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Old 10-28-2016, 08:01 AM   #1
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Zamp vs...??

I have read posts about the Zamp solar systems and folks having ETI install a port for their panels. Anyone using another manufacturer for such a setup. Zamp looks pretty good but I am curious about other options folks have and comparisons...
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Old 10-28-2016, 08:23 AM   #2
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Go Power makes some nice ones too. They have a 80w & 120W portable.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...=ATVPDKIKX0DER
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Old 10-28-2016, 09:06 AM   #3
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Depending on how you ask Escape to wire your port, you may save some $ by going with a panel without a controller. They can wire the port to the input of the trailer's built in controller, in which case, any panel can be used.

Even if you decide to wire directly to the batteries with a portable system with a built in controller, you might want to look at Eco Worthy's panels. Zamp makes a very nice product, but is quite a bit more expensive. If you are going to bypass the panel controller, there is little difference between the two. Even if you are going to use the panel's controller, I find it hard to spend close to $400.00 more for Zamp's controller...

I carry a 160 watt portable panel from Solar Blvd (no longer available) to which I added a connector so I can either bypass the panel's controller or use it, depending on which connector I use. I have a port I added that goes to the input of the trailer's controller. This makes it easier to get accurate readings on the TriMetric battery monitor I installed to keep track of the amp hours in & out of the batteries.
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Old 10-28-2016, 09:11 AM   #4
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Some of us have used Solar Boulavard for panels. I have had several. My current model is close to this. They seem to have a pretty constant churn of sizes and models so this one will be replaced shortly by something comparable.

My last panel came equipped with a solar controller placed in a very handy location right on the back of the panel. Unfortunately that is the exact wrong location for the controller. I removed it and replaced it with a Blue Sky 30 located adjacent to the batteries.

There are several threads on the forum regarding adding an external port and using different brands of controllers.
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Old 10-28-2016, 09:42 AM   #5
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I bought a Zamp 170W folding panel for my 19 which didn't have rooftop solar. I've been thinking about what to do with it with my new 21.

Maybe an alternative power source for shady campsites.
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Old 10-28-2016, 11:03 AM   #6
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Looking at our 19 ETI solar setup, it looks like it would be really simple to run additional lines from the controller, right up the existing panel wires out the fridge vent. (No holes required) You could then put a portable connector mounted to the foot of the panel and good to go. So far the roof panel is meeting all our requirements, but if I wanted to add a portable that is most likely how I'll do it. I'd estimate about an hour to add a connector.
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Old 10-28-2016, 12:33 PM   #7
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For the roof mounted I used Grape, bought from HD. For a portable folding set, Renogy. Both are mono.
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Old 10-28-2016, 12:50 PM   #8
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For the roof mounted I used Grape, bought from HD. For a portable folding set, Renogy. Both are mono.
I also bought a Renogy folding panel (100 watt) to supplement our built in 160 watt. I had ETI install an electrical port (same as used for non-removable power cord) on the driver's side back in the dinette and had them run two wires from the existing charge controller to the vicinity of the port. The Renogy panel comes without a controller and it was only a bit over $200.
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Old 11-20-2016, 01:36 PM   #9
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Hello,
I have a 17B build sheet due Dec 12th so I'm trying to finalize a few items before then. My electrical needs are pretty minimal. Basically just the lights, radio and furnace. I'm getting the dual 6V batteries and 160W solar from Escape. Thought about having an extra 100W portable solar panel for low light winter conditions. Couldn't I just connect a portable solar panel to the trailers 7-pin plug-in using a connector such as below and call it good vs drilling another hole in my trailer and installing a Zamp solar port or something similar?

7 Pin Trailer Adapter | Go Power!
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Old 11-20-2016, 02:00 PM   #10
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If your batteries are external it can be even easier, just clip on to the batteries with the normally supplied alligator clips.

I do believe your way work work to some extent. Don't know about wire length and gauge effecting the power getting to the batteries from the portable.

The issue would be that the voltage supplied by the portable panel would disable the solar controller from the roof panel so you'd get nothing from that panel.
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Old 11-20-2016, 03:11 PM   #11
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...
Thought about having an extra 100W portable solar panel for low light winter conditions. Couldn't I just connect a portable solar panel to the trailers 7-pin plug-in using a connector such as below and call it good vs drilling another hole in my trailer and installing a Zamp solar port or something similar?
Yes, but would your portable panel include a charge controller? A 100-watt panel is too much to leave connected directly to the batteries without monitoring - eventually it could over-charge the batteries (given enough time).
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Old 11-20-2016, 03:32 PM   #12
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First off, let me thank those of you contributing here. Greatly appreciated.

Let me clarify......I'll have a 100w portable solar panel w/o a controller so I won't be connecting it directly to the 6V batteries. Was hoping to keep it simple and just plug into the trailers 7 pin plug-in vs putting another hole in my trailer to add a Zamp type solar port outlet. Hadn't thought of the in-house solar panels getting shut off by using the trailer plug-in.

Another idea.....I can have Escape run wires from the solar controller in the trailer to the P/S rear dinette storage area. I'm having the outside hatch installed to access the storage area anyway. So I should be able to add a connector to the wires from the controller ending in the storage area and plug in the portable solar panel.

That way the 100W portable solar panel w/o a controller goes through the same system as the in-house 160W solar panels, I have no hole in my trailer and the connection to the portable panel is out of the weather. I think I have a plan.
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Old 11-20-2016, 04:04 PM   #13
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Let me clarify......I'll have a 100w portable solar panel w/o a controller so I won't be connecting it directly to the 6V batteries. Was hoping to keep it simple and just plug into the trailers 7 pin plug-in vs putting another hole in my trailer to add a Zamp type solar port outlet.
There is nothing but wire between the trailer's 7-pin connector and the battery, so in an electrical sense plugging into there is connecting directly to the battery.

