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Replacing an inefficient Zamp solar kit with a Overland kit

Zamp solar kit Overland solar kit 6 volt batteries

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#21 Advmoto18

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Posted 13 February 2019 - 11:16 PM

Excellent posts before mine!

 

A couple of thoughts come to mind.

 

If using a quality monitor, when you observe 12.3V stop further discharging and find a way to bring your camper battery(ies) back to a full charge.

 

1.  Depending on battery type and make, discharging to 12.2-12.3V results in a 50% state of discharge (SOC).  Constantly going to and below a 50% SOC will dramatically reduce the useful longevity of your batteries, unless it is a LiFePO4 battery.

 

2.  Solar panels and system ratings are based on absolute optimum conditions.  Full, unobstructed sun directly overhead at a 90 degree axis to the panel. 

 

Any angle off will begin to reduce the panel's effectiveness.    There is an optimum tilt for a panel.  A fixed panel flat on our camper roof's has a maximum 71% effectiveness.  Tilting the panel increases effectiveness.  Using a portable panel and reorienting it towards the sun every hour or so during the day will enhance that panels effectiveness to ~90-95%.  A vast improvement over the fixed roof panel.  Automatic tracking systems, primarily for fixed base arrays, have a 100% panel effectiveness.

 

3.  Shading of even a few cells on a panel will dramatically degrade the efficiency of a panel and can bring some panels completely down.  So if your fan cover is extended and shading your roof mounted panel, expect a significant degradation.  Bike, kayak on roof racks, forget about efficient use of the roof mounted panel.

 

4.  Refrigerator.  I generally keep it on setting 2 or 1 depending on the SOC of my battery.  I consider the frig a "chiller" and not a refrigerator.  I try to put already cold things in the frig rather then warm things needing to be cooled down.  Putting warm things in the frig needing to be chilled will cause the frig's compressor to run for an extended period of time and discharge your battery(ies).

 

Yes, you can spend a lot of coin upgrading your solar charging system.  But, implementing proven energy management techniques to conserve stored energy will go a long way to getting the most out of your batteries.

 

Good luck!


Edited by Advmoto18, 13 February 2019 - 11:20 PM.

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#22 SCUD

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Posted 14 February 2019 - 11:48 PM

Until you know your usage pattern, it seems pointless to consider spending more money.   

 

The least expensive way to determine your needs is to create a spreadsheet of daily Amperage usage.  There are multiple threads on this on the Forum.  I'm cheap, and this is what I did before installing solar.

 

I agree with Vic & Rando, that obtaining a metering/recording device such as a Bogart/Trimetric or Victron is your next least expensive starting point. 

 

My Fleet's 160W Zamp panel/controller allows me to run my 85L fridge, BIPAP breathing machine, furnace, lights, and outside shower  while fully recharging my batteries.  Here in Oregon, it can take a day to fully charge, in AZ or CA it only takes a few hours.  My usage pattern is certainly different from yours, but the BIPAP is an amperage vampire.  

 

My camper uses (2) Fullriver 6V AGM batteries with a 20hr rating of 224 Amps. In order to fit, some wood projecting from the stock charger compartment into the battery compartment needed to be removed.  Most 12V AGM's have a 20hr rating of 75Amps, which in parallel gives 150 Amps.  That's 50% more storage, but I don't think that's your issue.  


Edited by SCUD, 14 February 2019 - 11:49 PM.

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2016 4WC Fleet FD, with most options and 160W Zamp roof panel (1450# dry)

2018 GMC Sierra 2500 SLT Z71 6.0 liter Crew Cab 4WD, 6'-6" bed (replaces 2008 Canyon)

Goodyear Wrangler SR-A LT265/60R20 121/118SE   

TorkLift StableLoads, no air bags


#23 Rogue Juan

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Posted 15 February 2019 - 03:55 AM

