Oliver | Luxury Fiberglass Travel Trailers, Campers & RVs › Forums › OLIVER CAMPERS › Mechanical & Technical Tips › Solar Capacity – What is offered & needed
- September 29, 2017 at 4:41 pm #72679
We are very interested in the solar capability of the Olivers but I have little experience with it. I’ve read a bit and asked a few questions but have one for this group.
When we began looking at Oliver a couple months ago they advertised a 320 watt solar set up that someone I met in the business said was pretty good.
Now on some of the 2018 ads I am seeing 200 watt with an ability to supplement it with another external panel.
Why the change and what is best in your opinion…..understand it depends on what your power requirements/useage are. Some of the 2018 literature still shows the 320….guess I should ask the sales team if there are choices.
DarrellSeptember 29, 2017 at 10:25 pm #72757
The Elite has the 200watt, the Elite II has 320watt. At this point and time, personally I would not buy the Zamp Solar System because there are many other better systems that sell for a more reasonable price elsewhere. The Zamp system is overpriced at $2800 installed on the Oliver and it doesn’t do the job for us. Others are happy with it but do a search here and do some reading. I would go with a 480watt minimum to start.
Reed & Karen Lukens with Riffles our Miniature Poodle
2017 Oliver Legacy Elite II Standard, Hull #200 / 2017 Silverado High Country 1500 Short Bed 4x4
Past TV - 2012 Mercedes-Benz ML350 4Matic BlueTEC Diesel
Click on our avatar pic above to find the videos on our Oliver Legacy Elite IISeptember 29, 2017 at 11:42 pm #72766
Thanks….I had obviously gotten confused between the Elite and Elite II 🙁
how difficult would it be to add your own solar to a unit? I have been reading about this recently but not sure how confident I’d be. A system added after production would not/could not be roof mounted I assume?September 30, 2017 at 12:31 am #72769
I designed the solar system installed on the first Elite II built (mine.) I decided I wanted to use Blue Sky Equipment because it looked like the best on the market. It was good looking, had a ton of features and allowed you to really customize the system to best suit the end user. A downside of all this was, with its four levels of menu options, it was and still is complicated to set up and it overwhelmed a lot of the early owners that chose to have the solar option installed. At that time (2013), the most cost effective panels were 100 watts each and I chose to use two with them to be mounted on the roof. I also chose the Blue Sky 2512iX-HV Controller and the Blue Sky IPN PRO Remote Meter with current shunt. In less than a year, 160 watt panels were the same price that we had paid for the 100 watters we originally used so they started installing two of them for a total of 320 watts. This was the equipment that became standard for Oliver’s solar package.
I added a third 100 watt panel to my array so I now have 300 watts and it works perfectly. Having 320 watts could only be better and it is my personal belief that that is sufficient. We have never failed to achieve a full charge the day after using our usual overnight average of about 50-60 amps. Usually we are back up to full by 2 PM. We have the 4x6V Trojan AGM’s. I know other owners with the 320 watt Blue Sky System have had very similar or better results.
I agree with Reed on the Zamp system not being an ideal choice. The decision to switch from Blue Sky equipment to the Zamp equipment was prompted by the service manager a couple of years ago (he is no longer with Oliver.) When I questioned his decision about making the switch he stated to me that the Blue Sky system was “too complicated and the owners did not want or need to know all the information that it provided !” He apparently thought a “simpler” system was in our best interest.
Thanks….I had obviously gotten confused between the Elite and Elite II how difficult would it be to add your own solar to a unit? I have been reading about this recently but not sure how confident I’d be. A system added after production would not/could not be roof mounted I assume?
The solar package can be added after the fact. I am currently assisting another owner in installing a Blue Sky system. Oliver has agreed to add the panels (to the roof) and wire them to the controller and remote meter, that we will install beforehand. Oliver realized early on that customers that did not initially buy the solar package might decide at a later date that they just had to have one. Installation on a completed trailer entails some difficulties. Running the rather large wires, mounting the rooftop panels and fishing the wires from the roof down to the controller are just a few. Their forethought has made the job much easier. There are backing plates molded into the roof so that the panel brackets have something to attach to besides just fiberglass. There is a wire chase molded into the roof to allow you to run wiring between the shells. Some of the solar wiring is already in place for this very scenario.
Steve, Tali and the dogs: Reacher, Lucy and Rocky plus our beloved Storm and Maggie (both waiting at the Rainbow Bridge) 2008 Legacy Elite I - Outlaw Oliver, HULL NUMBER: 0026 2014 Legacy Elite II - Outlaw Oliver, HULL NUMBER: 0050 2017 Silverado High Country 2500HD Diesel 4x4September 30, 2017 at 8:49 am #72772
Thanks for the information….very helpful.
