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Solar Battery Chargers


Jemstone

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We travel six months of the year, returning home to Glendale, Arizona from November to the end of April. Our home side yard has enough room to back our Volvo 730 behind a large, locking gate. I would like to use solar chargers to maintain the batteries, though the four batteries may require too much power. The truck's back deck is large enough to lay out some solar panels, which could be channeled to the batteries.

 

My electronic skills consist of not having electrocuted myself, yet, so I appreciate any suggestions about specific chargers or what amount of power is needed. If it's a poor idea it's better to know now than many dollars later.

John McLaughlin

2010 Volvo 730, D13, I-shift, singled and decked

2014 Lifestyle 38' Fifth Wheel

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If it's a poor idea it's better to know now than many dollars later.

 

It's a great idea!

 

How much solar you would need, and subsequent charger, would depend on application and the size and capacity of your batteries. Ie., if you only want to 'maintain' a fully charged battery while in storage, then you won't need much.. vs.. if you want the solar charger to be able to 're-charge' the batteries, you would be looking at a much more substantial investment.

 

Most critical either way though would be knowing the type and capacity of your batteries.

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John,

 

We had the same need with almost the same truck. Was using my WalMart battery charger and that's not good for the batteries on a regular basis. We installed a 50W Renogy solar panel on the truck roof and a VicTec controller in the driver's side cabinet. Painted the solar panel frame same color as the truck. When you stand far enough back you can barely see it if you know what you're looking for. So far, works well at keeping the batteries up to charge, balancing the parasitic loads of the various Volvo systems.

IMG_3217a.jpg.c718bc170600aa5ce52e515511d83cb7.jpg

Jim & Wilma

2006 Travel Supreme 36RLQSO

2009 Volvo VNL730, D13, I-shift, ET, Herrin Hauler bed, "Ruby"

2017 Smart

Class of 2017

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John,

 

Faced the same issues at my previous storage facility. Had parasitic draw I tried to isolate and no electricity available for charger. My solution was a Blue Seas battery cut off switch on the main cables (~$45) and a 15 watt solar powered BatteryMinder that I sat on dash. ($160 ). Panel was easy to store when not in use. Seemed to work for me as my batteries maintained charge. Don't think 15 watts would be adequate if you don't isolate some of the parasites but I could be wrong. Like you, I can barely keep from electrocuting myself.

2006 Volvo 780 "Hoss" Volvo D12, 465hp, 1650 ft/lbs tq., ultrashift

Bed Build by "JW Morgan's Custom Welding"

2017 DRV 39DBRS3

2013 Smart Passion Coupe "Itty Bitty"

 

"Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first!"

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For a turnkey charging system that meets your needs look at the Battery Minder Solar charger. I highly recommend the BatteryMinder. It will put a good charge on your batteries and routinely desulfate them.

 

If you look at the specs of their charger/maintainer you will see you can use a higher watt solar panel. If you want to proceed that way, or custom build your own system, let me know and I can answer your questions.

Jack & Danielle Mayer #60376 Lifetime Member
Living on the road since 2000

PLEASE no PM's. Email me. jackdanmayer AT gmail
2016 DRV Houston 44' 5er (we still have it)
2022 New Horizons 43' 5er
2016 Itasca 27N 28' motorhome 
2019 Volvo 860, D13 455/1850, 236" wb, I-Shift, battery-based APU
No truck at the moment - we use one of our demo units
2016 smart Passion, piggyback on the truck
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
See our website for info on New Horizons 5th wheels, HDTs as tow vehicles, communications on the road, and use of solar power
www.jackdanmayer.com
Principal in RVH Lifestyles. RVH-Lifestyles.com

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We're in AJ, with a dedicated 150 watt portable array. Let me know if you want to have a look-see. This size array allows running the on-board fridge for extra adult refreshments.

I have been wrong before, I'll probably be wrong again. 

2000 Kenworth T 2000 w/N-14 and 10 speed Gen1 Autoshift, deck built by Star Fabrication
2006 smart fourtwo cdi cabriolet
2007 32.5' Fleetwood Quantum


Please e-mail us here.

