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Author Topic: solar battery charger - does it need a regulator?  (Read 4081 times)

hpcmbw

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solar battery charger - does it need a regulator?
« on: June 02, 2009, 09:46:02 AM »
I recently inherited a mid 90's 5th wheel (Salem brand). It's sitting in storage and the battery is dead. I got a deep cycle battery to replace it. Now I need to keep the battery in good shape while the RV is in outside storage. I picked up a couple solar chargers from costco (2 for $25). I'm sure they put out minimal charge, but figured it would be enough to keep the battery good while in storage.  I also got one to hook up to my motorcycle battery.

I've recently been told I should get a regulator of some sort, to keep the solar battery charger from overcharging - especially on the little motorcycle battery. Is this correct? Do I need a regulator for the rv battery? Lastly, do some solar chargers actually drain the batteries overnight?

Thanks for any input.
1997 Salem 30' fifth wheel; 2000 F250 7.3 diesel; 1996 Four Wheel Truck Camper
Northern California

Luca1369

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Re: solar battery charger - does it need a regulator?
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2009, 01:17:14 PM »
For many years I used several solar panels on a sailboat loaded with golf cart batteries.  You have not mentioned the rated wattage of your panels, but 2 for $25 probably translates to minimal wattage.  Personally, I would not use any panels without a regulator of some sort, however, bearing in mind the minimal wattage of your panels, I would be inclined to not use a regulator for the 5er (making sure to check the batteries a couple of times a week during the day until I was comfortable) but certainly use a regulator for the bike (much smaller capacity battery).

In years past solar panels did indeed drain batteries overnight, but placing a diode inline eliminated that problem.  Most panels today have that diode installed; you'll need to check your owner's manual, but a regulator should also prevent loss.

Steve
Steve
1990 Fleetwood Southwind 36'
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I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move.
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: solar battery charger - does it need a regulator?
« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2009, 08:59:27 PM »
Those panels will put out so little power there is nothing to regulate. I'll bet they are no more than 0.3 amps each.

No, they don't run in reverse overnight. Your battery is safe. ;)
Gary
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Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

DonTom

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Re: solar battery charger - does it need a regulator?
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2009, 09:18:07 PM »
I've recently been told I should get a regulator of some sort, to keep the solar battery charger from overcharging - especially on the little motorcycle battery. Is this correct?

Keep an eye on the water level in the motorcycle battery. That will give you a clue.

If you feel it loses water too fast, a small solar controller like this one should help. Also, the PWM from the controller  will charge the battery more efficiently than a solar panel direct to the battery.

-Don- SSF, CA
« Last Edit: June 02, 2009, 09:21:57 PM by DonTom »
-Don-   AA6GA

2000 Fleetwood Tioga 24D, 7.4L

Eight motorcycles:
Original owner of:
1971 BMW R75/5
1984 Yamaha Venture
2002 Suzuki DR200SE
2013 Triumph Trophy SE
2016 Versys 650 LT
2016 Moto Guzzi Stelvio
2017 Zero DS ZF6.5
2017 Zero SR 13 w/pwr tank

hpcmbw

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Re: solar battery charger - does it need a regulator?
« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2009, 09:26:54 PM »
Thanks for the input. I checked the label and it says
input            0-18v DC, 0-125mA
output         125mA @15v DC max 1.8 watts

The product is from Sunforce out of Canada, and says item #317641-52012

Does this mean its enough juice to merit a regulator of some kind? I know nothing about electrical current, is 125mA less then or more then .3 amps?  If less then .3 amps, can I run leave it on my small motorcycle battery all year round?

Thanks!
1997 Salem 30' fifth wheel; 2000 F250 7.3 diesel; 1996 Four Wheel Truck Camper
Northern California

DonTom

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Re: solar battery charger - does it need a regulator?
« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2009, 09:38:19 PM »
Thanks for the input. I checked the label and it says
input            0-18v DC, 0-125mA
output         125mA @15v DC max 1.8 watts

The product is from Sunforce out of Canada, and says item #317641-52012

Does this mean its enough juice to merit a regulator of some kind? I know nothing about electrical current, is 125mA less then or more then .3 amps?  If less then .3 amps, can I run leave it on my small motorcycle battery all year round? Thanks!

.3 amps is 300 ma.  125mA is .125 amps so the answer is  less than .3 amps. It should be fine direct on your motorcycle battery all year because that ain't much of a charge. But what size motorcycle battery is it?

-Don- SSF, CA
-Don-   AA6GA

2000 Fleetwood Tioga 24D, 7.4L

Eight motorcycles:
Original owner of:
1971 BMW R75/5
1984 Yamaha Venture
2002 Suzuki DR200SE
2013 Triumph Trophy SE
2016 Versys 650 LT
2016 Moto Guzzi Stelvio
2017 Zero DS ZF6.5
2017 Zero SR 13 w/pwr tank

hpcmbw

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  • Posts: 119
Re: solar battery charger - does it need a regulator?
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2009, 11:13:58 PM »
Thanks Don - the battery I'll use it most on is on a little Honda crf 150f, looks like the battery for this is 12v, 4ah, cca 70.  I'll also use it on my ktm 450, battery is 12v, 8ah, 185 cca.

I assume I can leave one hooked up all year round on the deep cell battery for my fifth wheel, is this correct?

Thanks

1997 Salem 30' fifth wheel; 2000 F250 7.3 diesel; 1996 Four Wheel Truck Camper
Northern California

DonTom

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Re: solar battery charger - does it need a regulator?
« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2009, 02:44:03 AM »
"I assume I can leave one hooked up all year round on the deep cell battery for my fifth wheel, is this correct?"

It certainly won't hurt anything. But sometimes there's stray current draws on those batteries that are more than the small solar panel can supply. So to be safe, disconnect all the cables on the negative side of the battery before connecting your "solar charger" direct to the battery. This is to  be sure your charge current is higher than your discharge current.

-Don- SSF, CA
-Don-   AA6GA

2000 Fleetwood Tioga 24D, 7.4L

Eight motorcycles:
Original owner of:
1971 BMW R75/5
1984 Yamaha Venture
2002 Suzuki DR200SE
2013 Triumph Trophy SE
2016 Versys 650 LT
2016 Moto Guzzi Stelvio
2017 Zero DS ZF6.5
2017 Zero SR 13 w/pwr tank

 

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