Small solar panels are perfect for drip charging vehicle batteries, caravan batteries and watercraft batteries. Small panels for trickle charging can likewise be utilized to keep batteries topped up that supply low-power sources such as outdoor lighting, electric fences.
This article explains how to work out the type of panel that is best for you and the best ways to wire it up.
What you require (Voltage).
You require a panel with a voltage somewhat higher than the voltage of your battery and an input that will average around about the amount that your battery runs down when you leave it. An AKT Solar “12V panel” has an output of around 16V which is optimum for charging 12V battery systems such as in cars, caravans and canal watercrafts.
What you need (Obstructing Diode).
Make sure there is a “obstructing diode” that is fitted (generally in the panel’s junction box) as otherwise charge can leak out through the panel at night when the sun is not shining and the panel is not producing electrical power. AKT drip charging panels all have obstructing diodes connected as standard.
What you require (Power of Panel).
Typically a 5W panel is appropriate for a typical vehicle that is left for long periods and will keep it topped up even in winter if the automobile is outdoors or near a window.
For bigger batteries such as in a caravan or canal watercraft where there could likewise be additional low-level drains on the battery such as a security system or electronic equipment on standby, a 10W panel is normally better, especially to keep the battery topped up in winter.
If you have a little output on the battery, such as an electrical fence or light utilized at night, you can match your trickle charging to the use made of a battery. For an electric fence, a 10W panel connected to a battery is usually sufficient. For a light, it may be that a 20W panel is better. If there is not a regular output connected then you should normally use a charge controller with panels over 10W.
Ways to wire the panel to the battery.
To connect the battery charger simply wire the panel direct to the battery, + of the panel to the + terminal of the battery and – from the panel to the – terminal of the battery. All you need to do then is leave the panel in sunshine and it will certainly keep your battery charged.
If you have a small output on the battery, such as an electrical fence or light made use of at night, you can match your drip charging to the use made of a battery. For an electrical fence, a 10W panel connected to a battery is normally enough. If there is not a routine output attached then you should normally use a charge controller with panels over 10W.
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