Quote:
Originally Posted by advenas View Post
Another idea.....I can have Escape run wires from the solar controller in the trailer to the P/S rear dinette storage area. I'm having the outside hatch installed to access the storage area anyway. So I should be able to add a connector to the wires from the controller ending in the storage area and plug in the portable solar panel.

That way the 100W portable solar panel w/o a controller goes through the same system as the in-house 160W solar panels, I have no hole in my trailer and the connection to the portable panel is out of the weather. I think I have a plan.
That works, as long as you're okay with having the hatch open whenever the portable panel is in use.
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Old 11-20-2016, 05:04 PM   #14
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Our plan is to have ETI install a little hatch (same as the one the power cord goes through, even though we are getting a removable power cord) put in on the driver's side far aft to use for the wiring to a portable solar panel and /or for the wiring to a cell phone antenna on a removable mast mounted to the rear bumper. That way I can place the antenna and mast when the cell booster is needed at camp and have the booster and internal antenna under the dinette seat, and ETI is putting a pigtail there for an external solar panel that will already be wired into the controller for the ETI solar panel mounted on the trailer roof. We are thinking that will work out ok.
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Old 11-20-2016, 05:31 PM   #15
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Our plan is to have ETI install a little hatch (same as the one the power cord goes through, even though we are getting a removable power cord) put in on the driver's side far aft to use for the wiring to a portable solar panel and /or for the wiring to a cell phone antenna on a removable mast mounted to the rear bumper. That way I can place the antenna and mast when the cell booster is needed at camp and have the booster and internal antenna under the dinette seat, and ETI is putting a pigtail there for an external solar panel that will already be wired into the controller for the ETI solar panel mounted on the trailer roof. We are thinking that will work out ok.
I am doing exactly the same thing. Bought a Renogy 100 watt folding panel without a controller that comes with MC4 connectors. I will need to install corresponding connectors on the pigtail but already have them. I will be using a removable mast for an occasional TV antenna or a WIFI antenna. Our cell antenna will be permanently mounted on the trailer.
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Old 11-20-2016, 05:34 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by advenas View Post
First off, let me thank those of you contributing here. Greatly appreciated.

Let me clarify......I'll have a 100w portable solar panel w/o a controller so I won't be connecting it directly to the 6V batteries. Was hoping to keep it simple and just plug into the trailers 7 pin plug-in vs putting another hole in my trailer to add a Zamp type solar port outlet. Hadn't thought of the in-house solar panels getting shut off by using the trailer plug-in.

Another idea.....I can have Escape run wires from the solar controller in the trailer to the P/S rear dinette storage area. I'm having the outside hatch installed to access the storage area anyway. So I should be able to add a connector to the wires from the controller ending in the storage area and plug in the portable solar panel.

That way the 100W portable solar panel w/o a controller goes through the same system as the in-house 160W solar panels, I have no hole in my trailer and the connection to the portable panel is out of the weather. I think I have a plan.
Rick, you could have Reace install one of these so when you plug in the extra solar panel into it, it adds into the current going into the controller from the roof top system. That is what I had planned before I decided that the rooftop would be adequate for our needs.

Sidewall port

Or as case and Stephen mention, there are also ones like this that I planned to just remove the coax and mount what I needed into it.
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Old 11-20-2016, 06:59 PM   #17
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A question on the MC4 connectors related to the above plan? Do you not need a special tool to "open" a MC4 connector? I thought I had read that somewhere and immediately thought to myself, "I will never find that tool when I need it."
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Old 11-20-2016, 07:09 PM   #18
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If you google it, there are Utube video's on the connectors. There is a specialized tool, about $3 worth. Pushes in a couple tabs on either side of the connector from the looks of it. I'm considering chopping off the MC4's and using SAE's or Anderson Power poles. I believe the "Zamp" connector Thoer shows is really an SAE 2 conductor.
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Old 11-20-2016, 07:14 PM   #19
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A question on the MC4 connectors related to the above plan? Do you not need a special tool to "open" a MC4 connector? I thought I had read that somewhere and immediately thought to myself, "I will never find that tool when I need it."
The MC4 connectors use a couple of small plastic wrenches to tighten or loosen the end cap but that only needs to be done on the initial install of the connector. I suppose careful use of a couple pair of slip joint pliers would work as well.
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Old 11-20-2016, 07:15 PM   #20
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Our plan is to have ETI install a little hatch (same as the one the power cord goes through, even though we are getting a removable power cord) put in on the driver's side far aft to use for the wiring to a portable solar panel and /or for the wiring to a cell phone antenna on a removable mast mounted to the rear bumper. That way I can place the antenna and mast when the cell booster is needed at camp and have the booster and internal antenna under the dinette seat, and ETI is putting a pigtail there for an external solar panel that will already be wired into the controller for the ETI solar panel mounted on the trailer roof. We are thinking that will work out ok.
Interesting idea...but I hate the thought of putting yet another hole in my trailer. I was hoping to find a way to utilize either the trailer plug-in or the outside hatch to the storage area for my solar. I hadn't thought of my cell antenna yet or my AM/FM radio antenna. But figure those could be run through the outside hatch also.

Of course, I am planning on being around the trailer while using these items and when not they'll be stored. So having the hatch ajar shouldn't cause problems. Except now I'm wondering about heat loss in cold weather and varmints in warm weather.
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