Solar Port

by Greg Zimmerman

A flush mounted solar port makes a Casita “solar ready”. A portable solar panel can be plugged in to help charge the battery when camping “off the grid”.

Because the plug is directly wired to the battery, it requires a solar charge controller which is included on “suitcase” style portable panels. Do not wire a bare solar panel without a controller, it will put too much unregulated voltage to the battery.

Items needed:  

  • Flush mounted solar port – available here: scroll down to part “D”
  • 4, 3/16 x 1/2 aluminum rivets
  • 12 gauge wire
  • 12 gauge ring terminals (2), 12 gauge butt connector
  • 12 gauge inline ATO fuse holder and fuse equal to solar controller output (10-30 amps)
  • Silicone sealant

Tools needed:

  • 3/4″ hole saw, 3/16″ bit, and drill
  • Rivet gun
  • Wire stripers/crimpers
  • Wrenches for battery and terminals

The solar port is also known as a “SAE” or “Zamp” port.

Note: Zamp reverses the polarity on their connectors. If using their panel, be sure the positive lead on the solar connector is going to the positive on the plug you are installing. If it’s reversed, you can swap the red and black wires on the battery.

Steps:

  1. Remove the battery
  2. Drill a 3/4” hole to the upper left of the battery door. Before drilling, feel on the backside with your hand so you can ensure the hole will end up inside the battery box.
  3. Insert the solar plug into the hole, mark, and drill the holes with a 3/16” bit
  4. Remove plug and use clear silicone RTV on the mounting surface and a little into each rivet hole.
  5. Re-install the plug and crimp the 4 rivets in place. Dab silicone on rivet heads.
  6. On the red wire from the plug, use a 12 gauge butt connector to splice to the fuse holder. On the remaining red and black wire ends, install the ring connectors.
  7. Insert the appropriate size ATO fuse into the holder based on your controller’s rating (usually 30 amp)
  8. Place battery on a step stool, and install the wires to the battery terminals. Red to Positive (where the black casita wire goes to), and black to negative (where the white and green casita wires go to). Reverse that for a Zamp panel.
  9. Bolt battery in and you’re done!
Rivets inserted, ready to be crimped.

11 comments

Marla King November 15, 2020 - 4:13 am

I want to do the solar upgrade so much. I keep researching. Is this. What I keep seeing for Casitas is Zamp.

Reply
Greg Zimmerman November 15, 2020 - 4:42 am

Zamp is the same plug, but they reverse the polarity of the wires. If you use a zamp panel, you need to swap the positive and negative wires, or use an adapter.

Reply
Ty February 2, 2021 - 1:29 am

Do you know of a good source for the cord that would connect to the plug and back to the solar system?

Thanks

Reply
Greg Zimmerman February 2, 2021 - 1:34 am

That depends on what connector your solar panel requires. SAE/Bullet? MC4?

Powerwerx has many. They have an SAE type extension cord at the bottom of this page, plus other options. Usually a portable solar panel comes with cables though. https://powerwerx.com/adapter-extension-cables

Reply
Steven Hofmann July 21, 2022 - 8:44 am

I have a Renogy 100W Solar suitcase connecting to Battle Born lithium battery
If I want to hook it to this type of port, would I need one of those small SAE polarity reverse adapters at the port?
Thanks

By the way….appreciate the Andersen Weight Distribution hitch order and info…working great on my Jeep Cherokee

Reply
Greg Zimmerman July 21, 2022 - 5:05 pm

Depends. If it’s the factory port it’s wired backwards for “zamp” panels. If it’s aftermarket port it’s probably wired correctly. If it’s wired Zamp style just reverse the wires to the battery so the positive is the red wire on the port. Or you can use an adapter.

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Steven Hofmann July 22, 2022 - 8:57 am

Thanks..bought a 10AWG SAE sidewall port with O Ring connectors to battery to mount to Casita so shouldnt need the adapter…also bought the MC4 to SAE adapter extension cable to connect to the Renogy MC4s cables….came with two SAE polarity reverse adapters but wont need those
Thanks for help

Reply
Steven Hofmann July 24, 2022 - 7:01 pm

Greg,
I have a 3/4 inch diamond hole saw to cut the hole…my solar port is same size as you show in your diagram…when I feel in the battery bay behind where the hole will be placed (and matching your location) it seems like it is very thick area to drill through (rubber backed?) and where the battery bay ceiling slopes downslopes inside, it looks 50/50 that the hole will be inside the battery bay..my Casita is a 2019 if that makes a difference….did you find the hole just barely came out inside of battery bay or did you have some extra room left to play with?
Steve

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Greg Zimmerman July 24, 2022 - 7:20 pm

It was really close. I even angles the bit a little bit towards the battery. The battery boxes aren’t all in exactly the same place. Another option, and I did this on my personal casita, was to put the solar port in the bottom. Looks better but harder to hook up to.

Reply
Kris July 25, 2022 - 5:59 pm

Can this be used with a Renogy suitcase and if so what connectors do I need and how do I connect it (worried about polarity).

Reply
Greg Zimmerman July 25, 2022 - 6:25 pm

Yes it can. The suitcase comes with the connectors. If you add the port the wiring will be right. If you use the factory installed port it’ll be backwards. Only Zamo brands are wired backwards. It’s easy to fix just swap the port’s wires going to the battery.

Reply

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