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Old 12-19-2012, 12:49 PM   #1
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Solar Charging Supplement During Storage

Can I use one of those Harbor Freight 1.5 watt solar chargers that plug into the cigar lighter.....to add a bit more charging....along with my already in use solar panel ....that came with my motorhome.....which is mounted on top of my AC unit ???????
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Old 12-19-2012, 12:55 PM   #2
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if 1.5 watt is not a misprint, I wouldn't bother. That's one tenth of an amp at full output (which doesn't happen often).
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Old 12-19-2012, 04:13 PM   #3
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I've been using the 1.5w to keep my motorcycle and car batteries 'topped up'.

What about using a 5w panel ??

http://www.amazon.com/Sunforce-50022...im_sbs_misc_10

Or a 15w panel ??

http://www.harborfreight.com/15-watt...nel-96418.html

I believe I read that the panel on top of my motorhome now (came from factory) is 3w....and just barely enough to keep the batteries topped up.

I want to add a bit more, because when I go into it, and turn on the power switches, the meters (2 different ones) say 11.9v to 12.1v
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Old 12-19-2012, 04:39 PM   #4
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I have used one to keep th tractor battery up over the winter for years. It is a smaller battery, but worked well.
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Old 12-19-2012, 04:49 PM   #5
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If I ever, and I won't, buy a panel just to maintain batteries again, it would be at least 25w. I replaced a 10w factory panel that didn't work with a new 15w panel. It barely did the job in the summer and was useless in the winter. Now, I live in Mich, if you live in a sunny state, then you may get by with 15w. I would forget anything less.
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Old 12-19-2012, 04:56 PM   #6
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Quote:
11.9v to 12.1v
This battery is essentially flat and well on the way to a very premature demise, so you are right, you need a "bit" more.

Best would be to replace the existing panel with at least a 80W panel and fit a reasonable solar regulator as well. Add a Trik-l-start unit or similar and it should keep both lots of batteries topped up while in storage. (mine is stored at Lancaster and my system works well)

Caution is needed if you just add a larger panel in parallel to the existing 4 watt one because often those systems don't have a regulator controlling the charge cycle because the small panel output current and maybe reduced maximum voltage doesn't require one.

If you go the way of feeding into the lighter socket, first check which battery is supplying it and whether it is live at all times. If you have to switch the power isolator on to have the socket live, then it is probable that all the phantom loads running will flatten the battery despite the increased solar input. Due to the very small amount of current supplied, especially during adverse conditions, anything as small as 1.5W isn't going to help much.

Looking down the aisle at night reminds me of landing at an airport - seemingly dozens of indicator lights shining - all of which add very little load, but collectively add up to an amp or more of 24/7 power drain
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Old 12-20-2012, 12:06 PM   #7
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Always keep in mind with solar that the "rated output" is with peak sun. This assumes that the rating is honest - not something that I would always trust on a cheapo panel. In the Winter, with short days and the sun low on the horizon, peak output may only be for a few hours. And that is if you "aim" the panel to the South.

As Tony stated above, If you have any current draw from the batteries, you will have to feed that even before there is current available for charging. If you are able to fully cut off all current draw with a cut off switch, salesman's switch, etc. then you can probably get away with 25 to 30 watts PER Large (Group 27 or 31) Battery. (Keeping in mind that the equivalent wattage - compared to a battery charger that is delivering current 24 hours a day - is about 25% in the Winter and 35% in the Summer). i.e. a 30 watt panel would be equal to about a one half amp plug in charger in the Winter.
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