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ANOTHER PLEA FOR ADVICE FROM YOU OLIVER SOLAR-ELECTIC SAVVY FOLK


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We own and like to boondock in our 2017 LE2 (Hull #222) with the standard solar panels on the roof. I have upgraded to four Battle Born lithium batteries, Progressive Dynamics Replacements 4000 Series 45 Amp Lithium Converter, and Vitron BMV-712 Battery Monitor, giving us 400AH. I will soon have my RV tech switch out the standard Dometic air conditioner for the Houghton RV Air Conditioner (Low Profile 9.5k Quiet AC Unit).

Thanks to previous advice given to me by Oliver owners, I am confident that we will soon be able to run the Houghton AC with our 2000 watt inverter. I plan to have my tech add another transfer switch to operate the AC circuit and replace the LCD thermostat with a manual style to do away with the LCD relay board. We should be able to run the AC on its own remote and still be able to control the furnace.

I am now interested in purchasing a “suitcase” solar system to supplement our rooftop solar. While the new Oliver units seem to come with external solar ports, I am left wondering how best to make this upgrade possible. (I will not be doing this work myself but want to direct my tech--who will be making the modification--the best I can.) My questions are thus:

1.    Is the solar port and solar panel kit listed below appropriate to help us get extra solar to charge our battery bank?
2.    Where is the best external location to place the solar port?
3.    What is the best way to wire the port to enable it to coordinate with the existing solar system: batteries, charger, and monitor?

I look forward to any helpful advice, suggestions, and comments. Thank you.

Here are the components I am considering purchasing for this project:


https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07GNMPZZG/ref=ox_sc_saved_title_3?smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER&psc=1

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07GNNC34Q/ref=ox_sc_saved_image_7?smid=A2L77EE7U53NWQ&psc=1

Onward through the Fog!


EarthPicks of Cochise County


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I’d personally run a 4 gauge wire bundle out the front with an Anderson connector. This could be used to attach a dc to dc charger for charging from your alternator, an external solar panel (with its own controller), or an an external 12 volt power source for possibly a powered cooler in a truck bed. 

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i recommend this basic heat-only thermostat, it works well, has a very small dead band (temperature swing) and looks very nice. My Ollie came with an Air Command AC and that isn’t compatible with the fancy stat, so Oliver installed a clunky mercury switch type one, that failed after three years. This one has been working great since then. I don’t care about programmable features, the first one up in the morning gets to raise the temperature.

FD84A9AE-9D3D-42F4-8E9C-BC0C282D7967.thumb.jpeg.e1eec4456465e9f99c8d34b94157f259.jpeg

Emerson 1E78-140 Non-Programmable Heat Only Thermostat for Single-Stage Systems

1: Zamp SAE style connecters are junk IMHO, they are not waterproof, so you can get corrosion problems, and they use an oddball reverse polarity design. This is basically the same type as the (horrible) flat 4 pin trailer connectors that fail so often.  I would replace any Zamp ones with standard solar PV connectors like this

5C2EEC76-C620-4725-BAF7-8B7F1925E79C.jpeg.263c2106657fba71696185c3ea24d3f7.jpeg

or else with Anderson Power Poles. That is what I did to my 100 watt Zamp suitcase panel. ….. 

47740660-F6AE-418E-8931-0AE298B32DFE.jpeg.a66321a58868caabf4e423aa6b4a3388.jpeg

https://olivertraveltrailers.com/forums/topic/5478-how-to-remote-mount-the-controller-of-a-suitcase-solar-panel-not-inside-the-trailer/

I like my 100 watt panel, that 140 watt one will be good too, but these are quite heavy and bulky. Make sure you have a place to store it, preferably in its case on end, not flat. Zamp has newer panels that are way lighter and less bulky, but they are super expensive. I have a Furion port, and it works fine but is a PITA to install on a cable, it has to be soldered and that is quite difficult with 10 AWG wires! And it is limited to 10  amps. If I had to do it again I would probably install this port:

1E7234CD-DC2C-4BF0-BDB7-F39534402789.thumb.jpeg.b6b028cf8075cac0d841507aabcc931c.jpeg

All of these PowerPole parts are very high quality and reliable, don’t require soldering, carry a high current and are self cleaning as you plug them together. This is the system that ham radio operators love. They are NOT waterproof, if you camp ofter in a rainy climate, they would not be as good a choice IMHO. (But in rainy weather you will probably just store the panel away, as I do.)

