Wes and Zamp Solar

by Wes Nave

Being from the era where we take a lot for granted, one thing constantly stands out in my mind. Why don’t we take advantage of our naturally occurring resources to provide for us?

I remember my grandmother telling me about the early pioneer days when building sod houses (a common practice during the early 1900’s for people coming west) over a creek worked as a refrigerator to keep milk and butter cold – and probably great grand dads home brew cold as well! She also told me they would orient the house to catch the morning sun, but be away from the afternoon sun to help keep the house cool.

During my career I have taken an interest in understanding these practices and helping other people understand how to use natural resource to live more sustainable lives.

I’ve chosen a career in Solar Energy. I am not an expert and certainly I do not pretend to be one, however, I successfully help people understand and take advantage of solar energy, primarily in the lower voltage arena used primarily for the RV and Marine, Agricultural, and Light Industrial Industries.

We have now ventured into the realm of off grid power for remote cabins, tiny houses, cottages, outbuildings, and any other place where the minimalistic lifestyle comes into play, not by accident, but purely on purpose.

Our understanding of lower voltage systems has enabled us to excel and be somewhat of an industry leader in bringing new and imaginable battery charging systems to market to help solve one difficult problem at a time.

In the following weeks I would like to help you understand how Solar Energy, used in the right way can, help the Tiny House Market solve some very important energy and power restriction issues that plague mobility, home location and cost.

I invite you to ask me questions and I will do my best to help answer those questions. Please keep in mind that my education is in the area of re-charging battery banks and not in providing ways to “put power back to the grid” that my friends I must direct you to the residential and commercial side of Solar Energy. We believe in keeping it simple and affordable.

The name brand Solar Panels are Zamp Solar panels with Solar Cells manufactured by Bosch in Germany.

Our 3000 watt inverter is our own brand and it is one of the only complete Pure Sine Wave inverters that contains an adjustable 90 amp battery charger, built in 60 Amp MPPT Solar Charge controller, and many more standard features that are listed on our website, or I would be more than happy to distribute.

Our kit is designed as a simple plug n play system. Mount the panels, plug them into the weather proof combiner box with built in fuses and fuse block, then twist on the terminal ends to the supplied cabling to your batteries. Its that simple.

You can certainly save money by buying individual components and shopping around, if you can ill afford the luxury of buying a custom designed, self contained complete kit with 25 year warranty, the largest wattage panels with the smallest footprint A+ Monocrystaline panels available today.

You can check out our products at Solardealz.com and get a special 10% discount using the coupon code tinyhomesolar for the cabin systems.

Zamp solar deal

23 thoughts on “Wes and Zamp Solar”

  1. I think lithium is the way to go. They are light, small enough to fit under your arm, inexpensive and less maintinence compared to the old deep cell battery. Then us tiny housers don’t have to lug around 400 lbs of batterys only 22 lbs and they will provide the same power for your tiny house for 20 years! Not 7 years like the old deep cell. My father in law just bought them and he thinks they are the cats meow for batteries. I’m in agreement.

    • I too agree. I like the lightweight aspect as a key feature. I would like to know more about Lithium Ion vs. Lithium Iron. If what happened had to do with the Lithium Ion getting to hot, that may become an issue. The cost factor is also a concern but they are certainly cutting edge. Keep us posted on how they work out!

  2. I am planning on getting an rv to livein and I want to be off the grid. I would like to learn more about the solar power system I will need to power my lights heat and laptop. Any info to help me better understand my ppwer needs and the system I will need to install will be greatly appreciated.

    • Oh absolutely, we would be more than happy to help you out. The first thing to do is make sure that you have fresh new batteries and size your batteries to what you maybe using. The industry trend in the RV market is to upgrade to 2 6volt batteries. They offer a deeper draw and a longer charge with them. Normally, a RV will have 1 deep cycle battery, it is a very good idea to at least have another installed. Solar panels will be able to recharge your batteries during the day for your usage not only at night but earlier in the day. Tiny House will be testing and reviewing one of our 80 watt portables in the very near future.
      Please let me what RV type you are considering or the brand and model and we will help you get the right system for you and of course the right price that will fit your budget.

