patelis
I just want to use the solar power plug-in feature on my Retro 166 when my battery is low (not for weeks, no worries of having it stolen, etc). Most of the discussions on the forum are about serious retrofitting. I just want to plug in as intended. Has anyone purchased a Go Power small portable solar kit, plugged it when needed, and done?
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2ty
I've been using both a fixed frame 4 amp panel and a folding flexible 4 amp for the last year.  I have not included a charge controller because 4 amps/hr is just barely enough to make up for my daily use, and if I'm not around to keep pointing the panel at the sun then I'll only get a few hours of charging.  Note that the connector is not fused, so if there is a short then the only protection is the circuit breaker near the battery and that is probably 40 or 50 amps.  It was probably done that way to minimize the voltage drops that might cause a charge regulator to shut down prematurely.  It's worthwhile to install an accurate voltmeter that is wired directly to the battery so you know how much energy is left.  I've installed both a voltmeter and amp meter in my system.
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TravelerGuy
Thanks for the good info, 2ty.  I'm hoping our 100 watt cheap system will keep up with our electric use next month, at a 10   day airshow campout.  I too noticed the zamp connector was not fused, I was surprised at that.  It would be very easy to reroute the "hot" Zamp wire from the battery cable terminal to one of the unused fuse outputs, and then install a suitable fuse.

For battery voltage measurements, I agree, everyone boondocking should have an accurate measurement of battery voltage.  My cheap controller has a voltmeter which agrees with the handheld voltmeters I have.  Even without an ammeter, a decent voltmeter can tell if you are charging.  Just unplug the panel, measure the voltage, plug the panel in, and see if/how much the voltage rises.  I'd expect a few tenths of a volt at least, but I haven't gathered any real data yet.

Where did you put your ammeter, and what sort of ammeter is it?  I'd like to add that myself.

Regards,
TravelerGuy
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2ty
My 80 watt system should be perfectly adequate in the warmer months since heater use will be minimal.  100 watts should do fine, especially if you can keep it aimed.
-Mike-
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2ty
P3220103.jpg These are mounted in a 189R above the closet by the doorway.  Wiring was routed through the void behind by removing the cabinet in the bathroom.  From there, wiring goes under the tub.  Some wiring goes to the fuse panel and some penetrates the floor and is routed under the trailer to the battery box where connections are made to sense the battery voltage directly and read the current shunt.  I can provide more detail when I return from a trip in about 2 weeks.
-Mike-
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TravelerGuy
Ahh, very good.  TravelerGirl and I have a 177SE, so the routing is different, but you told me a lot with "current shunt".  That's what I'll do, also, rather than add a bunch of heavy wire.  And I'm jealous, my Harbor Freight controller only shows tenths of a volt, yours shows hundredths.  Nice.

Thanks!
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2ty
It also reads amp hours and percentage of charge remaining.  It's a $30 module I found on EBAY.  Requires isolated 12v if shunt is remote, they sell a cheap module for that.  Only weak point is the stability of the shunt amplifier, it
 drifts an amp or so with temperature changes.  Very simple to zero it when needed.
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