I have wanted to add solar to the T@B all along. After using the trailer last summer we started to get an idea for how long the battery would last and what we could and couldn’t do. So I put some items on my wishlist after doing some research and left the idea on the back burner. Early this spring Geoff bought me a random gift of the solar controller I wanted. It’s been sitting in the garage for a couple months bugging me and after attending the Rally and seeing how some other folks had theirs set up I decided to take the plunge and purchase the first (of two) panels.
I am using:
I found documentation on one T@B owner having the panel installed professionally where they drilled holes in the shell which was kind of freaking me out a bit. I know Geoff would do so with exacting precision and attention, but still… hole… drilled… in… shell… At the Rally we saw someone else using the Uni-Solar panel and they wired it in through the tail light which seemed like a perfect solution! There are already wires coming to/from the battery from that location. I walked away for a bit and walked back and Geoff had the panel half adhered to the roof already. I guess we are committed 🙂
Geoff mounted the controller in the “equipment bench”-oh-my-god-don’t-put-storage-here! spot. It seemed like a logical location but does mean that we aren’t screwing down the top to that bench so we can check on it from time to time.
We had to order the right cables to connect the solar panel to the controller because they had some odd plastic connectors on them, but otherwise it was pretty much plug in panel, plug in battery, DONE!
While we were considering power options I ordered a 12volt outlet and a USB-to-12volt outlet to add to the panel on the equipment bench. We don’t use shore power often so we’ve been lacking somewhere to recharge our phones which this will provide.
I’ve since added the second panel as planned.
With the two panels, on a sunny day, I can recharge and maintain a full charge easily during the day. Before solar I would rarely use the fridge for fear of it draining the battery, but now I have been able to use whatever I want and have yet to drain the battery. I have confidence that I could sustain my electrical needs indefinitely in decent weather. Idon’t really stretch the system often, most of my trips are only three to four days during the summer months. Prior to the solar I had been very conscious of the battery usage to try to ensure I didn’t run out and there was no easy way to know the battery’s state. Pre-solar I only drained the battery once on a three day trip due to *cough* excessive use of the stereo (fridge was off) 🙂
I’ve experienced no issues with the adhesion of the panels, and I’ve been very happy with the ease of the setup. Because it’s requires so little attention I rarely check the controller to see the state of the battery because after doing so constantly the first trip or two it was always just fine.
One of these days I’ll get around to really testing out it’s duration at home when it’s overcast.