Best Portable Solar and how many watts is best?

bikegirlbikegirl Posts: 24Member
Hi there,

I have a 2015 [email protected] 320 S and I'm wondering the best portable solar and how many watts to get? I believe I saw someone post about the link below. Is there anything smaller in terms of physical size. I saw Mandy Lea's post and a woman had ones that were flexible. Anyone know what they were and have you used them? I tried to zoom in to get the name and couldn't read it.

Thanks so much for your help!

Samlex Solar MSK-135 Portable Solar Charging Kit

P

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Comments

  • pthomas745pthomas745 Posts: 455Member
    5 pounds?  I don't think there is any way that weighs 5 pounds.  135 watts is a good size, but I think there may be better options on suitcase style panels.  There will be plenty of advice on these, like in all these threads:




  • SAMSAM Posts: 2,145Member
    Jkjenn made a portable set up with semiflexible panels.  Most flexible panels are mounted.  If you are looking for a plug and play portable suitcase model, anywhere from 100 - 200 watts will do the job depending on how you camp and the size of your battery.  Our TaBs have a port that is Zamp ready, but Renogy needs a simple adapter and is much cheaper.  So decide if you just need enough solar power to recharge your battery for a weekend vs being off grid for long periods of time.  Start with knowing what your needs are.  
    Sharon and John - Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Blue and Silver 2017 CSS towed by a 2015 Salsa Red Toyota Sienna
  • drpprmtdrpprmt Posts: 117Member
    As a person who spends both sides of a nickel I am interested in the Renogy option.  However I am concerned about the adapter.  What is it and what do you need to know to order the right one?  Do you need a special plug?  Watt for watt, is Renogy as good and as efficient.  We are very stingy with electrical use so we were looking at 80 watt.  I know someone has already done this and I do not want to reinvent the wheel.
  • SAMSAM Posts: 2,145Member
    Optimate cable 0-27 adapter from Amazon is an SAE type plug that fits into the provided Zamp solar outlet.  Not only will it accomodate the reversed wiring of the Zamp outlet, but it will also help when you need to plug in some battery chargers via the Zamp outlet.   It has a regular SAE on one end to plug in a battery charger or solar  cable and the other end has the SAE with the male positive that fits into the Tab Zamp outlet with the female positive.  

    We used the Renogy wiring using MC4 connectors, so we also used an MC4 to SAE adapter.
    Sharon and John - Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Blue and Silver 2017 CSS towed by a 2015 Salsa Red Toyota Sienna
  • SAMSAM Posts: 2,145Member
    Drpprmt, your other option if using a Renogy system is to just reverse the solar outlet wiring at the battery.  Then you do not need the SAE adapter.
    Sharon and John - Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Blue and Silver 2017 CSS towed by a 2015 Salsa Red Toyota Sienna
  • ericnlizericnliz Posts: 4,087Member
    @drpprmt, I use Renogy with the MC4 to SAE adapter. Right now Renogy has some great sales going on & you might want to check them out. As @SAM said, yes you can also reverse the outlet wiring at the battery to achieve the same results as the adapter. I personally use the Renogy 100 Watt suitcase w/ controller model, and have gone for 10 days without hookups. Just need to be wise about your electrical use. The handy part about the suitcase model is, that I store it right next to the toilet between the toilet & the driver's side wall on the shelf. We've been on some pretty rough roads & it hasn't budged a bit. Just a thought. 
    2016 [email protected] MAX S-aka: [email protected]
    TV: 2006 Chevy Avalanche LT Z71 aka: WhiteWolf, or 1972 Chevy Custom10 P/U aka: SnarlingWolf
    Spokane, Wa.
    Eric aka: Lone Wolf  with,
    Ruger aka: Adventure Companion

  • pthomas745pthomas745 Posts: 455Member
    I just reversed the connection at the controller with an SAE cable I cut an end  off.  The entire "mystery" of the reverse polarity confusion with the Zamp is that they want that metal part that connects into the Tab to be the negative part of the cable.  The positive side is buried safely inside the plastic part that connects to the Zamp plug.

