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Solar panel for battery top up suggestions

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    Posted: 25 Sep 2015 at 8:26am
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Titanium
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I would suggest then check the cells.. if not sealed.. and u will ind 1 cell that has a SG different to he rest... look for the odd cell out not the charge state on the hydrometer...
The issue will not be the size of the solar panel but the battery is dieing
Give it a full over night charge....let sit for a day or too, then hook a head light or fire up the tractor.. then check voltage.. it should still show a full charge.
If not its dieing... take down to the local battery/ workshop and get them to drop the meter on.
And when they drop the meter on, ask to watch...watch the instructions on the screen carefully... chances are they either dont know how to use it correctly or possibility trying to sell a new battery regardless.... the number of 'professional ' ppl who use these incorrectly .. dont read/ follow instruction is unbelievable

But what u describe... winter, colder temps doesnt keep up holding charge etc are all classic dieing battery cell... not far off dead.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Big -Dave Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Sep 2015 at 10:13pm
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have a 5 watt panel on my tractor battery, with a charge controller, and it struggles in the winter.
I assume the panel is mounted for best direct sunlight... the main issue with things like tractors, even electric fences as I have mentioned above.. dirty battery cases tops, espec when get damp causing leakage in excess of the amount of sunlight and what the panel is capable of.. espec at night

Battery tops must be kept clean at all times.

The battery is removed from the tractor and stored in the shed. Clean and dry,
the reality is that the 5 w panel isn't up to it even hough it's on the roof pointing north..
I am looking at a 160 w panel and more house batteries to run a fridge in the caravan, so the 40 w panel might take over tractor battery duties..
you can't fix an idiot with duct tape, but it does muffle them for a while...
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Steps Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Sep 2015 at 8:27am
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Titanium
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I have a battery mounted on the front of my trailer for my electric winch, I used one of the cheap solar chargers but I found it just wasn't up to the job. As the battery got down from use the solar charger just didn't have the grunt to charge the battery back up again. Might be been alright to maintain a charge level but as far as charging a battery even a small amount they are just a waste of money. 

If one reads the instructions that comes with them they say it is not designed to do charge up... If u sit down and work out the amount of energy (amp/ hrs) u suck out of the battery and considering that the small ones are 5W or about 0.4 amps at full sunlight...thats weeks to effectively to charge up.
Thats like using a 1966 mini to do long haul cartage

I have a 5 watt panel on my tractor battery, with a charge controller, and it struggles in the winter.
I assume the panel is mounted for best direct sunlight... the main issue with things like tractors, even electric fences as I have mentioned above.. dirty battery cases tops, espec when get damp causing leakage in excess of the amount of sunlight and what the panel is capable of.. espec at night

Battery tops must be kept clean at all times.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Kandrew Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Sep 2015 at 7:12am
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Thing I like about the Ctek is you can see the condition of the battery at any time, you don't have plug things in, turn on fish finders. When the boats sitting in the driveway with the cover on I just lift up the cover and can see which color light is flashing and know if I need to plug the charger in.

Then if the battery needs charging, I don't have to undo the battery box, I just plug the Ctek charger straight into the end of the comfort indicator.

Ctek also do one you can mount on the dash. I have a battery mounted on the front of my trailer for my electric winch, I used one of the cheap solar chargers but I found it just wasn't up to the job. As the battery got down from use the solar charger just didn't have the grunt to charge the battery back up again. Might be been alright to maintain a charge level but as far as charging a battery even a small amount they are just a waste of money.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Big -Dave Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Sep 2015 at 11:23pm
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i use a trickle charger on both batteries, lock the center isolator in so both batteries are connected. Pluged in through a ciggie socket near the back of the boat.

While on the water, i use the fish finder to show battery voltage, and an alarm set for if it gets low. 
When ever starting and moving off, i tend to glance at the fish finder to see that the voltage has picked up to over 14 volts..

I think the ctek way is the better way if you can get power to the boat. 
I have a 5 watt panel on my tractor battery, with a charge controller, and it struggles in the winter..
you can't fix an idiot with duct tape, but it does muffle them for a while...
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (1) Likes(1)   Quote Steps Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Sep 2015 at 9:05am
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Titanium
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Real cheap battery monitor.. get a $10 multi meter and replace the probes with cig lighter plug....
Or turn on your gps/ sounder  most have voltage read outs....
Either if note the voltage drop when firing u the engine and/ with engine running with everything turned on will pick up and faults in charging and/ or battery conditions... before they become an issue.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Kandrew Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Sep 2015 at 9:13pm
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Yep I've just hung my Ctek comfort indicator out the side of my battery box so I can see it at all times. Also real handy to keep a good eye on the battery charge level while on water with electrics running and I just plug my smart charger straight into it when I put the boat away.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Olfart Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Sep 2015 at 9:13pm
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I should have mentioned earlier that my current solar panel has a regulator fitted within the confines of the aluminium frame - it was one of the reasons for buying the panel and it is a big improvement on the previous panel which I inadvertently left unsecured on the boat cover (it fell off and smashed on the ground).  The new panel also has a diode fitted to prevent the batteries draining when the panel is in low light conditions.
With all of that said, when I have had the boat standing unused for a month or so, I hook up a standard charger to the batteries just to be sure the batteries are fully charged at least monthly.
Semper in excreta sumus, solum profundum variat....



