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Old 05-17-2021, 11:49 PM   #1
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Should I use 2 solar controllers?

Newbie:
Our new Vita 24p has 200W on the roof and we've added 230 more in the Zamp portable panels.



The Vita has a Zamp controller and the new panels have a built in controller. Should I hook the output from the portable panels to the solar port directly or bypass the portable controller?
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Old 05-18-2021, 05:00 AM   #2
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Your question is a little confusing, but here is my answer:

Wire the roof top panels through the Zamp and then to the batteries. The new external panels have their own built in controller so wire its output directly to the batteries.

I don't understand what you mean by solar port. Is it on the side of your RV and was meant to wire portable panels to it. If it was part of the OEM solar package it is probably wired to the OEM Zamp controller. But using that port would probably overload the Zamp controller which is probably rated at 30 amps. You could use that port with your new portable controller by wiring it to bypass the Zamp controller since the new ones already have a built in controller.

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Old 05-18-2021, 06:48 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dhodgesnvl View Post
Newbie:
Our new Vita 24p has 200W on the roof and we've added 230 more in the Zamp

The Vita has a Zamp controller and the new panels have a built in controller. Should I hook the output from the portable panels to the solar port directly or bypass the portable controller?
You didnít indicate whether your Zamp cc is pwm or mppt A single 100/30 mppt cc can easily handle all your pv inputs if you approximately match total Voc from the input leads. Does your rig have two roof panels in series? If so, you are sending low amperage to the cc. On portables, if there is more than one panel, itís way better to wire them in series, which enables you to run a long (30ft or more) cable to the coach with minimal voltage drop. A mppt can efficiently convert the higher voltages of a series set up into usable amperage for charging vrs a pwm.

We just ordered our solar. Two 110w soft panels which weíll wire in series to 30ft cable into coach thru SAE port, then to 75/15 mppt then to spade fuse block, then to battery. The inexpensive 75/15 will also be able to handle two more 100w panels on the roof in series, if we decide we need them.
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Old 05-18-2021, 06:54 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marine359 View Post
We just ordered our solar. Two 110w soft panels which weíll wire in series to 30ft cable into coach thru SAE port, then to 75/15 mppt then to spade fuse block, then to battery. The inexpensive 75/15 will also be able to handle two more 100w panels on the roof in series, if we decide we need them.
Nice! Looking forward to hearing how that works out. I think that's something I'll eventually want to do.
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Old 05-18-2021, 07:06 AM   #5
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On my 2017 Adventurer the Aux solar port is inside the basement compartment where the power cord and ATS live. It’s wired directly to the Zamp solar controller but I can’t remember what side of the controller it was wired to??? The panel side or the battery side?

I replaced my Zamp controller and know one side had two sets of connections but can’t remember which side it was.

If you pop your Zamp controller off the wall you can see the connections on the back and each side is labeled - battery output and solar input. If your external panels have a built in controller you want the wiring to go to the battery output side, if it doesn’t you want it to to go to the solar input side. They are easily moved to the correct side.

One other thing, Winnebago has a National Recall on the external Aux solar port because they forgot to fuse the input. You should be able to get it fixed for free IF you can find a dealer that will take your RV in without months of delay right now.
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Old 05-18-2021, 07:19 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by RocknRoll View Post
Nice! Looking forward to hearing how that works out. I think that's something I'll eventually want to do.
IMHO, two soft foldables with no built-in cc gives you the maximum charging power you can get from any panel set up of the same wattage and similar price. Almost zero install effort/cost. And it affords total flexibility, as you can use one panel for the coach and the other panel to charge a portable power station. Iíll report back in the solar thread how it works out over several months of usage.
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Old 05-19-2021, 06:41 PM   #7
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Thanks all! Sorry I wasnt clear. The Vita has 2x100 Zamp panels on the roof and a 500w Zamp controller. The driver's side wall has a solar port with an SAE plug. The Zamp 2x115w portable panels also have a built in controller. Right now the output from the portable panels goes from their outisde cintroller to the SAE solar port, which takes the juice to the original 500w Zamp controller that came with the coach.

The big curiosity is that the outside controller on the portable panel fluctuates constantly. It sems to charge for a few seconds then stop for a few seconds as if it doesnt know hiw to talk to the other controller.

My new Battleborn lithiums come today. Big fun!
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Old 05-20-2021, 06:10 AM   #8
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I don’t think charge controllers “talk” to each other. They only react to load on the other end and that expected load is a battery not another controller.

Just call Zamp they’ll be able to answer your question.
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Old 05-23-2021, 11:36 PM   #9
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As others have said - use the main solar controller for the roof panels, and you can connect your portable panels directly to the batteries since they have their own built in controllers which reduce charging voltage to the correct range as most solar panels output too high a voltage to be connected directly without some form of solar controller. Just be sure that all controllers are set to match your house battery types.

