Which Zamp Solar Portable 230W or 140W - Fiberglass RV
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Old 12-14-2018, 07:49 AM   #1
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Name: John
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Which Zamp Solar Portable 230W or 140W

New to the Forum and to RVing. We just ordered a 2019 17ft Spirit Deluxe with most of the available options (all LED lighting, Furnace, Electric Tongue Jack, AGM battery, etc.). We chose the Zamp 230W portable Solar system but now we're starting to wonder if this might be too large for the single battery on a Casita. I'm not sure which AGM battery Casita puts in their new 2019 trailers but it seems as if most AGM batteries available top out around 100 amp/hours.
The next smaller Zamp portable solar system is the 140W and I thought this might be better suited to a single battery and it only weighs 33 lbs vs the 50 lbs weight of the 230 W system.

Initially, most of our camping will be at sites with electrical hookups but we'd like to work up to some boondocking as we gain more experience.

The Zamp 230W system is new and so I'm not sure if anyone has any experience with it but I thought the many of the forum members might be able to offer us some suggestions or tips.
Thanks in advance.
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Old 12-14-2018, 08:19 AM   #2
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Name: Steve
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NW Wisconsin
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We have a 2013 17 ft Casita SD . Our trailers has LED lights , a furnace , and a single 27F deep cycle battery
We use a single Renogy 100 watt Solar Suitcase. It provides more than enough power for our needs . We have camped off grid for up to 7 days without issue
Our new 21 ft trailer has dual 170 watt solar panels on the roof , we could have easily got by with one panel . Next time we will not go that route .
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Old 12-14-2018, 09:15 AM   #3
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New Hampshire
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The answer to your question depends upon your current and future power needs. If you plan on running electric appliances while boon-docking such as a coffee maker, microwave, etc off of an inverter you may want to consider keeping the larger system. This would enable you to charge the batteries more quickly after heavy use. For example a 1000 watt microwave would at the very least pull about 1.4 amps per minute of use. A 1200 watt coffee maker would pull about 1.7 amps per minute. This is in addition to the usual draws (lights, fans, appliances, etc.) and ignores any wastage when converting 12 volts DC to 120 volts AC. Your 100 ah battery gives you 50 ah of usable power and your 230 watt system give you approximately 11 or 12 amps per hour for recharge at optimum conditions. Your just going to have to figure out what the usage is and do the math.
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Old 12-14-2018, 09:33 AM   #4
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Thanks Steve and Alex for your replies. Both my wife and I are pretty sure that in boondocking scenarios we would not be using the microwave or an electric coffee pot and would use the propane option for coffee and food. We also realize that the AC is out of the question unless connected to AC. I was told that the refrigerator and furnace even when both were running off of propane used some electricity and I just did not have an idea as to how much they would require. The Zamp website has a suggested matrix for their portable suitcase systems that suggests systems from 80W to 160W but these recommendations are not specifically geared towards a smaller Casita type of TT.

Steve, on your longer off grid stays were you primarily using propane for both your refrigerator and furnace?
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Old 12-14-2018, 09:43 AM   #5
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Florida
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The controller for the solar should take care of the battery even if it might be oversized for it.
Some controllers have a parameter for the Amp hour rating of the batteries and some don;t.
The MPPT unit I have does have it ans I change it to match the batteries when I add the second battery that also does double duty for a trolling motor.
When not in the boat it is hooked up to the camper. Maybe it will match the other battery as they are the same age and part number.
When one or both fail I am installing two golf cart batteries inf the camper and (maybe) install the survivor permanently in the boat.
My suspicion is that hooked up to the trailer intelligent chargers will extend the life of both batteries over living in that boat, waiting to go fishing
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Old 12-14-2018, 10:11 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn and John View Post
Thanks Steve and Alex for your replies. Both my wife and I are pretty sure that in boondocking scenarios we would not be using the microwave or an electric coffee pot and would use the propane option for coffee and food. We also realize that the AC is out of the question unless connected to AC. I was told that the refrigerator and furnace even when both were running off of propane used some electricity and I just did not have an idea as to how much they would require. The Zamp website has a suggested matrix for their portable suitcase systems that suggests systems from 80W to 160W but these recommendations are not specifically geared towards a smaller Casita type of TT.

