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Old 12-15-2019, 10:31 AM   #1
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Portable solar panel port wired wrong

Here we go again! While replacing a GoPower PWM with a Victron solar controller in a 2019 17' trailer for a friend, I figured I had better check to make sure Escape wired the correct polarity for the solar port. Of course, they installed a Zamp port and it was wired backwards for any solar panel OTHER than a Zamp panel.

http://www.escapeforum.org/forums/f9...tml#post301758

Since I rarely see Zamp portable panels, why does Escape keep doing this? Every solar panel made, with the exception of a Zamp, uses SAE standards for the solar port polarity. My guess why all the rest of the solar manufacturers do this is that it is an international standard for how to wire a solar port - Zamp is the only manufacturer that violates the standard.

If Escape is going to continue doing this, they should at least place a warning that the port should be used only with a Zamp portable solar panel unless a polarity reversal plug is used. Or maybe just wire it right in the first place!

Forgive me for getting on my soap box - I just needed to vent my frustration with having to rewire these ports every time.
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Old 12-15-2019, 10:39 AM   #2
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I agree with the notion of using the continuity checking function of a multimeter to ensure polarity is correct for oneís particular setup. Iím unclear why Zamp standardly reverses polarity compared to other manufacturersÖ
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Old 12-15-2019, 11:14 AM   #3
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Why specify a Zamp port if Zamp wires it incorrectly?
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Old 12-15-2019, 11:51 AM   #4
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I doubt that there is an SAE standard for portable solar panel connections, since that's not something that SAE is likely to be involved in, and this connector style was established long before such panels were common.

The Wikipedia page for DC connectors has a section on this SAE connector, which explains the typical polarity choice when used to connect an external trickle charger to a vehicle battery; that might even be in some SAE standard (I only looked for a few minutes, so I didn't find it among the thousands of SAE standards). In that setup, the exposed contact of the vehicle's port would be negative polarity, as it is when similar connectors with more positions are used for trailer lighting circuits.

A post in another forum nicely describes and illustrates the Zamp setup, explaining why Zamp chose to make the exposed contact positive, apparently assuming that no built-in panels are connected in parallel to this port. It also shows how the Battery Tender setup - typical of trickle chargers and apparently of non-Zamp portable panels - is the opposite of Zamp... just like the Wikipedia page explains.

Rather than declaring who is correct or whether Escape Trailer Industries should install a Zamp port as Zamp intends or the opposite, I'll just encourage people to understand what they are connecting before they plug it in. It would certainly help if Escape documented the port polarity and use.
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Old 12-15-2019, 12:16 PM   #5
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Thanks Brian: I always appreciate the care taken in your comments
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Old 12-15-2019, 12:28 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
I doubt that there is an SAE standard for portable solar panel connections, since that's not something that SAE is likely to be involved in, and this connector style was established long before such panels were common.

The Wikipedia page for DC connectors has a section on this SAE connector, which explains the typical polarity choice when used to connect an external trickle charger to a vehicle battery; that might even be in some SAE standard (I only looked for a few minutes, so I didn't find it among the thousands of SAE standards). In that setup, the exposed contact of the vehicle's port would be negative polarity, as it is when similar connectors with more positions are used for trailer lighting circuits.

A post in another forum nicely describes and illustrates the Zamp setup, explaining why Zamp chose to make the exposed contact positive, apparently assuming that no built-in panels are connected in parallel to this port. It also shows how the Battery Tender setup - typical of trickle chargers and apparently of non-Zamp portable panels - is the opposite of Zamp... just like the Wikipedia page explains.

Rather than declaring who is correct or whether Escape Trailer Industries should install a Zamp port as Zamp intends or the opposite, I'll just encourage people to understand what they are connecting before they plug it in. It would certainly help if Escape documented the port polarity and use.
There is a standard for solar ports - SAE. If you google SAE solar port, this is typical of what you get.

https://www.amazon.com/CERRXIAN-Weat...6433952&sr=8-6

From your Wikipedia reference - "The polarity of the connector, when installed in a vehicle and attached to a battery, is always such that no short circuit will occur if the exposed terminal were to touch the vehicle chassis. In most vehicles, this means that the exposed terminal connects to the negative terminal of the battery. Conversely, the positive terminal on a battery charger is exposed, to mate with the concealed one on the vehicle side."

So solar port connects to the battery - negative to exposed terminal. Solar panel (battery charger ref) should have the positive terminal exposed. This is exactly reverse of a Zamp connector!

Per the SAE standard, the exposed pin of the trailer solar port should be the negative connection.

"A post in another forum". That's funny! Rather than use the correct port, Zamp wants you to cut off the SAE connector and switch the wiring to their non standard method.

There is a reason that Battery Tenders are wiring with that polarity - they meet SAE standards! Along with every 12 volt connector that uses that type of pin connector except a Zamp.

