Connection Possibilities for Renogy Suitcase Panel with no Zamp Plug

johnfconwayjohnfconway Member Posts: 180
The catch-22 of abundant sunshine is the mighty hot cabin temperatures when trying to harvest sun rays via roof-top solar panel during hot weather. We've noticed that around half or more dispersed camping sites explored had a shaded area with adjacent sun for suitcase solar panels. Looking at the 200W panels with 40', 10awg extension.
But alas, we have a 2020 [email protected] 400 with no Zamp plug-in. What are our options for connecting the Renogy system (with controller) to batteries on a routine basis? I am assuming the wiring that might have gone to the Zamp plug is not there.
2020 [email protected] 400 BDL towed with 2019 Nissan Frontier Pro-4X  Silver City, NM

Comments

  • Basil48192Basil48192 Member Posts: 112
    @johnfconway.  I had the same concerns...even though I'm in Michigan most of the time.  I prefer a shadey spot for camping...but that eliminates a lot of potential energy.

    I purchased a 200W Renogy suitcase to supplement the 105W rooftop unit on my 320S.  

    I also purchased the quick-connect bulkhead connector shown below from Amazon.  It comes with MC4 connectors on the outside.  I just cut off the inside connectors and ran the wires to my solar controller which is mounted inside of the tub...near the batteries.

    If your suitcase comes with its own controller, you can just connect the wires inside the connector directly to your battery (with an in-line fuse on the positive wire).

    I also purchased an 8 Ga., 20' long extension cord to connect the suitcase to the connector.  

    However, after my first dispersed camping trip with this set-up, I realized that 20' is not really long enough, so I just bought a second 20 footer.  I would recommend using 8 Ga. wire if you are going to run 40', to minimize heat loss.  The second link is to a 40' extension cord set with MC4 connectors.

    I hope this helps. 
      
    https://www.amazon.com/Cutting-Edge-Power-Weatherproof-Connectors/dp/B07MMWKR29/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=mc4+bulkhead+connector&qid=1623355956&sr=8-3


    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01L6OU74M/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o02_s01?ie=UTF8&th=1


  • jrhameljrhamel Member Posts: 96
    This is a good explanation for adding a solar port. I used it when I set my 2019 400.

    http://www.bigguytinytrailer.com/2019/01/23/zamp-connector-added-new-camper/
     2019 [email protected] 400 Boondock Lite and 2019 Ford F 150 4x4

    Madison, Wi
  • TabneroTabnero Member Posts: 177
    you can always go straight to the terminals with alligator clips
  • ScottGScottG Moderator Posts: 4,670
    edited June 12
    The included alligator clips work fine, but the associated futzing to use them regularly would get old fast. If you're not inclined to install a permanent port, you could just make a simple pigtail with ring terminals on one end and your connector of choice on the other. The ring terminals attach to the battery and the other end can be hung somewhere outside of the battery box/compartment in a convenient location.

    Here's an example using MC4 connectors. (There are two pairs because my pigtails are designed to allow modular use of my solar controller, but the concept is the same.)

    Whatever you do just make sure to include a properly sized fuse between the controller and the battery.




  • HoriganHorigan Member Posts: 210
    edited June 11
    @johnfconway, On a 400 you have two main installation options; add a port near the battery, or add a port on the side of the tub, as shown above in the 320 example.  Either case you can use this SAE style port.

    https://www.amazon.com/ZAMP-SOLAR-ZS-SOLARPORT-Waterproof-Solar/dp/B07GNMPZZG/ref=sr_1_4?dchild=1&keywords=zamp+connector&qid=1623423611&sr=8-4

    Mounting the port near the battery has the benefit of less voltage loss to the battery.  The downside is drilling a hole next to the battery compartment through Aldez and plywood, then routing the wires to the junction box under the bed.  

    Mounting the port on the tub is easier as there is a junction box in the back of the tub down low where all the trailer 7 pin connector wiring routes through.  The downside is the voltage loss getting that solar power to the battery.