Steve, on your longer off grid stays were you primarily using propane for both your refrigerator and furnace?
We used propane to run our refrigerator - our 100 watt solar with a single battery would not keep up with running the refrigerator on 12 VDC
We normally only ran our propane furnace in the morning to take the chill off
We do have a portable inverter which we have never used
I see no sense in running an inverter , drawing my battery down so I can make Coffee in an electric coffee pot when I can just as easily make it on the propane cooktop .
We also don’t take a ton of electronic gizmos with us when camping , if I wanted to stare at a computer monitor all day I would stay home
When we are camping , I see no reason to stay socially connected . We go camping to get away from all that crap .

PS ; The battery on a Casita is stored in the interior of the trailer so if you want two batteries don’t plan on storing them inside cause the battery compartment is too small .
You can get a single 29F battery in the compartment if you modify the battery
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Old 12-14-2018, 10:20 AM   #7
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Hi Steve, Likewise, we plan on using propane for coffee and any food that we don't end up cooking outside (which should be minimal). The refrigerator was my primary concern when camping off grid. I was told that when running the fridge off of propane there was still some electrical draw, maybe thermostats, fans, solenoids for valving. The same might be true with the furnace and hot water heater even when they are run off of propane.
I'll check with Casita to see if they can give me an idea as to how much electricity is used by the refrigerator even when it is running off of propane.
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Old 12-14-2018, 10:34 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn and John View Post
Hi Steve, Likewise, we plan on using propane for coffee and any food that we don't end up cooking outside (which should be minimal). The refrigerator was my primary concern when camping off grid. I was told that when running the fridge off of propane there was still some electrical draw, maybe thermostats, fans, solenoids for valving. The same might be true with the furnace and hot water heater even when they are run off of propane.
I'll check with Casita to see if they can give me an idea as to how much electricity is used by the refrigerator even when it is running off of propane.
The refrigerator , furnace and WH all require 12 VDC in order to function
The refrigerator control board is 12 VDC and the refrigerator requires 12 VDC in all modes of operation ( Propane - 120 VAC ó12 VDC )
The propane / CO detector is a constant drain and will eventually draw your battery down
I would check out the Casita Forum , there is tons of information there and it is specific to Casita trailers
We have camped for 3 days without hookups or solar and our battery never got close to the 50% limit .
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Old 12-14-2018, 11:13 AM   #9
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Name: Morgan
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It depends on where you are. If you're only going to camp where the sun is always shining brightly on your panel, the smaller unit may well do you just fine. We don't, as we live in upstate NY, i.e., practically in the Adirondacks and New England. Sites are at least partially shady here, and the sun doesn't shine all the time anyway, plus we're at a higher latitude than most. When camped in partial shade, and moving the panels frequently to best catch the rays, our 135w Samlex suitcase is not always up to the task, and we often have to run the generator for a while to top up the battery.
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Old 12-14-2018, 11:58 AM   #10
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The question was {We chose the Zamp 230W portable Solar system but now we're starting to wonder if this might be too large for the single battery on a Casita.}

It can not be to large for the battery. The controller will just use as power much as needed. The Casita converter can supply 30 amps and some folks use up to 50 amp converter. Now if you are talking portability, smaller is usually easier.
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Old 12-14-2018, 02:18 PM   #11
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Name: Eddie
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One other thing to consider is size and where do you plan to store it.
Eddie
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Old 12-14-2018, 03:36 PM   #12
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Name: Fredrick
Trailer: Escape 21C
Tennessee
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Wink solar

WE boondocked 2 weeks in northern VT last Aug w our 2018 Independence..120W "suitcase portable" and the Deep Cycle Battery/LEd lites options we bought w th trailer last Spring..no problems. Didn't miss the AC tho in VT we and the locals were glad for some warmish weather in Aug. WE had our 2200W gen but VT SPs have very limited gen. hours so we were glad for the solar setup. Easy to "aim" at the sun to get best power. We did chain the solar panels to the Indy frame bks we were not at the campsite much..again..no problems.
When not in use or when traveling, we store the panels in the back floorboard of the Frontier dbl cab, sitting upright against the rear seat.
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Old 12-14-2018, 04:29 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn and John View Post
New to the Forum and to RVing. We just ordered a 2019 17ft Spirit Deluxe with most of the available options (all LED lighting, Furnace, Electric Tongue Jack, AGM battery, etc.). We chose the Zamp 230W portable Solar system but now we're starting to wonder if this might be too large for the single battery on a Casita. I'm not sure which AGM battery Casita puts in their new 2019 trailers but it seems as if most AGM batteries available top out around 100 amp/hours.
The next smaller Zamp portable solar system is the 140W and I thought this might be better suited to a single battery and it only weighs 33 lbs vs the 50 lbs weight of the 230 W system.

