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Old 12-11-2014, 07:58 PM   #1
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Small solar for battery maintenance

I'm getting older and the batteries in my 99 Airstream (Ford Chassis) are hard to get out. Winters here in Memphis area are generally mild with a few brief intervals of temps in the teens. I bought a 20 watt solar cell to set on the dash, connected to the two 12 v. coach batteries with a little controller and a 7 watt solar cell plugged into the cigar lighter for the chassis battery. I plan to leave things this way for the winter, counting on about 5-6 hours of sunlight most days to keep things charged and protected. I know some of you have had experience with such an approach, so I am looking for advice as to how well you think this will work.
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Old 12-11-2014, 08:08 PM   #2
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Both our Dutch Stars have come with a 5W solar panel on the roof to maintain the batteries. I don't know how well it works since I keep it plugged into shore power all the time at home.
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Old 12-11-2014, 08:24 PM   #3
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Should work fine to maintain but 20 watts is only a 1.5 amp charge at best so make sure you are at a good 12.5 volts or better when you start out.
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Old 12-11-2014, 09:06 PM   #4
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i am not sure but i suspect 1.5a may not be good enough as many parasite devices are on board. my suggestion is to keep an eye open for it. if you see a sign of battery getting weak, supplementary steps may be in order.
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Old 12-11-2014, 09:20 PM   #5
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I tried a 10w panel to maintain the coach batteries (2), didn't work well. Went with a 15W panel for the coach batteries, and use the 10W on the single chassis battery, every thing fine now. I would go with alligator clips directly on the batteries, rather than thru the cig. lighter.


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Old 12-12-2014, 07:32 AM   #6
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I am concerned that being mounted on the dash is going to limit the sun too much. Anyway to temporarily mount them on the roof?

Remember that in the winter, the sun is further down along the horizon. If the panels are facing the correct direction and tilted, they will get more sun.

Just a thought, don't windshields have UV protection, and block UV rays?
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Old 12-12-2014, 07:55 AM   #7
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I am concerned that being mounted on the dash is going to limit the sun too much. Anyway to temporarily mount them on the roof?

Remember that in the winter, the sun is further down along the horizon. If the panels are facing the correct direction and tilted, they will get more sun.

Just a thought, don't windshields have UV protection, and block UV rays?

Yes.....I have found that putting a panel on the dash cuts its output in half or more, versus out in the open.

I just got a bigger panel to compensate....but it's still not a perfect scenario....permanent mount would be better.
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Old 12-12-2014, 08:41 AM   #8
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I have a 100 watt panel on the roof. It keeps all 4 house batteries and the 2 start batteries up all winter in the Cloudy side of the PNW. Very small watt output means small amp out put, May or may not keep batteries up. Only time will tell.

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Old 12-12-2014, 10:03 AM   #9
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I have a 100 watt panel on the roof. It keeps all 4 house batteries and the 2 start batteries up all winter in the Cloudy side of the PNW. Very small watt output means small amp out put, May or may not keep batteries up. Only time will tell.

LEN
ditto, likely too small.
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Old 12-12-2014, 10:23 PM   #10
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Those panels do not work well on a good day...

The front glass is usually treated to block some uv light so panels are less output.

They also need good light...

Anyway, FLOAT charge is 0.1% C so if battery is say 100 amp hours 1% would be 1 amp or 13.5 watts (using 13.5 volts for float) so 0.1% would be less than 2 watts.

But battery needs to be fully charged snd DISCONNECTED.

We used 5 watt panels flat mounted to the tops of our generators to maintain their starting batteries without any type of controller and it worked fine but your mileage may differ
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Old 12-12-2014, 10:42 PM   #11
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I am on shore power when Motor Home is stored for the winter. The coach batteries are taken care of and kept charged when using shore power. The chassis battery is not so I purchased a $18 battery maintainer from Walmart and hooked it up to the chassis battery. Now I don't worry about my batteries in the winter time. The battery maintainer keeps the chassis battery charged and when fully charged it goes to a float charge to maintain the battery. I could put one on the coach (House) Batteries, but no need to since the Converter takes care of that.
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Old 12-13-2014, 10:21 AM   #12
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Thanks to all of you. I hadn't realized the windshield would cut output so much, so I may get a somewhat larger one and retire the 7 watt. My storage yard doesn't have plugins, but it is a 24 hour, fenced place so I might be able to temporarily attach them to the roof if that proves inadequate. I will check the resting voltage in a couple of weeks and see. Thanks again.
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Old 12-13-2014, 10:54 AM   #13
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Many units have extra wire or 12 volts at roof ac.

Often a panel is attached to top of ac for battery floating.

See what you have as that is easy option.
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