largely in dispersed camping environments with the occasional layovers in State Parks or private campgrounds. While the fresh/grey/black tanks will always be a limiting factor for us remaining off-grid, the power system seems to be the one thing I can conquer, hence the desire to overbuild the system. We are likely to be pretty prolific consumers of power as both of us will continue to consult (2 phones and two laptops), I'm an avid photographer (digital & drone), we'll take our SONOS audio system, Starlink, air compressor for paddle boards, etc.

P.S. Regarding Starlink, I asked the service team at Airstream DFW to plan on connecting the router to a new 12V switch in the trailer and the run the cable through the skin to an external connection on the outside of the trailer so I can plug in the antenna without having the cable come through a window or door; I wanted a "factory-looking" clean install.

Appreciate everyone's advice.
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