Above: Harley helping with the solar controller installation
The positive and negative terminals on the Zamp solar controller were very well marked and, with a Phillips screw driver, simple to connect to our freshly cut, stripped, and crimped 8 gauge wire.
Connecting the Solar Controller to the Battery
With the solar panel connected to the junction box, and the junction box connected to the solar controller, the next step was to run 8-gauge wire from the solar controller to the battery.
Under the step-up to our cabover is our main fuse panel and circuit breakers. In this area we found a space to mount the resettable circuit breaker included as part of the Zamp kit.
A resettable circuit breaker (also known as a polyfuse or polyswitch) is designed to protect against power surges and faults. In this case, the resettable circuit breaker will protect the battery bank and solar panel system. If the resettable circuit breaker is triggered, it will reset itself once it cools.
Above: In the back of our fuse panel was a pre-wired fuse slot for a solar panel system
Like many modern truck campers, our camper was pre-wired for solar. On our camper, this pre-wire was found under the cabover step as an 8-gauge wire coming from the battery compartment. Locating and identifying this wire made the installation a lot easier. Had this wire not been installed by the manufacturer, we would have needed to run an additional 8 gauge wire from the resettable circuit breaker to the battery box.
Tip: Before installing a solar panel system, determine if your truck camper is pre-wired for solar. If it is, locate the pre-wire in advance. You may need to consult your owner’s manual or call your dealer or manufacturer for this information. If your camper is older, or is not pre-wired, make plans for an additional run of 8 gauge wire.
Additionally, our camper had a space in the main fuse box pre-labeled for solar. We installed a 20-amp fuse in this location in the corresponding fuse slot and connected the wires to the resettable circuit breaker. When the fuse was installed and the wiring was connected, we checked the connections with a multi-meter to make sure everything was connected correctly.
Above: Installing and connecting the resettable circuit breaker
Above: Tightening up the wires on the resettable circuit breaker
With the resettable circuit breaker installed, we connected the 8 gauge wire from the battery to the copper-color terminal (negative), and the 8-gauge wire from the solar controller to the silver-color terminal (positive).
At this point, everything was both installed and connected. All that was left was to reconnect the batteries. Following important safety practices, we reconnected the positive cable first, and then the negative cable.
Above: Tom looked over our work to double-check that everything was working properly
Once the battery bank was reconnected, we removed the blanket from the solar panel to see if the solar controller reported a charge from the solar panels. In other words, was the Zamp solar panel system charging the batteries, and working as it should?
When the blanket was removed, the solar controller instantly read 13.5 amps. The system was working beautifully. At this time we also set the Zamp controller to its wet cell batteries setting. If we had AGM batteries, we would have changed to the AGM battery setting.