SOLAR Controler - Fiberglass RV
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Old 08-22-2009, 08:27 AM   #1
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Trailer: 2000 Scamp 16 ft Side Dinette Deluxe / 1997 Toyota T-100
Posts: 177
My controler went bad for my solar panels (harbor freight) does anyone have a good source for controls and any recommendations.
Thanks DAVE
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Old 08-22-2009, 08:12 PM   #2
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Trailer: Boler 1975 13 ft
Posts: 64
I purchased mine from Real Goods The have a large collection of solar equipment. I started with a Xantrex but it didn't work out and now have a morningstar controller with the remote meter inside my Boler. Looks like they have added a new line from Phocos at better prices since I bought mine. They have great techs that are available by phone who have helped me a lot.

With a total of 180 watts I am finally all solar, including the 12 volt fridge.
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Old 08-22-2009, 11:00 PM   #3
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Trailer: 1972 Boler American and 1979 Trillium 4500
Posts: 5,141
I've got the phocos CXN. Works nice so far. I also got the cable to download data to my computer and the display unit. There is a quirk or two with the controller that one must consider as it is designed to be connected to a solar panel 24/7 to determine sunrise /sunset times. That ultimately controls the load and power levels.

OTOH you can just use the controller to charge and bypass the load part of the controller as that is meant to protect the battery from being over drawn.
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Old 08-22-2009, 11:18 PM   #4
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Trailer: Former Burro owner and fan!
Posts: 9,015
This is the brand I use.

ASC charger contollers.

It's bullet proof. (Except when some stupid woman is yakking and not pay attention and hooks it up to the battery backwards)

6 years of more than average use, 4 months full time solid use last summer.. not even so much as a minor burp out of it. They just... keep going.

My new system has the ASC 12/12, but I was using the 12/4 before.

Simple, yet elegant..
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Old 08-23-2009, 12:13 AM   #5
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Trailer: 2005 19 ft Scamp 19 ft 5th Wheel
Posts: 1,555
For small solar systems (10 amps, 170 watts and under) the two I like are the Sunsei CC-10000 and Morningstar SS10-12. Both employ pulse wave modulation technology that helps you get the absolute maximum amount of power possible from your solar panels.

The Sunsei controller, the one I use, is the cheaper option ($40) and very simple to hook up. You connect your solar panels to one pair (positive and negative) of terminals and a second terminal pair to your battery charge and neutral lines. Once installed the controller has a single LED indicator light that glows green when the unit is busy taking solar-generated power and feeding that voltage to the battery.

The Morningstar controller is slightly more complicated and slightly more expensive ($60). It has three sets of connectors: one pair for the solar panels, one pair for the battery, and a third pair for your trailer's 12 volt electrical gadgets, plus a jumper you should set if you're using gel-cell batteries (most of us don't). This unit has two LEDs: a charge indicator that glows green when the battery is being charged and a LED that glows red when the battery has fallen below

The Morningstar unit has some advantages and disadvantages compared to the Sunsei unit. Its major nifty feature is a battery management system that disconnects the battery from the trailer's 12v lights and appliances when the battery voltage falls below 11.6 volts and prevents excessive damage by a process called sulphation that occurs when batteries are excessively discharged. A very useful feature if you plan to use an inexpensive "flooded" battery, but not quite so important if you plan on using a more expensive "AGM" (Absorbed Glass Mat) battery.

The down side of this feature is there are times when your trailer will suddenly go dark and the total "load" of all your trailer's lights and appliances need to be limited to 10 to 12.5 amps, a figure that can easily be exceeded when a trailer's water pump, furnace, and a few incandescent lights are turned on at the same time.

One item of note with the Morningstar unit is it comes set with the "sealed battery" (gel cell) jumper installed. When this jumper is installed the controller limits the system's charging voltage to a maximum of 14.1 volts to protect a gel-cell's "gel" electrolyte from boiling and creating battery killing bubbles in the gel. If you use standard "flooded" or "AGM" style batteries you should remove this jumper to increase the maximum charging voltage to 14.1 volts.

Either of these two controllers are excellent products. Since our trailer has an AGM battery and I don't need to worry about excessively discharge quite as much I chose the simpler and less expensive Sunsei controller for my 105 watt setup. If, on the other hand, I planned to use less expensive and less durable flooded cell batteries I would have gone with the Morningstar unit.
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Old 08-24-2009, 11:09 PM   #6
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Trailer: 2000 Scamp 16 ft Side Dinette Deluxe / 1997 Toyota T-100
Posts: 177
OK lets see if I get this right the Harbor Freight panels seem to work ok they say that each panel (3)
puts out 15 watts so with all 3 panels connected that would be 45 watts or 3.75 amps would a 4 amp contoller work for my panels and needs .
We boondock alot we are think of removing the furnace and a/c unit have not used them in 4 years and they just add weight. I am also adding LED lights (thanks Gina) to bring down the amp draw.
We like fishing in the back country!
Thanks Dave
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