Solar Battery Chargers

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3,617
Location
Ohio
I am contemplating purchase of a solar battery charger for use on the 2003 Ranger in my signature. This vehicle is used pretty much as my yard cart and serves additional duties as my Menardsmobile/Loweslimo, and as such is not necessarily my daily driver. I have been having issues the last year with battery drainage, and according to the guy at Advance that tested it the last time, it has close to a 1 amp draw. Some day when I have time, we'll deal with it but for now, this task has been back bucketed. Due to where the vehicle is parked, use of a trickle charger is impractical due to having extension cords running across the driveway, thus the focus on a solar unit. However, none of the units that I have looked at have had decent reviews, let alone excellent ones. I have also read about these units draining the battery, which of course would be counterproductive to the desired outcome. This is the best unit that I have found so far. http://www.amazon.com/Schumacher-SP-400-...2K759XXCN1Z7QJH Schumacher also recommends use of a Solar Charge Controller to deal with the back feed issues. I would like to use the 12V plug option and put it on the dash of the truck when not in use. Looking for recommendations of good units and advice on whether or not my planned application is feasible or pointless. Thanks in advance.
 
Messages
36,528
Location
ME
The VW units on ebay used to be well respected. They put them in the cars in Germany Mexico before heading off on a long shipping voyage and they stay charged through retail delivery. At that point a dealership employee returns liberates the solar panel (with cigar plug) and sells it online for $15-20. edit, oops, they're pricier now.
 
Last edited:
Messages
25,985
Location
Upstate NY
Originally Posted By: eljefino
The VW units on ebay used to be well respected. They put them in the cars in Germany Mexico before heading off on a long shipping voyage and they stay charged through retail delivery. At that point a dealership employee returns liberates the solar panel (with cigar plug) and sells it online for $15-20. edit, oops, they're pricier now.
Mazda told me when their cars finally arrive in the US the batteries are all dead. Maybe they should use solar panels to charge.
 
Messages
2,219
Location
CA
I think, since you have a 12W parasitic draw, you're better off disconnecting the battery until you have time to work on it. Throwing a 12W 24/7 heat source at something that isn't supposed to be sinking 12W can't end good.
 
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689
Location
us
They used to sell these quick disconnect 12v switches that would clamp onto a battery post. Maybe a good enough solution?
 
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14,828
Location
Central NY
I use one of the 1.5w units from harbor freight on the Cherokee. It can sit a month opposed to 2 weeks before it drains a battery frown
 
Messages
419
Location
Seattle, WA
I bought a VW Charger a few months back, but haven't had too much luck with it.. Maybe my lot just doesn't get enough sun, but the battery drained just the same.
 
Messages
2,147
Location
Chicago, IL
I'm thinking that with a 1A draw, the battery will still be dead with a small panel like that. I would disconnect the battery (or at least pull fuses until you know what's drawing the additional power). If you want to go the solar panel route, I'd get something much larger, like this 15W panel from HF: http://www.harborfreight.com/15-watt-12-volt-solar-panel-96418.html Calculation-wise, your parasitic is drawing 1A, and your battery capacity has approximately 50Ah. Your battery should be dead in about 2 days at that rate. A 12W charger will essentially negate the parasitic draw when there is enough sun. Say you get 10h of sunlight, you roughly get back an extra 20h before it's completely drained. Just disconnect the battery.
 
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36,528
Location
ME
We don't know if that amp draw calms down after a minute or three like they sometimes do. But then they sometimes don't. Open the hood when it's dead quiet out and see if you hear any buzzing from anything. I'd try the computer, fan motor, relays, and alternator. Heck, shoot an IR gun at the stuff too.
 

Tdbo

Thread starter
Messages
3,617
Location
Ohio
Update (and more detail): It was about a month ago that I went out to start the truck and it was deader than a doornail. I was unable to start it with jumper cables and grabbed my Vector smart charger (all I had available at the time) and it would not charge, coming back with a bad battery code. Figured that the battery was substantially discharged and probably was not bad, since it was a 6 month old AAP Silver. Took battery out of truck and went to AAP. They tested it as discharged and put it on their charger for 1/2 hour and retested again and it came back good. Put battery back in and did the task that I needed the truck for. Brought it home and put my CTEC on it for 2 days. Took it back to AAP and had them check the battery and the charging system and he informed me that I had about a 1 amp draw on it. However, I drove the truck 2 weeks ago and it started fine. Went out just now and it ripped off just fine. If there was truly a 1 amp draw, it should have been deader than a door nail. I somewhat question the AAP diagnosis for this reason. Since we are starting to get some real cold weather, I know that I probably will start having this issue with it. That is why I am interested in some kind of a solar trickle charger because whether there is a draw or not, inactivity and cold weather are not necessarily a good combination on an old truck that sits outside. If I had ready access to electric where I park, I would simply put a regular trickle charger on it and I would probably be fine. However I don't, so thus the quandary.
 
Messages
10,912
Location
Cincinnati, OH, USA
I have a Northern Tool & a HF solar battery charger, they both look identical & they will maintain a charged battery as long as there isn't a big parasitic load. I would try it & see what happens, might be enough if you can get decent sun on it.
 
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