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Old 02-25-2021, 12:50 PM   #61
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Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Trailer: 1979 Boler B1700
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lawrence A View Post
I would have assumed that charging via the 7-pin connector would be routed via the trailer's converter, which would function as a charge controller.
The power centre is one box containing the AC distribution panel (circuit breakers for 120 V AC), the DC distribution panel (fuses for 12 V DC), and the converter (converts 120 V AC to 12 V DC). Nothing in the power centre controls or regulates DC power coming from the battery or any other source - the converter only regulates its own output.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lawrence A View Post
Adding to my confusion is that the advice I got from a portable panel manufacturer's agent was that there can only be one solar controller so a portable panel with a built-in controller (which is what they sold) would not work.
What they probably meant is that the path the power takes from the panel to the battery needs to go through only one controller, not more than one. That means that if your portable panel has its own controller, its output needs to go the battery, not to the input of the trailer's built-in solar charge controller.

A portable panel with a built-in controller works fine as long as you don't connect it to the input of the trailer's built-in controller, so (for instance) your idea of using the 7-pin connection would work properly in that case.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lawrence A View Post
Think I'm about to give up and learn to live within my 170 watt panel's constraints.
There's no need to give up - you have two workable plans:
  1. use a portable panel with its own controller connected to the 7-pin connector or any other connection to the battery, or
  2. use a portable panel without its own controller connected to the input of the trailer's solar charge controller, which is typically done with the wall-mounted port.

As Michael (NEWYORKHILLBILLY) and Jon noted, if a panel comes with a controller that can be removed or bypassed, and if it comes without a controller then a controller can be added, so regardless of your portable panel you can use either approach.
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Old 02-25-2021, 12:58 PM   #62
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Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Naples, New York
Trailer: 2020 Esacpe 19'(Hillbilly Heaven) ETI best named trailer of the year
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Another option for a good guilty plug is a trolling motor plug. I used this on my casita and will be adding one to my escape

https://www.amazon.com/Power-2000-40...4279225&sr=8-7
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Old 02-25-2021, 01:53 PM   #63
Tin
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Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: NA, Arizona
Trailer: 2017 5.0TA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vermilye View Post
While individual controllers will work, with my 17B that had 2 100 watt panels on the roof, I have had a few occasions where adding a 160 watt portable portable (with controller) actually dropped the charge rate. Rare, but it has happened more than once.

John I have had the same experience, not sure if it is a quality issue as most portable controllers are junk or if they are working against each other ?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Vermilye;
By the way, I switched from SAE (ZAMP) connectors to Anderson connectors. After a couple of years of heavy use, I found the SAE connectors becoming unreliable. Easy to spot if you have the remote current reading the bluetoothed Victron 100/30 provides, (ie you can wiggle the connection until it shows on the phone) but hard to notice if you don't have an in line amp meter.

Again your assessment is similar to mine, on my last electrical revisions I also installed Anderson connectors with 6 ga. welding cable. less than 3 percent line voltage drop on 50' portable extension cable, tied into my Victron 100/30 .
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Old 02-25-2021, 02:07 PM   #64
Tin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lawrence A View Post
Thanks for weighing in, Brian B-P. I would have assumed that charging via the 7-pin connector would be routed via the trailer's converter, which would function as a charge controller. But you're saying that the portable panel would still need its own controller. Adding to my confusion is that the advice I got from a portable panel manufacturer's agent was that there can only be one solar controller so a portable panel with a built-in controller (which is what they sold) would not work. Think I'm about to give up and learn to live within my 170 watt panel's constraints.
The main reason you do not want to use the 7 pin is volt drop. On a 5.0 you probably have 30' of wire from the 7 pin to batteries plus the length of your portable solar panel extension cord = major voltage lost. Even worst if you are using the controller on portable solar panel.
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Old 02-25-2021, 02:29 PM   #65
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Location: Victoria, British Columbia
Trailer: 2018 Escape 17B
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post

A portable panel with a built-in controller works fine as long as you don't connect it to the input of the trailer's built-in controller, so (for instance) your idea of using the 7-pin connection would work properly in that case.


