Best Solar Panels For A Zamp Ready Trailer And How To Use Third-Party Panels
If you have an RV, travel trailer like an Airstream or a fifth wheel with a Zamp solar port, you can connect solar panels through this port to your 12V RV house batteries.
Related Post: Solar Panels For A Prewired Furrion Solar Port
How big of a solar panel you need to charge your RV batteries depend on a couple of factors, and if you’re not sure what you need I recommend reading my post on this topic, click here to view it.
These Zamp panels are made in the United States with high-quality parts and are compatible out of the box with the Zamp solar port. For this reason, they’re the best solar panels for a Zamp ready trailer.
But you’re not limited to using Zamp solar panels with a Zamp solar port, and that’s what we’ll focus on down below – How do you connect third-party panels to this Zamp solar port?
Note that Zamp recommends using only Zamp solar panels with their solar ports, so connecting any panels down below is done at your own risk and you need to check that the port and wiring on your specific RV or camper can handle the output of the panel you connect.
Best Solar Panels To Use With The Zamp Solar Port
Note: Scroll left/right on small screens to see the whole table.
Here are my solar panel recommendations for the prewired Zamp solar port, the links below will take you to the product page on Amazon.com. Before you connect any panel, make sure that the polarity is correct, meaning that positive is going to positive, and negative to negative.
Renogy 100 Watt Eclipse Monocrystalline Solar Suitcase – The Renogy Eclipse panel is my top recommendation. It’s a very portable and efficient solar panel that will charge your RV batteries quickly. It comes with a built-in charge controller that tells you state of charge and amperages, a kickstand, and includes a carrying bag for easy transport. Requires the iGreely MC4 To SAE 10AWG to make the connection.
Zamp Solar 140-Watt Portable Charger Kit – The Zamp solar panels are good choices since they’re made in the US and come with a 25-year warranty. They’re high-quality panels and have a better kickstand than the others. Compatible with the Zamp solar port right out of the box. They’re also available in 45W, 90W, and 230W. These don’t require any additional adapters.
Renogy 100W Portable Kit – I have two of these, and they’re very similar to the Eclipse panels above. Kickstand, charge controller, carrying case. Easy to set up and transport. Requires the iGreely MC4 To SAE 10AWG to make the connection.
What To Think About When Using The Zamp Solar Port
The main thing you must know about the Zamp solar port is the type and its polarity. Polarity means which side is positive and which is negative. The plug used by Zamp is called an SAE connector.
This image from teardrop-trailers.vanillacommunity.com shows it in an easy to understand way.
When you plug a solar panel into this port, you should be able to follow the positive wire going all the way from the solar panel, to the positive terminal on the Zamp port. Let’s call the positive terminal on the Zamp port male and the negative terminal female.
It’s very important that the polarity is correct when you plug it into the Zamp port. It’s easy to follow the wire and make sure it’s correct.
Now, let’s take a look at the adapter we can use to plug third-party solar panels into this port.
The Adapter You Need To Connect A Third-Party Solar Panel To A Zamp Ready Solar Port
What we’re looking for is an MC4 to SAE adapter, like the iGreely MC4 To SAE 10AWG.
This adapter comes with a small SAE polarity switch adapter, so you can switch the polarity. We’re going to use this little adapter to make the correct connection (unless your solar panel has a negative male connector and a positive female connector).
Most solar panels are shipped with MC4 connectors and based on my experience, it’s more common that the solar panel has a positive male MC4 connector and a negative female MC4 connector (every panel I recommend down below do).
That means that this adapter wouldn’t be compatible if you only look at the wire colors, but we can still use it even if the colors of the wire is wrong, as long as we follow the positive/negative wire and make sure it’s right when we plug it into the Zamp solar port.
So, let’s say we have one of the panels I recommend down below, with a positive male MC4 connector, and a negative female MC4 connector.
We’ll plug the positive (red) male MC4 connector from the solar panel into the female MC4 connector on the adapter (the black wire). Then we’ll plug the negative (black) female connector into the red male MC4 connector on the adapter. It feels wrong to connect the wrong colors, but this is how we’ll have to do it.
Now you’ll have the positive wire from the solar panel going through the adapter, to the male side on the SAE plug on the other side of the adapter. Now we need to reverse that polarity, so we’ll use the little SAE adapter included with the iGreely adapter. Now the positive wire from the panel ends up with an SAE female, which is what we need for the Zamp solar port.
Remember, the male SAE on the Zamp port is positive. The female SAE on the Zamp port is negative. When using the solar panels below, there will only be one way to connect the MC4 connectors, but you do have to use the reverse polarity adapter with the iGreely adapter before plugging it into the Zamp port.
What To Think About When Choosing A Solar Panel
I haven’t found any information about the size of the fuse or wires on the Zamp solar port between the port and the batteries, and it might depend on the trailer manufacturer, so I recommend contacting the trailer manufacturer or read the manual to find out what the amperage limit is for the port. This product page for the 230W panel states that it’s compatible with Zamp solar ports and that it comes with a 15A charge controller, but you should still check to be sure the port and wiring in your specific trailer can handle it.
You need to choose a solar panel with a solar charge controller built-in or buy a charge controller separately. The Zamp solar port is a direct connection to the RV batteries, so any solar panel that isn’t a trickle-charger should be used with a charge controller that protects the batteries from overcharging.
The panels I recommend down above come with a charge controller so you don’t have to do any additional wiring on most.
How Long Will It Take To Recharge My RV Batteries?
This is a question that’s hard to answer in one sentence without knowing the size of your batteries and solar panel. I have written a post that goes into this and how you can calculate it, click here to view that post.
Are There SAE/MC4 Extension Cables?
Yes, there are. The Ovitar 16AWG 12Ft Extension Cable (click to view on Amazon) is an example.
I use MC4 extension cables, and you might want to do that as well if you choose a panel with MC4 connectors. I recommend WindyNation MC4 extension cables that come in different sizes and lengths.
Will A Solar Panel Power The Outlets In My RV Camper?
A 12V solar panel connected to your trailer batteries will recharge these batteries, but won’t provide 120V AC power to your outlets.
To use your outlets, you’ll need to use an inverter that changes the 12V DC power to 12V AC power. An example of an inverter like that is the KRIËGER 1100 Watt 12V Power Inverter that has two AC outlets.
You can wire this inverter to your batteries, then plug your camper into one of the outlets with a 15A to 30A adapter, or a 15A to 50A adapter depending on the size of the electrical system in your camper.
What If My Trailer Has A Furrion Solar Port?
Please leave a comment down below with any questions you might have.