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I am looking at purchasing a used Oli.  It does not have a solar option.  I am wondering if anyone has added solar after their purchase.  What is the cost to do so?  Any advice such as what to purchase, things to look out for, etc.  Also, is solar even really needed.  I am newbie.  Thank you.  I look forward to learning.  

 

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Posted (edited)

Solar is needed if you ever plan to camp for more than a few nights where there are no hookups.  Some owners do fine without it, but I think it's safe to say that most buyers get the solar package.  

The easiest way to add solar is to ask Oliver to do it.  I don't know how much they charge to retrofit solar but I'd certainly give them a call first to find out.

If you plan to do it yourself, you'll need the panels and a solar charge controller.  I'd also highly recommend that you add a better battery monitor while you're at it, since they're relatively cheap and easy to install while you're doing everything else.  I believe that the cables to the roof are preinstalled but you may need some additional cabling, lugs, a crimper, mounting brackets, etc.  It would be a fairly involved job but nothing that you couldn't handle if you're handy.  The advantage of doing it yourself is that you can pick a better charger and panels than what Oliver uses.  

You might take a look at these two threads as a starting point -

Another option is to go with a portable solar suitcase.  With that, you don't need a separate charge controller and adding an external port to plug them in would be a much easier task.  You could always start with that before diving into rooftop solar.  Many people add some portable solar even if they have rooftop, just for the flexibility, additional solar, and ability to keep the batteries charged while the trailer is covered in storage.

Edited by Overland
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Snowball • 256 • 2018 Ford Raptor

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 If the preloved Ollie you're looking at is prewired for portable solar (has the port), you can add portable for just several hundred dollars. Even if it's not prewired, it's not a big expense to add the wiring and port. A lot of people find the portable solar is quite enough to meet their needs. I have a good friend who spent a week at Quartzite, with a single 100 watt panel and a single group 27 battery, and she did fine. But, she's a lifetime camper, and conservative in power management.

Take a look at Renogy and Zamp suitcase solar, and you'll see it's quite affordable. Look for a suitcase with waterproof controller, imo. Still keeps you in the hundreds, not thousands of dollars in investment. 

As to whether you "need it" or not, that's really a factor of how you normally camp. If you tend to stay in sites with power, you don't.  If you tend to camp only weekends, or travel camp a lot (driving somewhere new every day or two), you probably don't need solar, as you'll likely charge your battery from the tow vehicle as you travel.

If you're like some of us, and spend weeks on end at an unpowered site, you'll probably want to add solar.  That said, at many times of the year, I  can get more power from my portable 100 watt than 200 watts of fixed panels, camping in the shade...

Sherry

Edited by SeaDawg
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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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Btw, Mike, if I found an Ollie in great shape, and otherwise features that you like, I  wouldn't hesitate.

We added 600 watts of solar ourselves to our 40 year old sailboat this year. It took some time, but was well worth the effort to us, as there is nowhere to plug in when we're anchored or sailing, and we don't have or want a generator on the boat. It was time-consuming because of the difficulty of pulling wires through tiny spaces, but otherwise not that hard. It saves a lot of engine hours, and makes sailing far more peaceful. 

Oliver retrofitted the 200 watts that we have on the trailer in 2008, so even if I  could remember what we paid, it's kind of irrelevant. 😁 We're upgrading that this year, too, as panels of only a slightly larger size can generate a lot more power than our 2008 panels. 

Sherry

Edited by SeaDawg

2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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Mike,

I added solar panels, a solar controller, battery monitor, converter charger and LiFPO4 batteries on our 2019 Elite II.  I have also helped a number of other Oliver owners do the same.

I would be more than happy to answer any questions, provide you with some written directions and aid you in anyway I can.

Chuck, mentioned above, Is one of the owners I helped out.  I think there are some pictures of my install on his thread.

PM me your contact information if you are interested.

Andrew

Edited by AndrewK
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Andrew, Carianne and Buffy | San Diego, CA


2019 Legacy Elite II Hull #468 "California Burrito" | 2018 BMW x5 35d 

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Yep - AndrewK above helped me immensely!  

I was quoted $3300 by Oliver to add solar to my 2017 new-to-me LEII.  Ended up buying 2 Zamp panels with wiring and a 3-port roof cap (all same as Oliver uses) from a Zamp vendor, mounting kit from Amazon (same as Oliver uses) an a Victron SmartSolar MPPT 100/30 controller from Amazon.  Ended up need some miscellaneous connectors but all in, I was around $1700 if memory serves.  If you trailer is preconfigured for solar (and I understand most if not all are -- but check!) it is relatively easy.  I spent a couple of sunny afternoons doing the install and another connecting everything up.  My controller allows me to monitor the system and batteries from my phone when I'm within bluetooth range.  

It was pretty nerve-wracking to drill that first hole thru that beautiful roof, but the rest were 'easy'.  AndrewK knows his stuff and was incredibly generous with his input, advice, and encouragement.  I've done it and would do it again.  Please feel free to message me anytime.

BTW - not sure of the status of solar tax credits but I did mine last year and still got a nice credit.  

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