While I seem to be tapped into electrical experts (not my strong point) let me ask another power question or two….
I have a couple Honda 2000 inverter generators mainly to run a/c but hope to be able to use only one with Ollie and the soft start capacitor added to the a/c. Does that work as advertised?
What controls whether the electrical demand is satisfied via shore power (if plugged in), on board inverter or generator?
I am not clear how it all works together.September 30, 2017 at 9:27 am #72775
Thanks for the information….very helpful. While I seem to be tapped into electrical experts (not my strong point) let me ask another power question or two…. I have a couple Honda 2000 inverter generators mainly to run a/c but hope to be able to use only one with Ollie and the soft start capacitor added to the a/c. Does that work as advertised? What controls whether the electrical demand is satisfied via shore power (if plugged in), on board inverter or generator? I am not clear how it all works together.
The Honda 2000 watt generator will run your a/c when used in conjunction with the easy start run capacitor. The on board converter controls the electrical useage through the shore power connection. I guess I’m the sole dissenter on the use of the zamp solar system, I do wish that oliver had installed a separate battery monitor with the system, but overall I’m happy with the setup. I don’t have anywhere near the experience as other posters on this forum, but I go with the k.i.s.s. System for electronics especially. The longest we have boon docked has been 8 consecutive days and our zamp system brought our batteries up to full every day, we’re pretty conservative on our energy usage, but we use the microwave, run a electric toaster, and my wife uses her hair dryer( not all at the same time or necessarily in the same day) hope this helps with your decision.
STEVEnBETTYSeptember 30, 2017 at 10:53 am #72778
There are pros and cons to the Zamp system, as pointed out. I think Oliver is in the right for the majority of their customers. The ultimate solution would be for them to offer the Zamp as the standard package and then the Blue Sky or similar as a ‘pro’ package. I’m a fan of Victron equipment and think that it would offer the best of both worlds, but I think it’s unlikely that Oliver will switch from Zamp anytime in the near future. The real issue is that a group of owners were caught in the transition between the two systems and feel that they got a lesser system than what they paid for. I sympathize and agree.
Oliver will sell you an ‘off the menu’ 420 watt system if you ask. I’m also working with them on a 640 watt system for my trailer which may or may not ever be offered, as there are some mounting issues to be overcome. My personal opinion is that 420w, plus an expansion port, is the sweet spot for most users, but 360w plus the expansion port is far from awful. After all, you can get a 200w solar suitcase system from Zamp that you can place anywhere; the drawbacks being storage of the panels (they ain’t small nor lightweight), the trouble of deploying them, and the risk of theft if left unattended. Nonetheless, I think the pros of having a set of portable panels outweigh the cons.
If you want a system that will apportion power demands from multiple power sources – shore, battery, and generator – it’s possible, but you’d need to replace the standard inverter and charger with a hybrid inverter/charger like the aforementioned Victron. That’s my plan, and hopefully will be a sweet solution, but it’s neither cheap to buy nor simple to install. In the end though, you could tell it to only draw 15 amps from shore power, the rest from the batteries, and to automatically crank up the generator if the batteries get low. The system I’ve bought won’t autostart a generator, but my great hope is to not ever need one.
As for price, my opinion is if you think you will need a larger system, then go ahead and buy one now. This looks to be the final year that you can take the full tax credit on the equipment, which should make up for any price drops in the coming years. Plus panel and battery prices seem to have leveled out a bit now that demand is rising at a similar pace to supply, and we have the new fear that threatened higher import tariffs will be levied on Chinese made panels which some articles I’ve read say will almost double the current prices. So, place your bets, I guess.
Snowball • LE2 256 • 2018 Ford RaptorSeptember 30, 2017 at 11:15 am #72781
John E DaviesParticipant@john-e-davies
I have the 320 watt Zamp system and it is fine for me. I did ask for an external port to be added at the shore power connector, which now appears to be standard? I suggest you go with their standard system and you can always buy a good quality suitcase unit and a 50 ft heavy gauge extension cable for those times when it is really cloudy or you want to park in the shade to reduce the heat load on the cabin. You may find that extra watts are not needed…
If you get the solar port be sure to check that the positive wire has its own separate fuse where it connects to the batteries! Mine did not, and they told me it was “installed as per manufactures instructions”. Which was simply wrong. It HAS to have a fuse since it is an “always hot” wire, even if there is no external panel plugged in. That unit will have its own fuse.
