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corvus43 08-05-2019 01:43 PM

Portable solar panels
Have '13 AS FC 23 FB and will be doing dry camping for a week or longer. Considering buying Zamp portable solar panels, but not sure about wattage needs. Have two 12v batteries, relatively new, and considering a third to carry in back of pickup. The only draws on my batteries while dry camping are refrigerator fan and water pump. Lights are negligible. Want to get most bang for buck, to keep the batteries going for longer than a week. Considering 140 watt or 180 watt. Too much, too little? Anyone have experience with this situation? Thanks!

HHPJ 08-05-2019 04:05 PM

I have the 180 Zamp, 2017 25 FC, spent three days in Santa Fe NM Boondocking at the the local Elks Lodge property. I have two 6v AGM batteries.
Even with afternoon clouds and Brief T Storm each day, the Zamp kept my Batteries at 90 + % charged at the end of the day. Run two fans, Propane fridge, even watched air TV for a few hours. Popped on Honda 2200 only to make coffee each morning...

Spinonedad 08-05-2019 07:22 PM

If you want to maintain the condition of the batteries, don't draw down below 12.1v. You will be surprised how fast they draw down,,,a small generator back up is a good idea, never know when the clouds set in,
I use a Eco worthy 120 watt portable panel,,,$235 on Amazon, works great ,comes with a controller too

ROBERT CROSS 08-05-2019 07:39 PM

Welcome Aboard....👍
2 Attachment(s)
We have 2 Zamp 180w Portable's charging thru the 7pin into a Boondocker 60a Lithium converter charging 2 100ah Battleborn Lithium batteries.
Simple but effective.👍


Free range 08-18-2019 08:18 AM

On our previous trailer, I had 1 12volt battery, 1 100 watt panel on the roof and we were never without power, I did also bring a 2000 watt generator as a back up but never had to use it. Changed all the lightbulbs to LED.

uncle_bob 08-18-2019 08:42 AM


It's a good bet that your fridge pulls about an amp into the control board. It might pull a bit more, it probably does not pull much less. That gets you to 24 AH a day "doing nothing".

If you have LED lights, they are not a big deal, probably another 5 AH a day. If you still have incandescent lights, they can be a big deal. Water pump rarely is an issue. The furnace / how water heater *can* be a very big deal if you turn either one on. Indeed 50AH a day is a more common target than 30AH. (small stuff adds up).

Right now, I'm sitting in the middle of a wide open field with a clear sky view in all directions. It's not raining right now (it stoped at least 30 seconds ago ...,.). With the clouds, my 4 panel setup is delivering a whopping 0.3A of solar. ( = it's not even keeping up with the fridge at 9AM). Indeed in "full sun" it can deliver well over 20A, just not today.

Batteries hooked up as a pair need to be kept as a pair. Swapping in another one is not a very good idea. They need to be very much same / same to keep charging (and discharging) equally. If they get out of whack, one takes over and it likely dies an early death.

Your two batteries are likely group 24's and are rated to about 80AH when new / fully charged. Fully charged means "on a charger for a day". (yes they might be charged in less time, but without a shunt based monitor there is no way to be sure).

The total of 160AH is the rating to the "they are dead" point. Most people stop when the batteries are at 50% to be reasonably sure they will last more than one season :). That gives you 80AH to play with. You will get a bit less than 3 days "run time" on batteries alone *if* they are in excellent condition. If you are up around the more typical 50AH a day then you are a bit less than 2 days run time.

So, to run for over a week, you need to get > 30AH from solar. That's not a bad bet with a pair of panels out in full sun. 50AH is do-able, but the conditions need to be right. In both cases, bring along a small generator "just in case".


pcskier 08-18-2019 02:53 PM

Bob, nice write up and probably sounds right for the 30 footer with the bigger fridge and freezer. We have the little 5 CF fridges with the internal freezer compartment. The fridge in my 23 (like the OP's) pulls right at .5 amps including the .1 amp computer cooling fan. The propane detector pulls <.1 amp...when it's the only load, the Victron monitor flickers between zero and .1 amps, the detector seems to operate in sort of a 'pulse' mode. I just default to assuming .1 amps.

When dry camped with all off except those two, I usually would show about .5/.6 amps total, which puts me at around 12-14 ah in 24 hours. Then of course add in any other loads, which before my solar install, were almost nil, I used mostly water from a 6 gal container and an LED head lamp. I was insane about power conservation. Solar certainly was a game changer for me! (400 watts on the roof).

wulfraat 08-18-2019 03:04 PM

How about 1,000+ on the roof and another 2,000+ watts of portable?

Part 1:

Part 2:

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Part 4:

skitger 08-18-2019 03:17 PM

I have a 100 watt Renogy suitcase and 2 Interstate batteries on my Bambi 16 Sport, we can boondock for 4-5 days easy with that configuration if we get some sun on the panel. Only been a problem when camping in trees/full shade. I agree with PCSKIER, I think your amps are 12-14 if you are thrifty. Get a Victron 712 and you can see your use and input, makes it much easier to monitor battery status/use. Good Luck!

pcskier 08-18-2019 03:25 PM


Originally Posted by skitger (Post 2278525)
Get a Victron 712 and you can see your use and input, makes it much easier to monitor battery status/use.

I whole-heartedly endorse this! Taking the guesswork out was a great upgrade for me.

SilverWind 08-18-2019 04:29 PM

I used a ZAMP 160 on our 25FB for the 8 months prior to AM Solar's 500 watt installation. The 160 was very effective. We're currently using a ZAMP 140 on our 68 Caravel. Zamp replaced the 160 with a 180 this year. We opted for the 140 for the smaller trailer. It is lighter than the 180 and thus easier to handle.

Wolfwhistle 08-18-2019 05:05 PM

I'm a fan of Renogy products. You can get their 200 watt portable kit with water proof controller from Amazon for $594. Get a old school (no need for a smart phone) Trimetric TM2030RV from northern Arizona Wind and Sun for $153 and a 500A shunt for $27. Myself, I would put the panels on the roof and reap the benefit of charging while traveling, JMO.

jftompkins 09-06-2019 05:11 PM

Portable solar panels
1 Attachment(s)
Attachment 351474 Have two Lifeline AGMís for about 110 Ah usable capacity. Our Zamp potable 120W panel might pick up 40 Ah per day with sun..... and we use a nominal 25-30 Ah per day with just the basics (no furnace fan) - starting out with 110 Ah from batteries, we do have some margin for those cloudy days. While there is the security issue I do like the portable solar with respect to orientation for collection efficiency....(2017 FC23FB).... either way these solar options are great when you donít need air-conditioning.

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