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Old 06-13-2018, 01:47 PM   #1
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Ready to add solar & battery question

We've had our E21 for a little more than 18 months and know it's wired for solar. I've searched this forum high and low, but can't find instructions on how or what to add for solar. I'd like to do it myself is possible. I was thinking about starting with portable panels and then see about roof mounted ones. Any suggestions, thoughts or instructions.

Also, random battery question. I'm pretty sure one of my batteries has a bad cell or semi-bad cell, at one point they fully drained. I'm looking to replace them and considering AMG's. Anyone recently done that with any recommendations, tips or tricks?
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Old 06-13-2018, 01:54 PM   #2
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'wired for solar', does that mean there are solar connectors on the roof? or a zamp port on the side? is there a solar controller? this would be a panel with a couple buttons and a display, probably GoPower or something brand, somewhere around the undersides of the dinette near the batteries and power converter ?

if its *not* wired for solar, what you need is two heavy gauge wires from the battery to a solar controller mounted probably near the propane alarm, and two heavy gauge wires from the solar controller to a bulkhead connector on the outside of the trailer for the solar panels. if you're going to use a portable panel, then you want that bulkhead connector at knee height, and if you're going rooftop, up on the roof near where you mount the panels.
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Old 06-13-2018, 02:01 PM   #3
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You mean AGM's, I hope? Never heard of a AMG battery, just overpriced high performance Mercedes

AGM's are at least twice the price for the same capacity. the pros for AGM is, they don't leak if they are tipped over, and they don't outgas. The escape battery box is vented and the batteries could only tip over if you roll the whole trailer, not a likely scenario. I considered them, then ended up getting the Costco Interstate GC-2 batteries which were *WAY* cheaper. they are only 210AH or something, vs 225AH for the premium,, Interstates, but at half the price, ~5% less power didn't seem that big of a deal.

if you're going to swap GC-2 batteries yourself, you will really appreciate having a 'golf cart battery handle' on hand, as they are a bear to pick up and move without one. I got this one, https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00JA0FXKS which made it a breeze, or at least as breezy as lugging a couple 60 lb bricks can be.
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Old 06-13-2018, 03:23 PM   #4
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One other consideration for AGMs, especially high-quality ones: the Costco batteries you mention (I assume the 6V golf cart ones) will last you 2-3 years, whereas the pricey AGMs are rated for 7-10 year lifespan. So, you can spend $160 three times, or $500 once, for about the same 200Ah.

I think it's also worth considering that you can put one 12v AGM on either end of your trailer, which distributes the weight nicely (mine are tied in independently, so I can disconnect either one and still have power), whereas the 6v GC-2 batteries ideally would live next to each other, and thus will bias weight distribution substantially. Unless, you get 4 and do pairs at either end... that's 420Ah
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Old 06-13-2018, 03:52 PM   #5
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Obvious first question to ask yourself (assuming you're a newbie) is, do you want permanent solar panels, on the roof, or do you want portable ones. Roof installation is more convenient but also more expensive to install, and will require drilling holes in your roof, less effective when camped under trees, etc. Portable solar is available as a nearly ready out of the box kit, but must be set up every time. These issues have gotten extensive debate for and against, all over this forum.
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Old 06-13-2018, 03:57 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yologals View Post
We've had our E21 for a little more than 18 months and know it's wired for solar. I've searched this forum high and low, but can't find instructions on how or what to add for solar. I'd like to do it myself is possible. I was thinking about starting with portable panels and then see about roof mounted ones. Any suggestions, thoughts or instructions.

Also, random battery question. I'm pretty sure one of my batteries has a bad cell or semi-bad cell, at one point they fully drained. I'm looking to replace them and considering AMG's. Anyone recently done that with any recommendations, tips or tricks?
I did a quick search for "21 solar" and found these threads:
http://www.escapeforum.org/forums/f3...1-a-11886.html
http://www.escapeforum.org/forums/f3...nel-12538.html

There is a lot more threads on solar - I just posted the first two I saw.
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Old 06-13-2018, 03:58 PM   #7
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Cool Solar Power Is Positive for Your Battery Life

Solar Power with a good 5 stage Charge Controller will extend the life of your battery or batteries by a factor of 2 or 3. That's because a good Charge Controller manages the health of your batteries.


In the case of Solar ready, usually means that it has a single Solar Port that is wired directly to the battery or batteries and is ready to add a Portable unit with a Charge Controller.
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Old 06-13-2018, 04:02 PM   #8
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If you want roof mounted Solar, I would ask ETI to install a Zamp Solar 3 Port Roof device that would make expansion of solar very easy from 1 to 3 panels. The Zamp Solar part id is: ZS-CB-3-Port
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Old 06-13-2018, 04:12 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by philostechedon View Post
One other consideration for AGMs, especially high-quality ones: the Costco batteries you mention (I assume the 6V golf cart ones) will last you 2-3 years, whereas the pricey AGMs are rated for 7-10 year lifespan. So, you can spend $160 three times, or $500 once, for about the same 200Ah.