2: solar port location is best as close to the batteries as possible, but ChrisMI’s suggestion is a good one too, especially if you are already swapping out the panel connectors. If you plan to add a DC to DC charger at the truck, then go WAY big on cable size, like 00. That way you can run a big charger, 30 + amps.

3 - hook the port cables directly to your battery positive and negative buses, with a 10 amp inline fuse or resettable circuit breaker in the positive wire. Use 10AWG or bigger wire, even if the port is close by. The solar charger doesn’t have to “interact” with any of the other systems, that happens automatically anyway, based on battery voltage.

I hope this helps.

John Davies
Spokane WA

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"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags, Safari snorkel.

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It sounds like you want to go first class on your upgrades.  Before settling on your current intentions, you might explore the expanded benefits of a Victron solar controller and a Victron Multiplus 2k inverter/charger.  After having upgrading to these items in an Airstream, I find I miss their capabilities in our Ollie.  I know that I'll be changing our 2020 Ollie setup in the near future.  I hate to spoil your plans, but I'd hate it more if I didn't point you toward the alternate options that I'll be making (again.)  BTW, I think the Ollie is Sooo much better than comparable Airstreams!  

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ALAZARCACOCTDEFLGAHIIDILINIAKSKYLAMEMDMA

Arizona | 2020 Oliver Elite II Twin bed Hull #617 | 2021 Ram 1500 e-Hemi 4x4

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Forgot this, your BVM-712 will show charging amps from the portable panel, as long as the wires are connected to the positive and negative buses, not right to the batteries, but you won’t be able to see actual details, just for that device, except by looking at the Zamp control display. You COULD easily replace the Zamp control with a Victron MPPT one, as CnC suggests above, and that way it will network with your monitor, so you can use the Victron Connect app to see all those cool functions of your portable panel, just like the ones on the roof. This one is in my WishList, I just haven’t got to that project yet😬

819FD5B9-C426-438E-8850-3083198E6322.thumb.png.0e49d745885242a53ed35b8e6b53ed63.png

 

Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT 100V 20 amp 12/24/48-Volt Solar Charge Controller (Bluetooth)

FYI, https://olivertraveltrailers.com/forums/topic/5329-how-to-victron-mppt-solar-charge-controller-underneath-the-street-side-bed/

If you decide to buy the Victron unit, then order a solar panel without the onboard unit, that will save some money right there. BUT you won’t be able to use the panel as a stand-alone charger, for example, to charge the battery in your truck when you are away from the Ollie. That is why I modified my Zamp with Anderson connectors, so I could use it both ways.

John Davies

Spokane WA

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"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags, Safari snorkel.

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With all the gear out there today, there are literally thousands of ways to skin this cat.

We use one or two really cheap, but somewhat bulky coleman 100 watt panels for "portable " solar. Each only weighs about 18 pounds, but they're pretty big. Not easy to haul, and store.

I have a friend who made a collapsible  pvc frame for an inexpensive thin and lightweight 100 watt flexible panel, and she's happy with that. She stores it under the cushions when she travels. Controller  in the cupboards. 

We rarely deploy "portable " unless we'll be in a spot for a long time, and camped in the shade . Weight is a consideration, as is theft, for me. If someone steals my 5 year old, 100 dollar panel, well, they need it far more than I do.

