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Old 03-08-2018, 01:00 PM   #1
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Exterior solar plug-in

Exterior solar plug-in For portable solar panels.
Has anyone installed a exterior solar plug? If so how did you install it? I have a 21’ with a solar panel on the roof I am wanting to add 2-3 100w flexible panels to the system. By the way not on the roof. Any ideas.
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Old 03-08-2018, 01:33 PM   #2
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While I had Escape install a ZAMP connector (that I supplied) in my 21, I installed my own in my 17B. In both cases, they were wired to the input of the GoPower controller. I bypassed the controller that was mounted on my portable panel.
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Old 03-08-2018, 01:36 PM   #3
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I am looking to have escape install a zamp for this as well, who is the best place to order from with CA delivery?
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Old 03-08-2018, 01:48 PM   #4
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I am installing a Furrion Solar Port this week, this one:
Solar Port Inlet - White - Furrion

The connection is this one:
XLR-style Solar Plug | Go Power!

I purchased two 40W panels (not flexible type, but they are only $35) here:
https://www.solarblvd.com/products/s...solar-panel-2/

I then made some stands for the portable panels using aluminum angle.

Wire is No. 10, from here:
https://powerwerx.com/red-black-bonded-zip-cord

A primary consideration is where to store the portable panels while traveling so be sure they fit. I looked at the flexible panels but they are expensive (so a target for thieves) and require extra care to tie them down due to winds. My set worked great at Quartzite. In combination with the roof panel, we were fully charged by 10AM each morning.

IMG_3449.jpg
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Old 03-08-2018, 03:08 PM   #5
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Sounds great, if you could take pictures of the install and post them that would be great.
I am interested in where and how to install the plug in on the trailer.
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Old 03-08-2018, 03:21 PM   #6
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I have photos of the ZAMP type connector installed on the back of my 17B here (scroll down a bit).

I also started a page of modifications of my 21. No individual photo, but it is in the same location, and can be seen in the third image of my section on tilting the panels.
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Old 03-08-2018, 03:41 PM   #7
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I've been dragging my feet about a portable solar project so all my "knowledge" is pure theory....But why not simply connect the portable panels to the 7 pin connector that's not being used while disconnected from the tow vehicle? Pretty sure my black and white wires are #10AWG. (I had to replace that cable a while back though, and I'm not sure that it is standard. ) My plan is to use a good controller in the trailer, not on the portable panel.
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Old 03-08-2018, 03:53 PM   #8
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Paceman - I am waiting for our weather to warm up before installing so the silicone seal can harden above freezing. I plan to install our plug close to the detachable power cord near the drivers side rear of the trailer. Drill with a hole saw, attach with self tapping stainless screws into a wood backer plate, seal with silicone, and crimp my wiring in place. I'll take some photos.

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Wdr2
Sounds great, if you could take pictures of the install and post them that would be great.
I am interested in where and how to install the plug in on the trailer.
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Old 03-08-2018, 04:02 PM   #9
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Paceman - I am waiting for our weather to warm up before installing so the silicone seal can harden above freezing. I plan to install our plug close to the detachable power cord near the drivers side rear of the trailer. Drill with a hole saw, attach with self tapping stainless screws into a wood backer plate, seal with silicone, and crimp my wiring in place. I'll take some photos.


Y'all know me!
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Old 03-08-2018, 04:09 PM   #10
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Y'all know me!
Let's all cheer! I say "Donna". You say "silicone"!
Donna! (Your turn....)
Donna! (Your turn....)
Donna! (Your turn....)
Yay!!!

(Sorry, Donna. I just couldn't resist!)
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Old 03-08-2018, 04:11 PM   #11
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Bill, for heavens sake, why the heck did you get Donna going with the mention of silicone. Everyone knows that is a trigger that sets her off!

Caulking is a better term (because Donna is right that you should not use silicone caulking), and ProFlex on of the ones to look at using.
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Old 03-08-2018, 04:17 PM   #12
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But why not simply connect the portable panels to the 7 pin connector that's not being used while disconnected from the tow vehicle? Pretty sure my black and white wires are #10AWG. (I had to replace that cable a while back though, and I'm not sure that it is standard. ) My plan is to use a good controller in the trailer, not on the portable panel.
Short answer is that you could connect through the 7-pin connector, especially if the portable is your only solar choice, and it has it's own solar controller.

If you are using a solar controller in the trailer, it is better to not use one at the portable panel (and you indicate you won't), and feed into it and let it handle the charge control.

A solar panel at around 18V should not be connected directly to the battery like hooking to the 7-pin connector would do. It needs to go through a solar controller.
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Old 03-08-2018, 04:36 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by War Eagle View Post
Let's all cheer! I say "Donna". You say "silicone"!
Donna! (Your turn....)
Donna! (Your turn....)
Donna! (Your turn....)
Yay!!!

(Sorry, Donna. I just couldn't resist!)
Hey, not my trailer. THANK GOODNESS. Just trying to save some grief for those that don't know any better. Silicone = Devil's Spawn.
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Old 03-08-2018, 04:54 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by SeldomSeen View Post
....But why not simply connect the portable panels to the 7 pin connector that's not being used while disconnected from the tow vehicle?
...
My plan is to use a good controller in the trailer, not on the portable panel.
That would mean changing the trailer's wiring to put your good solar charge controller between the 7-pin connector's charge line and the trailer's battery, so power from the tug would also go through it... probably not unsafe, but likely not desirable.
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Old 03-08-2018, 05:20 PM   #15
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ok ok - caulking it is!

