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Old 02-11-2018, 09:56 AM   #1
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2017 Basecamp
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Adding solar panels that are not ZAMP

I need some advice from someone that is more wise in the ways of solar than am I. My BC has solar panels on the roof but I am looking to supplement that with portable panels that will plug into the ZAMP connector. There are a number of reasons for this. First, especially in warm weather, I prefer to park in the shade and this severely effects roof top solar output. Portable panels can be aimed directly at the sun maximizing efficiency. And I just want more solar capacity. The ZAMP panels are nice and are plug and play, but they are expensive. Currently one can get a 150 watt panel from Harbor Freight for $150. How hard would it be to adapt this to the ZAMP imput on the Basecamp?
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Old 02-11-2018, 10:02 AM   #2
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The Airstream Life store sells an adapter, Iím sure they are available elsewhere.

https://store.airstreamlife.com/prod...olar-panel-kit
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Old 02-11-2018, 10:20 AM   #3
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Thank you!
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Old 02-13-2018, 09:05 AM   #4
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Any solar panels will work. BUT, that Zamp connector is a direct connection to the battery and NOT running through the solar charge controller. So, you need to have another change controller between any panel(s) you have external and that Zamp plug. I found a small 'black box' controller that actually fit inside the wiring box of the panel I got, so it makes it all nice and neat. And yes, solar panels can be found much cheaper with a little research.

Solar panels run about 20-22 volts so the charge controller is needed to bring it down to the proper voltage to charge your battery.

I hope this helps.
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Old 02-13-2018, 10:31 AM   #5
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We elected to go with a portable panel for our Bambi for the exact reasons you stated. I like the Zamp panels but the price seemed prohibitive. I picked up this 150W unit which included a controller (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1). It came with alligator clips to attach to the battery.

There is nothing proprietary about the Zamp connector. They are an off the shelf 2 conductor SAE connector available at any automotive parts store. I picked one up at my local Napa store, cut the alligator clips off the panel and soldered the SAE connector onto the wire. Easy 10 minute or less job. The connectors often come in pairs wired together like this one (https://www.amazon.com/CES-Gauge-Qui...+Pin+Connector). Just cut the wires in half, solder the appropriate one to your panel and throw the other half away,
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Old 02-13-2018, 12:10 PM   #6
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The Zamp connectors are standard SAE, as already noted. They are just wired "backwards" than a normal connector.

All you have to do to get them to work with anything else is reverse the connections on the battery - take the Zamp cable that is on the + and put it on the -, and vice-versa for the negative cable.

Be extremely careful when you do this - you have to remove all the negative cables first so you don't accidentally cause a short circuit with your tools. If you do not remove the - first, and any of the positive cables contact metal on the camper, it will turn into a bubbling pile of melted aluminum.

Once you do this, any panel will plug in, and so will an external battery charger.

Or you can buy the adapter that was suggested, which essentially does the same thing.
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Old 02-13-2018, 01:05 PM   #7
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Totally agree... reverse the wires...
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