Factory Solar System on 2014 Trillium Sidekick - Fiberglass RV
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Old 09-18-2020, 11:15 AM   #1
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Factory Solar System on 2014 Trillium Sidekick

Hello Fiberglass RVers!

I had purchased a 2014 Trillium 1500 sidekick manufactured by Great West Vans. It has a factory solar panel on the roof and a little battery power check meter inside on the side of the cupboard by the door. From what I can tell this is an 80 watt panel. What I can't tell is if there is a charge controller between the panel and the battery, or if the battery check meter is also a charge controller. I don't have any manuals for this unit. If anyone out there has a similar until I would appreciate any information on the solar system. Manufacturer of the panel, power check meter, or any photos or scans of the manual would be a big help. I am concerned that if there is no charge controller it is going to fry the battery. Thanks and happy camping!

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Old 09-19-2020, 03:58 AM   #2
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I can't imagine any manufacturer installing a solar system with out some sort of controller. Most panels intended for 12 volt use have an open circuit voltage of 18 - 22 volts. If you can locate the solar feed near the battery , disconnect it and measure, you should be able to tell. Most controllers will not produce an output unless connected. Obviously, you need to be in full sun when measuring but you might want to cover the panel when disconnecting to avoid sparks near the battery.
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Old 04-05-2021, 05:52 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raz View Post
I can't imagine any manufacturer installing a solar system with out some sort of controller. Most panels intended for 12 volt use have an open circuit voltage of 18 - 22 volts. If you can locate the solar feed near the battery , disconnect it and measure, you should be able to tell. Most controllers will not produce an output unless connected. Obviously, you need to be in full sun when measuring but you might want to cover the panel when disconnecting to avoid sparks near the battery.
I finally got to pulling out the Trillium and testing this. I couldn't find the cables for the panel so I disconnected the battery leads and tested in full sun. I was getting a reading of 14.22 volts consistently. I guess it must have a charge controller. I seem to remember Tom Young saying the panel had a charge controller built in. I wish I knew the make and model of the panel, I don't want to get up on the roof and poke around just yet. My battery won't run the fridge as I let it die down by accident. I am thinking to get a LifePo4 battery with a BCM built in with bluetooth so I can monitor it better.
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Old 04-14-2021, 08:55 AM   #4
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2014 Trillium Sidekick Solar

I have the Trillium Sidekick 2014. It has a Zamp Solar ZS-6AW Solar Panel/Controller package. The solar controller is located behind the Progressive Dynamics Controller.

Zamp Solar ZS-6AW

The Zamp Solar ZS-6AW is a 3 Stage 6 Amp PWM Waterproof Solar Charge Controller for use in 12 volt systems with gel, AGM, wet and calcium Batteries. Unit is potted in Epoxy Resin rendering the internal components waterproof and weatherproof. Built-in regulator prevents battery overcharge, discharge and damage. Connect to the battery permanently to keep the battery fully charged when used with a solar panel. This process also reduces water loss in wet type deep cycle batteries.
Key Features:
* Low power and cost effective ideal for remote locations
* 0 to 100 % Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) Charging Technology
* 100% SOLID STATE: All power switching is done with MOSFET
* Surface Mount
* Suitable for Solar Panels up to 100 Watts
Technical Specifications:
* Battery System Voltage: 12V
* Max. PV Open Circuit Voltage: 26V
* Max. PV Short Circuit Current: 6A
* PWM Setpoint: 14.3V (Sealed), 14.8V (Wet)
* Min. Operating Voltage: 3V
* Rated Charging Current: 6A
* Max. Load Current (1 min.): 8A
* Max Charging Current (5 min.): 8A
* Rated Load Current: 6A
* Ambient Temperature Range: -40 - +60C
* Relative Humidity: 100%
* Approvals: EN 55022 / EN 61000 / FCC Part 15 Subpart B Class B
* Dimensions (mm): 97 L x 46 W X 20.5 H
* Weight: 103g
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Old 04-14-2021, 09:44 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Erik_2 View Post
I have the Trillium Sidekick 2014. It has a Zamp Solar ZS-6AW Solar Panel/Controller package. The solar controller is located behind the Progressive Dynamics Controller.

