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Old 03-11-2015, 08:11 PM   #1
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Solar, it just can't be that complicated?

Gang,

First, I sincerely apologize for the extremely long question/problem.

I hope to explain our problem correctly; if I misuse certain terms forgive me please.

On our 2014 27ft FB International we have a ZAMP 100 watt solar panel installed on the roof. The panel runs through a controller mounted inside the trailer.

We desired to add an additional 120 watt portable ZAMP panel and were told by the ZAMP folks that the new unit should not be regulated as one controller will override the other and not provide the 220 watts we desired. Case made, we bought the unregulated portable and the quick connect that was supposedly going to be an easy install.

We took the trailer to a dealer to have the quick connect installed on the outside of the trailer and wired into the existing controller, which controller by the way is able to handle 450 watts. We were then told that things are not that easy.

Here’s the issue, per the dealer, in order to do it right, we would have to remove panels and pull wire through studs, because the link point where the quick connect needs to be installed must be on the solar side of the controller. Linking up near the battery will be on the battery side of the charge controller. All solar panel wires must first go to the controller. The line going from the controller to the battery is already installed, and can not be tapped into.

Have any of you had experience with this sort of thing, if so, can you offer some insight?
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Old 03-11-2015, 08:20 PM   #2
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Old 03-11-2015, 08:32 PM   #3
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If both panels are on the roof and have isolation diodes or inherent protection can't the two panels just be connected in parallel? If the controller can stand the maximum output voltage, the panels could be connected in series. Either of these alternatives could be implemented on the roof, I think.

Lewster????

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Old 03-11-2015, 09:45 PM   #4
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If you are getting the 120W panel, why does this not work?

120 Watt Portable Solar Charging System - Zamp Solar

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Old 03-11-2015, 11:00 PM   #5
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Your new unregulated panel needs to be connected to the positive and negative lines leading from your existing panel to the existing controller or to the controller input where your existing panel connects.
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Old 03-12-2015, 09:06 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BoldAdventure View Post
If you are getting the 120W panel, why does this not work?

120 Watt Portable Solar Charging System - Zamp Solar

If you mean, hooking solo directly to the batt---it'll work fine (with attached ZAMP controller).

But, I think the wires are too small a gauge (another story).

But if you mean, hooking directly to battery, in parallel WITH another on-board system, I think one of the systems will be ineffective or operate at a reduced capability. I think, if you have two controllers charging the batts, unless they are charging at EXACTLY the same voltage (unlikely), you will have a potential difference in the charge lines and reduce or negate the amperage flow from one of the solar systems.
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Old 03-12-2015, 09:45 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dznf0g View Post
If you mean, hooking solo directly to the batt---it'll work fine (with attached ZAMP controller).

I think, if you have two controllers charging the batts, unless they are charging at EXACTLY the same voltage (unlikely), you will have a potential difference in the charge lines and reduce or negate the amperage flow from one of the solar systems.
There should be a blocking diode for the solar panel to prevent back-feeding current from the stronger charging source when both are running at once. Should be integrated into the controller, but check to make sure.
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Old 03-12-2015, 09:51 AM   #8
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too late now

I haven't done your math….But you may have went the wrong direction. Buying additional panels isn't always the best way to beef up your solar system. More batteries can be the best and or easiest. Too little battery storage is often the weak link. The old adage, " Strike while the iron is hot " translates to " Gather while the sun is hot ". Having one battery fully charged while the sun is still high, could be the problem.

And yeah those wires look too thin. voltage drop and overheating are the issues
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Old 03-12-2015, 09:51 AM   #9
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There should be a blocking diode for the solar panel to prevent back-feeding current from the stronger charging source when both are running at once. Should be integrated into the controller, but check to make sure.
Yes, that would prevent potential damage to the lower voltage output controller and its panels, but to be clear, the lower voltage "system" would be ineffective at charging the batts while both are hooked up...correct?
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Old 03-12-2015, 10:00 AM   #10
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Just as an FYI, here are the mods I made to the Zamp 160 watt system to make it more effective and efficient:

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f448...ar-124920.html
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Old 03-12-2015, 10:09 AM   #11
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Yes, that would prevent potential damage to the lower voltage output controller and its panels, but to be clear, the lower voltage "system" would be ineffective at charging the batts while both are hooked up...correct?
Correct.
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Old 03-12-2015, 10:10 AM   #12
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OK

First, most dealers are almost totally clueless about proper solar installation. I have no axe to grind with Zamp, but they do not offer fully integrated systems that are easily expandable.

Most newer design panels have their diodes already mounted into the junction box adhered to the back of each panel.

The biggest loss in many systems is found in the insufficient wire used for connection from panels to controller and then again from controller to batteries. In addition, there is always measurable voltage drop in EVERY MC-4 connector that Zamp, Go Power and a host of other 'kit' suppliers insist on using. These connectors provide ease of installation and not much else.

Two separate charging systems will not increase the available charging amperage to your batteries unless they are designed to compliment each other. I recently finished a 2000 watt solar array on a Winnebago MoHo that used 3 separate Blue Sky 3024 charge controllers in parallel operated thru a single iPN remote panel (it can regulate up to 8 solar charge controllers).

These controllers worked together seamlessly to provide up to 120 charging amps to the battery bank.

Separate charge controllers NOT designed to work together as the above are will simply yield to one or the other. One will 'see' the charging voltage from controller #1 as a full battery and controller #2 will effectively be in standby mode.

I suggest you find someone who has a good working knowledge of solar charging systems to sort out your problems.

PS: I NEVER attempt to pull wire or cable between the inner and outer skins. There are plenty of other opportunities for proper, invisible cable placement on Airstreams if you know where to look !!


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Old 03-12-2015, 10:16 AM   #13
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Thanks, Lew

Just out of curiosity, and maybe this isn't the place for it....what is the advantage of the system you describe with 3 controllers in parallel and running through an iPN panel...as opposed to three panel (arrays?) wired in parallel to a single large capacity controller? Is there no controller large enough for the load desired in the above system?
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Old 03-12-2015, 11:22 AM   #14
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So how does one go about adding a portable panel to an existing system? I kind of like the idea of adding a ground panel I can move around to my current 405w of roof panels from AMSolar.
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