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silverg 11-12-2008 03:17 PM

Solar panel for keeping house battery charged?
We have 4 pit blinds with bilge pumps installed to keep the rain water pumped out. We have deep cycle batteries in the blinds to run the pumps. There is no electricity nearby for trickle chargers and the batteries are too cumbersome to take in and out throughout the season to keep charged at camp.

Do the solar panels advertised keep a charge on a battery or is it a gimmick? Does anyone use one with success?

rebel112r 11-12-2008 05:03 PM

Re: Solar panel for keeping house battery charged?
I have a Siemans, its 23 x 56, and it willll put out 4.5 amps on a sunny day..Even on cloudy days will see 1 amp.. They work very well. For just charging batts, a smaller one will work..

silverg 11-12-2008 07:35 PM

Re: Solar panel for keeping house battery charged?

Lazy_Iguana 11-12-2008 07:43 PM

Re: Solar panel for keeping house battery charged?
Solar is not a gimmick. It really does work.

I would suggest that you look beyond a simple solar trickle charger. A trickle charger is not designed to charge a battery - they only prevent them from self discharging. So if your battery happens to run down to 80% (for example) the trickle charger will keep it there. It MAY bring it back up, but it will do so very slowly.

When I looked into a solar solution for my boat, I decided that I would need at least a 55 watt panel. Per battery. One 55 watt panel can be expected to produce about 4.5 amps under ideal conditions. In reality, you can expect closer to about 3 - 3.5 amps. This is enough to charge up a battery.

With panels above 30 watts or so, it is a good idea to get a solar charge controller. This device will prevent an overcharging situation. If you have 4 batteries then it would be more cost effective to get two 125 watt panels as opposed to four 55 watt panels. Like conventional battery chargers, a solar controller has banks - a one battery system needs one bank a two battery system needs two banks and so on.

There are some companies out there that specialize in solar power. Most are in Arizona and New Mexico. They can help you put together a system that will suit your needs.

I did not go with solar because of the cost. It is more expensive. But the advantage is that solar works in remote areas, and once set up is trouble free and reliable. But a lot of this depends on how the system is designed. You need to add in reserve capacity for best results.

By the way - wind power is also an option. Wind works at night - assuming there is a breeze.

Many sailboats I see that are moored use both solar and wind together. The live aboard sailboats that are not connected to shore power are all about wind and solar to keep the lights on. And the cold plates cold. And so on. It all works very well. The one time cost to set it all up is high, but the long term cost becomes low. And it works anywhere - as long as there is sun and/or wind.

XV2PS 11-12-2008 09:30 PM

Re: Solar panel for keeping house battery charged?
Wind charger will give much more peak power for the size.
For solar panels, check Uni Solar, made in the US, bullet proof, guaranteed 10 years. Just their power/sqm is half than classic panels with glass enclosure.

boatman50 11-13-2008 12:41 AM

Re: Solar panel for keeping house battery charged?
Look at PulseTech solar chargers out of Southlake, TX. 1-800-580-7554. The model is called Solar Pulse and comes in 2 ($100), 5 ($180) and 6($200) watt panels. They also desulfate as well as charge. I use the small 2 watt for my boat's AGM battery with a small controller mounted on the side of the battery box with permanent leads to the terminals. The solar panel can be unplugged from the circuit box and removed during boat use. The 2 watt panel is small, around 4"x8"x 1/2". Neat little item I found by chance.

SNAPPA001 11-13-2008 03:54 AM

RE: Solar panel for keeping house battery charged?
I bought mine from Northern Tool. Use mine to charge boat batteries and it works better than expected. Good luck.

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