Zamp Solar ZS-6AW

The Zamp Solar ZS-6AW is a 3 Stage 6 Amp PWM Waterproof Solar Charge Controller for use in 12 volt systems with gel, AGM, wet and calcium Batteries. Unit is potted in Epoxy Resin rendering the internal components waterproof and weatherproof. Built-in regulator prevents battery overcharge, discharge and damage. Connect to the battery permanently to keep the battery fully charged when used with a solar panel. This process also reduces water loss in wet type deep cycle batteries.
Key Features:
* Low power and cost effective ideal for remote locations
* 0 to 100 % Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) Charging Technology
* 100% SOLID STATE: All power switching is done with MOSFET
* Surface Mount
* Suitable for Solar Panels up to 100 Watts
Technical Specifications:
* Battery System Voltage: 12V
* Max. PV Open Circuit Voltage: 26V
* Max. PV Short Circuit Current: 6A
* PWM Setpoint: 14.3V (Sealed), 14.8V (Wet)
* Min. Operating Voltage: 3V
* Rated Charging Current: 6A
* Max. Load Current (1 min.): 8A
* Max Charging Current (5 min.): 8A
* Rated Load Current: 6A
* Ambient Temperature Range: -40 - +60C
* Relative Humidity: 100%
* Approvals: EN 55022 / EN 61000 / FCC Part 15 Subpart B Class B
* Dimensions (mm): 97 L x 46 W X 20.5 H
* Weight: 103g
Thanks this is great information! How did you access the solar charge controller? Did you have to pull the Progressive Dynamics converter to get to it?
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Old 04-14-2021, 02:52 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodre View Post
Thanks this is great information! How did you access the solar charge controller? Did you have to pull the Progressive Dynamics converter to get to it?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodre View Post
Thanks this is great information! How did you access the solar charge controller? Did you have to pull the Progressive Dynamics converter to get to it?
Yes.

The Zamp Controller has two black (maybe one is a different color) wires and one blue wire. The blue wire is not connected. The isn't anything to do with it.

See: https://www.capsells.com/products/za...ontroller.html
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Old 04-23-2021, 12:18 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Erik_2 View Post
Yes.

The Zamp Controller has two black (maybe one is a different color) wires and one blue wire. The blue wire is not connected. The isn't anything to do with it.

See: https://www.capsells.com/products/za...ontroller.html
I contacted Zamp and they sent me the manual. According to the manual if the blue wire isn't connected then it is setup for a sealed/AGM battery. This explains why I was only getting 14.22V in full sun. If you have a wet lead acid battery you are going to want to connect that blue wire to the battery negative terminal on the charge controller or else you are not going to get a full charge on the wet battery and might end up damaging it.

I think I'm going to swap mine out for an MPPT controller with either a remote head unit or bluetooth so I can get a better charge, set the battery type, and monitor it remotely.

Manual attached.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf ZS-6-AW.pdf (218.3 KB, 1 views)
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Old 04-23-2021, 02:56 PM   #8
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Sure looks like the Blue Wire should be connected

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodre View Post
I contacted Zamp and they sent me the manual. According to the manual if the blue wire isn't connected then it is setup for a sealed/AGM battery. This explains why I was only getting 14.22V in full sun. If you have a wet lead acid battery you are going to want to connect that blue wire to the battery negative terminal on the charge controller or else you are not going to get a full charge on the wet battery and might end up damaging it.

I think I'm going to swap mine out for an MPPT controller with either a remote head unit or bluetooth so I can get a better charge, set the battery type, and monitor it remotely.

Manual attached.
Thank you for the manual. I am going to connect the blue wire to my two 6 volts.

I am actually going to upgrade the KIB Charging/Good/Fair/Poor battery monitor with a Bogard Engineering Trimetric TM-2039-RV Battery Controller: https://www.solar-electric.com/bogar...y-monitor.html

FYI: The Zamp Solar Panel is mounted lower that the Dometic AC. Many solar panels cannot tolerate even a small area on the panel that is shaded. A little shade takes-out much of the potential. It would be worth investigating the kind of panel and whether it has this kind of problem. I would like to know if you get > 14.22V.

FYI: My Trillium's frame cracked and separated completely while driving 55 mph on the Interstate. Two different factory welds separated. Right where the A-frame connects. Eclipse Trailer had a recall and they provided the frames to Trillium. Take a look. It only costed $300 to fix and beef-up with strong plates. Almost lost the Trillium.
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Old 04-23-2021, 04:00 PM   #9
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Re: Zamp Solar Blue Wire

I chatted with Zamp Solar regarding the blue wire. Apparently the blue wire is not really important:

Welcome to Zamp Solar! Do you have any questions?
I have an older Zamp Solar ZS-6AW panel/controller combo. The blue wire on the controller was not connected by the RV Manufaturer. I have two wet 6 Volt Batteries. What does the blue wire do?

Is is worth pulling 20' of 18 gauge to connect the blue wire to the battery?

J.C.
I wouldn't - honestly that's a product from 2011. A survey of the folks that were around at that time is that wire was for future developments (like powering a light without first going to the battery bank). If you've got a postive and a negative connected to the battery, youre probably fine.

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Old 04-23-2021, 04:19 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik_2 View Post
I chatted with Zamp Solar regarding the blue wire. Apparently the blue wire is not really important:

Welcome to Zamp Solar! Do you have any questions?
I have an older Zamp Solar ZS-6AW panel/controller combo. The blue wire on the controller was not connected by the RV Manufaturer. I have two wet 6 Volt Batteries. What does the blue wire do?

Is is worth pulling 20' of 18 gauge to connect the blue wire to the battery?

J.C.
I wouldn't - honestly that's a product from 2011. A survey of the folks that were around at that time is that wire was for future developments (like powering a light without first going to the battery bank). If you've got a postive and a negative connected to the battery, youre probably fine.

