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Thread: Solar chargers

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    Posts
    49

    Default Solar chargers

    I store my boat in storage lot near my lake without access to electrical. To help the keep the batteries charged, I'm contemplating a solar charger. I'm considering the following two:

    http://www.amazon.com/Sunforce-50022.../dp/B0006JO0TC
    http://www.amazon.com/Sunforce-50033.../dp/B001RJOP5Y

    Does anyone have any experience with either? Or any thoughts about using solar chargers like this in general.


    Thanks, Tom
    2008 Mobius LSV, 325 Assault, Acme 1433
    Ballast: 1100s rear, 400 center and IBS plumbed on valve. 3 Johnson Reversibles.
    Audio: 2 SKM10 subs and 6 KM6200s powered by Kicker IX1000.5, Pair REV8s powered by JL M4300 amp, Kenwood 440u head unit, RC107 remote at helm, and RC60 remote at transom
    Misc: Blue Seas Add-a-Battery, SeaDek, Evolution Cover, Blue interior LEDs, 2 Attwood Underwater LEDs

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Lake Wylie NC Area
    Posts
    772

    Default

    Tom,

    Something like that will maintain a fully charged battery, providing there is enough sun, but it will not do well to recharge a depleted house battery if the boat is put back in storage after a long weekend with a lot of time spent playing the system while at anchor.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    Posts
    49

    Default

    MLA,
    Thanks. I usually don't spend much time anchored discharging the batteries. I'm mostly concerned about the bilge pump discharging the battery, which has happened to me (though I might not even have this problem anymore with my new cover). I suppose every bit of extra charge helps.
    Tom




    Quote Originally Posted by MLA View Post
    Tom,

    Something like that will maintain a fully charged battery, providing there is enough sun, but it will not do well to recharge a depleted house battery if the boat is put back in storage after a long weekend with a lot of time spent playing the system while at anchor.
    2008 Mobius LSV, 325 Assault, Acme 1433
    Ballast: 1100s rear, 400 center and IBS plumbed on valve. 3 Johnson Reversibles.
    Audio: 2 SKM10 subs and 6 KM6200s powered by Kicker IX1000.5, Pair REV8s powered by JL M4300 amp, Kenwood 440u head unit, RC107 remote at helm, and RC60 remote at transom
    Misc: Blue Seas Add-a-Battery, SeaDek, Evolution Cover, Blue interior LEDs, 2 Attwood Underwater LEDs

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    880

    Default

    Tom,
    A solar charger doesn't work at night and generates far less power when overcast or the sun is well off axis. So it may not be much of a restoration device.
    But as a maintenance charger it's okay. However, you have got to have a sophisticated charging module that can profile the battery and correctly respond. Voltage and current limiting will be important. For example, you do not want to continuously apply a 5 amp current to a fully charged battery for any length of time.

    David

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Stillwater, Oklahoma
    Posts
    312

    Default

    These particular units are the pedestrian every-day-joe all-in-one box solution and are also sold out there as a COLEMAN brand solar panel also.

    I have personal first-hand experience with similar and/or identical units. The first one is the 5W panel and is the smaller of the two. I have used that panel as a backup cranking battery maintainer on a vintage Chris Craft powerboat. Its output is so small that it is generally suggested a charge controller is not necessary. I never used a charge controller on the smaller panel, although werre I to get another one, I would go ahead and buy a charge controller.

    The second item you show does come with a 7A charge controller. It is a crude charge controller and I have burned one up in the past, but know I have two of that exact panel waiting to go onto my sailboat. The charge controller will do an OKAY job of managing current flow and will prevent cooking the batteries. I had this panel on the main house bank on the same wooden Chris Craft boat and it kept the house bank charged enough to stay up with the bilge pump that ran every 5 minutes. Thank goodness I did not burn up a charge controller on that boat or I would have sunk.

    Let me point you in another direction though. Solar power is CHEAP right now. So much so that I have recently purchased two 40W panels to use at my lake spot. I am going to use them to power my outdoor lights, replacing the very inefficient and costly-to-operate low-voltage lighting transformers. Sunforce is bucking the trend and is NOT lowering their prices, so much so that they are not competitive in today's marketplace.

    Here is a link to the 40W panel I recently bought: http://www.solarblvd.com/Solar-Panel...42238ff4b71b18

    Here is a link to the very nice charge controller I recently bought: http://www.solarblvd.com/Charge-Cont...duct_info.html

    For $111.16 plus freight, you can have a solar charging system that will replace lost juice at a rate approaching 3x what you picked out with the bigger of the two Sunforce brand devices, AND you will get a real Pulse Width Modulated charge controller, as opposed to the little device you get with the Sunforce.

    Hope this takes you in a better direction and provides you with a more powerful, more rugged solution.

    Phil
    Kicker
    Last edited by philwsailz; 03-28-2013 at 04:17 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Stillwater, Oklahoma
    Posts
    312

    Default

    Here is a 15-watt panel for $18.00, just to put it in perspective


    http://www.solarblvd.com/Solar-Panel...duct_info.html


    I like the Sunforce stuff and except for the one burned controller I have had zero issues with it. that being said, there are way cheaper and/or more powerful ways to do it today....
    Last edited by philwsailz; 03-28-2013 at 04:22 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    Posts
    49

    Default

    Everyone thanks for the input. I'm going to use the set-up that Phil from Kicker recommended (Thanks for sharing your insight, Phil). I'm looking forward to tinkering with this stuff.
    2008 Mobius LSV, 325 Assault, Acme 1433
    Ballast: 1100s rear, 400 center and IBS plumbed on valve. 3 Johnson Reversibles.
    Audio: 2 SKM10 subs and 6 KM6200s powered by Kicker IX1000.5, Pair REV8s powered by JL M4300 amp, Kenwood 440u head unit, RC107 remote at helm, and RC60 remote at transom
    Misc: Blue Seas Add-a-Battery, SeaDek, Evolution Cover, Blue interior LEDs, 2 Attwood Underwater LEDs

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