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Old 06-19-2016, 09:45 PM   #1
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Solar ready?

We have a new (2017) Starcraft that came ready with a solar plug in. My question is, what does that mean? Looking at solar kits on Amazon I see all these boxes and electronics, but are they needed? Or do I just need a panel to plug into the provided jack and I'm done? And what should I expect the panel to do?
Thanks everyone.
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Old 06-19-2016, 09:49 PM   #2
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Are you talking about the small 2-prong plug in? (Jayco mounted mine in the utility box, with the water and cable TV connections).

Or are you talking about the MC4 Solar Connector on the roof?

I've worked with both on my 5'er, but they are very different.....
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Old 06-20-2016, 06:42 AM   #3
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Jayco's idea of solar ready is a wire run from the plug to near the batteries.. you need solar panels and a charge controller..
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Old 06-20-2016, 07:01 AM   #4
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Jayco installs plugs and wires provided by GoPower. GoPower advertises plug and play options at a severe premium. Identifying your plug will help others give you advice.

For what it's worth, I just added 200 watts of solar to my Solar ready Jayco HT fifth wheel. I am using the two panels as portable panels, but am NOT using the roof top connectors or the "solar on the side connectors".
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Old 06-20-2016, 08:26 AM   #5
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The "solar on the side" plug is an always-hot 12v connection, directly into the batteries, with a built-in auto-circuit breaker. It's wired with 12awg wire, and designed to receive 12v from one of the smaller portable solar charging systems with a built-in controller, available from a variety sources.

The roof mounted MC4 solar connection is wired with 8awg wire to a location (labeled?) where the wires terminate. Ideally, it should be very close to, but not in the same compartment as the batteries. (Mine wasn't!). There is another pair of wires, same gauge, that come from the batteries, in the same location. The idea is to install your third-party controller to these two pair of wires and mount and plug your panels in on the roof connector.

Since mine is a roof mounted 300w system, I extended the wires coming from the roof to a location much closer to the batteries, installed my controller, then ran the MUCH heavier wire from the controller to the batteries, as required by the controller mfgr, and the electrical code.

Since the 12v side outlet is always hot, it's run in 12awg, and it has its own breaker, I now use that to supply power to my macerator pump, as my dump outlet is only a few feet away from the connector.
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Old 06-20-2016, 01:13 PM   #6
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Wow, I had no idea of all the options and complications. What we have is the small 2 pin jack on the side of the trailer under the front storage door. The sticker says it's a zamp solar system. During our PDI walk through not much was said about it except that it was there. So, can I just plug a zamp panel in or does it need more fancy stuff. Does it do more than just charge the battery?
Thank again.
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Old 06-20-2016, 02:51 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by secal48 View Post
Wow, I had no idea of all the options and complications. What we have is the small 2 pin jack on the side of the trailer under the front storage door. The sticker says it's a zamp solar system. During our PDI walk through not much was said about it except that it was there. So, can I just plug a zamp panel in or does it need more fancy stuff. Does it do more than just charge the battery?
Thank again.
If it's the two pin connector, about " apart, one male, one female pin, I'd say that it's the same as the same as what I have.... Test it with a circuit tester, and if it's "hot" at 12v, then you could probably plug in a small system from many of the vendors. The small portable system from Harbor Freight actually gets some good ratings. There is a slightly bigger system from Northern Tool (an on-line vendor) that a friend of mine Uses to keep his batteries charged... Lots of options out there, besides just the Zamp system....
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Old 06-20-2016, 09:47 PM   #8
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[QUOTE=secal48;420223]We have a new (2017) Starcraft that came ready with a solar plug in. My question is, what does that mean? Looking at solar kits on Amazon I see all these boxes and electronics, but are they needed? Or do I just need a panel to plug into the provided jack and I'm done? And what should I expect the panel to do?
Thanks everyone.[/QUOTE

Renogy has a nice kit that is great for starters, has everything you need and you can build on it. As for connectors, they make adapters to convert the SOLAR panel cable ends to the type your TT has, or you can make your own.

It is not so much as to what you expect the panel to do, but what you want to accomplish... supply enough power to only keep your batteries topped off, a night or 2 of dry camping or always dry camping. Just keeping your batteries topped off a 50 watt SOLAR (just under 5amps) panel kit should do fine. For any type of dry camping, I do not recommend any thing less than 200 watts, which will carry you through cloudy and rainy days. Battery wise, for no dry camping a regular inexpensive 12 volt RV/Marine hybrid deep cycle battery is fine. For a few days of dry camping (2) 12 batteries like the above ones will be fine. If you plan on serious dry camping, (2) 6volt batteries would be recommended. To figure out how much SOLAR your batteries will need, a general rule of thumb is 1watt of SOLAR for each Ah of battery rating.

Don
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