On one point, I agree with you. If you request a "Zamp" port added instead of a "SAE solar port", you shouldn't complain when your get what you asked for.
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Old 12-15-2019, 01:34 PM   #7
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Reace permitted us to use a trolling motor connector coupled with a weatherproof outlet cover for our trailer instead of the Zamp. It may turn out to be more durable to repeated connection/disconnection cycles? We'll see... (The trolling motor connector is overkill design regarding its amperage capacity.) Since the time we built our trailer in early 2018, I've also seen a Furrion brand port in the market that could be considered for new build sheets. SAE connectors are used on the commercially available cable extensions we bought for use with our setup. We ended up using a Renogy suitcase panel, the multimeter was useful in ensuring the polarity of connection at the controller was correct.
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Old 12-15-2019, 08:31 PM   #8
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I'm sure since the wires are color coded normally black (-) and red (+) that's how the worker hooked them up. (I assume the color code is incorrect for the jack for a non Zamp panel.) If I were a production worker that's what I would have done. I went with a truck winch power jack, at the time since the Zamp jack only came with 12 ga. wires. They now are available with 10 Ga. wires. Good to have the Zamp jack issue identified. I guess it's like the Beta / VHS standard battle.
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Old 12-15-2019, 08:35 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tdf-texas View Post
.... "A post in another forum". That's funny! Rather than use the correct port, Zamp wants you to cut off the SAE connector and switch the wiring to their non standard method. ....
Reminded me - some time back, I had a local metal fabrication shop make a custom trailer hitch cargo carrier for me. When I went to pick it up, the holes for the hitch pin didn't match up, and I caught the guy just about to drill out my "industry correct" factory hitch pin holes to make them bigger rather than remake his poorly-drilled carrier bar. I informed him that if there was a problem with the holes not lining up, the problem was NOT my OEM truck receiver, it was his creation that needed to be fixed. He acted like a kid caught stealing candy and quickly cut and correctly drilled a replacement bar for the carrier as I watched. I would have been really ticked off if I hadn't caught him and he had reamed out the pin holes in my hitch receiver.
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Old 12-15-2019, 08:53 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tdf-texas View Post
There is a standard for solar ports - SAE. If you google SAE solar port, this is typical of what you get.

https://www.amazon.com/CERRXIAN-Weat...6433952&sr=8-6
That's a product, not a standard of any kind, let alone an SAE standard. It uses the phrase "SAE standard", but does not refer to any particular standard.

Nevertheless, I'll believe that it is likely wired opposite to what Zamp does, and the same as a typical port used for a trickle charger intended for a car, which is apparently the typical industry practice even for portable solar panel applications.

I did notice this, in the description of this product:
Quote:
Standard sae quick release connection - Fit for most of sae port.Suitable for creating weatherproof bulkhead/panel mounted SAE power points.NOTE:The red and black marks are for reference. Please connect the positive "+"and negative "-""poles according to the actual situation.
This is an admission that "most" but not all equipment using these connectors is wired consistently, and a statement that the buyer is responsible for understanding and resolving any inconsistencies.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tdf-texas View Post
From your Wikipedia reference -
Quote:
"The polarity of the connector, when installed in a vehicle and attached to a battery, is always such that no short circuit will occur if the exposed terminal were to touch the vehicle chassis. In most vehicles, this means that the exposed terminal connects to the negative terminal of the battery. Conversely, the positive terminal on a battery charger is exposed, to mate with the concealed one on the vehicle side."
So solar port connects to the battery - negative to exposed terminal. Solar panel (battery charger ref) should have the positive terminal exposed. This is exactly reverse of a Zamp connector!

Per the SAE standard, the exposed pin of the trailer solar port should be the negative connection.
There's no need to quote from the reference which I supplied, especially the part which I already paraphrased and shared.

If the port is used to connect to the input of a solar charge controller, not directly to the battery, the positive terminal is only live if there is a built-in panel connected to that controller as well. The risk that the trickle-charger-to-battery connection logic tries to minimize doesn't exist in this case; however, the unregulated panel does present a (small) risk, which is what Zamp is addressing.

If connecting the solar input port directly to the battery, and including a controller on the portable panel, the Zamp logic wouldn't make sense, and the traditional trickle-charger logic would be better. That's not typically what Escape owners are doing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tdf-texas View Post
"A post in another forum". That's funny! Rather than use the correct port, Zamp wants you to cut off the SAE connector and switch the wiring to their non standard method.
No, the cutting off and swapping the connector on a trickle charger is the suggestion of the person who wrote that post. I wouldn't do that, I'm not suggesting that anyone do that, and I don't think Zamp is suggesting that anyone do that, either. It seems likely that Zamp intends that the customer use only Zamp panels (or panels wired as the Zamp panels are) with the Zamp port.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tdf-texas View Post
There is a reason that Battery Tenders are wiring with that polarity - they meet SAE standards! Along with every 12 volt connector that uses that type of pin connector except a Zamp.
I agree - for the trickle charger application, or any application where the port is wired directly to the battery, the Battery Tender way around is preferable... if you must use this type of connector.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tdf-texas View Post
On one point, I agree with you. If you request a "Zamp" port added instead of a "SAE solar port", you shouldn't complain when your get what you asked for.
Yep, it's all about communication and understanding.
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Old 12-16-2019, 01:37 AM   #11
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Thanks posting this, not something I would look for.
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