How to connect add-on solar

New owner, have read many posts here about adding extra solar panels and will probably do the same to my new TAB320. BN What is not clear to me, with something like a suitcase package, is how you actually make the connection, and how it interacts with factory solar. Do you just connect directly to the battery? Is a controller needed? Do you need to modify something with the built in solar charging system? I've read a lot here but have not seen a direct answer yet to these questions. Thanks for any help!


  • HoriganHorigan Member Posts: 105
    edited January 11
    Most suitcase panels include the controller, so you only need to connect it directly to your battery.  Most folks install an SAE or Zamp port near the battery and connect directly to the battery.  Then just plug the suitcase panel into the port.
    2019 [email protected] 400
    2013 Toyota Highlander
    Bellingham WA
  • jimrjjimrj Member Posts: 18
    Our 2021 320S has solar and came with an SAE connector in the front tub. You could double check with dealer to make sure you get the connector. 
    Jim and Robin / Soon—2021 320S / 2015 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk / Oregon
  • Sharon_is_SAMSharon_is_SAM Moderator Posts: 6,700
    @jcrystal - if you plan to have the stock factory solar, then the stock controller is limited in terms of capacity of additional panels that it can handle.  Rather than the expense of replacing the perfectly good factory BMV controller and required rewiring, most owners opt to use the suitcase with the built in controller OR purchase a stand-alone controller for the suitcase.  Either way, the suitcase/controller combo either plugs into the provided solar port or the separate controller gets wired directly to the battery.  Both the factory solar and suitcase would work independently of the other to charge your battery.  

    We have two 100 watt suitcases that we have wired in parallel to a cheap PWM controller.  To make the plug in easier, we made permanent pigtails off the battery and charge controller.
    Sharon / 2017 [email protected] CSS / 2015 Toyota Sienna Minivan / Westlake, Ohio
  • VictoriaPVictoriaP Member Posts: 994
    Easiest to have a separate controller for your portable panels. My suitcase came with both a cheap controller (you can pretty much always do better than what’s included with these, get a good MPPT controller instead) and a set of alligator clips. For the first use, I swapped out the controller for a better one, but used the clips. Last summer, I opted to add an SAE pigtail to my battery, since some model years like mine didn’t include a solar input port, and removed the clips. Next up will be actually adding in an SAE port.

    I am NOT skilled with electrical mods, and this was all easy enough for me to DIY. The only reason I haven’t tackled the port yet is I need a larger bit for drilling the tub. This sort of upgrade is very doable for pretty much anyone. Having the SAE pigtail has been helpful even at home, I’ve used it to charge the battery with my NOCO charger so I don’t have to drag out and hook up the 30 amp cable just to top off the charge, and another owner uses his port with a multimeter to confirm the battery’s state of charge without having to open the tub or battery box.
    2019 320s BD Lite, white with blue (“Haven”)
    2015 Subaru Outback 3.6r (NOT recommended)
    2020 Subaru Outback XT
    Pacific NW—stuck at home this season
  • jcrystaljcrystal Member Posts: 12
    thanks for these tips; Given what Jimrj said, I will wait for delivery to see what connectors are there
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