    I would suggest mounting it near the battery.
    Rich
    2019 [email protected] 400
    2013 Toyota Highlander
    Bellingham WA
  • Basil48192Basil48192 Member Posts: 112
    My apologies...I missed the point that you have a 400.  My only additional comment about the SAE plug is that all of the Renogy units that I looked at have the MC4 connectors.  There are plenty of adapters...but the fewer connections...the better.
  • johnfconwayjohnfconway Member Posts: 180
    edited June 11
    Thank you to all the fellow owners sharing knowledge on this and another related thread!
    Based on that, here is what is being imagined. Trailer in shade. Portable panels in sun. 40', 8 AWG cable connected to panel and running to driver's side of trailer. MC4 port installed on side of trailer just below 3-way fridge lower vent. Port wires pushed down and back to Alde compartment and then through plywood into battery compartment under bed. Wires connected to controller that comes with Renogy panels (or into a Victron 100/20 -- see question below). A 20 Amp fuse (I think) between controller and battery hub. Make final connection.
    Any suggestions on making this easier with no loss of function or better are welcomed!
    Related question. I do not want to give up on using the Victron apps for key information. Technically the 75/15 can handle the 200 Watts and then some. My fear is that the portable panels could be getting full sun and rooftop panel, even though in Emory Oak shade, is also making a contribution beyond the 220W max. Would it make sense to replace Victron 75/15 with Victron 100/20 (for 12V system) and run rooftop and portable panels through it?
    2020 [email protected] 400 BDL towed with 2019 Nissan Frontier Pro-4X  Silver City, NM
  • Denny16Denny16 Member Posts: 3,292
    edited June 11

    @johnfconway the previous suggestions are good for a TaB 320, but the TaB400 battery is not easy to access, it is sealed up under the rear bunk.  So alligator clips are not an option.  The photo above shows second the battery area (red circle) and the double divider (blue circle).  You can see the battery cables pass through the inside of this double sided divider.   You can access the battery connections by removing the storage locker side of this divider.

     Some type of plug, SAE or similar needs to be installed.  If you do not want to mount one on the side of the TaB (factory locations), your next best location, that gives easy access in inside the rear outside storage compartment (which is under the Pax side of the bunk).  This gives the shortest run between battery and connector.  

    You can remove the rear bunk boards on Pax side to gain easy to work access.  Between the battery compartment in the rear center compartment where the battery is.  This is a hollow divider, with the battery cable connections inside.  Mount the connector on the locker side and connect the cables to the battery distribution box in this divider wall.  Close it back up, and Bob’s your uncle... 

    Here is a rough diagram showing the battery area and double false wall between the outside storage (blue X) area and the battery box (red Bat square)This divider has all the batrery and SC wires run in it.  The blue box in the divider is the battery connection block (distribution box), which is the best point to connect a solar SAE or other connector.  As Sec the connection plug from inside the storage box (blue arrow). 

    2018 TaB400 Custom BoonDock, Jeep Gladiator truck, Northern California Coast.
  • johnfconwayjohnfconway Member Posts: 180
    edited June 11
    Thank you @Denny16! Project is on. I see the wisdom of plug inside storage locker. Have to remind myself what's adjacent to what from outside to inside.
    You have suggested a larger capacity controller for extra panels in past, vs. 2 separate controllers. We have no intent to run portables and rooftop simultaneously full-on. But what looks like pretty decent shade in desert environments may still allow rooftop to contribute some power. Given cramped quarters in battery area, do you think replacing Victron 75/15 with Victron 100/20 would provide protection from too much of a good thing? It is same width and length, just a little more depth (so would be able to see if it would fit where 75/15 sits). Or, is it safe to gamble the current coming at the 75/15 won't exceed its capacity?
    2020 [email protected] 400 BDL towed with 2019 Nissan Frontier Pro-4X  Silver City, NM
  • Denny16Denny16 Member Posts: 3,292
    No, after doing some research and cost comparison, it is less expensive to add a second Victron 75/15 for the portable solar panels.  The two controllers can be set to work together more efficiently than one larger controller.  When no solar panels are hooked up to the second  controller, the rooftop solar panel controller chargers the battery with out any issue.  You can mount the second controller on the back storage compartment panel that covers the wiring chase area, next to your SAE connector. 
    cheers