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We have a 30 watt panel mounted on our Volvo and it maintains the batteries. In fact the cheap controller had to be changed because it was keeping the voltage to high. Even this time of year in AZ the batteries are always charged. By noon the new controller has reduced the voltage to a maintenance level. Shading and angle of the panels can make a big difference. In AZ our parking area leaves the panel tilted slightly west and flat. In the winter the panels would gather more sun if tilted south.

Randy

2001 Volvo VNL 42 Cummins ISX Autoshift

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For a turnkey charging system that meets your needs look at the Battery Minder Solar charger. I highly recommend the BatteryMinder. It will put a good charge on your batteries and routinely desulfate them.

 

If you look at the specs of their charger/maintainer you will see you can use a higher watt solar panel. If you want to proceed that way, or custom build your own system, let me know and I can answer your questions.

I have the battery minder that Jack references with a set of 45 watt panels from Harbor Freight and it has maintained my bank of 4 batteries with no problems for the past 3 years. I bought the panels on sale cheap.

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For a turnkey charging system that meets your needs look at the Battery Minder Solar charger. I highly recommend the BatteryMinder. It will put a good charge on your batteries and routinely desulfate them.

 

If you look at the specs of their charger/maintainer you will see you can use a higher watt solar panel. If you want to proceed that way, or custom build your own system, let me know and I can answer your questions.

Thanks Jack, for this info and the website link. I have a few Battery Minders, but all hooked to shore power when used. One question I have. Is it OK to put load on batteries when connected to Battery Minder? So far, I have not done this. Thanks for any help?

'98 Volvo, '03 Newmar Mountain Aire 5er,
'07 Polaris Ranger
Part timing all the time

photo-25557.jpg?__rand=0.62441800+135093

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Thanks Jack, for this info and the website link. I have a few Battery Minders, but all hooked to shore power when used. One question I have. Is it OK to put load on batteries when connected to Battery Minder? So far, I have not done this. Thanks for any help?

I don't see any reason why you could not. Just bear in mind that the Battery Minder does not put a lot of charge on the batteries. So your load size would have to account for that. If you are going to heavily load the batteries - say running a refrigerator all the time - than I'd be looking at a small conventional solar setup - with a PWM charger that will give you more output than the very small system that BatteryMinder sells. If you want me to spec a DIY system for you I can do that. But it will require that YOU install it. And it will be far more costly than the small Battery Minder system.

Jack & Danielle Mayer #60376 Lifetime Member
Living on the road since 2000

PLEASE no PM's. Email me. jackdanmayer AT gmail
2016 DRV Houston 44' 5er (we still have it)
2022 New Horizons 43' 5er
2016 Itasca 27N 28' motorhome 
2019 Volvo 860, D13 455/1850, 236" wb, I-Shift, battery-based APU
No truck at the moment - we use one of our demo units
2016 smart Passion, piggyback on the truck
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
See our website for info on New Horizons 5th wheels, HDTs as tow vehicles, communications on the road, and use of solar power
www.jackdanmayer.com
Principal in RVH Lifestyles. RVH-Lifestyles.com

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I don't see any reason why you could not. Just bear in mind that the Battery Minder does not put a lot of charge on the batteries. So your load size would have to account for that. If you are going to heavily load the batteries - say running a refrigerator all the time - than I'd be looking at a small conventional solar setup - with a PWM charger that will give you more output than the very small system that Battery Minder sells. If you want me to spec a DIY system for you I can do that. But it will require that YOU install it. And it will be far more costly than the small Battery Minder system.

 

Thanks again Jack. I was just wondering if I could start a vehicle without disconnecting the battery minder. Sounds like I can. Don't need a system spec'd yet, but thanks for the offer.

'98 Volvo, '03 Newmar Mountain Aire 5er,
'07 Polaris Ranger
Part timing all the time

photo-25557.jpg?__rand=0.62441800+135093

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I was just wondering if I could start a vehicle without disconnecting the battery minder. Sounds like I can.

