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Old 03-23-2024, 04:19 PM   #1
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Zamp plugged solar and the built-in MPPT, conflicts?

So, after tons of searching and reading I realize that the FR Wildwood FSX external Zamp plug isn’t feeding to the GoPower controller. But rather it is just a tap line to the battery. (As a side note, it shouldn’t be that hard to find out how the Zamp solar actually works.)

What I’m now curious about is whether adding an external portable (with controller) would cause issues with the onboard controller? If the onboard controller is managing flow to the battery based on the charge detected, would the extra feeding from the external controller not cause that onboard connected to the main roof panel not start dropping the charge to the battery?

Or is there some magic electrician work built into the wiring of the “solar ready” plug tap that works out the conflict?

While I want an external to move around into sun during shaded trips, if it is more efficient to just add a parallel panel to the roof… that might change the purchase priority. Lol
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Old 03-23-2024, 05:35 PM   #2
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No problems with having multiple chargers. You may have the shore power converter on while the sun is out. Two solar chargers work fine. I have two solar MPPT, the shore converter and I can add another auxiliary charger on top of it all.

Side note; that Zamp connection can also be an external 12V supply for a light or fan.
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Old 03-23-2024, 08:27 PM   #3
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Side note; that Zamp connection can also be an external 12V supply for a light or fan.
That does bring me to another question about that zamp. Shouldn’t I get a voltage reading off it? I was watching a vid today about some being reverse wired and thought I would just check before I started messing with it this season. I get no voltage from it with my Klein multimeter. Multimeter is good (tested at the battery).

Looked for wires behind it, but it’s an in-the-wall wiring. Yay.
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Old 03-23-2024, 10:20 PM   #4
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[QUOTE=Arkjones;2936701]That does bring me to another question about that zamp. Shouldn’t I get a voltage reading off it?

Yes you should. even if the Zamp fitting is wired incorrectly, you should be getting a reading if it is wired to a battery
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Old 03-23-2024, 11:14 PM   #5
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Yes you should. even if the Zamp fitting is wired incorrectly, you should be getting a reading if it is wired to a battery
Found another thread with a quote from GoPower that sounds like it is entirely possible that the wires weren’t run all the way to the battery (and possibly I need to find the fuse and check that too). Guess I’ll slide around on the grass tomorrow and hunt the wires down on the frame and see if I can locate this fuse and trace it all the way to the battery.

https://www.forestriverforums.com/forums/f218/how-many-watts-can-solar-on-the-side-handle-272714.html
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Old 03-23-2024, 11:28 PM   #6
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My solar on the side had a fuse in the line in the area of the breaker on the frame behind the battery.
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Old 03-24-2024, 02:58 PM   #7
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A way to think about battery charging is to consider jump starting your car with another car and jumper cables. When the car being jumped gets running, the car's alternator begins charging the battery. Meanwhile the "host" car is still running and sending a charge - in parallel - through the jumper cables.

With your rig, you might be getting charge from shore power through the converter, in parallel with rooftop solar, in parallel with portable solar. No problems. The battery talks to all those charging sources and tells the three different charge controllers what the battery needs. Easy peasy.

Do be aware that some, not all, portable solar "SAE" connections on rigs have connectors that are "reverse polarity." The convention would be to have the side of the connector most companies assign to positive assigned to negative instead. Using that same company's panels and portable charge controller, which are also wired in "reverse" everything works out so positve goes to positive...but the connectors are wired "backwards" from typical convention. If you use another company's panels and portable charge controller, however, they are not compatible without rewiring. So the problem is using a Zamp connector to connect "Non-Zamp" portable equipment.
Lots of info on the subject here:
https://www.google.com/search?q=are+...hrome&ie=UTF-8

Dig out your multi-meter and verify the polarity of your Zamp. You can do this with the Ohms (continuity) test. Touch the positive battery terminal with one test lead, then touch either connector in the Zamp connector and determine which wire is connected to the positive battery terminal. Unless you have Zamp portable equipment, you may need to either reverse the polarity on the Zamp connector...by swapping cables at the battery...BEST OPTION...or by reversing polarity on the output of your solar charge controller. I say the best option is to reverse (correct) the polarity on the Zamp connector, because then the Zamp connector complies with most other manufacturers' interpretation of how to wire things.

Read the many sources in the link to understand.
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Old 03-24-2024, 03:26 PM   #8
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On the reverse polarity Zamp.

Wires on your rig from the Zamp connector to the battery are almost guaranteed to be color coded. As it's wired from the factory, the red wire will be positive.

IF YOU REVERSE THEM, be sure to clearly label the reversed wires so some RV tech doesn't do you the favor of "fixing" them. In addition to labeling, consider getting some red color electrical tape along with the black electrical tape you probably already have, and use the tape to "color code" your reversed wires.

When the day comes to change out your battery, you'll be happy to have your wires labeled and color coded so you're not left scratching your head on how to reconnect.

Another point. Your original question was about compatability. IF YOU DON'T deal with the polarity issue and you hook-up non-Zamp brand solar panels and charge controller with reverse polarity, all hell will break loose...as you might expect. Nothing will be happy if you have 200 watts of portable solar sending 15 amps of "positive" in full sun to the negative terminal on your battery bank...and back through to the converter and your rooftop solar.