Initially, most of our camping will be at sites with electrical hookups but we'd like to work up to some boondocking as we gain more experience.

The Zamp 230W system is new and so I'm not sure if anyone has any experience with it but I thought the many of the forum members might be able to offer us some suggestions or tips.
Thanks in advance.

First LEARN how to analyze your off grid daily power usage. (time vs current for each 12vdc item you have including lighting)


Once you know your usage you properly size your solar panel.


Under size is not good. You'll run our battery.
Over size is not cost effective.


Another you can do reduce your usage by:
All lights LED
limit water pump usage by several means.
Use open windows and door to avoid using ceiling fan.
Keep furnace usage at minimum.


After all that I'll give what I've done.
water pump is manual.
Mostly LED light one CCFL light.
One 74 amp hour Lead Acid battery. Useful power 37 amp hours.
Portable Solar Panel at 65 Watts.



Calculated daily usage. 2 LED lights at .08amps for about 3 hours a day.= 3x.08 = .24 amp hours.
1 CCFL light .08 amps for 30 minutes = .08x.5 =.004 amp hours
Furnace 3.1 amps about 1 hour per day average. 3.1 x1 =3.1amp hours.


Total usage is 3.1 +.004+.24 = 3.344 amp hours of usage


Solar panel 65 Watt output of 4.1 amps. Recharge battery in less than 1 hour.


From this it would appear that I need to recharge every few days with 1 hour charge time for each day since the last charge.


The current output of your 230Watt solar panel is a little over 7.5 amps, which in my case would recharge my battery in less than 1/2 hour.


FYI when I first go my trailer we hooked up 3 or 4 times and maybe that many times in ensuing 13 years. At about 100 nights per year.
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Old 12-14-2018, 07:05 PM   #14
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Name: Gerry
Trailer: 1979 Boler 1300 / 1991 Casita Freedom Deluxe
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John, I have a Zamp system I use in both my Casita and Boler and use just a 100W panel. The controller is a dual battery controller and I have 2 wet cell RV batteries in the Boler, and only one in the Casita.
I use propane on fridge and am very stingy with the DC power with LED lights and the use of the water pump.
I have been camping with the Boler where I was using the furnace every night along with LED lights for reading in the evenings for a 14 days vacation in Northern Maine, and never once had to switch over to #2 battery. I did use the campground water and restrooms/showers for the 2 weeks.
This past summer (no furnace needed) used the Casita for a 14 day vacation and again with appliances on LP Gas the lights /water pump and vent fan on for a while in the evenings, say an hour jut to cool things down to get to sleep, I had no problem with the 100W panel.
Had no issues with chasing the sun around just left it facing in a southerly direction and it collected enough in this New England setting.
The panel, I set up on a CPVC rack I fashioned so it is at a 35* angle and these fold up into back side of panel so I can transport the whole thing in a wooden box I built about 30" x 45" and 5 inches high, that I strap to the roof rack. Box doesn't need to be water tight as frame of panel is made for the outdoors.
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Old 12-14-2018, 11:41 PM   #15
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i would expect a 230 watt folding solar panel to be over twice as large and heavy as the 100W Renogy setup I have. the 100W easily kept my Casita happy with my basic DC usage... my Escape has more than twice the battery capacity (2 x GC2 golf cart) and 160W solar on the roof, and again, that solar is more than sufficient, no matter what I've done power wise at night, by the time I wake up in mid morning, the battery is fully charged.

now, both my trailers have LEDs in all lights, and about the only DC stuff we're running is the fridge controller, the furnace fan or the ventilation fan, and charging phones, tablets via 10 watt (5V @ 2A) USB chargers... at night I rarely run more than the most minimal of interior lighting as I like my night vision.
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Old 12-15-2018, 12:46 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn and John View Post
New to the Forum and to RVing. We just ordered a 2019 17ft Spirit Deluxe with most of the available options (all LED lighting, Furnace, Electric Tongue Jack, AGM battery, etc.). We chose the Zamp 230W portable Solar system but now we're starting to wonder if this might be too large for the single battery on a Casita. I'm not sure which AGM battery Casita puts in their new 2019 trailers but it seems as if most AGM batteries available top out around 100 amp/hours.