    Here is the link to the SAE "reverse polarity adapter"  from Amazon. 


    My first trips with my Renogy panel and controller I just wired the controller to the battery with battery cable alligator clips.  No thinking about Zamp required. That works, too.

    The picture below is my "modified" cable from the solar controller.  Note the white lettering on the cable terminates at the metal portion of the connector. That would normally be the "positive" side.   Trace the white lettering back to my solar controller and you will note it goes into the "negative" output of the controller. ( I know it is hard to see, but trust me).  The unmarked side of the cable, which comes out of the plastic portion of the plug, is wired to the positive side of the solar controller. (Which I marked with the red electrical tape). 



    One of the tragedies of the combination/changes of the Forums over the last year is it seems Michigan Mike's wonderful description of the Zamp wiring and the reasons for "reverse polarity" have been lost into 404 File Not Found Land.......

  • ScottGScottG Posts: 1,985Moderator
    edited November 2017
    ...
    One of the tragedies of the combination/changes of the Forums over the last year is it seems Michigan Mike's wonderful description of the Zamp wiring and the reasons for "reverse polarity" have been lost into 404 File Not Found Land.......
    This what you're lookin' for? (See Michigan_Mike's second post in the discussion.)

    http://tab-rv.vanillaforums.com/discussion/comment/14103#Comment_14103

    FYI, a lot of old links stopped working after the migration and recent housekeeping. In most cases, the threads are still there, but you may need to do an advanced search to find them!
  • pthomas745pthomas745 Posts: 455Member
    Scott, that description by Michigan Mike is pretty much what he had in his post.  The thread I was looking for had pictures and descriptions, etc.  It was from the Little Guy TAG forums, I think, which adds to the difficulty level.  I'm still surprised how much smoke and mirrors that arise around the Zamp port.

  • ScottGScottG Posts: 1,985Moderator
    No argument there, @pthomas745. I have repeatedly advocated using a multimeter and one's own eyes to check the polarity of any electrical connection. When it comes to electricity, relying on a quick answer without understanding the underlying concepts may be a recipe for disaster. 
  • TerryV6TerryV6 Posts: 653Member
    ericnliz said:
    @drpprmt, I use Renogy with the MC4 to SAE adapter. Right now Renogy has some great sales going on & you might want to check them out. As @SAM said, yes you can also reverse the outlet wiring at the battery to achieve the same results as the adapter. I personally use the Renogy 100 Watt suitcase w/ controller model, and have gone for 10 days without hookups. Just need to be wise about your electrical use. The handy part about the suitcase model is, that I store it right next to the toilet between the toilet & the driver's side wall on the shelf. We've been on some pretty rough roads & it hasn't budged a bit. Just a thought. 
    So I went to the Renogy website and they had a refurbished 200 for sale for 399.

    https://www.renogy.com/products/solar-panels/folding-solar-suitcases/

    good price?  Or would I be just as happy with a 100?  And I’d need to get the reverse polarity plug mentioned above...

    We have a generator we’ve yet to use...  Also a big one in the garage for storm emergencies.  Got that after losing power for a week 10 years ago.  Haven’t used that either.  Probably will sell that to help pay for the panel.  We’ve got a 40 watt Zamp right now...


    Terry & Jody...  2016 Dodge Ram 1500
    2016 LG [email protected] Max S
    [email protected]  Road   
    Appleton,  WI



  • SAMSAM Posts: 2,145Member
    TerryV6-That is a steal.  Just consider the size and weight.  Paired with a larger battery, you have a lit of time off grid.
    Sharon and John - Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Blue and Silver 2017 CSS towed by a 2015 Salsa Red Toyota Sienna
  • TerryV6TerryV6 Posts: 653Member
    I just have the stock battery right now.  I see that they offer the 100 for about 219. 