There's no need to give up - you have two workable plans:
  1. use a portable panel with its own controller connected to the 7-pin connector or any other connection to the battery, or
  2. use a portable panel without its own controller connected to the input of the trailer's solar charge controller, which is typically done with the wall-mounted port.

As Michael (NEWYORKHILLBILLY) and Jon noted, if a panel comes with a controller that can be removed or bypassed, and if it comes without a controller then a controller can be added, so regardless of your portable panel you can use either approach.
Thanks again to you and Jon Vermilye for your help. Time to bite the bullet! Option 1 it is. I've ordered a 180W portable with built-in controller from Princess Auto for $399Cdn. Comes with a 7-pin plug adapter and a 5m cable (too short, I'm sure, so buying an extension will be next). Also has battery clips so if all else fails I can always hook it up direct to the batteries. Living here on Vancouver Island most of our campsites are heavily treed, so something I can move around to find that sweet sunny spot will hopefully fit the bill. Fingers crossed!
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Old 02-25-2021, 02:42 PM   #66
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tin View Post
The main reason you do not want to use the 7 pin is volt drop. On a 5.0 you probably have 30' of wire from the 7 pin to batteries plus the length of your portable solar panel extension cord = major voltage lost. Even worst if you are using the controller on portable solar panel.
Guess I should have waited awhile before I pulled the trigger and ordered my panel. Missed your input above. Oh well, maybe hooking up directly to the batteries is the way to go anyway. I was a little nervous about the idea of having the portable panel at the front of the trailer (near the 7-pin plug) where it would be highly visible and potentially subject to theft.
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Old 02-25-2021, 02:51 PM   #67
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NEWYORKHILLBILLY View Post
A easy way to do this would be to remove the controller from the portable panel. add a zamp solar port to the exciting controller. both panels would go threw the onboard controller .
https://www.specialized.net/zamp-sol...YaAnkGEALw_wcB
Thanks. I'd already looked at this option, but am not very literate when it comes to wiring so didn't feel confident in cutting out a built in controller. Would void any warranty and would make the panel non-returnable. Also, very nervous about drilling a hole in my trailer for a solar port. As I noted in another post, I've already ordered a portable with a controller. If things don't work out with my preferred approach, your suggestion is still an option.
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Old 02-25-2021, 05:47 PM   #68
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Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Lanesboro, MN, between Whalan and Fountain, Minnesota
Trailer: 2016 Bigfoot 25RQ - (2018 Escape 5.0 sold)
Posts: 2,198
Addendum to my December post.

We have the ETI supplied 170 watt panel on the roof going to the ETI supplied GoPower controller to the batteries. Plus, we added a 100 watt Renogy portable panel, going to a Zamp port, hooked to a Victron 100/20 MTTP solar controller, wired separately to the battery. Both can be hooked to the battery at the same time. Works great!

We have found out that just the 100 watt Renogy/Victron 110/20 has plenty of power to top off our new SiO2 batteries. However, portables are a PITA, but when you're parked in shade that portable comes out and provides plenty of power to our batteries. The portable has been used over half the time since we left Minnesota January 12.

Enjoy,

Perry
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Old 02-26-2021, 11:46 AM   #69
T&J
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Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Middlesex, Vermont
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vermilye View Post
I prefer connecting a portable panel without (or by bypassing the panel's) controller to the input of the on board controller. As Brian noted, the on board controller is generally a better quality device than what most manufacturers put on portable panels. While individual controllers will work, with my 17B that had 2 100 watt panels on the roof, I have had a few occasions where adding a 160 watt portable portable (with controller) actually dropped the charge rate. Rare, but it has happened more than once.

With my 21C, I added a port to the input of the Victron 100/30 solar controller. I modified the portable panel so I could use or bypass the panel mounted controller. The only time I use the panel's controller is when I lend the panel or use it on something other than the trailer.

By the way, I switched from SAE (ZAMP) connectors to Anderson connectors. After a couple of years of heavy use, I found the SAE connectors becoming unreliable. Easy to spot if you have the remote current reading the bluetoothed Victron 100/30 provides, (ie you can wiggle the connection until it shows on the phone) but hard to notice if you don't have an in line amp meter.
I agree with this approach as well, and also prefer the Anderson connectors
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