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Old 01-14-2017, 03:51 PM   #1
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2017 Prewire Question

Hello,
I am thinking through my solar options for this coming spring. While installing a new WFCO 3 stage converter this afternoon, I took the monitors display off the wall and found an Ethernet looking plug labeled solar panels. I am assuming this is just for the charging monitor? Do the prewired wires already go to the batteries?

Do I only need to;

1)Mount solar panels and connect into factory combiner box.
2)Install charger control/monitor by plugging into Ethernet plug by the monitor panel.

I apologize if these are silly questions, any help offered is appreciated!
Thanks
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Old 01-14-2017, 03:53 PM   #2
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Forgot to add picture of Ethernet plug and cable. Click image for larger version

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Old 01-14-2017, 05:03 PM   #3
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Your blue Cat-5 cable runs from the galley wall up to the bus bar area under the front bed on the curb side. It is used to connect the Atkinson solar charge controller that Airstream uses to their control panel which gets cut into your galley wall.

The solar pre-wires can also be found bundled with the Cat-5 cable under the bed.

Don't know if your new trailer has the Zamp 3 place junction box mounted to your roof. I just completed a total solar upgrade on a new 27FB that did have it on the roof. Looks like about half of a fan cover with 3 2-conductor sockets on the rear facing side.

I never use the pre-wire in my installations, as the systems I install require far larger cabling for proper efficiency. If your rig does not have this Zamp roof box, you will probably find the solar pre-wire at your rear Fantastic Fan. Remove the inner shroud and look for the yellow and green cables.
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Old 01-14-2017, 05:20 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by lewster View Post
I never use the pre-wire in my installations, as the systems I install require far larger cabling for proper efficiency. If your rig does not have this Zamp roof box, you will probably find the solar pre-wire at your rear Fantastic Fan. Remove the inner shroud and look for the yellow and green cables.
Lew, do you remove the Zamp roof box or just place a combiner box somewhere else on the roof? Curious how difficult they are to remove and cover with a regular combiner box.
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Old 01-14-2017, 05:55 PM   #5
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Lew, do you remove the Zamp roof box or just place a combiner box somewhere else on the roof? Curious how difficult they are to remove and cover with a regular combiner box.
Haven't removed one yet, but I will probably run into one soon as I have a few '17s coming in for solar in a month or so.

Would suspect that I would leave the Zamp box in place or remove it and cover up the hole, as it sure is ugly!!

Most of my solar cabling uses the roof fridge vent as a pathway into the trailer. Far less invasive than trying to find another way to route the cabling. The path of least resistance works for me.......along with NO HOLES IN THE ROOF!!!!
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Old 01-14-2017, 06:04 PM   #6
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Most of my solar cabling uses the roof fridge vent as a pathway into the trailer. Far less invasive than trying to find another way to route the cabling. The path of least resistance works for me.......along with NO HOLES IN THE ROOF!!!!

If only I had one of those fancy fridge vents! Removing the zamp box seems to be my best option with the 23FB.
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Old 01-14-2017, 07:05 PM   #7
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Your blue Cat-5 cable runs from the galley wall up to the bus bar area under the front bed on the curb side. It is used to connect the Atkinson solar charge controller that Airstream uses to their control panel which gets cut into your galley wall.

The solar pre-wires can also be found bundled with the Cat-5 cable under the bed.

Don't know if your new trailer has the Zamp 3 place junction box mounted to your roof. I just completed a total solar upgrade on a new 27FB that did have it on the roof. Looks like about half of a fan cover with 3 2-conductor sockets on the rear facing side.

I never use the pre-wire in my installations, as the systems I install require far larger cabling for proper efficiency. If your rig does not have this Zamp roof box, you will probably find the solar pre-wire at your rear Fantastic Fan. Remove the inner shroud and look for the yellow and green cables.