SCUD, I have considered just replacing the 12 volt batteries with (2) 6 volt batteries, as recommended by the FWC salesman. I was informed that I would have to cut away that 1 inch overhang into the battery compartment. I haven't removed the vent cover to see what's in the overhang. Thanks for the info. Camping World seems to have the best deal on the batteries. They looked at the battery compartment & said that they were concerned about ventilation. Has that been an issue for you? Also, can you please share pictures of how your cabinet looks after the cut away? I don't want to hack away at it, without seeing how someone else did it.
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#24 Rogue Juan

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Posted 15 February 2019 - 03:59 AM

Hive mind, I've seen pictures of how someone else put their panel on a track that allows for tilting it. Have any of you done the same? If so, please provide links to where I can get them.
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#25 cwdtmmrs

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Posted 15 February 2019 - 08:03 AM

   The least expensive way to determine your needs is to create a spreadsheet of daily Amperage usage.  There are multiple threads on this on the Forum. 

My camper uses (2) Fullriver 6V AGM batteries with a 20hr rating of 224 Amps. In order to fit, some wood projecting from the stock charger compartment into the battery compartment needed to be removed.  Most 12V AGM's have a 20hr rating of 75Amps, which in parallel gives 150 Amps.  That's 50% more storage, but I don't think that's your issue.  

 

At that point, wouldn't it just be better to install 1 150 amp LiFePO battery. As much or more usable amps as the 2 6V batteries at a fraction of the weight.


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CWDT

#26 Danneskjold

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Posted 15 February 2019 - 11:10 AM

I love my FWC but the electrical system/design is BAD.

Step 1: Ditch the crappy stock fridge for an ARB or Dometic 12v - that should solve the majority of your power issues. I don’t know why FWC insists on installing the inefficient 2/3 way fridges but they are truly terrible. The only advantage is the front opening.

Step 2: If that doesn’t solve it completely, just take the stock panel off and buy 2x Renogy 100W panels for $260 and install them. You can buy a cable off of Amazon that will connect both panels to the camper plug on top.
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#27 pvstoy

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Posted 15 February 2019 - 07:10 PM

Hive mind, I've seen pictures of how someone else put their panel on a track that allows for tilting it. Have any of you done the same? If so, please provide links to where I can get them.

 

You could park into the sun and drop the front lift roof so the panel has a more direct angle to the sun. (or raise the back roof if you park with the top down).


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#28 Rogue Juan

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Posted 15 February 2019 - 11:16 PM

Unfortunately, where I park homeless people are a problem. So, leaving the camper popped up when I'm at work is a no go.
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#29 SCUD

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 06:36 AM

Rogue Juan

 

My AGM batteries don't seem to vent gas, and the compartment has vents.    My install was done by my dealer.  Since you're so close to FWC, why don't you get them to supply batteries & install them?

 

cwdtmmrs

 

Why is 150 amps better than 224?


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2016 4WC Fleet FD, with most options and 160W Zamp roof panel (1450# dry)

2018 GMC Sierra 2500 SLT Z71 6.0 liter Crew Cab 4WD, 6'-6" bed (replaces 2008 Canyon)

Goodyear Wrangler SR-A LT265/60R20 121/118SE   

TorkLift StableLoads, no air bags


#30 Rogue Juan

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 07:42 AM

If FWC's support after the sale were better, I'd be more willing to give them the business. But considering I'VE HAD MY CAMPER LESS THAN A YEAR & they acted like I was being unreasonable to ask for a discount on upgrading an inefficient solar sytem, when they never offered the 6 volt batteries to begin with and by their own admission they are switching all new models to a different system because they knew the old system was inefficient in overcast conditions. Between the salesman, the service guys, and the engineer they weren't even sure what was the best solution for me. My whole solar system would need to be replaced because the controller they sold me is incompatible with the new panels they are now using and the battery compartment would have to be made larger to fit the 6 volt batteries that they already sold.

When I ordered my camper they knew I would be using it year round and after my first winter using it, they tell me that FWCs are not intended for boondocking more than a few days. They were more than willing to take my 28k last year and now they've left me feeling taken advantage of. If they can't do solar properly, they shouldn't sell it at all. People on Wander The West are more knowledgeable about solar than FWC.
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