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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote MacSkipper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Sep 2015 at 8:32pm
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Originally posted by Kandrew Kandrew wrote:

Not a big fan of solar chargers, batteries need to be cycled correctly if storedfor long periods. If your going to do it properly, the solar charger needs some sort of regulator. As mentioned above a good battery of the right size for the motor should last for at least a month without the need for charging. I like the new 5 stage smart chargers because they cycle the battery up and down and this is what prolongs the life of a battery not just a constant trickle charge. If you can't get a lead across to the boat to plug a charger into, then you haven't got much choice but to run with a solar charger.

I've fitted the Ctek comfort indicator to both of my batteries, they excellent you can see the condition of the battery at a glance. $20 each not a lot for a bit of added safety.

http://www.cteknz.co.nz/CTEKComfortIndicators/tabid/498/Default.aspx
Interesting product I note comment for device (if left powered off but hooked up) - "Back current drain is only 1.5mA, which is extremely low." so is equal in 1000 hours or 42 days to a 1.5Amp/hr load for 1 hr, I think the batteries own losses would be higher than this - pretty good.
Good fishing trip nothing breaks, great trip catch fish.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Kandrew Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Sep 2015 at 8:15pm
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Not a big fan of solar chargers, batteries need to be cycled correctly if storedfor long periods. If your going to do it properly, the solar charger needs some sort of regulator. As mentioned above a good battery of the right size for the motor should last for at least a month without the need for charging. I like the new 5 stage smart chargers because they cycle the battery up and down and this is what prolongs the life of a battery not just a constant trickle charge. If you can't get a lead across to the boat to plug a charger into, then you haven't got much choice but to run with a solar charger. Just remember if your battery is going flat often then it needs replacing. Normal glass mat batteries will normally only last for 3 years if you're lucky I always replace mine at 3 years or before. The other tell tale of your battery getting tied is if it fumes a lot when you charge it. Sulphating of the battery cells is generally why batteries Sh-t themselves. Always keep an eye on the electrolyte/water level and if you can help it don't use plain old tap water, the contaminants will sortern the life of the battery. Keep the terminals nice and clean and if they become corroded clean them with baking soda and hot water. As steps says, keep the surface of the battery clean and make sure it's in a proper battery box that fits the battery and its strapped down. Vibration is the killer of batteries and that's why marine batteries have thicker plants than car batteries to handle the crash and bang.

I've fitted the Ctek comfort indicator to both of my batteries, they excellent you can see the condition of the battery at a glance. $20 each not a lot for a bit of added safety.

http://www.cteknz.co.nz/CTEKComfortIndicators/tabid/498/Default.aspx

One other thing I always recommend is to buy the largest CCA rated battery you can fit, gives you a extra bit of grunt for a safety margin. Don't scrump on a cheap battery that's to small and if you can afford it, go for one of the new optima round cell type batteries. This technology has been around since Adam was a cowboy but the new ones are really good. Hold their charge for ages and last up to 2x as long as the old glass mat batteries.

http://www.centurybatteries.co.nz/products/optima

Hope this helps, cheers
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Steps Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Sep 2015 at 9:41am
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Have not had much luck with early solar panels - though they are a lot more robust with more charge now.
Mine I brought a good 17/ 20 yrs ago

Olfart  I think hits the nail on the head there too Keven
Turning the isolation switch off is more a corrosion/ electrolysis issue.... it have a drain then look very seriously at finding it.. bad grounds corroded switch internals etc
And then even a fully unconnected batter will drain simply by the dust/ moisture across the top of the battery between the terminals.. have a play with a digital multi meter  will be rather surprised.... even on a brand new battery on the shop shelf will drain

Secret to a long life reliable lead acid battery.. be it a alarm in the factory, or car, or electric fence or boat... to be ALWAYS fully charged   stored and even when in use

A question thu... why do boat battery cases dont have a drain hole?
And one maybe 1/8 or 1/4 way up?
When was the last time ppl check the battery case for water in the bottom?

 
Generally the terminals are below the top edge of the case, which means if each time u wash down a bit water splashes in, eventually it reaches the terminals, if any salts in the water bad things can happen dramatically
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (1) Likes(1)   Quote MATTOO Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Sep 2015 at 8:52pm
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Kevin and others,
We are stupid!
We drink, we get old, our wives distract us. And we leave something on.
It is also for that back up, we should be preparing for.
Just cruising in a pimped old Surtees! Or my now sweetas pimped out Southern 755 HT0!
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Olfart Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Sep 2015 at 3:48pm
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I think the answer to that, Kevin is that if you are able to get out regularly - once a week or so - then provided you have a good battery or pair of good batteries, running the outboard is surely the best way to keep batteries in good nick.  If you are like me however and depend on others to make up crew then depending on their availability and weather stability, my boat can sit parked up like a garden ornament for a few weeks at a time. 
Being retired means funds are less available to follow one's recreational pursuits so that is a limiting factor as well.  So for me the option of using a solar panel to keep the batteries topped up works well.
Semper in excreta sumus, solum profundum variat....