    2018 TaB400 Custom BoonDock, Jeep Gladiator truck, Northern California Coast.
  • berggerbergger Member Posts: 306
    edited June 12
    Just connect a pigtail to the batteries and run it into the storage compartment. Open the door and plug in when necessary. No alligator clips just get one with battery terminal connectors. That’s what I did on my old Aframe camper. Super cheap and easy. No Need to make it complicated.  However adding an sae port is straight forward too and cleaner, as long as you don’t mind drilling a hole in your camper. 
    2021 [email protected] 400 BD  "Vixen Gail" 
    2018 Nissan Titan Pro 4X "Big Bird"
    Leadville Colorado
  • johnfconwayjohnfconway Member Posts: 180
    There will be an opportunity to do this work with the bed panels off for related project. There will then be an empty storage compartment below the battery compartment. I want to make sure I have everything needed at that time because someone else will be doing that work and I will jump in with the portable solar "inside" connections.
    This is what I've gleaned from this and other threads:
    *Trailer parked in shade
    *Portable panels in sun
    *8 awg marine grade duplex wire with MC4 connectors connected to solar panel and other end with same connectors to pigtails (40')
    *Pigtails with MC4 connectors in passenger side storage locker
    *Other end bare wire connection to dedicated Victron Smartsolar 75/15
    *Bare wire Victron connection to battery hub terminals with battery terminal ring connectors. 20A fuse on hot wire between Victron and battery.
    Needed to add that level of description in case I am imagining this wrong. Obviously will need serious crimping tool for 8 awg wire and connectors. Not sure what wire connections to and from fuse look like, but I assume there are options.
    Thanks again to all! Any adjustments needed?

    2020 [email protected] 400 BDL towed with 2019 Nissan Frontier Pro-4X  Silver City, NM
  • HoriganHorigan Member Posts: 210
    edited June 12
    I'd confirm first that 8 awg wire will fit into the fittings of the MC4 connectors.  You may also have trouble getting 8 awg into the 75/15 controller ports.  It was tight with 10 awg.

    I think Victron recommends 30A fuses for that size system.  I found for 30A fuses with pig tails, I could only get 12 awg pigtails.  I felt this was okay since they were only 6" runs from the controller before connecting to the longer thicker wires.
    Rich
    2019 [email protected] 400
    2013 Toyota Highlander
    Bellingham WA
  • ScottGScottG Moderator Posts: 4,670
    You can get these from Amazon with 10g wire. A good ratcheting crimping tool is also a worthwhile investment. Make sure you get one with a collection of different jaws as different connectors (for example insulated vs. non-insulated) have different requirements.


  • Denny16Denny16 Member Posts: 3,292
    John, you can also connect your pigtail to the battery distribution connector block.  If yiu do not want to invest in a crimping tool for the larger wire size, any RV Repair service will crimp on the appropriate size connectors for a 5/16ths bolt, used on the distro block or battery terminals.  Either way, you need to remove the storage compartment side of the back wall, to access the pass through to the battery or distro block.  Do not attempt to just drill a hole through both parts of the divider, as there are wires and electrical components inside this area.
    Cheers 
    2018 TaB400 Custom BoonDock, Jeep Gladiator truck, Northern California Coast.
  • johnfconwayjohnfconway Member Posts: 180
    The controller I won't be using that comes with the Renogy non-deluxe 200 W portable panels (Renogy 20A Voyager Charge Controller), calls for a 30 amp fuse between panels and controller. That's in addition to 30 amp fuse between controller and batteries. Do I need to fuse the extension wire with maybe a pigtail at the panel connection?
    2020 [email protected] 400 BDL towed with 2019 Nissan Frontier Pro-4X  Silver City, NM
  • HoriganHorigan Member Posts: 210
    I think you only need one fuse per line, regardless of length.  I put both of my fuses at the controller.
    Rich
    2019 [email protected] 400
    2013 Toyota Highlander
    Bellingham WA
  • johnfconwayjohnfconway Member Posts: 180
    edited June 17
    @Denny16 they must have changed things up in passenger side storage locker from 2018 to 2020. There is now a 2x4 on edge running across top of panel as well as a probable exhaust vent pipe coming  through the panel. No screws either. Would it make sense (when the time comes to mount Victron 75/15) to look down gap in double wall and drill only where there are no wires?

    2020 [email protected] 400 BDL towed with 2019 Nissan Frontier Pro-4X  Silver City, NM
  • Denny16Denny16 Member Posts: 3,292
    edited June 17
    OK, this is a change.  Try unscrewing the top bunk panel on the Pax side, and you should be able to see the void in the middle between the two panels.  Seems nüCamp keeps changing how they are wiring the 400, removing the top plywood under the bunk, will reveal where the wires are routed, start at the battery and follow the cables…
    cheers
    2018 TaB400 Custom BoonDock, Jeep Gladiator truck, Northern California Coast.
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