Think of it like water from hoses filling a bucket (your batteries). The solar controllers regulate the voltage (water pressure), but you can have as many hoses going into the bucket as you like - as each is independent of the others.

Not sure what batteries you have, but if you do much RVing I can only recommend Lithium. I know they are expensive, but after fighting with my Lead-Acid batteries for a couple of years I gave in and sprang for Lithium - what a huge difference! Not only did I save 160 lbs in battery weight but I almost doubled my usable capacity to 400 Ah. But the biggest benefit is that these charge so much faster. Whereas Lead-Acid increase internal resistance the closer they get to full charge, greatly slowing down charging, my Lithium batteries take as much charge as I can feed them, getting to full charge in much less time. A real benefit when I have to use the generator for charging (when my solar is not working) as I can run it for far shorter times. And - my Lithiums have a projected 10 year life span, which actually works out to be less expensive than having to go through a number of lead-acid sets over that same period.
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Old 05-24-2021, 06:57 AM   #10
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I presume that your inside Zamp cc is mppt. If your portable panels have built-in controller, it’s useless to connect them to another cc. That explains why they go off and on. There should always be only one cc between a single PV source and the batteries. But there can be multiple PV sources connected to a single cc. Most portable panels have pwm controllers. This makes those panels useless if are using the built-in controller and you have to place them further than a few feet from the coach. Voltage drop increases dramatically as you move controlled panels further away. If you can do so, you should consider bypassing the built-in controllers and wiring directly your internal mppt controller. This will allow you to place your panels 30ft or more away from the coach if the two portables are wired in series. This delivers double to voltage with no increase in amperage. If you have a good mppt controller inside, it will convert maximum power from the higher voltage input, as most controllers base their output on the difference between battery voltage and pv input voltage. If the portable panel controller cannot be bypassed, their output should be connected directly to battery.
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Old 05-26-2021, 11:17 AM   #11
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Thanks Rick and Barb! After two trips with the lead acid batteries I replaced them with 2x100A Batteborn Lithiums. We'll get out in a week or so and expect a better experience. The killer on the Vita is the residential refrigerator. Happy camping!
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Old 05-26-2021, 10:11 PM   #12
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Thanks - I called Zamp and left messages but they didn't reply. After reading all the helpful comments I've hooked the portables directly to the batteries. I've had the setup running on solar only all day with the TV/Satellite/Refrigerator on. They are still at 13.3v. If I can run the coffee pot in the morning I'll dance a little jig.
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Old 07-25-2021, 12:29 PM   #13
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Solar battery update

I went from the stock 2 100W Zamp panels on the roof, Zamp PWM solar controler and stock wet acid batteries to:
- 2 100 W panels on roof and 4 portable panels for a total of 630W solar
- 2 Battleborn 100Ah LiFo batteries
- 1 Victron 100|50 MPPT chrge controller (replacing the Zamp PWM 15A)

- 1 Ecoflow 600W lithium portable solar "generator"

- 1 3000/6000 inverter



I took the PWM controller off of the portable Zamp panels and added SAE plug ends to everything. Now all of the panels connect only to the Victron solar controller.



The difference from the stock setup is really big. The lithium batteries charge more quickly and last longer so we get to the end of even hazy days with full batteries. The residential fridge is the primary load. We can now watch a movie and some satellite TV before bed. We still turn off the TV, satellite, wireless etc so only the fridge is running overnight.


Once you start upgrading it's hard to stop. Maybe 1 more Battleborn battery?
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Old 07-25-2021, 12:38 PM   #14
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I’ll be doing a roof install soon, and adding a second cc. My portable just isn’t enough. 200w on roof should be enough, but should I get one 200w panel or 2x 100w in series?
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Old 07-25-2021, 12:56 PM   #15
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It seems the space in square inches is about the same between 1 200W panel and 2 100w panels.



Something I didn't understand at first was the importance of the solar charge controller. Our Vita came with a Zamp (good brand) controller but was PMW. The portable Zamp panels came with the same second class controller. Replacing it with a MPPT controller will get you more power from the panels you have.
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Old 07-25-2021, 01:07 PM   #16
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I have now a 75/15 mppt for portable, and will install a 100/20 for roof panels. Is there any advantage to having 2 panels vrs one panel with 200w?
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Old 07-25-2021, 01:33 PM   #17
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I have now a 75/15 mppt for portable, and will install a 100/20 for roof panels. Is there any advantage to having 2 panels vrs one panel with 200w?
I think the main advantage of two panels would be flexibility in the mounting location(s). The square footage will be approximately the same but with two smaller panels you'll have more options. If that's not an issue, I'm not aware of any downside to one 200W panel.
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