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Old 11-28-2023, 09:43 AM   #1
2018 19' Tommy Bahama
Warwick , Rhode Island
Join Date: Oct 2020
Posts: 98
Portable Solar Question

I have a 2018 19ft Tommy Bahama AS with the factory solar package (Lifeline 80ah batteries and Zamp 80W roof solar panel). I was told my Airstream technical support that when you use the front Zamp port to connect a portable solar suitcase, the roof top panels are shut down by the internal wiring, so you are only getting power from the portable panels. I was told that the system wiring only allows you to get power from either place but not both at the same time. I thought the suitcase would be additive to the roof panels. Is this correct from your experiences? Thanks for your input.
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Old 11-28-2023, 10:02 AM   #2
Rivet Master
2023 28' International
Mercer County , New Jersey
Join Date: Oct 2021
Posts: 706
In my trailer, the front Zamp port is wired directly to the batteries and has no interaction with the rooftop solar panels and controller so there is no way for the rooftop to detect the presence of the panels attached to the port
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Old 11-28-2023, 01:04 PM   #3
2 Rivet Member
2019 22' Sport
Margaritaville , Florida
Join Date: Jun 2020
Posts: 44
On my 2019 Bambi 22, I did some rewiring to get the portable to work in combination with the roof-top panels. Before I did, I had already replaced the factory solar charge controller with a Victron MPPT, and replaced the AGM battery with 200ah lithium bank. I have 2 90-watt Zamp panels on the roof and a 180 watt Zamp portable (2x 90 watt). I wanted the ability to have the Victron control charging from both the roof and portable, and monitor the entire system through the VictronConnect app.

What I did (based on what others on the forum have done):

1. Re-routed the wire from the external port to the wiring compartment of the trailer.

2. Installed neg. and pos. busses in the compartment, and connected all the panel wires to those, effectively wiring the roof panels and external port in parallel. The busses are connected to the Victron. The Victron pos. is connected directly to the battery (via resettable breaker). The controller neg. is connected to the load side of the battery monitor shunt.

3. Modified the wiring on the portable by adding Y-connectors to allow me to connect the portable with or without the Zamp controller on the portable. When connected to the trailer, the portable's controller is disconnected so only the controller in the trailer is handling the battery charging. If I need to use the portable for a non-trailer application, I can connect it to use the portable's controller.

There was enough debate back and forth here on the forum in multiple threads suggesting that having the two controllers connected simultaneously could result in sub-optimal charging. Perhaps Tech Support was alluding to this issue, and is specific to the factory charge controller you have.
Asiménio Árma
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Old 11-28-2023, 05:52 PM   #4
Rivet Master
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2023 25' Globetrotter
2021 16' Bambi
Forest Lake , Minnesota
Join Date: Mar 2021
Posts: 691
In both our 2021 Bambi and 2023 GT as @jeffb says the Zamp is wired to the battery. Should be easy to check.

Seems weird AS would say this. It would require some sort of switch I imagine, but ours had nothing like this. There shouldn't be any issue with multiple controllers AFAIK. The controller measures the voltage and depending on the battery charging profile adjusts the voltage to what the battery requires in its charge cycle. As long as it's set to AGM profile it should be ok.

Having two controllers also makes charging more optimal since the rooftop and external panels have different solar exposures. With MPPT controllers each controller can do its own optimization depending on the light. Our 200W portable panels don't have controllers, so I wired a second controller to our Zamp port splicing in the Zamp wiring and fishing through a 10AWG to the controller and then a fused connection to the positive bus bar and a ground. Not a big deal and the Victron Smart controllers aren't a ton of money.
2023 Globetrotter 25FBT "Curly"
2017 Audi Q7 3.0T
WBCCI 6343
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