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Old 11-17-2017, 05:21 PM   #1
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Which Portable Solar Port should I have hardwired by ETI

Because we are not getting the ETI roof mounted solar we are going to send ETI a solar port to be hardwired into our Escape 21. We don't currently have a portable solar kit but we want to make it as easy and effective as possible if we decide to get one in the future. Is there a "standard solar port" I should be getting or does each manufacturer have a unique port?
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Old 11-17-2017, 05:34 PM   #2
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ETI suggested a ZAMP - I just had to supply it, and they put it in. i seem to recall no extra charge. dont quote me.

but double check with them.

FWIIW our portable solar panel cable plugged right into a ZAMP - it was the correct fit....
however i have no idea about standards.

https://www.amazon.com/Zamp-Solar-RV.../dp/B00T36YVI4
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Old 11-17-2017, 05:41 PM   #3
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I think the most common one installed on Escape is the Zamp port, they do charge something (I can't remember exact amount) for putting that port in plus wiring... A lot of solar panels uses the MC4 connectors but MC4 doesnt have sidewall port and don't do too well when plugged in repeatly.. there are Zamp to MC4 converters you can get if you end up with a panel that doesn't have (SAE)Zamp connector by default.
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Old 11-17-2017, 06:12 PM   #4
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I went a different route than the Zamp, the marine outlet shown here handles up to 8 gauge wire and allows the use of an extension cord to connect the panel. I have modified my panel to accept the male end of the extension cord. For an extension cord I am using 50’ of Knu Concepts speaker wire at 10 gauge.

The goal is to use the heaviest cable possible.
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Old 11-17-2017, 06:34 PM   #5
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While the Zamp connector (actually, a 2 pole SAE connector) is the connector often used on portable panels, you might take a look at the Anderson Power Pole panel mount connector with weather proof boot. While it includes 2 2 pole connectors, you only need one of them for your panel.

I believe the surface mount version is new - the last time I looked at them all they had were in line connectors. They hold up better for multiple insertions than the SAE connectors, and are rated at 30 amps, more than enough for most portable systems.

One minor problem - you would have to also purchase a matching connector for your portable panel and crimp a pair of wires for the internal connector that Escape would wire between the boot & the Escape batteries or solar controller. Still, a much better connector than the Zamp or SAE connector.
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Old 11-17-2017, 08:44 PM   #6
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I also went a nonstandard route, using a waterproof 30A port, which Escape wired in during construction.

This has several advantages. It allows use of a heavy gauge cable that I already carry, my 25’ 30A shore power extension cord. And because it’s a female port, it’s impossible to accidentally plug shore power into the solar port. The only modification required for this setup was attaching a 30A male connector to the output cable of my portable panel. Result: heavy gauge cable carries max power; one less cable to carry on adventures; bullet and waterproof connectors. Happy here.
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Old 11-18-2017, 09:06 AM   #7
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I believe I read somewhere that Zamp reverses their polarity compared to most other brands (anyone have personal experience with that?), so whatever brand you choose, double-check for correct polarity when wiring it into your trailer's electrical system.
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Old 11-18-2017, 06:47 PM   #8
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Great Concept!

Wondering if you purchased this as a complete unit, or purchased the Weatherguard cover separately from the receptacle? Thanks!
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Old 11-19-2017, 01:21 AM   #9
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Which Portable Solar Port should I have hardwired by ETI

I bought the receptacle and weatherproof cover separately:
Leviton 7313 30 Amp, 125 Volt, NEMA Tt-30R, 2P, 3W, Flush Mounting Receptacle, Straight Blade, Industrial Grade, Grounding, For Recreational Vehicles, Side Wired, Steel Strap, Black https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00002NATH..._N.seAbAP6MC5V
Leviton 60W05 1-Gang Receptacle Flip Lid, 30A Locking, Wetguard, Corrosion Resistant, Thermoplastic, Yellow https://www.amazon.com/dp/B003AUEYAO..._KateAb74PPPKC
The innermost rubber seal on the cover had to be trimmed a bit to fit the receptacle. This did not affect its waterproofness, and was easy to do with a sharp knife.

I provided the complete unit to ETI and they wired it directly into my solar controller, bada boom, bada bing.

Edited to add: Also, I had to check polarity very carefully for how they wired it in, so that I matched polarity correctly on the matching plug that I installed on my portable solar panel pigtail.
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Old 11-19-2017, 04:49 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by sclifrickson View Post
I also went a nonstandard route, using a waterproof 30A port, which Escape wired in during construction.

This has several advantages. It allows use of a heavy gauge cable that I already carry, my 25’ 30A shore power extension cord. And because it’s a female port, it’s impossible to accidentally plug shore power into the solar port. The only modification required for this setup was attaching a 30A male connector to the output cable of my portable panel. Result: heavy gauge cable carries max power; one less cable to carry on adventures; bullet and waterproof connectors. Happy here.
I really like that idea. The fact that you can use your trailer cord is an excellent idea. If you wired your solar panel to have the quick connect end you could use the standard trailer cord. You never are going to be plugged in and need solar. If you had an extension for your trailer you could go twice as far.
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Old 11-19-2017, 05:11 PM   #11
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I really like that idea. The fact that you can use your trailer cord is an excellent idea. If you wired your solar panel to have the quick connect end you could use the standard trailer cord. You never are going to be plugged in and need solar. If you had an extension for your trailer you could go twice as far.


True. I considered wiring it that way but didn’t because it was easier to source a 30A male plug that was made for such things, e.g.