      • I love that you’re doing this, Wes – Thanks! My question is firstly, most like Amelya’s. I just put a deposit on a brand new 2013 T@B trailer by Little Guy. “S Floorplan” – it has a wet bath. And a big battery up front where the trailer hitch is. The Amish are building it right now – it arrives in Vermont mid-October. I would LOVE to have a small ecological footprint as I live and travel. Second, I’ve been obssessed with tiny houses for a while now. This will be my first (sort of)…but I’m shopping land in upstate NY right now on where to build (and I have plans, believe me!) I’d love to use your expertise and panels.
        Thanks again,

        • Hi-
          Well first of all congrats on your little guy! You may want to know that we are the OEM solar supplier for T@B and Little guy. You are on the right track for solar. Let me know what I can do to help>

        • Small observation and correction. I think there is a lot of misleading and misinformation being passed around about energy.

          One cannot “buy” a “small ecological footprint”. That would be an oxymoron. When a person “buys” anything, they are spending money which is using energy and converting it to another form of waste product. If you want to convert solar radiation to electrical energy that is fine but that makes a large carbon footprint, not hardly eco friendly. If one wants to be eco friendly or better yet eco neutral, then study the indigenous people of the world prior to 1492 more specifically the hunter gather lifestyle prior to farming and the present “sift, sort sell” concept. A person can’t have it both ways, I’m an electrical engineer and the only electricity that is natural is lightning or static. All other has a price to pay.

  3. Hi Wes:
    I want to upgrade a small, older cottage to solar – and a minimalist retirement lifestyle. It’s a fixer situation, but one that might allow us to make some really great changes. I want to find the right set of HVAC, HotWater, and high-efficiency small appliances to fit in a small space and use solar efficiently. We may be able to come up with a small loan that will allow us to get a higher grade system and install it ourselves – my cousins are eager to do some of the work. What might you recommend? We’re in CA, mid coast.

    • The RV industry has been working on the same question for a long time. I would suggest looking into RV products for solutions. Try Dometic, Atwood, Norcold for your equipment. There websites are very informative and easy to navigate. I think the stove that is listed on this sites banner is very interesting. The Tiny House people are wonderful at coming up with great products and forwarding these ideas and items to the masses. Once we figure out what your power requirements are, we can then find a solar solution that will get you going in the right direction. I’m going to be talking about similar situations in my next blog session. Stay tuned

  4. I have been thinking about building a small cabin off the grid. The cabin will be used on weekends and vacation times and will be vacant most of the time. How will a solar electric system react to long periods without use? Will the panels have to be covered to stop them from charging when the cabin is vacant?

    • Great question.
      The job of the solar charge controller is to distribute power to the batteries as they need it.
      The controller will shut off the system when he batteries are charged and turn on again when the power decreases. The more we keep a constant charge to the batteries, the longer they will last. If you neglect a battery it will die, like a plant with out water, keep it watered, even a little bit, it will still survive. There are multiple staging of charging from bulk, absorption, equalization, float, boost, and others
      Understanding how these different stages will help you understand how crucial it is to keep a battery alive vs. being dormant.

  5. Greetings,
    I am building a tiny house on wheels that will be moved on those wheels regularly. I am interested in being as off the grid as I can be to support the life style I hope to enjoy. I love the plug and play aspect of your design, but am concerned about the weight of the system with traditional batteries. I would also like to see if wind generation technology could be incorporated. Since I will be on the road with my tiny house regularly, I will be in a position to capture wind energy as I drive down the road.I would prefer to have solar panels attached to the roof of the house. I plan on using propane for stove, heat and on-demand water use. I will need power for lights, computer, Refrigeration, AC and possibly a Washer/Dryer Combo. While funds are not limitless, I do realize that I am looking for some unusual combinations that have not been put together into marketable packages yet, making this kind of system a bit pricier. Any insight and interest you may be willing to share would be very appreciated. I live in Georgia, but hope to travel nationally. I also want things to be dependable and not take an electrical engineer to work. Thanks again! Take care! Kathie

    • Sounds exciting!! The first thing we need to address is the batteries that you will have. It does seem that you are going to be having a great demand on whatever system you choose. Unfortunately the amount of batteries you have is predicated by the weight of those batteries. The AC is going to be your biggest draw and will be determined by how big of an AC you are going to get. A small 5000 btu AC unit uses approx. 9 amps during cycling and approx.. 5 amps while just running. We will need to have at least 4 6volt batteries of approx.. 170 amp hours each to run the AC for approx.. 3 hours. Hopefully you can see where I’m heading with this. More batteries more power more batteries more weight. We can work together to come up with a viable solution and keep it affordable for you. We have some friends that do residential installations and we can consult with them and come up with a great alternative for you.

