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Old 01-07-2023, 06:32 PM   #1
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Portable Solar Panel Question

The wattage coming in through a portable solar panel connected to the Zamp plug is NOT displayed in the onboard solar controller display correct? If that is true, the battery charge level is correct though, right?
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Old 01-07-2023, 07:19 PM   #2
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You are correct. The Zamp port on the trailer is directly connected to the battery. It doesn't connect to the solar controller.

The portable panel should have its own controller.
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Old 01-08-2023, 04:06 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffb831 View Post
You are correct. The Zamp port on the trailer is directly connected to the battery. It doesn't connect to the solar controller.

The portable panel should have its own controller.


Thanks!
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Old 01-09-2023, 07:51 AM   #4
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I have a Zamp portable 100 watt Obsidian series. Plugs in to the outside port. The inside display doesn't reflect it specifically. But the small display on the Zamp unit itself shows volts, amps and total watts. It works well and one can definately tell charging time is much speeded up with it in the sun, while my Basecamp is in the shade.
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Old 01-09-2023, 08:42 AM   #5
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Old 01-09-2023, 09:59 AM   #6
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Conflicting solar controllers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rainer View Post
I have a Zamp portable 100 watt Obsidian series. Plugs in to the outside port. The inside display doesn't reflect it specifically. But the small display on the Zamp unit itself shows volts, amps and total watts. It works well and one can definitely tell charging time is much speeded up with it in the sun, while my Basecamp is in the shade.
This will be my first year to test my new Renogy 100a portable with it's own MPPT controller, working in parallel with my factory 270a panels on the roof and the Victron MPPT 150/35 controller. I have been told that if one controller is producing the 14.8v or so, that the 2nd controller will shut down, as it appears to the 2nd controller that the batteries are fully charged.

My question is has anyone confirmed this with testing? Will both controllers work together and charge the battery quicker? Or does it seem faster, because one is possibly in the shade or at a bad angle to the sun while the portable is in an optimum position and angle?
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Old 01-09-2023, 10:20 AM   #7
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Old 01-09-2023, 02:34 PM   #8
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The two controllers will have conflicts with one possibility shutting down and only one working. I modified my portable panel and roof panels to separate Victron bluetooth enabled charge controllers along with a Bluetooth enable Victron shunt. I then set up a VE. Smart Network. This is a wireless communication network between Victron products using Bluetooth Smart enabling Remote Voltage, temperature and/or current sensing, as well as Synchronised charging. Both arrays now work in a synchronized fashion to maximize the charging using both arrays at the same time even if one is in the shade.
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Old 01-09-2023, 03:30 PM   #9
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2X! I did the same as Josephine517. I have two Victron 100/30 controllers networked with the Victron smartshunt. Keeps my 600 watts of portable solar playing nice together.
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Old 01-09-2023, 05:01 PM   #10
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3X. I also installed a separate Victron Smart 75/15 for the portables and added a bluetooth dongle to the factory controller so they will work efficiently together.
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Old 01-10-2023, 11:31 AM   #11
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ErickfromMI,

To answer your question, the external charging does NOT appear (amps in), but both will charge at the same time, but maybe not as efficiently, and that may affect the battery charge level (but fairly close to accurate). How’s that for a run on sentence? You need a Shunt for true battery charge accuracy.

I too use Obsidian portables, and had no problems using the separate controller, except not being able to monitor the portables without going outside and looking at the controller, which I found…. frustrating, but better than nothing.

Therefore, when I installed my BB batteries and Victron shunt & BMV712, I used the opportunity to extend the external solar port 12 gauge wire inside my trailer. I then combined the roof and external port via a Blue Sea switch before entering the Victron 150/35 solar controller. I no longer need the portable solar controller (carry as an emergency backup), and can see all solar charging via Bluetooth from controller and 712. I have 180w on roof and 200w of portables.

Benefits are:
1. I can see the full charge of all solar panels via Bluetooth.
2. I can isolate roof or portables.
3. I can easily disconnect for servicing, or long term storage once batteries are full charged.

Hope this helps.