I think the person who responded was talking about the model that has the "load" terminals. The manual clearly states that the blue wire needs to be connected to the negative battery terminal (a few inches away from the blue wire terminal) on the controller itself to get a 14.8V charge to desulfate a wet lead acid battery to allow it to get a full charge. If a wet battery doesn't get desulfated the capacity gets reduced. Sealed/AGM batteries don't need the desulfation charge and can get damaged with a charge of over 14.6. That is why if the blue wire is not connected the controller only puts out a max charge of 14.3V. I am guessing these trailers shipped with an AGM battery. If your battery is an AGM battery you don't want the blue wire connected to anything.

I ordered a Victron SmartSolar 75/10 MPPT controller with bluetooth monitoring and the battery volt/temp monitor optional accessory to replace the factory Zamp one with. When I go to pull the Zamp controller I will test it and post some pics and voltages here.
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Old 05-01-2021, 10:14 PM   #11
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I tested the Zamp controller after I pulled it. I hooked up 2 x 40Watt panels in parallel I have kicking around in full sun. Without the blue wire connected to the negative battery terminal I was getting exactly 14.26 volts. With the blue wire connected to I was getting 14.72 volts. If you have a wet lead acid battery you should probably have the blue wire connected.

I scrapped the Zamp and installed the Victron SmartSolar 75/10 MPPT controller and the Smart Battery Sense. This is a pretty awesome system because the controller and the Smart battery Sense communicate with each other over a network you configure (the whole thing took less than 5 minutes with their awesome app) to get the best charging based on volts and temperature at the battery. The app is awesome, I can see how much power is being generated. I even set it up so the load outputs on the controller to control all the DC voltage (minus the brake and clearance lights) so now I can see how much power I am consuming using use the fridge, water pump, heater blower fan, Fantastic roof fan and interior lights. I can even turn off all the DC power using the app for when the trailer isn't being used. This system solved all my problems and I can even view the power stats while I am inside the tow vehicle or sitting outside. The best part is I can hook up another Victron Smart series controller directly to the battery at the tongue and have it and the one inside communicate over the smart network to work together to charge the battery in tandem! This solves my other problem where if I am parked in the shade or the sun is in the wrong direction etc I can hook up some folding portable panels to the battery connected controller and position them wherever I want. I was so impressed with this system that I ordered another Victron SmartSolar 75/15 (a little bigger as it has 15 amps charge output vs. 10amps and a couple of soft sided folding 130 watt panels to complete my system. My running out of power concerns are finally over LoL... But really, I highly recommend the Victron stuff, I am super impressed with how it all works and how good the app is. It even has historical charting for the solar generation, battery power, and load usage. I didn't even need to drill any holes to get this setup. I don't get impressed easy by tech stuff, as it usually over promises and under delivers, or the manuals are crappy, or the apps are flakey but this stuff just works! At first I thought it was a little pricey but after I got it hooked up and working and can see all the stats and be in full control of the power I am super happy with it.

I checked my frame and it has fish plates welded to the joints where the A frame connects to the chassis. Judging from the paint it looks like it was done at the factory. Did yours have the fish plates?
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Old 05-03-2021, 02:08 PM   #12
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I should mention that if you go to rewire the load outputs from a solar charge controller to the power center/distribution panel to control and monitor the DC output do yourself a favor and rewire the whole thing. It has become painfully obvious to me that the person who wired this at the factory had no business wiring anything and in my opinion it is a potential fire hazard. They had almost all the negative wires twisted together and using a single slot in the negative DC bus bar despite there being free spots available. Then they connected the 12 volt wineguard combination coax and 12 volt socket on the same negative connection as the fridge (2 potentially high current devices depending on what you have plugged into the 12 volt socket). When I went to rewire the 12 volt socket to its own dedicated circuit on the power center I noticed a nice big chunk of wire insulation, deep enough to take a nick out of the center wire in the coax cable and the negative pole for the 12 volt socket, obviously cut and damaged at the factory. Thankfully there was enough slack for me to cut and recrimp the coax and I was replacing the negative pole anyways on the 12 volt socket. Prior to rewiring all this my fridge was having problems starting from time to time when on battery (with nothing else turned on) without being hooked up to the tow vehicle or shore power, despite the battery having a full 12.8 volt charge. After rewiring everything it starts every time, even with the battery as low as 12.3 volts. I almost bought a new battery. If you decide to rewire do your self a favor and label all the wires and just disconnect them all from the get go - I started doing mine piece meal until I realized the depth of the problem and ended up having to rewire it all and wasted a bunch of time.
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Old 05-04-2021, 02:30 PM   #13
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With regard to the solar panel, after spending an hour sliding my cell phone with the video recording under the panel to try and get the info off of the specs label under the panel the model appears to be a Zamp ZS-M-100. Searching for this on the interwebs I was not able to find the data sheet. Further fishing my phone under the panel gives the following values (video is blurry so may be a little inaccurate):

100 watts
Open circuit voltage: 21.6V
Working voltage: 17.9V
Open circuit amps: 6.03A
Working amps: 5.59A
Panel Type: Monocrystalline

Now at least I know it is a 100W panel and not 85W as stated in the brochure.
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