      I https://www.renogy.com/renogy-100-watt-eclipse-solar-suitcase-open-box-like-new/
     
    Eric has the 100. Hmm.  Big step down?  Then they mention a controller.  Needed?  I don't want to purchase and then say... ahhhh, I should have...  So, any advice between the two?  And, then after I get either one, I just need the polarity plug... right?

    Thanks for your help..
    Terry & Jody...  2016 Dodge Ram 1500
    2016 LG [email protected] Max S
    [email protected]  Road   
    Appleton,  WI



  • pthomas745pthomas745 Posts: 455Member
    Yes, you need a controller, and most of the Renogy "kits" include one.  The link you sent does describe a controller as part of the "package."  Like all things solar, you have to figure out how much power you need.  How many things do you intend to run for how many hours in a day?    I have a 100 watt panel, the stock 75AH battery, I don't run a lot of electrical things, but that combo works fine for me. 

  • TerryV6TerryV6 Posts: 653Member
    Just a light or two, perhaps the ceiling fan for an hour at night, waterpump and fridge fan... I know the ceiling fan can be a hog, but we don't use the electronics.. 
    Actually, only the fridge gets used 24 hours.  The pump actually is used mostly for the toilet..
    Terry & Jody...  2016 Dodge Ram 1500
    2016 LG [email protected] Max S
    [email protected]  Road   
    Appleton,  WI



  • pthomas745pthomas745 Posts: 455Member
    jkJenn's spreadsheet has a list of all the Tab's electrical components and how much power they use.  I have a copy of the spreadsheet taped to the wall of my Tab...



  • SAMSAM Posts: 2,145Member
    You can always start with 100 and add to it if you find you need more.  
    Sharon and John - Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Blue and Silver 2017 CSS towed by a 2015 Salsa Red Toyota Sienna
  • gnudad2gnudad2 Posts: 9Member
    TerryV6:  I just bought the Renogy 200amp suitcase for $399.  It is a steal, especially when compared to Zamp's pricing.  It was "open box", but perfect.  Came with cables, although I've ordered the obligatory reversing adapter.  A bit heavy, and large, but so am I.  :-)
    Tom & Susan & Della
    2017 320S / 2015 Tacoma TRDSport
  • ericnlizericnliz Posts: 4,087Member
    @TerryV6, The 100 Watt suitcase model works for OUR needs. We are very frugal with our electrical usage, and have gone 10 days without hookups, using propane for heat, hot water, & fridge. Renogy has just introduced a flexible 100 Watt panel you might want to check out if it suits your needs. I HIGHLY recommend getting a controller included as it will up your versatility with the panel.
    @gnudad2 , great price on the 200 Watt suitcase. The only thing I would recommend as an add-on would be extender cables with the MC4 connector ends so as to be able to move your panels to the best location for sun. Especially helpful if you're in a camping area with a lot of shade trees. ;)
    2016 [email protected] MAX S-aka: [email protected]
    TV: 2006 Chevy Avalanche LT Z71 aka: WhiteWolf, or 1972 Chevy Custom10 P/U aka: SnarlingWolf
    Spokane, Wa.
    Eric aka: Lone Wolf  with,
    Ruger aka: Adventure Companion

  • TerryV6TerryV6 Posts: 653Member
    Your post, and some good advice from Chris and Alexis helped me purchase the 200 watt as well.  I saw it for a lower price of 339, but then read further and saw it didn't have the controller.   Now I just have to get the cable adapter thingy.  I like to throw around those technical terms.    Thanks all.  Really...