Bob
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Old 01-16-2023, 09:13 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NeahBay View Post
ErickfromMI,

Therefore, when I installed my BB batteries and Victron shunt & BMV712, I used the opportunity to extend the external solar port 12 gauge wire inside my trailer. I then combined the roof and external port via a Blue Sea switch before entering the Victron 150/35 solar controller. I no longer need the portable solar controller (carry as an emergency backup), and can see all solar charging via Bluetooth from controller and 712. I have 180w on roof and 200w of portables.

Benefits are:
1. I can see the full charge of all solar panels via Bluetooth.
2. I can isolate roof or portables.
3. I can easily disconnect for servicing, or long term storage once batteries are full charged.

Hope this helps.

Bob
Helpful summary of your installation. Thank you!
Iím about to do the same and have some questions you may be able to answer.
Did you install a fuse in your system? If so, what size and where?
Did you ďfixĒ the polarity on the external port or leave it Zamp reverse?

Thank you!
Mitch
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Old 01-16-2023, 12:22 PM   #13
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This article by Airstream describes how your solar rooftop panels work together with the front ZAMP solar port. ZAMP tech support explained this further by saying that my regulated ZAMP 140 portable panel with the ZAMP PVM controller will stop charging when it reaches a charge threshold of approximately 99% battery charge. The "more accurate" Victron 100/35 MPPT Bluetooth controller for the roof panels on my 2020 Base Camp 20X will take over until the batteries are fully charged (100%).

I can monitor the charge state of my two BattleBorn lithium batteries with my Victron Battery Monitor BMV-712 Smart Monitor via their Bluetooth app.

https://support.airstream.com/hc/en-...irstream-work-
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Old 01-22-2023, 07:54 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SilverWind View Post
This article by Airstream describes how your solar rooftop panels work together with the front ZAMP solar port. ZAMP tech support explained this further by saying that my regulated ZAMP 140 portable panel with the ZAMP PVM controller will stop charging when it reaches a charge threshold of approximately 99% battery charge. The "more accurate" Victron 100/35 MPPT Bluetooth controller for the roof panels on my 2020 Base Camp 20X will take over until the batteries are fully charged (100%).

I can monitor the charge state of my two BattleBorn lithium batteries with my Victron Battery Monitor BMV-712 Smart Monitor via their Bluetooth app.

https://support.airstream.com/hc/en-...irstream-work-


This is great. Thanks!
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Old 01-22-2023, 10:52 AM   #15
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good stuff

Thanks guys.
I have two ZAMP 230w portables and need to add a second external port as I was told the wire gage will only handle 300w.
If so, I might as well upgrade the controllers as well.
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Old 01-30-2023, 12:55 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Winemaker View Post

Mitch,

I apologize for the delay, too many projects going on recently.

Q. Did you install a fuse in your system? If so, what size and where?

A. Each panel has its own fuse. The fuse on the Victron 150/35 output is the original fuse (don’t remember amp rating, 35/40?). I did not change it.

Q. Did you “fix” the polarity on the external port or leave it Zamp reverse?

A. I did NOT need to “fix” (reverse) the polarity of the external port, as I use Zamp portable panels. It could be done very easily though.
Hope this helps
Bob
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Old 02-05-2023, 06:59 PM   #17
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Hi Josephine517. I'm looking to find more information exactly about this set up that you mentioned.

The roof Solar already is on its own controller, but you said you modified it to be on separate controllers. I assume you mean you just ADDED a second controller between the external solar port and the bus bar?

Did you have to do something more than that?
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Old 02-05-2023, 08:29 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Jester79 View Post
Hi Josephine517. I'm looking to find more information exactly about this set up that you mentioned.

The roof Solar already is on its own controller, but you said you modified it to be on separate controllers. I assume you mean you just ADDED a second controller between the external solar port and the bus bar?

Did you have to do something more than that?
Recommend going back and reading Josephine 517's posting slowly again. They state the following in their own words.

Option 1: Use what Airstream provides. E.g. The Airstream zamp port for portable panels connects directly to the battery, so you need to use a portable panel with built-in solar charger.

Having 2 independent solar charge controllers connected to the same battery bank will work, but not optimally as they can sometimes conflict. This will not hurt anything when it happens, you typically just get lower charge current than you otherwise would have obtained (I will spare you the details unless you want more information later).

Option 2 (this is what I have done): install two victron solar charge controllers that can communicate with each other (either via Bluetooth, or via victron proprietary wired network (I used the hardwired communication option)). One controller is dedicated to the roof array and the other is dedicated to the portable array. In this option, the portable panels do 'not' have a built-in solar charge controller.

