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Comments for RV Mods: Is a “solar ready” RV right for your needs?

  • Although handy, a Zamp proprietary solar outlet has led to much confusion as the Zamp outlets and plugs are not wired the same as many other solar panels or smart chargers for that matter, making it more convenient to purchase their over-priced panels. Zamp also places their charge controllers at the panel instead of closer to the battery resulting in voltage drop/loss. You end up using adapters and rewiring the system if you wish to optimize your solar output. It is nice to have a convenient port to “plug n play”, but be aware of the nuances of this marketing strategy.

  • But what about those of us who like to camp in forested areas. Trees provide great shade to cool RV’s in the summer. Roof mounted systems are pretty well useless in the shade. I can locate my portable system in the sunny areas and move it accordingly to follow the sun. Your article mentions nothing about that.

  • Our Arctic Fox (2012) came ‘solar ready’, which meant there was a little plug on the roof leading to – uh – nowhere. The dealer said I just had to plug a solar panel in and VIOLLA – solar charged batteries. WRONG! [That dealer is out of business now – go figure]. I removed our wall mounted stereo system and found the two wires wound up – and going nowhere. Two more wires were wound up there as well, and they ran down near the batteries – also unattached to anything. That’s all fine because I installed our 375 watt roof mounted solar array myself, running my own wires (much bigger than the ones supplied by the mfg). I’m thinking of someday using the wires down ‘near’ the batteries to hook to a volt meter next to the stereo.

  • Couple years ago we visited a solar installer in Quartzsite, AZ. Complete 300 watt roof mounted system with newest panels, charge controller and installation (promised in 4 hours) totaled $1500 out the door. Their lot was crowded with low end as well a expensive rigs from as far away as Boston. All those folks were customers based on recommendations of very happy RV’ers they met during their travels. I recall their business name beginning with the word “discount.” For us, that business is a benchmark of surpassed expectations and old school quality. The easy peasy solar systems are fine for a couple LED lights at your mountain cabin. The most economical decision is to do it right the first time.

  • I used a portable solar system for a while before getting rooftop solar. That system could either be attached to the battery with spring clamps, or even plugged into the “cigarette lighter” plug. Hookup was convenient, but the unit was heavy to lug around. It is now available cheap if someone wants to come to my house to pick it up.

  • After reading as much I’ve read, it is still confusing to me. I truly want to go solar. We’ve only been RV owners for three weeks. Two of those we were burglarized, twice in one week. Now we are more interested into getting security for our Jayco 30′ . If anyone has advise please let me know. It’s still in the repair shop.

    • Jayco has a deadbolt on the door use it. If you are in the RV have a bear spray mounted with velco next to the door and spray it on anything trying to get in. Remember if you get a gun, You have a one in seven greater change of hurting someone in your family or acquaintance than a intruder.

  • While most of you know me from my articles on 120-volt AC power, I actually have a strong background in 12-Volt DC batteries and charging systems. I’ve recently developed an interest in solar systems as they relate to battery charging, so I’m going to study up on it and ask a few manufacturers to send me some demo products. That way I can gather empirical data on how well they work, not just regurgitate some marketing department hype. This information will show up in a future RV Electricity Newsletter, so watch for it.

  • Another problem with the portable system is that it takes up too much storage space for anyone in a Class B and many Class Cs.

  • If you are ready to invest in solar, search “Handy Bob’s Solar”. Although very opinionated and at times wordy, this gentleman lives with solar. He offers real world experience and very practical info. Read his entire blog and it will save you heartache, time and money. He knows what he is talking about.

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