2020 Spirit Standard on order...hung up on solar option - Fiberglass RV


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Old 01-02-2020, 09:25 AM   #1
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Name: Brittany
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2020 Spirit Standard on order...hung up on solar option

Just placed an order for a 2020 Casita Spirit Standard.

What are your opinions regarding the Zamp solar suitcase option? Is it a good idea to get the camper “solar ready” and hold off on purchasing the panels until we need them or should we just order everything now?

We have zero experience with owning an RV so all insight is appreciated.
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Old 01-02-2020, 10:09 AM   #2
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I have an Escape with factory installed solar. It is a terrific asset if you will be camping where you don't have shore power. We camped in Yellowstone, for example. We were there five days without electrical connection and never had to worry about the batteries staying charged. I would definitely pay the extra to have it installed.
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Old 01-02-2020, 10:14 AM   #3
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Solar

If you think you will ever be boondocking you may need the solar. I had the solar plug on our Casita but have another brand of a solar kit that was cheaper than the Zamp and it works just fine.
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Old 01-02-2020, 10:38 AM   #4
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TLDR... Is the Casita wired for solar if you DON'T get the Zamp option? I'd be more interested in the factory installed wiring than the Zamp system itself – you can always get the panels later. Or get something else.

••••••••••

I've got no experience with Zamp but I've been doing a lot of research about solar systems. People seem most divided on the decision between mounted panels or portable systems like the Zamp...

Portable systems have the advantages of easier DIY installation and easy positioning for efficiency. Disadvantages are inconvenience/setup, security if left unattended and no charging on the road.

Mounted systems (like Jim's...) are more "set it and forget it" in terms of convenience. They allow charging in transit, require zero setup once parked and much less prone to theft. Downsides are a more difficult DIY installation and either lower efficiency or fewer parking options (to keep panels in the sun and properly tilted).

The tilt/position/efficiency issue is real. I tested my (yet to be installed) panels in the backyard with a volt meter the day they arrived and measured only about half the power with them laying flat as opposed to aimed and tilted. Not a big deal if you have enough panel wattage. But likely a very big deal for people starting with a single 100w panel.

In the end, it's personal preference (and relative power use). I want as little setup as possible so I am going with installed panels. But a lot of people are happy and comfortable with their portables. The Zamp 230w suitcase seems like a good size to start with. Might be all you ever need. If not, you can always add to it later.
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Old 01-02-2020, 10:39 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Judy Dunavant View Post
I had the solar plug on our Casita but have another brand of a solar kit that was cheaper than the Zamp and it works just fine.
Do they come standard with a solar plug, or is that part of the Zamp option?
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Old 01-02-2020, 11:07 AM   #6
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We had a portable Renogy 100 watt solar suitcase on our 2013 Casita SD
Worked well with the Casita single 27 F battery
Cost was about $350 for the solar panel and wiring
We have dual factory 170 watt roof top solar panels on our 21 ft trailer with dual 6 volt batteries. Cost was around $2000
If we were to do it again , I would skip the roof top solar panels and just go with the plug and play portable solar
In the summer if you camp with utilities you don’t need solar and if you boondock camp you will want to camp in the shade and the rooftop solar units don’t work well in the shade
The rooftop solar on our 21 has too many roof penetrations for my liking , requires you to climb up on a ladder to constantly clean the panels and having wires strung all over the roof look like hell and make it difficult to clean / wax the trailer roof
The roof top solar may charge your trailer battery while driving but so does your tow vehicle so I don’t see the big advantage
We plan on adding a Zamp port on our 21 ft trailer so we can utilize our Renogy portable solar panel
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Old 01-02-2020, 11:37 AM   #7
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Do they come standard with a solar plug, or is that part of the Zamp option?
I believe the plug is standard and the solar kit is optional.
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Old 01-02-2020, 11:44 AM   #8
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We have a 2013 Casita SD. After 5 years of camping we purchased a Renogy 100 watt suitcase and I installed the wiring/plug on the battery door. We often have shore power but also often boondock. The nice thing about a suitcase is you can move it around the campsite where needed. As mentioned above there are pros and cons about either way you go, but we found the suitcase more for our needs than a roof mounted unit. I am not sure if Casita installs on the roof or not. It was my understanding, and I could be incorrect, Casita does the wiring and plug ready for a suitcase. And they also sell a suitcase....Zamp I believe. If I were you and not sure if you will need solar, just have them install the wiring and the plug. You can always purchase a suitcase later if you decide you need one. If Casita does the wiring for a Zamp suitcase and you decide you would prefer the Renogy, there are a couple small plug adapters you will need. Not a big deal, but just want to give you a heads up.


good luck..jon
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Old 01-02-2020, 11:46 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by bpowell487 View Post
Just placed an order for a 2020 Casita Spirit Standard.

What are your opinions regarding the Zamp solar suitcase option? Is it a good idea to get the camper “solar ready” and hold off on purchasing the panels until we need them or should we just order everything now?

We have zero experience with owning an RV so all insight is appreciated.
Solar will help you in Boondocking or just parking you Casita. I have a Casita 17' Independence. I installed a Renogy Solar system. 3-100 watt slim panels, 2 Renogy 100 amp battery, Evever 40 controller, (https://www.epsolarpv.com/) and a 2000 watt inverter. I purchased every thing from Amazon. To review a simple instruction install, go to: https://www.youtube.com/user/errolprowse
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Old 01-02-2020, 12:28 PM   #10
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I don't know what Casita charges for the Zamp suitcase, but is is a nice unit. There are less expensive options available, but some may require wiring changes to connect to the trailer battery. Zamp reverses the polarity on the SAE connector from standard, so if Casita provides the trailer side of the connection & you use another brand of panel, be sure to check (and correct, if necessary) the polarity.

As to the choice between roof & portable, if you plan to do lots of dry camping, I'd go with both. I spend the winter at one of the long term visitor areas in Quartzsite, AZ or Imperial Dam, CA, and only run a generator to exercise it.

I have 320 watts of solar on the roof & a 160 watt portable panel. I dig out the portable panel if parked in the shade (of which there is none at the LTVAs) or during the short, low angle days of mid winter. I did rig the rooftop panels so they can be tilted to match the winter sun angle.
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Old 01-02-2020, 09:52 PM   #11
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Name: Brittany
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Thank you all for you replies.

140 watt solar panel is $639 and the 230 watt is $829.

To make the trailer purely “solar ready” with a Zamp port is $89.

These are 2019 prices.

Is the “solar ready” option going to hurt or hinder me if I do decide to go with an aftermarket panel? Is there an available adapter?
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Old 01-04-2020, 12:57 PM   #12
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We decided on the lower wattage (of the two offered) Zamp portable suitcase.
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