Adding “Solar on the Side” to your GeoPro

“Solar on the Side” connector for the GeoPro is wired directly to the battery for easy charging with the right solar setup.

We love the standard solar package that came with our GeoPro. It has really met our needs and we’ve used it a lot now. However, in some climates or even shaded campsites, the stock 100W solar panel just can’t keep up. So we decided to invest in an additional 100W suitcase solar panel that we can use to ‘chase the sun’. You would think that there would be a logical package of cables and equipment that you’d need to just plug and go, especially given that the GeoPros and EPros have a “Solar on the Side” connector. This connector type is called “SAE” and it is a standard connector used in the automotive industry to trickle charge batteries. Basically, this connector is wired directly to the battery on the GeoPro, making it “easy” to add external solar. We really wanted a set-up that was as simple as possible so we could all hook it up and it was pretty foolproof. I learned A LOT about this and I’m going to just summarize what we bought and the modifications we made to get our 100W suitcase solar working on our GeoPro.

Parts List

  1. Renogy 100W suitcase solar panel with Voyager Charge Controller https://www.renogy.com/100-watt-12-volt-monocrystalline-foldable-solar-suitcase-with-voyager/
  2. iGreely Solar Panel to SAE Adapter 10AWG Cable Connector
  3. Renogy MC4 adapter kit
  4. MC4 Solar Extension Kit (30 feet)

So, here is the rub. When you plug in the iGreely SAE adapter, the polarity on the connector is correct (red to red, black to black and reads battery voltage). However, these panels are designed to connect with alligator clips to the battery and NOT to the SAE adapter on the side of the camper and they have the SAME connectors as the SAE plug, so if you were to just connect them up, the only way it works is to connect Red to Black and Black to Red. Not good. So, with a $9 adapter kit from Renogy, you can simple swap the connector types for the terminations on the charge controller and wire the panel straight through. Otherwise, you’d need a polarity reversing adapter on the SAE connector.

Here is the connection order that worked for us:

Connect the iGreely SAE to MC4 adapter to the Solar on the Side connector on the GeoPro. Connect the red extension female connector on the extension cable to the red wire on the SAE adapter and the black male connector on the extension cable to the black wire on the SAE adapter. This basically just make the cable longer but still has the same connector types on the ends.

Solar on the Side SAE to MC4 connector

Minor Field Surgery

Use the Renogy adapter kit to replace the Battery + and – connections with the correct type of MC4 termination. In our case, we used the female MC4 on the + battery connection and the male MC4 on the – connection on the charge controller. This operation just requires a simple phillips screwdriver and it took all of 2 minutes. Just loosen the locking screw, pull the old wires out, plug the new adapter kit wires in and tighten down the terminals.

Now connect the black female extension into the newly installed male MC4 on the – of the charge controller and connect the red male extension end into the new female MC4 on the + battery side.

Once this is done and the unit is in full sun you should be able to press the top button on the charge controller to scroll through the battery voltage, amps produced, etc..,

We replaced the Red and Black wire that come pre-wired to the charge controller with the correct ends to maintain polarity from the SAE connection to the panel.

Adjust the solar panel so that the shadow cast falls directly behind the panel.

Note: Not matter what solar panel you buy, you MUST also buy a charge controller. The controllers will avoid overcharging and damaging your batteries. The Renogy 100w suitcase can equipped with a charge controller but not all solar panels do. Just make sure the panel you buy comes with one or buy it separately.

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