I think it's also worth considering that you can put one 12v AGM on either end of your trailer, which distributes the weight nicely (mine are tied in independently, so I can disconnect either one and still have power), whereas the 6v GC-2 batteries ideally would live next to each other, and thus will bias weight distribution substantially. Unless, you get 4 and do pairs at either end... that's 420Ah
rather than 'years', what counts is how many 50% discharge cycles the battery will handle, this is typically around 200-300 charge/discharge cycles. (if you discharge deeper than 50%, it goes down, fast!)


parallel batteries on long wires will tend to cause uneven wear, where the one directly connected to the trailer will tend to charge sooner and discharge more because of the additional wiring resistance in the remote battery. you CAN somewhat mitigate this by connecting the trailer + lead to one battery, and the trailer - lead to the other battery, this way the wiring has the same series resistance to both batteries, but that style of wiring is often less convenient.
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Old 06-13-2018, 04:19 PM   #10
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Check www.amsolar.com site for good info about solar and for quality parts and supplies to retro install solar on the roof. They are not inexpensive but do know what they are doing and are happy to work with DIY folks. There was a retrofit solar system on an Escape in their photos previously, but I did not see it looking just now.
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Old 06-13-2018, 04:20 PM   #11
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Cool Zamp Solar 3 Port Solar for Roof Connections

This is what the roof port looks like from Zamp Solar for up to 3 panels.
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File Type: jpg 3PortRoofCap.jpg (68.0 KB, 16 views)
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Old 06-13-2018, 06:39 PM   #12
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I've seen some of the debate/discussion on perm. or portable. I think to begin with I'd prefer portable. No additional holes in the roof for me at this point.
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Old 06-13-2018, 06:42 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MBA80 View Post
Solar Power with a good 5 stage Charge Controller will extend the life of your battery or batteries by a factor of 2 or 3. That's because a good Charge Controller manages the health of your batteries.


In the case of Solar ready, usually means that it has a single Solar Port that is wired directly to the battery or batteries and is ready to add a Portable unit with a Charge Controller.
How do I determine if I have a single port wired to the battery? I do see two wires not connected to anything in the above dinette storage container and I vaguely remember the previous owner saying that was the wiring for solar. I don't have any panels/controllers obviously apparent anywhere. Getting to ETI to have them take care of it for me is not an option anytime in the near future, so it's me or a local dealer and I've not heard any good things about the local folks!
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Old 06-13-2018, 07:45 PM   #14
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With a trailer a bit older than yours I ordered "solar ready" from the factory. At that time it consisted on a pair of wires (unknown gauge) run from the battery box to the overhead storage bin. There was excess wire coiled in each location.

I have not touched them, except to move them out of the way, and installed a portable solar unit. Doing so required a solar controller, heavy gauge wire from controller to battery, kill switches, fuses and a port installed next the battery box exhaust. Escape installed the marine outlet I choose to use for a port but would not do any wiring. They installed the wiring for a Trimetric Battery Monitor that I also provided at build time.
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Old 06-13-2018, 08:15 PM   #15
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2-3 years for a set of batteries? Even with cheap Walmart batteries I've gotten no less then 6.


So if my batteries never get below 50%, which they haven't, how long are they good for. I can only think of once in 4 years getting down 40%, 10-20 is by far the norm.



I've been waiting for the 6v flooded Interstates to die so I could get AGM's.
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Old 06-13-2018, 08:53 PM   #16
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Cool Zamp Solar Port

Attached is an image of the 10 AWG Solar Port from Zamp Solar. It is usually attached to the battery (1 -12 volt battery) or batteries (2 - 6volts) directly near the battery vent and once installed it is ready for any of the Zamp Solar portables (40, 80, 120, 160 or 200 Watts). All of the portables come with a 5 stage Charge Controller (with 4 different battery profiles), 15 feet of SAE wiring that is UV rated to connect to the port, 1 foot SAE connector with Alligator clips (which are not needed with the port installation). You can also purchase a 15 ft UV rated extension option to give you a total of 30 feet of movement to find the sun. Plus every Portable Kit comes with a nice nylon ballistic case for protecting your portable. Portable weights range from 17 lbs to a maximum of 47 lbs for the largest unit. I have a 120 Watt Zamp Solar portable that weighs 33 lbs.
When you arrive at your destination, the setup process takes less than 5 minute. Unpack the bag, unfold the panels, adjust the tilt legs, set on the ground pointing South, connect the SAE wiring connection to the port and tell the Charge Controller your battery profile type (ie. Wet, Calcium, Gel and AGM).
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File Type: jpg 10AWGSolar Port.jpg (64.2 KB, 14 views)
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Old 06-13-2018, 09:05 PM   #17
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Cool Zamp Solar Port Wiring

On the single port wiring for a Zamp Solar Port, which can be located near the battery vent, you should be aware that the Male metal prong is the Positive and the other Female connection is Negative. That is done as a safety feature because on the Zamp Solar panels the Male metal prong is negative and the other Female connection is Positive. This is done to prevent issues of grounding the metal pin on Solar panels and creating shocks or battery damage. Competitors to Zamp call it a Polarity issue, because their Male metal prong is Positive on their Solar panels or battery Maintainers. Thus requiring a Polarity Adaptor if you install other Brand panels into a Zamp Solar Port.
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Old 06-13-2018, 09:16 PM   #18
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Cool Zamp Solar Polarity Adaptor

The attached image shows the Polarity Adpator from Zamp Solar for use when other panels or trickle charges that have Male positive posts for their connections that are Positive instead of Negative with Zamp Solar.
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Old 06-13-2018, 09:19 PM   #19
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Any battery you use in your Escape Trailer will last 2 to 3 times longer when it is managed by a good 5 Stage Charge Controller. Zamp Solar only make 5 stage controllers versus some making 1, 2, 3 or 4.
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Old 06-13-2018, 09:25 PM   #20
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Sounds like you have limited wiring and nothing else. A single Zamp Solar port is very easy to install. I can send you wiring diagrams for single and multiple battery configurations. On my previous 17 foot Liberty Deluxe Casita prior to my 2017 21 Escape this installation took less than 30 minutes. It took longer for the calking to dry around the port than it did to two wires to the battery (1- Group 27 wet acid battery).
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