 

You probably wouldn't want to do that. Running a load off of the batteries while connected is just fine (lights, small 12v devices, etc.), but turning the engine over will likely fry (or fuse if in-line) your battery minder from the current coming from your rigs alternator.

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You probably wouldn't want to do that. Running a load off of the batteries while connected is just fine (lights, small 12v devices, etc.), but turning the engine over will likely fry (or fuse if in-line) your battery minder from the current coming from your rigs alternator.

I agree - I would not run it with the batteryminder active. I HAVE done that with the 120V plu-in one, though, with no ill effect, but I don't think it is a good habit.

Jack & Danielle Mayer #60376 Lifetime Member
Living on the road since 2000

PLEASE no PM's. Email me. jackdanmayer AT gmail
2016 DRV Houston 44' 5er (we still have it)
2022 New Horizons 43' 5er
2016 Itasca 27N 28' motorhome 
2019 Volvo 860, D13 455/1850, 236" wb, I-Shift, battery-based APU
No truck at the moment - we use one of our demo units
2016 smart Passion, piggyback on the truck
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
See our website for info on New Horizons 5th wheels, HDTs as tow vehicles, communications on the road, and use of solar power
www.jackdanmayer.com
Principal in RVH Lifestyles. RVH-Lifestyles.com

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You probably wouldn't want to do that. Running a load off of the batteries while connected is just fine (lights, small 12v devices, etc.), but turning the engine over will likely fry (or fuse if in-line) your battery minder from the current coming from your rigs alternator.

 

What magic is this?

I have been wrong before, I'll probably be wrong again. 

2000 Kenworth T 2000 w/N-14 and 10 speed Gen1 Autoshift, deck built by Star Fabrication
2006 smart fourtwo cdi cabriolet
2007 32.5' Fleetwood Quantum


Please e-mail us here.

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The BatteryMINDer SCCO15 can not use more than a 15 watt solar panel for power, according to the BatteryMINDer web site. Will this be sufficient for the 4 batteries in the Volvo?

John McLaughlin

2010 Volvo 730, D13, I-shift, singled and decked

2014 Lifestyle 38' Fifth Wheel

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John, I would get the larger charger that allows for a larger panel. I think it takes up to a 175 watt panel, but don't quote me on that...it may only be 150 watts.

Jack & Danielle Mayer #60376 Lifetime Member
Living on the road since 2000

PLEASE no PM's. Email me. jackdanmayer AT gmail
2016 DRV Houston 44' 5er (we still have it)
2022 New Horizons 43' 5er
2016 Itasca 27N 28' motorhome 
2019 Volvo 860, D13 455/1850, 236" wb, I-Shift, battery-based APU
No truck at the moment - we use one of our demo units
2016 smart Passion, piggyback on the truck
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
See our website for info on New Horizons 5th wheels, HDTs as tow vehicles, communications on the road, and use of solar power
www.jackdanmayer.com
Principal in RVH Lifestyles. RVH-Lifestyles.com

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What magic is this?

X2. Start ours all the time (120 v version) before disconnecting from shore power. No ill effects.

Ray & Deb - Shelbi the Aussie & Lexington the cat
2004 Volvo 630 500HP ISX "Bertha D" - 10 Speed-MaxBrake -ET hitch.SOLD
2009 Designer 35RLSA SOLD
Fulltiming since '07 - stopped 2016

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Would the appropriate solar Battery Minder be available in a store? I prefer to deal with a real person, rather than order on line.

KW T-680, POPEMOBILE
Newmar X-Aire, VATICAN
Lots of old motorcycles, Moto Guzzi Griso and Spyder F3 currently in the front row
Young enough to play in the dirt as a retired farmer.
contact me at rickeieio1@comcast.net

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John, I would get the larger charger that allows for a larger panel. I think it takes up to a 175 watt panel, but don't quote me on that...it may only be 150 watts.

 

I'll quote you on it.. and agree. With 4 cells I would go with the larger panel and 75-100 watts. For the cost it makes the most sense (aka. bang for your buck).

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