Solar and USB Charger Mod
I've read many posts and would like to thank all those to have been so kind enough to share. I feel like it's kind of my duty to share my mods, to maybe inspire or help those looking to do something similar. Special thanks to Handbuilder...I borrowed your tongue jack mounting idea and it works so well!
I've read and learned more about solar than any one person should! I decided that a 100W panel would be fine for our charging needs. My first mod was to upgrade to 2 6V golf cart batteries and they work awesome. They hold their charge longer than I expected. The addition of solar keeps me at a higher charge (hopefully) and puts me at ease, rather than staring at the voltage constantly.
I went with a 100W Renogy Eclipse panel. Renogy was so helpful, I called and spoke with them a number of times, my first panel was damaged during shipping and then sent a replacement overnight. Awesome company, and that's why I went with them. If I have any issues I really feel comfortable that they are going to help me out.
The controller was a different deal...I needed or wanted a water proof controller. There are not many to choose from, the folks at Zamp were great. I spoke with them and settled on a ZS-10AW. So far my driveway testing is looking good!
After I felt comfortable that we will have charged batteries, I decided to add a USB charger. I swapped the cable outlet for a new switch plate that I modified to include a push button on and off and a charger. The USB charger has an LED that it always on when it's hot, so I elected to go with an on and off button to help conserve unnecessary battery drainage.
All in all I'd say the project went well...I did learn that the Dish Network bracket is 1 5/8 inches (standard fence post) the Direct TV is 2 inches...does not work! I found them on craigslist for free so I'm only out gas. I added a couple of lawn mower handle knobs for quick loosening to change the direction of the panel to follow the sun as much as possible. I connected the panel to the battery with 10 gauge wire with SAE quick connects...this allows me to swap between solar and battery tender when I pull the batteries for the winter. I did fuse both the + side from the panel to the controller and the + from the controller to the batteries, as suggested in the manual.
I'm really pretty happy with it, time will tell how it works, but so far my driveway testing is going well!