Keystone Cougar Solar Install (Zamp Solar Ready)
My 2021 Keystone Cougar 368 MBI came with the Zamp Solar Read pre-install package. Basically, for those who are not aware, all that means is that it comes with the Zamp Solar port (2 ports) installed on the roof that is wired directly to the battery. There is an empty box in the storage area where the controller would be installed (not present) and a junction box that has the Romex running to it that is pre-wired to the fuse box and 3 outlets pre-wired. Basically, what is missing is the solar panels, the battery charging controller, and an inverter (plus all necessary wiring and installation.
Disclaimer: I went with the lesser expensive, but totally fine for me solar panels, controller, inverter, and batteries. Everything works for me wonderfully and without fail. Anyone can chose their own equipment (lesser or more expensive), but the setup described here is pretty much the same.
Here is what I chose:
1. Renogy 2-Pack High-Efficiency 100 Watt Solar Panels (not the kit)
2. Renogy Rover 40 amp 12/24 DC MPPT Solar Charge Converter (can handle up to 400 W (4x100 Solar Panels).
3. BougeRV Solar Connectors Y-Branch Parallel Adapter (2 pairs for 4x100 Watt panels - 1 for now and 1 for later if I add 2 more solar panels)
4. Electop Solar Panel Connector Cable (SAE to Zamp conversion cable) with Polarity Reverse Adapter
5. Renogy Solar Panel Mounting Z Brackets (for 2 panels)
6. Everstart Maxx 1500 Power Inverter with USB port, 3X120V AC, digital display
7. Everstart 12v 24DC Deep Cycle Battery (102 Amp Hours AH) x 2 to match my 2x100 watt panels.
8. EverStart 24 inch 4-Gauge Top Post Battery Cables (4)
9. Inline fuse adapters 40 AMP
10. Dicor Self-Leveling Lap Sealant (1 tube)
The install is pretty straight forward and does not require any extra wire. On the roof I installed the 2x100 Renogy solar panels using the BougeRV Y-Connectors so that I could wire the 2x100 Watt solar panels in parallel. This was necessary because the Zamp roof panel only has 2 instead of 4 ports. That way I can have 2x100 Watt panels using 1 port and later I can add 1 or 2 more 100 Watt panels to extend my input power and use the other Zamp Port. You will need to use the Reverse Polarity Adapter because Zamp reverses the positive/negative (for proprietary reasons) and if you do not use it then your red positive and black negative cables will have the opposite polarity (and cause all kinds of problems and later confusion). Make sure that you have disconnected the red/black wires coming from your roof that are pre-connected to your battery service terminal before plugging in your solar panels to the roof. Also, DO NOT plug in the solar panels to the roof port until you have wired the battery bay first (solar converter to battery).
In the battery bay I spliced the red/black cables coming from the roof and wired in the 40 AMP fuse on the positive terminals that would go into the solar converter and to the battery. I then went on the roof and connected the solar panels to the Zamp roof port, again ensuring I had the Reverse Polarity Adapter connected. Then I went back to the battery bay and, using a voltmeter, made sure that red was positive and black was negative and not the opposite. Since you are getting electricity from the panels, this should be pretty straight-forward.
Once confirming that my cables had the correct polarity, I returned to the roof and unplugged the solar panels from the Zamp port. After that I went back to the battery bay and connected the red (plus in-line fuse)/black to the converter and the red (plus in-line fuse)/black from the converter to the battery using the provided instructions from Renogy. Once you have positive/negative to the converter from the battery, you will get a display. You will not get any reading for the solar panels yet since we removed them from the Zamp ports on the roof.
Once the converter was wired and I verified it was working, I proceeded to remove my old RV deep cycle battery and installed the 2 newly purchased 12v24DC 102AH batteries in parallel using the 4 EverStart 24 inch 4-Gauge Top Post Battery cables. After reading many forums and talking to many people, it was suggested to match 1x100Watt solar panel to 1x100AH (or close) battery. Since I wanted to have longer run times I went with 2x100 AH batteries to equal my 2x100 Watt panels and ensured they were of identical maker/had identical Amp Hours/and identical or extremely close date of manufacture. Again, at this step its to each his/her own how many panels/batteries you would want to install, but it is important that they are as close to identical as possible.
After installing my 2x12v24DC batteries in parallel, I wired the converter directly to the service port mounted on the wall where the they were before when i removed them (from the Zamp roof port). From there I installed the 1500 Watt inverter and also wired it directly to the #1 battery in the parallel (not to the battery service port on the wall). This is wired so that it will work both with shore power connected or disconnected.
Once everything was wired up and secure in the battery bay and I confirmed everything was in order I went up to the roof and once again plugged in the solar panels to the Zamp roof port. I went down to the battery bay and saw that my solar panels were working and were charging my battery!!! I went ahead and turned on my inverter and it was giving me some serious AC power!! I made sure to turn it off and then went to the roof and mounted the solar panels using the Renogy Solar Panel Mounting Z Brackets and sealed everything up with some Dicor Self-Leveling Lap Sealant.
As mentioned above, my setup works just fine for me. You can chose whatever you want that works for you, but the install should be the same! With my current setup I can add 1 or 2 more 100 Watt panels and wire the inverter to the Romex in the storage bay if I want that AC power to go to the 3 prewired outlets in my camper. I'll post a forum on that if I ever chose to do so. The only main difference between what I did and what you do will depend on if you go with the Zamp Solar panels or not. Important is always to make sure the polarity of your roof port panels (red/black cables) match the input polarity of your converter and to have in-line fuses on the positive cables going into your converter and from the converter to the battery. Also, never mix batteries of different type (flooded, gel) and ensure that both are as close to identical (especially Amp Hours). Its best to buy all your batteries all at once even if you don't plan on wiring/use them all at the same time.
That's it!! Hope you enjoy the pics below as much as I am enjoying my solar setup!! You can send me a message if you want the SKU numbers to everything I purchased as well as the cost. It was hands down very affordable!
Current: 2021 Cougar 368MBI
Past: 2020 Montana 3761 FL
Past: 2018 Cougar 326 SRX
Past: 2016 Outback 324CG
Past: 2014 Heartland Sundance 3310MKS
TV: 2011 RAM 3500 4x4 6.7 Cummins SRW
Past: 2007 RAM 3500 4x4 5.9 Cummins DRW
Past: 2005 RAM 1500 4x4 5.7 HEMI (300K+ miles)