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Hey, not my trailer. THANK GOODNESS. Just trying to save some grief for those that don't know any better. Silicone = Devil's Spawn.
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Old 03-08-2018, 05:35 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SeldomSeen View Post
I've been dragging my feet about a portable solar project so all my "knowledge" is pure theory....But why not simply connect the portable panels to the 7 pin connector that's not being used while disconnected from the tow vehicle? Pretty sure my black and white wires are #10AWG. (I had to replace that cable a while back though, and I'm not sure that it is standard. ) My plan is to use a good controller in the trailer, not on the portable panel.
There is no reason you can't. You do lose some power from the portable panel with the longer run, but is is usually small enough not to be concerned about.

That said, if you already have a solar controller built into the trailer (if rooftop panels have been installed) there is an advantage to bypassing the panel's controller and tying into the inputs of the on board controller. Shorter runs, and, in most cases, the controller in the trailer will be higher quality than that that comes with most portable panels.
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Old 03-08-2018, 09:09 PM   #17
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...
A solar panel at around 18V should not be connected directly to the battery like hooking to the 7-pin connector would do. It needs to go through a solar controller.
...
Donna has her hot button issue, I have mine.

No, you don't need a controller under many circumstances.

Why?

Because a small panel (100 watts or less) and a big battery (2-6 volt like Escape provides) is a mismatch when the battery is partially discharged.

Until the battery is nearly fully charged the solar panel will have its voltage pulled down to approximately the "bulk charge" voltage - around 13 to 14 volts.

Here is a slightly different example: Arrange 12 AA batteries in series for 18 volts output. Hook them up to your partially discharged 12 volt battery. Does the voltage at the battery terminals rise to 18 volts? Of course not, the little batteries have too much internal resistance and their voltage drops until the system reaches equilibrium.

So, what could go wrong without a controller? When the battery gets up around 90% full or better, the voltage could go above the recommended normal charge voltage. But - remember - you equalize a battery near 17 volts so still no harm for an hour or two. But no one is going to be able to replace a moderate discharge with a small panel, especially if not rotated to the sun continuously. And even more so if the power is being routed through the trailer plug.

The worst case is you leave a uncontrolled panel connected for days at a time with out using the battery. Now you can do some damage. Or you hook up a double or triple panel at 300-400 watts.

But in a real world case all you have to do is look at your trailer volt meter once or twice a day and stop charging if the voltage rises above 14.2 or whatever the battery instructions limit the max voltage to.

But go ahead and seal those wires with silicone - I dare you!

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Old 03-08-2018, 09:29 PM   #18
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No, you don't need a controller under many circumstances.
My local solar store said I definitely should. I realize my fixed panels totalling 240W are not anywhere near 100% efficient, but when I was to add my 80W portable that I can aim, it would have a better efficiency.

Were they just trying to sell me stuff I did not need? I also added a breaker/disconnect on each side of the charge controller at their recommendation, though this was not very pricey.

Just when I thought I had begun to figure this solar stuff out........The one thing I know, is the setup I installed is working real good. I just realized I do need a charge controller in my situation, as I have the panels wired at 36V.
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Old 03-08-2018, 10:25 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by SeldomSeen View Post
But why not simply connect the portable panels to the 7 pin connector that's not being used while disconnected from the tow vehicle? Pretty sure my black and white wires are #10AWG. (I had to replace that cable a while back though, and I'm not sure that it is standard. ) My plan is to use a good controller in the trailer, not on the portable panel.
You can use the 7 pin. In fact Go Power sells a 7 pin adaptor specifically for this.
7 Pin Trailer Adapter | Go Power!

The black and white in the harness being 10 gauge is the common size. It may change gauge from the junction box into the trailer...not sure. If you are hooked up this way you are likely best to have a solar controller on the portable panel. The disadvantage is if the portable is out away from the trailer the long wire run kills performance.

Personally, if I were doing portables only I would still mount an onboard controller close to the batteries and wire to a Zamp or Furrion solar port. In this case controller at the panels would be omitted or bypassed and you are now not worried about the distance the solar controller is from the batteries. I’m just in the research stage, but this is what I would do.
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Old 03-09-2018, 11:57 AM   #20
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My local solar store said I definitely should. I realize my fixed panels totalling 240W are not anywhere near 100% efficient, but when I was to add my 80W portable that I can aim, it would have a better efficiency.

Were they just trying to sell me stuff I did not need? I also added a breaker/disconnect on each side of the charge controller at their recommendation, though this was not very pricey.

Just when I thought I had begun to figure this solar stuff out........The one thing I know, is the setup I installed is working real good. I just realized I do need a charge controller in my situation, as I have the panels wired at 36V.
You have a total wattage that could do some damage to the batteries if not controlled in some way. Plus since you have wired the system in series to produce 36 volts you would benefit greatly from the "MMPT" type controller.

A MMPT controller will take the 36 and convert it to 14 at a high efficiency (without loosing much of the power you paid for). A standard converter works to convert 36 to 14 by turning off the power 2/3's of the time (very rapidly). Works, but why waste all that hard-earned power.

My rant was directed at a sub-100 watt system charging a big battery (2-6's). In that case I maintain it is not worth wasting a drop of power using a controller.

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