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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Kevin.S Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Sep 2015 at 3:31pm
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How long do you need to leave your boat standing before you have to think about the battery?  On the boat I have just sold it had a single battery set up, with a 90hp 2 stroke yamaha and a capstan winch.  I always made sure the engine was running before using the winch.  Over the 2 years I had the boat never had a problem with low battery.  It stood for up to 5 weeks at times.  It didn't have an isolator switch as I had a stereo connected that would lose its memory if disconnected.  I put my battery charger on it once, and it just cycled through the 5 stages and went almost instantly to float -so it didn't need any charging.  I have had boats where the battery needed regular charging, but that was due to an old battery that needed replacing.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote MacSkipper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Sep 2015 at 3:12pm
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Originally posted by Olfart Olfart wrote:

MacSkipper:  I do not consider what I have set up as being "a lot of work and additional wiring to have problems with" - I have just got a simple system that works well for me, bearing in mind the boat sits outside under a storage cover when not in use.  I decided I needed something that would allow connection of the solar panel to the batteries without one having to take the storage cover off to get access. 
The ciggie socket on the dashboard also works as a power source for a hand held flood light; for charging my cellphone and my portable VHF on the go; as well as powering a 12 volt water blaster which is used to wash the boat and trailer at the ramp.
I guess one could say this is one's version of working hard at being lazy...
Yes no worries - just had this image of racing out every time it rains (every 5 minutes this week!) and bring in unsealed solar panel, putting covers on boat after a trip then solar panels on covers - (I prefer Steps idea of sealing and leave it out, once setup - now that is working at being lazy).  Have not had much luck with early solar panels - though they are a lot more robust with more charge now.
What I was saying was I don't do it and don't need to as an option that works for me - from how you describe it sounds good for you, so go for it.
Good fishing trip nothing breaks, great trip catch fish.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote MikeAqua Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Sep 2015 at 1:21pm
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You can buy solar charge units that go between your solar panel and battery, and manage charging of dual battery systems.

For example: -

http://smartercharger.com/products/dcdc/ctek-d250s-dual/

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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Gareth15765 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Sep 2015 at 1:00pm
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have been told to be wary of leaving both battery banks on and effectively linked especially if the house is a deep cycle as this will conflict with the start battery and the most expensive one (deep cycle )dies

I have had this happen to me this is why I have asked about this and that is the reason

I now have both batteries separated normally one a charger each and only time they are "linked"is when vsr is on and engine running

someone else may have the exact science as to why they fight but it is a pain to find it has died
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Steps Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Sep 2015 at 10:00am
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John it wasnt complex for Old fart to set up his cig charging point..its based loosely on how he saw mine set up.... only real difference is he has dual batteries (not an issue with trickle charge maintenance) and he has mounted his cig light on the dash...
I do have a cig lighter and usb on dash.. but instead of having to re wire to by pass the main isolating switch, was simpler for me to add a new fused  cig to the battery lid. (with plenty of cable so lid can be removed and laid well away)

To seal my unit just meant remove case screws, quick wipe around areas to put silicone sealer with a scotch brite...including the seal between case and front glass.. fill the area where the cord comes out (once case removed will understand why)  then reassemble, but only torque up the case srews till not quite all the way.  leave for 24 or 36 hrs to cure then torque up the screws to compress the 'gasket' slightly.

Basically taking 1/2 hr to seal the unit well is 'working hard at being lazy'  just hook up and leave between trips out  regardless of weather  rain whatever.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Olfart Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Sep 2015 at 8:21pm
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MacSkipper:  I do not consider what I have set up as being "a lot of work and additional wiring to have problems with" - I have just got a simple system that works well for me, bearing in mind the boat sits outside under a storage cover when not in use.  I decided I needed something that would allow connection of the solar panel to the batteries without one having to take the storage cover off to get access. 
The ciggie socket on the dashboard also works as a power source for a hand held flood light; for charging my cellphone and my portable VHF on the go; as well as powering a 12 volt water blaster which is used to wash the boat and trailer at the ramp.
I guess one could say this is one's version of working hard at being lazy...
Semper in excreta sumus, solum profundum variat....



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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote MATTOO Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Sep 2015 at 7:22pm
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Thanks guys.
The Suzuki 115 I have puts out 40 amp, so really never short.
I do carry extra batteries at times, such as a dedicated fishing reel and another large deep cycle for the min Kota.
The boat normally works often, but there are gaps at times when I'm away and it's at those times I'd like to leave the tickle on.
So appreciate your answers think I've got a plan.
Just cruising in a pimped old Surtees! Or my now sweetas pimped out Southern 755 HT0!
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