Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Three questions regarding supplemental solar panels:

1. I understand (but I can't find where I might have read this in the manuals) that any supplemental solar panels plugged into the Oliver's external port require their own charge controller, i.e., electricity from the charge controllers does not go through the Zamp charge controller.  As such, any supplemental panels would require their own charge controller(s).   If this is correct, then it confuses me, in that the Zamp ZS-30A is suitable for solar panels up to 510 watts (according to the manual), and the standard Oliver installation is only 340 watts.  It seems the Zamp ZS-30A should be able to handle an additional 170 watts.  (Supplemental panels without controllers are substantially less expensive than panels with controllers).  Can anyone confirm that supplemental panels do, in fact, require their own controller, and if so, perhaps tell me why?

2. If using multiple additional solar panels (e.g., for the sake of discussion, two 100-watt panels, each with their own controller), how do the controllers operate in tandem and in concert with the Oliver's installed Zamp controller to protect that batteries, in that the primary house controller and 2 supplemental controllers may each be trying to achieve the same result, but perhaps with different algorithms?

3.  Am I overthinking this?

This topic is relevant to me, because we frequently seek shade in our current camper (which has 260 watts on the roof), and, where possible, place a supplemental panel on 30-foot cable in the sun to charge batteries.  

In advance, thanks for your help!

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Fritz said:

Three questions regarding supplemental solar panels:

1. I understand (but I can't find where I might have read this in the manuals) that any supplemental solar panels plugged into the Oliver's external port require their own charge controller, i.e., electricity from the charge controllers does not go through the Zamp charge controller.  

The above statement sums it up perfectly.  The external port Oliver installs is wired directly to the batteries.  It is the charge controllers job to condition the voltage from the panels before sending it to the batteries.  The voltage produced by the panels varies outside of the batteries specifications, so the voltage must be conditioned to match the batteries required voltage parameters by a charge controller.
As such, any supplemental panels would require their own charge controller(s).   If this is correct, then it confuses me, in that the Zamp ZS-30A is suitable for solar panels up to 510 watts (according to the manual), and the standard Oliver installation is only 340 watts.  It seems the Zamp ZS-30A should be able to handle an additional 170 watts.
 

You are correct, the factory installed Zamp charge controller is rated to handle more amps than the factory solar panels require.  But Zamp only makes charge controllers rated at 8, 10, 15, 30 and 60 amps.  They have recently started offering a new 40 amp model.  So there is not a Zamp charge controller built for 340 watts of solar panels.

 (Supplemental panels without controllers are substantially less expensive than panels with controllers).  Can anyone confirm that supplemental panels do, in fact, require their own controller, and if so, perhaps tell me why?  
 

You could eliminate the additional charge controller by re-wiring the external port to the input of the existing charge controller instead of the batteries as long as you stayed below the maximum charge controller input.

2. If using multiple additional solar panels (e.g., for the sake of discussion, two 100-watt panels, each with their own controller), how do the controllers operate in tandem and in concert with the Oliver's installed Zamp controller to protect that batteries, in that the primary house controller and 2 supplemental controllers may each be trying to achieve the same result, but perhaps with different algorithms?

I can’t answer this question definitely, but I do know the many people operate multiple charge controllers with fixed solar installations because two 30 amp charge controllers are usually cheaper than one 60 amp.  I think it falls under the charge controllers ability to reduce output based upon battery voltage.

3.  Am I overthinking this?

This topic is relevant to me, because we frequently seek shade in our current camper (which has 260 watts on the roof), and, where possible, place a supplemental panel on 30-foot cable in the sun to charge batteries.

How does your current supplemental panel connect to the batteries?  Does it have its own charge controller or does it run through the primary charge controller?  Standard solar practices would place the charge controller as close to the batteries as possible, so the 30 foot cable connecting the supplemental panel to your current camper would need to be a larger gauge if there is a charge controller on the panel.  Whereas a smaller gauge would suffice if the charge controller is in the camper.  We pay a lot of money to harvest solar energy and we do not want to give that energy away through cable loss.

In closing, I would suggest you look up Will Prowse on YouTube.  He produces very informative videos on everything solar and he has written a book that is available on Amazon that is well worth the price.
 

In advance, thanks for your help!

My responses are within your questions above.

Mossey

Edited by mossemi
Typo
  • Like 4
  • Thanks 3

Mike and Krunch   Lutz, FL   LEII #193 “the dog house”

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Mossemi,

Thank you so much for taking the time to respond.  Perhaps I've been confused because in my current camper the exterior port does run through the primary charge controller; I can see the increased current from the supplemental panel on the display (I stay well within the controller's max-amperage rating).  I will follow up with Oliver to see how difficult it would be for them to wire the exterior port to the controller instead of the battery.  IF the Zamp ZS-30A controller is built to handle 510 watts, and Oliver's solar package has 340 watts of panels, then I can't exceed an additional 170 watts (which is fine, in that my current 100-watt panel is under this limit).

Yes, I do use a heavier gauge wire for the 30-foot cable, but I find the 30-foot length handy when chasing sun in an otherwise shady spot.

And thanks for the Will Prouse YouTube links -- ah, more video to watch!

15 hours ago, mossemi said:

So there is not a Zamp charge controller built for 340 watts of solar panels.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...