Camco 55283 30 AMP Mini Replacement Male Plug with PowerGrip Handle https://www.amazon.com/dp/B007HFT034..._z4GeAbHBJM4PN

But if you could find the correct male Marinco-style plug that could be spliced onto the solar pigtail, that would be a great way to go!
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Old 11-20-2017, 08:29 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by sclifrickson View Post
I also went a nonstandard route, using a waterproof 30A port, which Escape wired in during construction.

This has several advantages. It allows use of a heavy gauge cable that I already carry, my 25’ 30A shore power extension cord. And because it’s a female port, it’s impossible to accidentally plug shore power into the solar port. The only modification required for this setup was attaching a 30A male connector to the output cable of my portable panel. Result: heavy gauge cable carries max power; one less cable to carry on adventures; bullet and waterproof connectors. Happy here.
Are you not concerned that with a male connector permanently affixed to your solar panel (and with panel always generating electricity when exposed to light), there will be a very high risk of shorting out the male ends of the connector on random metal surfaces? I would have gone with female connectors off of the panel to male connector on the solar port.
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Old 11-20-2017, 10:06 AM   #13
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Are you not concerned that with a male connector permanently affixed to your solar panel (and with panel always generating electricity when exposed to light), there will be a very high risk of shorting out the male ends of the connector on random metal surfaces? I would have gone with female connectors off of the panel to male connector on the solar port.


No, not concerned about shorts. I did consider this when I constructed this setup, but the panel is always either boxed up or hooked up, and the hook up process is never on a metal surface, but on grass, dirt, rock, etc. I’d love to hear from any of our forum electrical engineers what the worst case danger is here though. It’s a 100W Renogy panel, and the most I’ve ever gotten out of it is ~6A at ~17V.

There’s another particularly important reason for setting it up this way though: in this configuration it is impossible for any otherwise well-intentioned person to accidentally plug shore power into the solar input, which would be disastrous. Can’t do it because shore power is always female, to prevent high-voltage and high-amperage versions of the shorts that you refer to, and trailer input is female. I consider this an important safety feature of this setup.
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Old 11-20-2017, 10:49 AM   #14
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Scott, were it me, I’d find a plastic cap, like maybe from a spray paint can or such, and figure how to use it to cap off the pins when not in use. I think since you went with something designed for 120v, using it reversed as you did indeed is a good idea to prevent accidental 120v into that receptical.
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Old 11-20-2017, 10:55 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by sclifrickson View Post
No, not concerned about shorts. I did consider this when I constructed this setup, but the panel is always either boxed up or hooked up, and the hook up process is never on a metal surface, but on grass, dirt, rock, etc. I’d love to hear from any of our forum electrical engineers what the worst case danger is here though. It’s a 100W Renogy panel, and the most I’ve ever gotten out of it is ~6A at ~17V.
The way to test the output current of a solar panel is to connect an ammeter across the leads - that is essentially the same as shorting the leads so no problem. Just don't arc it near anything flammable.

I would suggest that using a trolling motor connection instead of a 120v connector. I could name a few really bad scenarios that could happen doing that besides being against electrical code.

Try this one instead for about $18: https://www.amazon.com/Marinco-Troll...Q7H419PNN98DCG

Cheaper, safer, and designed for 12v circuits.
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Old 11-23-2017, 07:42 AM   #16
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Thank you for the responses to the solar port question. I was considering these different solar ports you all suggested when I received an email yesterday from ETI. The email included this statement:
After working with different types of ports and their requirements for installation, combined with customer knowledge, Escape Trailer Industries has decided to install ONLY the Zamp Solar Port and ONLY as a Pre-Wire.
So I guess Zamp it is. Thanks again.
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Old 11-23-2017, 10:39 AM   #17
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Thank you for the responses to the solar port question. I was considering these different solar ports you all suggested when I received an email yesterday from ETI. The email included this statement:
After working with different types of ports and their requirements for installation, combined with customer knowledge, Escape Trailer Industries has decided to install ONLY the Zamp Solar Port and ONLY as a Pre-Wire.
So I guess Zamp it is. Thanks again.
Matt
Customer knowledge, or lack thereof, is a very good factor for Escape to look at when choosing some items. I have no doubt that that has figured into some of their other choices.
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Old 11-23-2017, 10:56 AM   #18
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I would suggest that using a trolling motor connection instead of a 120v connector. I could name a few really bad scenarios that could happen doing that besides being against electrical code.

Try this one instead for about $18: https://www.amazon.com/Marinco-Troll...Q7H419PNN98DCG

Cheaper, safer, and designed for 12v circuits.

I’m interested in your concerns about safety with my configuration. What are the really bad scenarios that you refer to?

The trolling connector you suggest would certainly be cheaper, but does not address the concern of possible shorts coming from the panel, as the male pins are still exposed.
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Old 11-23-2017, 11:52 AM   #19
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I’m interested in your concerns about safety with my configuration. What are the really bad scenarios that you refer to?

The trolling connector you suggest would certainly be cheaper, but does not address the concern of possible shorts coming from the panel, as the male pins are still exposed.
As previously mentioned, shorting a solar panel will not cause any damage (other than a few sparks). If there is a controller between the panel and the panel connector, that is a different story - it depends on the design & manufacturer.
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Old 11-24-2017, 08:52 PM   #20
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Or u could just plug it in via a 7 pin adapter made by Go Power. Mine works well. One less hole in the rv.
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