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Old 05-10-2013, 06:16 AM   #1
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Location: Central PA
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solar battery maintainer recommendation?

Hi all,

Looking for a (relatively) inexpensive roof-mounted solar panel / controller / mounting kit to maintain my chassis & coach batteries (one 12v battery each). I intend to use in in conjunction with a Trik-L-Start unit which I've just ordered.

I'm not intending to expect the panel to allow us to dry-camp; my main goal is to keep the batteries topped up without having to plug the rig into shore power while stored.

First choice would be a complete kit with controller & mounting hardware, though I'm open to a DIY mix also.

Any recommendations for output size? Any recommendations for specific brands / setups?

Thanks in advance!

Steve & Carol

2000 Jayco 3230K Designer
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Old 05-10-2013, 02:04 PM   #2
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Watch Craigslist for a ~100w panel. Add a quality solar controller such as from Morningstar.

Vince and Susan
2011 Tiffin Phaeton 40QTH (Cummins ISC/Freightliner)
Flat towing a modified 2005 Jeep (Rubicon Wrangler)
Previously a 2002 Fleetwood Pace Arrow 37A and a 1995 Safari Trek 2830.
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Old 05-11-2013, 02:55 PM   #3
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Most controllers charge only one bank of batteries. I have the Morningstar Duo which charges both the coach and chassis batteries. I have it set to put 90% charge to coach and 10% to chassis. If the coach batteries are fully charged, it will automatically route full charge to the chassis, and vice versa. I have one Kyocera 135w panel for two golf cart batteries, and it does a pretty good job of keeping them up even while boondocking. This is way overkill for your purposes, but the Morningstar Duo is one excellent option to keep both banks charged with a lesser solar panel. It would also give you the option of adding significantly more solar in the future, if you desire.

With a solar panel and a Duo controller for it, you have no need for that Trick-L-Start charger. Some people will tell you that a 10w solar panel is worthless, but that's simply not correct. However, if I were going to rely on a solar panel to do nothing but keep batteries up while in storage, I'd probably get a 40w and live comfortably with the overkill.
Ken & Jeannie
96 Vectra Grand Tour 35' DP
Jacey (terri-poo, waiting at the rainbow bridge), Jack (silky terrier)
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Old 05-12-2013, 07:21 PM   #4
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Thanks for the suggestions! I think I've found a good site & am just weighing my options & priorities
Steve & Carol

2000 Jayco 3230K Designer
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Old 05-13-2013, 08:06 AM   #5
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If all you are looking for is maintenance, check the harbor freight 45 watt solar kit for 150 bucks. Comes with panels, charge controller, the whole nine yards. Cheapest solution I have found to date and it seems to have rave reviews on the internet.
Network Engineer/Airbrush Artist in Tampa, FL
2006 Pilgrim Open Road 357RL & 1997 Fleetwood Southwind Storm
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battery, solar

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