We’ve done a lot of work on the electrical systems in our camper-van, Lance. Our house battery is a large lithium-ion battery, and we’ve got 300 watts of solar, an inverter/charger, and a supplemental alternator to keep it charged up. With those working for us, on most days, I don’t even think about the state of charge of our house battery. But as much as all of that does for the house battery… it does nothing to keep the chassis battery charged up. That’s the battery that starts the engine!
During times when we’ve stored Lance, I’ve noticed the chassis battery being drawn down by parasitic loads. This is largely due to accessories that we’ve installed, so I know what’s causing it. But I still needed a way to overcome those loads and keep the chassis battery charged up when we have the rig stored. That led to what you see in this video:
What I show in the video is basically a smaller version of the solar power system that’s installed on our vehicle for the house battery. All of the components come from Zamp Solar, so it truly is plug and play. Even the mechanically non-inclined shouldn’t have any trouble setting this up. The components I show in the video are listed out here.
|Zamp 20 Watt Solar Panel - This is a basic, small solar panel that is more than enough to overcome any parasitic draw that we have on our chassis battery. Depending on what accessories you have installed onto your chassis, you could do this with a larger or smaller panel. At 20 watts, the size is quite manageable. Since the panel is larger than we need, I don't worry too much about pointing it, or shade, or anything like that. Typically, I'll just set it out and forget about it.|
|Zamp 8 Amp Plug-N-Play Solar Regulator - While the solar charge controller installed on our rig can handle 40 amps, this is a smaller version that can handle 8 amps. It's self contained, and there's nothing to set up and nothing to program. (I guess that's why they call it "Plug-N-Play".) All you have to make sure to do is plug the panel and charge cables into the appropriate, respective places on the controller. (They're labeled...)|
|Zamp Solar BDCBC Clamp Connector - You need a way to get the output from the solar regulator to your battery, and these battery clamps are the easiest way to do it. You simply connect them to your vehicle as you would if you were jump-starting. On our ProMaster, that's really easy - but you need to follow the proper procedure for your rig - whatever that may be. The other end plugs right into the charge controller.|
|Zamp Solar BDCEXT15 Extension Cord - I didn't show this in the video, but if you need a way to get the solar panel and/or charge controller a bit further away from your vehicle, this extension cord will allow you to do that. You might need it if your RV is stored under a carport and you want to put the solar panel on the roof, for example. So depending on your situation, you may or may not need this.|
And those three (or four) things are basically it. If you’re looking for a way to keep your RV’s chassis battery charged up and ready to go, this, or something like it, is the ticket. And you don’t have to limit yourself to RVs here – this system would work with any lead-acid battery.
Stay topped-up, friends!