We have a furrion port, because I like the cover better. In the past, we had to use a cnlinko soldered tricky connector,  because furrion didn't sell a connector without one of their overpriced panels. Today, you can buy a zamp or mc4 to furrion adaptor. Zamp sells one on their website . You can also buy an adaptor to reverse the zamp reversed polarity.  Zamp claims its safer than standard sae (probably true, less likelihood of shocking yourself if you are careless enough to put your hand on the male connector), but it's really probably just one of their proprietary kind of tools. Is what it is .

I'm always in the "don't get carried away" chorus. 

Use what you already have, and, if you actually find that you need more, then, buy more .

As in, a cheap and simple panel, with good alligator clips, and a $20 pwm  controller,  might or might not be all you need. Or, you may need the whole enchilada.

I don't know.  We boondocked for over ten years with 2 agm 105 ah  batteries, and 200 watts of fixed  solar and a Honda 1000 watt generator,  rarely used, til we installed a compressor fridge. The extra draw (60 to 70 ah a day) of the fridge definitely changed things up .

 

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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12

 

 

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18 hours ago, John E Davies said:

Forgot this, your BVM-712 will show charging amps from the portable panel, as long as the wires are connected to the positive and negative buses, not right to the batteries, but you won’t be able to see actual details, just for that device, except by looking at the Zamp control display. You COULD easily replace the Zamp control with a Victron MPPT one, as CnC suggests above, and that way it will network with your monitor, so you can use the Victron Connect app to see all those cool functions of your portable panel, just like the ones on the roof. This one is in my WishList, I just haven’t got to that project yet😬

819FD5B9-C426-438E-8850-3083198E6322.thumb.png.0e49d745885242a53ed35b8e6b53ed63.png

 

Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT 100V 20 amp 12/24/48-Volt Solar Charge Controller (Bluetooth)

FYI, https://olivertraveltrailers.com/forums/topic/5329-how-to-victron-mppt-solar-charge-controller-underneath-the-street-side-bed/

If you decide to buy the Victron unit, then order a solar panel without the onboard unit, that will save some money right there. BUT you won’t be able to use the panel as a stand-alone charger, for example, to charge the battery in your truck when you are away from the Ollie. That is why I modified my Zamp with Anderson connectors, so I could use it both ways.

John Davies

Spokane WA

John's Sooo correct here.  I guess the theme I'm try to communicate is find the "system" that allows you to add components to as you build.   Example: when you add the Victron MultiPlus inverter/generator to the system, it eliminates problems before they happen by controlling multiple energy sources.  Additionally, stored (battery) energy can supplement other sources - like shore power or generator power when needed - the amount is up to the user.  I chose 8.5 amps as the limit from my stored energy when plugged into a regular outlet in my RV garage - the surge needed to run the RV AC.   I also found the Victron apps got me well acquainted with the when, how and where as energy flowed in my previous RV.   

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ALAZARCACOCTDEFLGAHIIDILINIAKSKYLAMEMDMA

Arizona | 2020 Oliver Elite II Twin bed Hull #617 | 2021 Ram 1500 e-Hemi 4x4

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Thanks to all who have given their advice.

I apologize for not recognizing your helpful comments before. For some reason, I did not get any email notifications of these responses as I have in the past, and I couldn't find them by clicking on this site's "notifications." I assumed that no one had responded, which was dumb, as I have always, in the past, received abundant helpful responses when I had questions.

As SeaDawg put it, there are "many ways to skin this cat." I have incorporated many of your suggestions. Just to let you know, this is what I have done and/or what I now plan on doing:

1.    I have ordered the Zamp portable 180 Watt Portable Solar Kit and solar port (I'm impressed with the Zamp support I have previously received with solar issues, and most reviews have praised the company for its quality, warranty, etc.).
2.    I will have my tech place the solar port in the battery compartment door.
3.    I will have my tech wire the port to the battery negative and positive busses.

In addition, I will consider upgrading later to the Victron MPPT, and I have already purchased the Emerson thermostat that John recommended. I hope to soon be set for some great boondocking. Thank you, everyone.

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Onward through the Fog!


EarthPicks of Cochise County


AZCACOKSMONVNMORTNTXUTmed.jpg

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