  6. I have shopped around and found that you can buy a 1983 Pathfinder 33′ RV for $2,000.00. Trailers are also for sale. The advantages are they have an electrical system that are just right to plug into a solar system. This is only good for those that appreciate hot showers, flush toilets, propane stoves and microwave and the chance to live off the grid while you build your tiny house.
    I live totally off the grid while running by built in generator. Want solar system

    • Great..let’s get a grip on your batteries. What type and how many? What are planning on powering?
      What 12 volt and what 100volt items do you wish to operate? Are you planning on getting off your generator completely?
      I think a lot people would like to follow us on this one. Let me know and we can work on a probable solution for you.

  7. The only place I can put my house is about 150 to 200 feet away from the only place that gets enough sun for solar panels. The two spots are separated by a very steep, heavily wooded hill. Would having such long wires between either the batteries and the house or the panels and the batteries still work? There is no direct road access to the sunny spot and a short distance to the house site from road access.

    • Yes, it is very possible. We need to provide enough voltage from the panels to move the power that far to the storage batteries. Unfortunately, the panels that we use are designed for low voltage solutions. You will need to use a higher voltage panel primarily used in the Commercial sector for such a long run of wire. I have some associates that maybe able to help you out. If you can provide me with where you live, I can ask for some help.

  8. Hi Wes,
    I am a carpenter and I am in the planning stage of building my own finally.
    I want to use Solar and a small wind turbine to charge the batteries. Like you posted above A/C is a big draw on the system. I don’t want down sized appliances, I hunt and like to keep meat in the deep freeze. So RV appliances wouldn’t work. How do I figure out how many AMPs I need to run a small cabin?
    Thanks for your article, its very informative. I’m thinking of getting my Solar and Wind installers and design license myself. I think generating our own electric is like having a vegetable garden. If you can do it yourself why not….LOL
    Thanks again

    • Im afraid that using regular sized appliances is going to put you in the Residentail/Commercial arena which we are not involved is. There are many very good companies out there that will help you get set up for those larger voltage systems that you will need for full size items, like deep freeze, and other kitchen items that are full sized. Sorry I couldn’t help. I do have some friends that maybe able to help. Let me know and I’ll get you that information. Where do you live?

  9. I am building a 10×20 tiny house and will be off grid. I am overwhelmed with all the information and advice from seasoned electricians.

    I have been told that I will need a 5000 watt generator, I have been told I don’t need that, I only need a turtle charger, I have been told I can get by on a tiny generator if I am charging batteries. Then I looked at batteries and everybody has their say on what are the size and type I should get.

    Of course, money is not in great supply, which is why I am building a tiny house anyway LOL. What I would really welcome is something that lays out the bare bone basics that are needed for a tiny house on a trailer.

    Then, the bare bones next step to add on.

    I know that there are lots of variables, but for me, the variables are based on how many batteries I have and the size of generator. I would love to have a heat on demand hot water system (propane) but, if my batteries can’t manage to pump the stored water into it then I don’t need the system immediately, I can wait and add on later.

    Is this asking too much? In a nutshell, if starting small means I can only do one thing at a time i.e., make coffee, or use the laptop, or have a shower, that’s OK. I just don’t know how to figure it out and how to price it out.
    Sorry for the long post LOL!

  10. Ok let’s look at what is most important. Are you going to use a propane hot water heater? propane heater? Are you going to run 12 volt systems or 110 volt system? Starting small is not a bad idea, but just make sure everything you do is expandable, grow into it so to speak. You can always add batteries and you can always add solar panels. This is a decision that you need to make. If I were to go off grid, I would base my power on 12 volt and operate 110 volt items off an inverter if I need to. This should be your first step..” What system of electrical power am I going to use?” keep me posted and I will help.

  11. I am interested in understanding more about using solar to power hot water, computer, recharge a laptop, etc – that is, everything in a tiny house. It would be in an area out west that has plenty of sunlight, and the house would have to expand as my husband is claustrophobic, screen porch/outdoor room on slab might be used to expand house.

  12. Hey Wes,
    I’m going on an extended road trip , needed a small solar kits to charge my iPad and iPhone and cool my portable cooler and may be able to cook sometimes. Want it to have a separate battery pack, do you have a small kit like that .
    I’m retired on a very limited budget, so RV is out out of the question, boondocking with jeep will be me.


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