    Terry & Jody...  2016 Dodge Ram 1500
    2016 LG [email protected] Max S
    [email protected]  Road   
    Appleton,  WI



  • TerryV6TerryV6 Posts: 653Member
    Ah Eric,  your advice came late, but thanks.   I'm sure we'll be happy though.  I'll have to find the extender  cable.  Wouldn't happen to have link... :)
    Terry & Jody...  2016 Dodge Ram 1500
    2016 LG [email protected] Max S
    [email protected]  Road   
    Appleton,  WI



  • ericnlizericnliz Posts: 4,087Member
    @TerryV6, We all likes them technicical domma flothchie terminology thingys!
    That particular one is as follows: Optimate Cable 0-27- Adapter, Polarity, SAE ( found mine on Amazon under that description)
    You can also find an inline 10amp waterproof fuse holder w/fuse, extender cables with the MC4 connectors there as well.. Also helpful is the MC4 Assembly tool. If 'ya have any more questions, feel free to ask. Believe me, it was confusing to me, :o as it was the first time I had attempted anything solar related! ;)
    2016 [email protected] MAX S-aka: [email protected]
    TV: 2006 Chevy Avalanche LT Z71 aka: WhiteWolf, or 1972 Chevy Custom10 P/U aka: SnarlingWolf
    Spokane, Wa.
    Eric aka: Lone Wolf  with,
    Ruger aka: Adventure Companion

  • ericnlizericnliz Posts: 4,087Member
    edited November 2017
    Ha, We REALLY need to stop typin' at the same time! :rofl:
    2016 [email protected] MAX S-aka: [email protected]
    TV: 2006 Chevy Avalanche LT Z71 aka: WhiteWolf, or 1972 Chevy Custom10 P/U aka: SnarlingWolf
    Spokane, Wa.
    Eric aka: Lone Wolf  with,
    Ruger aka: Adventure Companion

  • mgreen2mgreen2 Posts: 31Member
    bought the Renogy 100 Watt Eclipse Solar Suitcase for $210 and am very happy with it. pickd up a 15 ft extensions cable for $15
  • TerryV6TerryV6 Posts: 653Member
    Where did you get the cable?
    Terry & Jody...  2016 Dodge Ram 1500
    2016 LG [email protected] Max S
    [email protected]  Road   
    Appleton,  WI



  • pthomas745pthomas745 Posts: 455Member
    I bought these extensions:  good cables, easy to handle, come a variety of lengths:
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01D7VBKQG/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1


  • TerryV6TerryV6 Posts: 653Member
    So, from your link, it shows 2-20ft. Cables.  Do these join to make a 40 ft. Length?
    Terry & Jody...  2016 Dodge Ram 1500
    2016 LG [email protected] Max S
    [email protected]  Road   
    Appleton,  WI



  • pthomas745pthomas745 Posts: 455Member
    No, one is the positive cable and one is the negative cable....so, 20 feet for each cable.

  • TerryV6TerryV6 Posts: 653Member
    edited December 2017
    I’m really sorry here, don’t want to appear dense.  I buy the adapter that looks like this..


    Then, I plug one end into the Zamp connector, and the other end plugs into....  ?   ..... which then plugs into the solar panel cabling...?  I don’t have the hardware yet and I’m trying to visual this in my software brain, running on 16 k of memory, like my first computer...
    Terry & Jody...  2016 Dodge Ram 1500
    2016 LG [email protected] Max S
    [email protected]  Road   
    Appleton,  WI



  • pthomas745pthomas745 Posts: 455Member
    There are wires, positive and negative, coming from your solar panel. 
    Have a look at a solar controller.  There is a slot (with some sort of marking denoting "panel" )where the solar panel wires go into the solar controller, and you screw them in.
    You will need an SAE cable with a plug at one end and just bare wires on the other end.  The bare wires of the SAE cable will go into two other slots in the controller, the ones with a "battery" marking.

    The SAE plug from the solar controller plugs into the cable you have pictured. Then that completed plug goes into your Zamp connector.

    And, your controller instructions will probably say to connect the battery side of the controller first.
    Look up at the beginning of the thread and look at the cable I use that comes from the solar controller.   Most controllers look pretty much the same, with the same screw in windows for the wiring.  (Ignore all the other stuff about how I handled reverse polarity, since you are using the adapter cable.)

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