The next smaller Zamp portable solar system is the 140W and I thought this might be better suited to a single battery and it only weighs 33 lbs vs the 50 lbs weight of the 230 W system.



Initially, most of our camping will be at sites with electrical hookups but we'd like to work up to some boondocking as we gain more experience.



The Zamp 230W system is new and so I'm not sure if anyone has any experience with it but I thought the many of the forum members might be able to offer us some suggestions or tips.

Thanks in advance.


Take all of the anecdotal ďthis worked for meĒ stories with a grain of salt. The only person who can give you a fee sure answer is you, because there are a myriad of variables that differ from how you will use the system vs anyone else. Your smaller option might be excessive for some and yet your larger option inadequate for others. Even time of year camping and latitude greatly alter the equations. The only sure thing is too much canít hurt and too small might not cut it. (Itís not like youíre thinking about throwing down for an absurd, huge, multi panel setup, but just one smaller vs one bigger panel).

For example, we have two 160W panels on our roof and a 100W portable. In summer we sit pretty. At times in winter, however, it is sometimes iffy staying above 50% SOC. As I said, take all the anecdotal evidence with a grain of salt, and figure out instead what *your* needs are.
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Old 12-15-2018, 01:00 AM   #17
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fwiw, my 100W Renogy, in its nice carrying case, weighs 27 lbs. but its more the size than the weight that would make a larger portable panel unwieldy.
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Old 12-15-2018, 08:44 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by sclifrickson View Post
Take all of the anecdotal ďthis worked for meĒ stories with a grain of salt. The only person who can give you a fee sure answer is you, because there are a myriad of variables that differ from how you will use the system vs anyone else. Your smaller option might be excessive for some and yet your larger option inadequate for others. Even time of year camping and latitude greatly alter the equations. The only sure thing is too much canít hurt and too small might not cut it. (Itís not like youíre thinking about throwing down for an absurd, huge, multi panel setup, but just one smaller vs one bigger panel).

For example, we have two 160W panels on our roof and a 100W portable. In summer we sit pretty. At times in winter, however, it is sometimes iffy staying above 50% SOC. As I said, take all the anecdotal evidence with a grain of salt, and figure out instead what *your* needs are.
Since the Casita comes from the factory with a single 27 F battery enlarging the solar system above a certain point makes no sense . One person on the Casita forum covered the whole roof of his trailer with solar panels (400 Watts ?) then added 3 batteries to compensate for the size of the solar . I agree he will probably never run low on DC but is this necessary or cost effective
You can only store so many AH in a battery and you can only charge the battery so fast . The idea that if a 50 watt solar panel can charge my battery in 2 hours then a 400 watt will charge it in 15 minutes is a flawed theory
We live in a northern latitude and parts of the year the angle of the sun lowers our solar output but when that happens itís below zero outside and were not camping anyway . A solar panel does not have to produce at 100% to be effective .

To me itís like a equilateral triangle , one leg is battery capacity ,one leg is usage and one leg is solar capacity , they all need to be in proportion
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Old 12-15-2018, 09:51 AM   #19
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I would like to thank everyone for all of their replies. I understand that our best solution would be to determine our usage first and then purchase our solar system based on our needs. We just wanted to start with a Casita configured from the factory as "Solar Ready" so we thought it best to order it with a system that might be close to our needs. I just received the written confirmation from Casita for our order and will drop down to the 140W Zamp portable system. Comments from many of the forum members regarding the physical size of the 230W system rather than the charging capacity helped us decide that we sould start with the smaller system and add to it later, if needed, rather than try to figure out how to get a larger system into the Casita closet.

We very much appreciate all of the information and opinions that you all have shared with us and look forward to our Jan 23 delivery/pick-up date. We have already visited three state parks within striking distance of the Casita factory and reserved our favorite campsite for our maiden voyage.
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Old 12-18-2018, 11:01 AM   #20
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Name: Pete
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How about the Zamp 180 portable?
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