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Old 05-27-2013, 12:54 PM   #1
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Portable solar question

My SMB has 130 watt fixed solar panel on roof from SMB West.

When I added a portable Zamp solar panel, my mechanic wired it into one of the two starting batteries vs. house battery. I just figured this out and want to wire into house battery. When I asked Peter at SMB, he thought I could not have 2 different controllers into one battery?

Thoughts on this?

Any issues if wired to house terminals conflicting with fixed panel set up?
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Old 05-27-2013, 05:39 PM   #2
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Re: Portable solar question

Your house controller can't accept another panel?
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Old 05-27-2013, 06:51 PM   #3
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Re: Portable solar question

That's the key question.

In my mind, I assumed that if the portable panel had its own controller, and was wired to house battery terminals, I wasn't sure why this would be an issue with the built in system?

Need a solar controller guru!
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Old 05-28-2013, 01:18 PM   #4
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Re: Portable solar question

Really need to see the specs on both controllers, and panels but yes I could be a problem. If the portable has it's own controller you could separate the two with a switch. If you really want to use both at the same time I would wire the portable panel in with the house controller. ( You need to check the specs on both Solar Panels then to make sure this is OK)

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Old 05-28-2013, 02:06 PM   #5
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Re: Portable solar question

The manual for my controller reads that it's best not to mix panel types on the same controller.
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Old 05-28-2013, 04:11 PM   #6
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Re: Portable solar question

Currently the portable is wired into starting battery. Is there an easy way to test it?
If running to starting battery, does it ultimately charge house battery after starting batteries?

thanks,
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Old 05-28-2013, 05:15 PM   #7
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Re: Portable solar question

Quote:
Originally Posted by WVvan
The manual for my controller reads that it's best not to mix panel types on the same controller.
Panel types is the key word there. Some panels can be mixed provided they spec out correctly to each other.

As far as connecting the portable system (that has its own controller built in) to the house battery, I don't see any difference between any alternate power source working in conjunction with your current solar controller. I wouldn't run the portable through the controller (although it might be OK...I just don't know) but if you think about it what is the difference between it and a alternator or inverter charger? Your portable solar is simply another DC source.

But best to just call the manufacture and ask. I'm just guessing. Please report back what you find.
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Old 05-28-2013, 06:44 PM   #8
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Re: Portable solar question

The key reason that you would not want multiple DC sources on is that you will most like confuse the charge controller. Some controllers will switch off, some will be convinced they are in float and produce minimal charge output. While I do not think it will create any adverse conditions it certainly may cause the charge controllers to not perform at their optimal performance. If you have a decent charge controller with. battery temp feedback, it will come up with a different voltage set point then a controller that is not as sophisticated. How much of a problem will that be? I can't really say for sure but at a minimum I believe that you will get worse battery life, and worst case you will damage a controller.

One question, have you tried it as it is wired today? I expect that you may not be getting great results. One problem could be mating a controller that will shut down, with one that wont. In this case you would only be left with the controller that doesn't shut down. ( I expect that may be the case with the built in Zamp ). I expect that you have a bidirectional separator between the house and starting batteries. So enough charge from either source will combine the two battery systems, in this case the current house solar system may shut down and only leave you with the portable solar charger output.

This would be the same as moving it directly to the house system. If you can disable your separator, you should be able have the portable charge the starters and let the house system charge. Even if they both stay on you still have the issue of different controllers trying to set the voltage on the battery. This probably would be less of a issue during the bulk charging phase, so you might be able to use it for that stage. It would be the absorption and float stage that I would have my bigger concern.

I did take a look at the Zamp website, they are big on marketing documentation, but did not seem to have a lot of technical information.

hope this helps
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Old 05-28-2013, 07:41 PM   #9
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Re: Portable solar question

In discussions with Zamp (the portable panel), they say I can hook it direct to the house battery with no issue. The built in panel is already charging house battery. I am still concerned.
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Old 05-28-2013, 11:14 PM   #10
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Re: Portable solar question

Yeah I never thought about one fooling the other and I can see that happening. My controller shuts down fairly quickly when the charger is on or the alternator is inputting.
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