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Old 09-25-2020, 06:00 PM   #1
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Just what does “Solar on the Side” mean?

Just bought a 2021 Rockwood Mini 1024S. On the right side is an SAE plug label Solar on the Side. I know this connects to the batteries. What I don’t know is if this is just a wired connection to the batteries or if there is a charge controller inline?

The Solar on the Side website is of course useless, offering to sell me everything but providing no advice.

I have the panel and the controller, just need to know if I should wire in both.

Thanks.
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Old 09-25-2020, 06:07 PM   #2
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I might be missing something, but would not the controller be attached to the wires you refer to? Where else would it be? The solar controller is usually close to where the batteries are, certainly not on the roof or anything like that.
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Old 09-25-2020, 06:16 PM   #3
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It's probably just a connector for a portable "Solar Suitcase" setup. They come with the controller attached to the rear of one panel and are self contained. Just need a place to deliver the power and this receptacle is that place.

Most likely for a Zamp Solar Suitcase as the Furion units use a non-SAE plug.

Check for power with a multimeter and there should be battery voltage present. If you decide to get a portable solar kit, check polarity of output and change plug if necessary.

It's nothing fancy, just a way to connect to the battery without having to use battery clips and lift the lid on the batteries all the time.
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Old 09-25-2020, 06:32 PM   #4
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Thanks

That’s what I thought, just wiring to the battery. I have a panel and controller and will use both.
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Old 09-25-2020, 06:34 PM   #5
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I won’t mount the panels on the roof because we usually camp in the woods and I want the panel mobile to move it around. The controller can be many places as long as it’s between the panel and batteries. On my last RV the panels were roof mounted (how I learned about not doing that again), the controller was inside and the batteries were underneath.
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Old 09-25-2020, 08:00 PM   #6
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As TM said, “Solar on the side” is just an external connector tied back to the house battery(s). I believe it is the Zamp style. No controller is included in the RV; you supply your own with the portable solar panel set.
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Old 09-26-2020, 03:36 PM   #7
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Solar

If ZAMP-most of the prewired plugs are. Get a plug convertor to hook to suitcase. Those wires are enough for a 100 panel. More than that I would run directly to the battery from controller.
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Old 09-26-2020, 05:04 PM   #8
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Means there is a connection on the side of the unit for portable solar panels.
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Old 09-26-2020, 09:03 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tundra 2014 View Post
If ZAMP-most of the prewired plugs are. Get a plug convertor to hook to suitcase. Those wires are enough for a 100 panel. More than that I would run directly to the battery from controller.
My TT came with #10 awg wire from plug to battery. More than enough for two 100 watt panels with the usual PWM controller. Current at max panel output will get nowhere near the current capability of a 10 ga wire.

I wired my two 80 watt panels together in series, feed them into a MPPT controller, and get a max of 12-13 amp. That's as good as it gets with my small portable setup and if using a PWM controller with panels in parallel the actual current will be much lower due to the inefficiency of the PWM.
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Old 09-27-2020, 06:58 AM   #10
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Thanks

Thanks for the advice fellas. I have a panel and controller from which I can get 3-4 amps at 12 volts DC. I permanently installed two panels on our last RV and got up to 8 amps out of them. I’ll have to see if this one panel will do the trick.
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Old 09-27-2020, 10:23 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by 2WheelJon View Post
Thanks for the advice fellas. I have a panel and controller from which I can get 3-4 amps at 12 volts DC. I permanently installed two panels on our last RV and got up to 8 amps out of them. I’ll have to see if this one panel will do the trick.

3-4 amps sounds low. A 100 watt panel SHOULD be able to deliver close to twice that in full sun but agree that circumstances vary.

As for "doing the trick" it will depend on how much power you draw from your batteries each day. If just running the refrigerator electronics (while on Propane) some lights at night (LED?), and water pump, perhaps it's up to the job.

A 100 watt panel at 2-4 amp rate will only deliver ~30 amp hours on a perfect solar day (around 8 hours of Sun with panel perfectly aligned). Unfortunately if you are using Lead Acid Batteries it will take about 20% more charging time at that rate to fully recharge the batteries due to the inefficiency of Lead/Acid chemistry.

If you are running a furnace at night and perhaps watching a movie on TV you probably will not recover your power use fully.


In short, if you don't use more power than the single panel is able to replace in a day you're golden.
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Old 09-27-2020, 01:52 PM   #12
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It’s not a big panel. I used it before to keep a bank of batteries charged when operating my ham radio in the field. Our current demands are low until winter sets in and I will experiment to see if the one panel will work. We just got the trailer so there’s a ton of things ahead of solar to do.

If I need more panels I can get them. I don’t think the portable kits sold by RV dealers are worth the money. Do you?
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Old 09-27-2020, 06:16 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by 2WheelJon View Post
It’s not a big panel. I used it before to keep a bank of batteries charged when operating my ham radio in the field. Our current demands are low until winter sets in and I will experiment to see if the one panel will work. We just got the trailer so there’s a ton of things ahead of solar to do.

If I need more panels I can get them. I don’t think the portable kits sold by RV dealers are worth the money. Do you?
I wouldn't buy a kit. Buy panels, hinges, and build your own.

If you run two panels then wire in series and feed an MPPT controller for max efficiency.
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Old 09-27-2020, 07:10 PM   #14
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Our TT is older (2017) but the "Solar on the Side" was just a connection port & sticker on the frame with a short bundle of 14 Ga wire on the other side attached to nothing.
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Old 09-27-2020, 07:31 PM   #15
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Double-check the polarity of the plug before connecting any solar panels to it.
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