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Old 09-09-2018, 03:50 PM   #1
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Portable solar panel questions

I have searched the Forum for information on this subject and have found conflicting answers so hope someone can clarify. We will have the factory installed 170 watt roof mounted panel on our 21. We will have a Zamp port on the trailer so that we can connect a portable panel to add to solar charging capacity. Here are the questions:
1. Is the Zamp port wired in parallel with the wiring from the roof panel?
2. If they are wired in parallel as I suspect, can any wattage portable panel (assuming voltage is the same) be used in conjunction with the 170 watt Go Power roof panel? (Some posts have said yes, any amp panel can be used and others have said that if you use a lower wattage portable panel, it will draw downs the wattage of the roof panel to match that of the portable panel.) My guess is that it doesn't matter if they are wired in parallel but I am no expert on this subject. Hopefully someone more knowledgeable than I can clear this up?
3. The Zamp plug and panels are wired with different polarity than all other manufacturers of solar panels. You can use other panels with the Zamp plug but a crossover cable to reverse polarity is needed. Is this reverse polarity cable required to use other portable solar panels with the Zamp plug and ETI installed Go Power solar controller? My guess is that a crossover cable is needed to use the Zamp port with a non-Zamp panel. (I realize that a portable panel must be used which does not have a built-in solar controller.)
Thanks in advance for clearing up these uncertainties for me!
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Old 09-09-2018, 04:01 PM   #2
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2. If they are wired in parallel as I suspect, can any wattage portable panel (assuming voltage is the same) be used in conjunction with the 170 watt Go Power roof panel? (Some posts have said yes, any amp panel can be used and others have said that if you use a lower wattage portable panel, it will draw downs the wattage of the roof panel to match that of the portable panel.
Perhaps there has just been some miscommunication, but if two panels are in parallel the lower wattage panel certainly does not reduce the output of the higher-wattage panel. Yes, since they are in parallel they do need to have similar operating voltages to work properly.
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Old 09-09-2018, 04:24 PM   #3
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The Zamp plug and panels are wired with different polarity than all other manufacturers of solar panels. You can use other panels with the Zamp plug but a crossover cable to reverse polarity is needed. Is this reverse polarity cable required to use other portable solar panels with the Zamp plug and ETI installed Go Power solar controller? My guess is that a crossover cable is needed to use the Zamp port with a non-Zamp panel
Given the lack of any useful documentation for portable solar kits or wiring components on the Zamp Solar website, I would just wait to get the trailer, check the polarity of both the port and the desired portable panel with a meter, and get (or make) a crossover cable if required. Connectors and cabling don't need to come from Zamp; the connector is the very common SAE 2-pole connector used in various cheap and low-current 12 volt DC applications. It is a 2-pole variation of the 4-pole connectors commonly used to connect trailers without electric brakes.
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Old 09-09-2018, 04:43 PM   #4
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We had Escape install a Zamp port on our 2017 19’. Never heard of the reverse polarity/Zamp story. Works fine with my Renogy 60w portable as well as my 80w GoPower portable.

Only issue is that the port is installed on the storage box as I instructed, since the batteries are in there, BUT it is dead center on the front which is also about the toughest spot to get to as it is directly behind the propane tank cover. Guess our sales lady missed at least part of my emailed request to have the port somewhat sheltered from splashing and debris but In an ACCESSIBLE spot.
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Old 09-10-2018, 06:06 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Chama View Post

3. The Zamp plug and panels are wired with different polarity than all other manufacturers of solar panels. You can use other panels with the Zamp plug but a crossover cable to reverse polarity is needed. Is this reverse polarity cable required to use other portable solar panels with the Zamp plug and ETI installed Go Power solar controller? My guess is that a crossover cable is needed to use the Zamp port with a non-Zamp panel.

No need to add a crossover cable if the polarity is backwards. Check to see if it is with a multimeter, and then if it is, you only need to make a one time change by switching the solar port wires where they attach to the solar controller, + to - and vice versa.
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Old 09-10-2018, 03:10 PM   #6
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No need to add a crossover cable if the polarity is backwards. Check to see if it is with a multimeter, and then if it is, you only need to make a one time change by switching the solar port wires where they attach to the solar controller, + to - and vice versa.
True... depending on which polarity it is, and what safety risks you are willing to take, resulting from which terminal is the exposed one. One advantage of avoiding a crossover cable is that using a cable like this means risking that the panel will be plugged in with reverse polarity, if the crossover cable is forgotten.
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Old 09-11-2018, 12:38 PM   #7
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True... depending on which polarity it is, and what safety risks you are willing to take, resulting from which terminal is the exposed one. One advantage of avoiding a crossover cable is that using a cable like this means risking that the panel will be plugged in with reverse polarity, if the crossover cable is forgotten.
We installed a Zamp port on our 19 and had to decide whether to wire it for Zamp panels with the reversed polarity or to switch it over on the backside of the port. In the end, we decided to wire it for Zamp even though we were planning to use Renogy panels.

In order for this to work, we created a crossover adapter cable with the Zamp/SAE connector on one end and MC4 solar connectors on the other. The polarity reversal required for the Renogy panel is done in this adapter cable. Since you can't plug a Renogy with MC4 connectors directly into a Zamp port, we'd always need our crossover cable. If using GoPower panels, it would be the same situation.

solar connector.jpg
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Old 09-12-2018, 10:34 AM   #8
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1. The Zamp Solar port can be wired directly to the batterie(s) or in conjunction with the roof mounted solar that uses one charge controller. That means your portable does not have a charge controller (unregulated). So ask Escape how they wired your rig.
3. Zamp Solar wiring is a safety feature and not a reverse polarity issue. Therefore, the port is expecting the solar panel positive to be the female connection. That is to prevent you from grounding your panel with the metal SAE prong before connection.
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Old 09-12-2018, 10:38 AM   #9
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Zamp Solar dealers do sell a polarity adapter for the port when connecting other brands or handling electric trickle charge devices. The part is: ZS-BDC-ADPT
Purchases are not made with Zamp Solar, but with their network of Authorized Dealers. Check out: Tin Can Solar
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Old 09-12-2018, 10:44 AM   #10
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I run a 120 Watt Zamp Solar portable and a 160 Watt Zamp Solar roof mount panel. However, my portable is not wired to my inside Zamp Solar Charge Controller because the Zamp Solar portable I have includes a Charge Controller. My inside Charge Controller is smart enough to detect multiple sources of power when connected in this manner. By having both types (fixed and portable), I can hide in the trees if I just want to use portable. Anytime my Escape is in the sun, the fixed mount on the roof is always working.
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