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Installing a Solar Panel System – The Solar Controller

For Part 2, Truck Camper Magazine and Team Emerick install the Zamp Solar Controller, finish the install, and test the solar system.  Then TCM kills two batteries, and learns an expensive lesson.

Zamp solar panel controller installation

This article picks up from Installing a Solar Panel System Part 1.  If you haven’t read that article, please start there.

With the Zamp 150-watt solar panel and junction box installed on the camper roof, we moved inside the camper to install the solar controller and required wiring.

Solar-Controller-prep-area-picked-out

Donny Emerick measured the solar controller and penciled the required opening (top left) for the solar controller on the interior camper wall.

Solar-Controller-cuttingSolar-Controller-cutting-2Solar-Controller-cutting-3

 
He then used a corded Dremel Multi-Max to cut the panel space out from the wall.  This tool requires a steady hand to avoid cutting through the panel board.

Solar-Controller-cut-hole

With the panel cut, we were ready to connect the wires from the solar panel to the solar controller.  Before we cut the 8-gauge wire to length, we verified that it was conducting power from the solar panel with the multi-meter.

Solar-Controller-blanket-panel

Once verified, Tom had us cover the roof mounted solar panel with a blanket to avoid a possible shock when cutting and handling the wiring.  With Tom, it’s always safety first.

Solar-Controller-multimeter-testing

The 8-gauge wire featured a ridge on one side of the plastic insulation.  Using the multi-meter, we were able to determine that this ridge identified the positive wire and the non-ridge flat side was the negative wire.

Solar-Controller-negative-positive

Using a pair of snips, cutting the 8-gauge wire was relatively easy, but stripping the wire proved quite a challenge.  The wire was too thick for a typical wire stripper, like the one we used during the CO and LP detector install.

To cut back the insulation and expose the bare wire, we used the same snips we had used to cut the wire, and carefully cut into the plastic insulation as to not cut the metal wire inside.  With the plastic insulation cut back, we crimped the Zamp supplied connectors onto the wire.

Solar-Controller-harley-helping

Above: Harley overseeing the installation to make sure it was done correctly

Solar-Controller-1-splice-wireSolar-Controller-2-wires-partly-onSolar-Controller-3-wires-on

 
With the positive and negative wires identified, we connected the 8 gauge wire to the Zamp solar controller accordingly.

Solar-Controller-harley-drilling

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