This polarity is obviously VERY important.
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Old 03-24-2024, 04:37 PM   #9
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Many solar SAE cables come a reverse polarity adapter. Or you can buy them, even in a 5 pack or more.
The solar electrical convention is that the male (protuding) connection is positive, flowing from the panel to the controller.
The solar MC4 “male” connector is positive polarity (even though the interior metal connector is female).
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Old 03-25-2024, 03:12 PM   #10
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Thanks all.
I got under the trailer yesterday evening and found the fuse, which was blown — probably from someone “trying” to see how to hook things up to the external port. It was a 10a by the way, so that also clears up what max the controller needs to be. A ton of wires all come together on a single bus bar, so that explains why I didn’t notice anything at the battery. The fuse was just prior to the bus bar.

I’ll double check the polarity with my meter and mark the +. There’s no way to get to the back of the plug without tearing off the sealant or pulling back the wall. Where the wire starts to be visible below is where it comes out with several others in the middle of expandable foam insulation. :-/

I’ll revisit it all when I get the portable panel in… hopefully the +/+ -/- line up right and I don’t end up having to pull the port out and rewire or add another reversing adapter in the mix.
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Old 03-26-2024, 12:33 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Arkjones View Post
Thanks all.
<<SNIP>>
I’ll double check the polarity with my meter and mark the +. There’s no way to get to the back of the plug without tearing off the sealant or pulling back the wall. Where the wire starts to be visible below is where it comes out with several others in the middle of expandable foam insulation. :-/

<<SNIP>>
To perform the test, you could do several things. Any one of these will give you a reliable answer.

1) Find the positive wire going to the back of the Zamp. Using the ohms test, connect one test lead to a "bare spot" in the "plus" wiring...perhaps the distribution buss on the positive side...and put the other test lead into the Zamp socket on the outside. You don't need to get to the back of the Zamp. The socket itself is what you need. The side that reads "0" or very close to "0" resistance is the plus.

You might benefit from some Alligator Clip test leads to extend the reach of your multi-meter's test leads...and your arms. The alligator clips will free up one hand so you can hold the meter and probe with the other test lead.

2) Alternatively, switch your multimeter to DC VOLTS. If there's a voltage range, choose the range that goes from 0 to 12 volts or a bit more. Depends on your meter. Mine is digital, so it just has DC Volts and is "self ranging". Use the red test lead probe in the Zamp socket. Find a spot with a bare screw head on the frame or other good ground (the frame is common ground). Make solid connection with ground, then probe in the Zamp...either side. The 12 volt (positive) side will light up your multimeter, and the ground side of the Zamp will do nothing. Don't be fooled by small, spurious voltage readings. When you hit paydirt, the multimeter will clearly indicate 12+ volts...probably almost 13 volts.

3) Switching the multimeter back to ohms (continuity), use the same frame point for ground, and probe the Zamp. In this case, the GROUND side of the socket will light up the multimeter, and the positive side of the Zamp socket will be more or less dead. When doing ohms tests, don't be fooled by tiny movements of the meter needle or a slight bump in the numbers from "infinite" resistance. When you find ground on the Zamp, the resistance will drop to "0" or nearly "0".

That's all you need to do to figure out which side of the Zamp socket on your rig is Plus and which side is Minus.
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Old 03-26-2024, 03:17 PM   #12
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Seem complicated... can't you just use a multimeter in the Zamp sockets? If the reading is negative 12, reverse the multimeter leads and read again to confirm +12v on the multimeter red lead - that is the positive Zamp lead.
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Old 03-26-2024, 07:31 PM   #13
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Seem complicated... can't you just use a multimeter in the Zamp sockets? If the reading is negative 12, reverse the multimeter leads and read again to confirm +12v on the multimeter red lead - that is the positive Zamp lead.
This was the general plan I had, plus making sure the same sides matched up on the controller. But I’m no electrician so I might give the alligator clip run a try as well to confirm. It’s about 7 feet “as the wire runs” to span from the plug to the bus bundle, so a clip and a bit of wire extension will be needed.

The controller was supposed to be delivered today, but UPS is sending it back to the shipped because the shipment was “damaged”. With the damage I’ve seen on some of the boxes I get… that thing must have been run over by steam roller or something.
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Old 04-03-2024, 09:19 PM   #14
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Just an final update…
The TT’s solar on the side plug was reverse wired +/-. The solar controller I purchased had swappable leads so I just reversed (“corrected”) the parity that way for now.

The odd thing about the end result is that the low end battery monitor I have installed picks up the voltage coming off that on-the-side controller, but the factory GoPower controller doesn’t. Might just be due to where the cheapo controller is tapped in at.

Only noticed it because we’ve not had sun at all for several days and today I checked how well the 200ah setup lasted. It was down to <10v by Go Power reading and the cheap monitor wasn’t even coming alive. Plugged up the external controller and voila the cheapo monitor started registering 12-13 v immediately (it was still partly cloudy). The Go Power one took about 30 minutes before it registered above 10v.
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