OTH Oliver gladly sent me an inline fuse holder and fuse, which I installed in the solar cable, using a weatherproof butt splice and ring terminal.
"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.September 30, 2017 at 2:41 pm #72784
I ordered my 2015 Elite II (now sold) without solar or inverter thinking I would DIY my own to save money. It proved too large and technical a project for me so I left #64 with the factory to have the full monte installed. They did a terrific job. 320 Watts, 2000 watt inverter, Blue sky, etc. The system performed flawlessly.
September of 2016 we bought a 28′ Airstream and sold the Ollie to snowlakemike. The Airstream had no solar, little battery, nothing… so I hired my local solar company to install 500 watts of Renogy panels, 3000 watt Magnum hybrid inverter with Blue Sky controller and IPN remote. I added 2 Crown AGM batteries plus 2 Trojan wet cell batteries I had in reserve. (Yes you can mix batteries. Just don’t cook the AGMs) Again I am happy with my solar setup.
I say all this so you will know that I am a fan of solar, but if I had it to do again I would skip the panels and invest that money in some Lithium batteries . I hear good things about the Battle Born brand.. My Honda 2000i running on propane, on Economy mode will fully charge my batteries in no time at all. It will also run my 15000 BTU AC with the Easy Start computer. The Magnum inverter is also a smart charger and allows me to select the amount of charge amps it calls for. I keep this at 30 when on shore power, but drop down to 7 for generator. This places a very small load on the Honda while charging my batteries quickly and quietly.
The OP already has the Honda. Try camping without solar for a while…you can always add the panels in the future.
By the way. I have 5000 watts of PV on my home and sell about $100.00 a month to Gulf Power. Solar does have its place.
Current 2007 Airstream Classic Limited 31
2015 Oliver Legacy Elite II (Sold)
2016 Ram 2500 HD 6.7i Cummins turbo dieselSeptember 30, 2017 at 10:51 pm #72859
Thanks – if we could get by for 8-10 days at a time I would consider it a success.September 30, 2017 at 10:54 pm #72862
Thanks John – If I buy new then going with them installing the Zamp option is most likely what I would choose to do. I have not ruled out buying a used one so I am trying to get smart on all options at this point. Appreciate your experience and advice!October 3, 2017 at 9:12 pm #73342
What you think you need is often far less than what you really need.
We live primarily on solar.
2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4
2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12October 3, 2017 at 9:39 pm #73348
What you think you need is often far less than what you really need. We live primarily on solar. Sherry
I agree with Sherry, out of the last 200 or so nights on the road, we have been plugged in 10 times. For four nights at Pete’s house going to and coming home from Quartzsite, for four nights in Boise, ID while we attended a wedding, when we used a commercial RV park to be close to the family and for two nights at the Sales Office while we drove up into KY to view the eclipse. We “only” have 300 watts of solar. We average about 50 amps of usage during a typical evening after the sun goes down. We are generally back to full by 2 PM the next day. This is all with the Blue Sky system. 420 watts of PV would most definitely be plenty but probably unnecessary unless you are using more than 100 amps per night.
On a related note, we really like camping for free and the time we spent at the RV park in Boise was expensive. We made up for it though, as we were able to sneak away from Pete’s house before he woke up and got outside to collect his fee!
Steve, Tali and the dogs: Reacher, Lucy and Rocky plus our beloved Storm and Maggie (both waiting at the Rainbow Bridge) 2008 Legacy Elite I - Outlaw Oliver, HULL NUMBER: 0026 2014 Legacy Elite II - Outlaw Oliver, HULL NUMBER: 0050 2017 Silverado High Country 2500HD Diesel 4x4October 3, 2017 at 10:00 pm #73366
I guess what I’m saying is that you can often live on less than you think .
Ten years, 200 watts of solar. More than we need, in a trailer.
We live skimpy Truly.
2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4
2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12October 3, 2017 at 10:27 pm #73378
I’m one person, with a small dog and although I use electric hookups quite a bit in my travels, whenever I boondock with my single 160W panel and 200 AH of battery storage capacity, I have never gone wanting for energy needs. For me, that includes the occasional use of the furnace and associated fan and my all important Keurig coffee maker in the morning X3.
I always keep my Fantastic Vent on low for a good air exchange and my lights have been swapped to LEDs.
I am usually back up to 100% by noon of the next day. For me, this system can go forever. (Caviats: No A/C or microwave usage)
Pete & "Bosker". TV - '18 F150 Super-cab Fx4; RV - "The Wonder Egg"; '08 Elite, Hull Number 014.
Travel blog of 1st 10 years' wanderings - http://www.peteandthewonderegg.blogspot.com
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