The two victron solar controllers coordinate via a network such that each controller is in the same charge state as the others at all times (bulk vs absorption vs gloat, etc) so there are no conflicts.

Did this help? Or did I just add to your confusion, lol?
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Old 02-06-2023, 05:16 AM   #19
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Portable Solar Panel Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by foobar View Post
Recommend going back and reading Josephine 517's posting slowly again. They state the following in their own words.

Option 1: Use what Airstream provides. E.g. The Airstream zamp port for portable panels connects directly to the battery, so you need to use a portable panel with built-in solar charger.

Having 2 independent solar charge controllers connected to the same battery bank will work, but not optimally as they can sometimes conflict. This will not hurt anything when it happens, you typically just get lower charge current than you otherwise would have obtained (I will spare you the details unless you want more information later).

Option 2 (this is what I have done): install two victron solar charge controllers that can communicate with each other (either via Bluetooth, or via victron proprietary wired network (I used the hardwired communication option)). One controller is dedicated to the roof array and the other is dedicated to the portable array. In this option, the portable panels do 'not' have a built-in solar charge controller.

The two victron solar controllers coordinate via a network such that each controller is in the same charge state as the others at all times (bulk vs absorption vs gloat, etc) so there are no conflicts.

Did this help? Or did I just add to your confusion, lol?


Foobarís option 2 is what I did except I used the Bluetooth wireless option for communication between the controllers and the Victron shunt. Iíll also add you have to remove the external portís direct connection to the batteries and wire the port to the second charge controller. Make sure you keep the negative and positive from the portable panel to the port then to the charger correct polarity.

More detail of the system I installed slowly over a couple years. Itís overkill but allows for future upgrades. I mounted the second charge controller inside the trailer. I also added a set of DC bus bars, a Victron Power In. I moved the output of roof charge controllers from the OEM bus bars to the Victron Power In. I wired the portable panel charge controller output to the Power In. I moved the OEM bus bar 6 AWG wires off the batteries and wired them to the new bus bar. I also moved the 4 AWG inverter wires off the batteries to the Victron Power in. I used 2/0 AWG wire from the Power in to the shunt and to batteries. The 2/0 AWG is overkill you can get away with 1 or 2 AWG. I went with 2/0 in case I upgrade to a 2000W inverter. Iíll try to attach my circuit schematic showing my system as of today.Click image for larger version

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Old 02-06-2023, 07:22 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Josephine517 View Post
Foobarís option 2 is what I did except I used the Bluetooth wireless option for communication between the controllers and the Victron shunt. Iíll also add you have to remove the external portís direct connection to the batteries and wire the port to the second charge controller. Make sure you keep the negative and positive from the portable panel to the port then to the charger correct polarity.

More detail of the system I installed slowly over a couple years. Itís overkill but allows for future upgrades. I mounted the second charge controller inside the trailer. I also added a set of DC bus bars, a Victron Power In. I moved the output of roof charge controllers from the OEM bus bars to the Victron Power In. I wired the portable panel charge controller output to the Power In. I moved the OEM bus bar 6 AWG wires off the batteries and wired them to the new bus bar. I also moved the 4 AWG inverter wires off the batteries to the Victron Power in. I used 2/0 AWG wire from the Power in to the shunt and to batteries. The 2/0 AWG is overkill you can get away with 1 or 2 AWG. I went with 2/0 in case I upgrade to a 2000W inverter. Iíll try to attach my circuit schematic showing my system as of today.Attachment 427835
Thanks for adding additional details. My response was already getting rather long.

To the OP, Josephine517's response illustrates that doing this right requires a bit of forethought, planning, plus some knowledge and more than a few additional details and miscellaneous equipment than I covered in my response. If you are not comfortable planning through all of the details, there are quite a few shops around the country that specialize in electrical+solar upgrades for travel trailers.

Plenty of folks do the upgrades themselves, but this kind of activity isn't for everyone.

I used A&P Vintage Trailer Works in Paradise, TX for my installation and they did an excellent job on my trailer.

AM solar in Oregon, GMFL and Lewster on the forums here are also well regarded installers (you can pm them).

AM Solar provides kits for DIY and also training and certification for installers around the country. They have a list of certified installers on their website.
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