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Author Topic: solar powered trickle charger for chassis?  (Read 256 times)

winona

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solar powered trickle charger for chassis?
« on: October 29, 2017, 01:07:55 PM »
Winnebago Trend on a Ram Promaster chassis

During winter, I've run the engine (and generator) monthly to keep batteries charged.  Someone suggested placing a trickle charger for the engine battery in the windshield with it plugged into the cigarette lighter.  Someone else said the heat generated won't be good for the windshield.  I also keep a sunshade in the dash as my Trend faces south.

So I'm back to do I just start everything once a month or is there an easier way?

Next question then is: In the past, I've not had it plugged into my garage during the winter.  Is there an advantage to keeping it plugged in for the winter?  Do I turn off the switch for the house batteries then? 

I'm female and not strong enough to hoist out batteries and lug them around, and I don't like to pester my son to always come to my aid.  I understand some basics of electricity --- like when I walk into a room and turn on the light.     ::) 
Winnebago Trend
Dorothy and Bailey, my big loveable lab

Lou Schneider

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Re: solar powered trickle charger for chassis?
« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2017, 02:04:23 PM »
There are usually parasitic loads in an RV that will gradually discharge the batteries, that's why some RVs have a battery disconnect switch.  Even so, batteries gradually discharge on their own so it's a good idea to have some kind of charger if the RV is going to sit unused for several months.

I have one of those windshield solar chargers and it works great.  It doesn't reflect any more heat onto the windshield than the dashboard itself, so that isn't a problem.

It does require that the windshield be in full sun for several hours a day (it won't charge in the shade) and the cigarette lighter has to be connected to the chassis battery and not to the house batteries.  And the socket has to remain energized when the ignition is off ... some chassis disconnect the socket except when the engine is running so you can't accidentally drain the starting battery.

Another option is to mount the solar panel on the roof and run the charging wires directly to the chassis battery.

Be aware that if you have standard wet cell batteries, you will have to check the water level in each cell and add water as needed on a regular basis.  Maybe once a month while you're using them, every couple of months while in storage.  AGM batteries don't require this but they're more expensive.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2017, 02:12:42 PM by Lou Schneider »

HappyWanderer

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Re: solar powered trickle charger for chassis?
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2017, 02:17:43 PM »
Running the engine is potentially doing more harm than good, as moisture is created in the process. If the engine and transmission aren't brought up to full operating temperature, that moisture will cause issues. Do run the generator monthly under load.

Just leave it plugged in and let the converter/charger do its thing. Check the battery water level monthly, if applicable. If the chassis battery isn't charged by the converter, obtain an inexpensive Battery Tender for it and leave that plugged in as well.
I don't have gray hair. I have wisdom highlights.

grashley

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Re: solar powered trickle charger for chassis?
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2017, 09:21:08 PM »
Running the generator is a separate issue, and it should be run monthly, under load.

The separate issue is charging the batteries.  This MAY need separate chargers for the house and chassis batteries.

The solar option is great, BUT, as Lou said, determine if the lighter socket is powered with the key removed.  On my Honda, the GPS plugged into the lighter goes OFF when I turn the engine off.  In my Ford truck, it does NOT go off.  The solar charger would work fine on the truck, but would not work on the car.
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Arch Hoagland

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Re: solar powered trickle charger for chassis?
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2017, 01:38:50 AM »
https://www.amazon.com/WirthCo-20128-Battery-Disconnect-Terminal/dp/B000CQFWLY 

If you use this your batteries will remain charged.


If you leave plugged in and use a charger it's very important that you check your battery water levels on a monthly basis.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2017, 01:40:27 AM by Arch Hoagland »
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Old Blevins

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Re: solar powered trickle charger for chassis?
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2017, 11:59:48 AM »
 If you use a battery disconnect, it will remove the parasitic loads, and that will help .  But even with no load, batteries slowly discharge.  Keeping a trickle charger on them is a good idea.
Jim
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winona

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Re: solar powered trickle charger for chassis?
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2017, 01:43:23 PM »
Thanks all of you above for good ideas. 

I'll have to check to see if my cigarette lighter still works with the engine off.  When I use my Garmin, I know it asks if I want to power off, but I also think sometimes it just shuts off.  Not much sense in plugging a charger to something that can't charge, huh. 

Any suggestions on what to look for in a trickle charger?

I also know that running the engine for a short time doesn't get the moisture out, and yes, I run the generator under load.  Beyond that, batteries are foreign to me.  Am googling battery maintenance and trying to absorb and understand.
Winnebago Trend
Dorothy and Bailey, my big loveable lab

HappyWanderer

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Re: solar powered trickle charger for chassis?
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2017, 02:02:04 PM »
For a trickle charger: Battery Tender Plus by Deltran. Inexpensive, locally available, pretty much fool proof.
I don't have gray hair. I have wisdom highlights.

RedandSilver

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Re: solar powered trickle charger for chassis?
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2017, 06:34:46 PM »
Thanks all of you above for good ideas. 
When I use my Garmin, I know it asks if I want to power off

If it asks you - if you want to shut the unit off and a countdown starts then it detected that the power was turned off.
Therefore your sockets are likely not powered up if the key is not turned on.

If you can't do it - I'm sure someone can wire the socket to be on all the time which then should allow you to backfeed
off a dash solar panel to trickle charge the chassis batteries.
2002 Rexhall Rose Air  Cummins 8.3  350hp

 

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