As technology changes, it seems inevitable that my power set-up will change. I put off analyzing my power needs and understanding solar and batteries like people put off going to the dentist. It took me 2 years to really determine what kind of set-up I needed for solar in order to sustain long-term boondocking. I think I have found a viable solution, for now. Let me start off with the pros and cons and then I will dive into details of my set-up. I will include some references to my battery and monitoring components as well, since they are related. I am neither an electrician nor a solar expert. Follow any of my advice or example at your own risk.
To read more about my dual GC battery set-up, watch the video.
To read more about my battery monitoring system, read here.
- Moderate cost
- Actionable data analytics
- Mobile app
- Thicker, 8 guage wire difficult to work with
- Still have limitations: no a/c, no hairdryer, ect..
- 2 flexible 100 watt solar panels from Amazon
- 50′ 8 guage cable from panels to solar controller
- Trolling motor plug for quick disconnect
- Victron BlueSolar 100/30 MPPT controller
- Victron MPPT Monitor
- Victron BMV-700 Battery Monitor
- Victron VE Smart Bluetooth Dongle
- MC4 Connectors for 8# wire
- Heat shrink tubing
- Victron Connect app
- 2 Trojan 6 volt Golf Cart Batteries (T-105+)
- Dual 6v Battery Box
- Solar mounting kit (legs)
Solar Panel Selection
How Much Solar Do I Need?
Choosing a Solar Controller
- Positive reviews and ratings
- Bluetooth/app capability – I can quickly check my battery via the Bluetooth dongle via an app on my phone.
- Frequent updates (firmware) – if you cannot update the product, it will be the same in 3 years as the day it was made. Victron updates their product with performance improvements and new functionality
- Controller + Monitors – I like the additional monitoring functionality provided by Victron and the amount of actionable data the monitoring provides.
- Responsive customer service.
Putting it All Together
Mounting the Panels
Real Life Usage
- Make sure you can change the settings in your controller to match the specific charging settings recommended by your battery manufacturer. These settings vary by battery.
- I personally think the Zamp systems are way overpriced and take advantage of people who want an easy plug and play set-up. That being said, I totally understand why people go that route. The Zamp quick disconnect cable/port is nothing more than the SAE plug that has been around for years. Zamp reverses the polarity in their receptacle. I have used Goal Zero’s 2 pin (SAE) plug with the Zamp port by swapping the pos/neg cables on the battery from the Zamp port. It is misleading for Zamp to market their port as a proprietary quick disconnect when the 2 pin cable has been around for a very long time.
- My set-up is not for everyone. Please thoroughly understand your camping style and power needs. Read my 2 posts on battery management linked, above.
- If possible, use 12v adapters for electronics whenever possible. they draw less power than an inverter will draw.
- I also upgraded my fan to the Fantastic Fan 7359 kit. It offers 10 speeds, is generally much quieter, and more power efficient than the standard one that comes in the T@b. One person reported that it did not fit his T@b. I had no problems. Upgrade at your own risk.