Thanks Lewster,
I'm really only looking for 200 watt max for my system. Is the other end of the cat 5 already hooked up? Do you recommend, for ease of installation, that I just use an Atkinson controller? I do have the Zamp combiner box on the roof.
Thanks
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Old 01-14-2017, 07:15 PM   #8
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Thanks Lewster,
I'm really only looking for 200 watt max for my system. Is the other end of the cat 5 already hooked up? Do you recommend, for ease of installation, that I just use an Atkinson controller? I do have the Zamp combiner box on the roof.
Thanks
You can actually get a good bit of maintenance charging with 200 watts. Just be sure to use a quality solar charge controller. I'm definitely NOT a fan of the Atkinson. Seems to be a single voltage charger that does not engage unless the batteries have dropped to a pre-set voltage level.

Choose ANY quality solar charge controller and it will be fully programmable for your type and size of battery bank, have integrated temperature compensation and, in the case of Victron, will allow you to fully monitor the solar charging system on your smart phone:

This is a screen shot of a 200 watt flex panel system where I replaced the Go Power controller with a Victron MPPT 100/30 with their blue tooth dongle. It is forming the base for a planned system expansion.

The 33.42VDC from the panels is from a series connection to allow for the use of the existing pre-wire that was already installed by the dealer who also placed the flex panels.

Note that in full sun, the 200 watts os solar panels were only adding 78 watts to the charge controller and 5.7 amps to the batteries. Gotta love those flex panels....NOT!!
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Old 01-14-2017, 08:02 PM   #9
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That's pretty cool! Thanks for the help, I've clearly got some more research to do
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Old 01-14-2017, 09:21 PM   #10
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Matt, take a look at Renology panels as they are quite good value. Also, the BlueSky MPPT controllers combined with their IPN Pro remote gives you a charger and battery monitor, which I consider essential for maintaining your battery for years to come. The IPN Pro remote can reuse the existing CAT 5 cable with minor modifications. The entire system can be installed by anyone with basic DIY skills.
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Old 01-14-2017, 10:41 PM   #11
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Thanks Alan, I'll check it out! I have a Renology 100 watt panel kit coming that I plan to use for a temporary and moveable panel. It's for me to get my feet wet.

When you say that the Ipn remote can use the existing Cat 5 with minor modifications, what modifications would be needed?

Thanks again!
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Old 01-15-2017, 04:23 AM   #12
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I think with Lewsters advice we could all get solar. Thanks for all the info, very useful.
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Old 01-15-2017, 07:37 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by NorCal Matt View Post
Thanks Alan, I'll check it out! I have a Renology 100 watt panel kit coming that I plan to use for a temporary and moveable panel. It's for me to get my feet wet.

When you say that the Ipn remote can use the existing Cat 5 with minor modifications, what modifications would be needed?

Thanks again!
The Blue Sky solar controllers require a 4 conductor cable with an RJ-11 plug on each end to connect to their iPN_PRO remote panels (which I usually place in the galley). They also require a 2 conductor cable from the shunt to the iPN-PRO.

Since the Cat-5 cable is composed of 4 pairs of 24AWG wires, you can split them off for re-use with the Blue Sky. It sold require you to be able to place an RJ-11 plug at each end of 2 pairs in the proper sequence for communication.

No cell phone monitoring with them, but they do have a great product as well, which I use regularly.

The Victron units don't require any connections when using their blue tooth dongle other than the s solar input cables and the 2 charging output cables. The dongle plugs right in to the unit, and you're DONE!

Another benefit of either of these solar controllers is the capacity for increased solar voltage input. The Blue Sky will accommodate up to 45.6VDC (open circuit) as input from series connected panels, while the Victron will accept up to 100VDC as input.

Series panel connections allow you to use smaller gauge wires as the transport voltages have increased, but you have to be very careful about panel placement, as any slight shading of any panel in a series string will severely impact the output of that entire string.

Class dismissed!!
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Old 01-15-2017, 08:55 AM   #14
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Matt, now that Lewster opened Pandora's box, I'll add that you can successfully string two Renology panels in series and be well within BlueSky's input voltage specification. This will allow you to use the existing pre-wiring with negligible losses. Lewster's caution on shading may be still valid but it makes the job much easier for DIY.
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