Are you looking for a way to keep your batteries charged up when not in use? In this blog post we will discuss a hassle-free way to do just that using the Samlex SunCharger Series of battery maintainers.
Whether you own an RV, boat or work truck, a dead battery is always a huge inconvenience. That is why you need to take some precautionary steps to avoid this from happening when you are planning to store your vehicle for an extended period.
Fortunately, a portable solar battery maintainer can help keep your vehicle’s ignition battery charged up and ready to be used from the free energy of the sun.
Why do I need a battery maintainer?
When a lead acid battery is not in use or it is not being charged, over time some portion of its electrical Ampere Hour capacity gradually reduces. In technical terms, this is called the self-discharge phenomenon. As a result of this chemical reaction, the stored charge of the battery reduces. This means that it will have less than a full charge when used.
Self-discharge of the battery under long term storage will create a condition equivalent to under charging and consequently, leads to sulfation. If you are interested in learning more about sulfation, its effects on your batteries, and how it comes about inside the battery, look at page six of our battery maintainer’s manual where this chemical process is fully explained.
To prevent sulfation due to under charging because of self-discharge, you can invest in a type of battery charger commonly referred to as a battery maintainer. At Samlex America, we call our battery maintainer a SunCharger since it harnesses the power of the sun to keep your batteries charged up when not in use. Conventional battery maintainers require access to grid power to operate, while a Samlex SunCharger battery maintainer, whether it is a 5W unit or 10W maintainer, allows you to protect your batteries from self-discharge without the need for AC (Alternating Current) power.
How to use a battery maintainer?
A battery maintainer, also known as a float charger, like the Samlex SC-05 or SC-10, is designed to provide low current > 0.1% of the Ah capacity of the battery to maintain a fully charged battery under storage. This low current is designed to compensate for the self-discharge under storage. This low value of current will not be able to recharge a dead battery. For re-charging of deeply discharged battery, a standard higher capacity, 3 or 4 Stage Charger should be used.
Therefore, it is important to first charge your vehicle’s ignition battery fully before storing it for an extended period as the battery maintainer will not be able to charge it up to its full capacity. That said, it also depends on the size of your battery as well. A battery maintainer might be able to recharge a small 10Ah battery.
How to install a solar battery maintainer?
The Samlex SunCharger solar battery maintainers come with a 10 ft cable that is equipped with a SAE connector. In addition, you get two sets of adapter cables for battery connection: a SAE to 12V accessory plug adapter as well as a SAE to ring terminal adapter.
Connecting a Samlex solar battery maintainer to your starter battery using a SAE to 12V plug adapter is straightforward. When using the solar battery maintainer inside a vehicle, connect the 12V accessory plug to the 12V power outlet in the vehicle. Make sure that the plug is pushed in completely to ensure that the connection is secure.
To connect a battery maintainer or trickle charger to the exterior of your vehicle, use the included SAE to ring terminal adapter cable set. Connect the battery ring terminals to the Positive (+) and Negative (-) terminals of the battery.
Regardless of which adapter you use to connect your solar battery maintainer or trickle charger to your vehicle’s starter battery, like any other solar panel, the optimum performance of a solar panel is dependent on the amount of sun exposure that it receives during the day. Maximum power is generated when the top surface of the panel is oriented perpendicular to the sun. Therefore, aim to tilt the panel in such a way that it will be perpendicular to the strong midday sun, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. This will obviously change with the seasons, so you need to adjust its position as necessary.
Can a battery maintainer be left on?
The most convenient aspect of using a solar battery maintainer, such as the Samlex SunCharger Series, is that you can leave it on all the time. With its small and steady stream of electricity, this device is perfect for ensuring your battery stays fully charged when not in use.
Do I need a battery maintainer for my RV even if I have solar panels?
If you are looking to maintain your RV’s ignition battery anytime that you won’t be using it for an extended period, it is best to invest in a battery maintainer. This is because the solar panels that you have installed are connected to your house batteries and not the ignition battery in your vehicle and there are many components in your RV — like clocks, computers and security alarms — that continue to draw power from your vehicle when it is turned off.
Simply connect the battery maintainer to your RV’s ignition battery and place the solar battery maintainer in a location where it can regularly receive sunlight to ensure that your battery will be ready to use whenever you need it.
It is also important to note that if you are not planning to use your RV’s house battery bank for an extended period, you also need to keep those batteries maintained by investing in a battery maintainer. If your battery bank consists of lead acid batteries, the same self-discharge phenomenon that we discussed earlier will negatively affect your RV’s battery bank. In summary, use the Samlex SC-05 for your vehicle’s starter battery and use a SC-10 to keep more than one battery charged up.
If you’re just getting started out with solar, Samlex offers complete Solar + Power Bundles that include both fixed solar panels for your roof as well as a portable solar battery maintainer to keep your ignition battery charged while not being used.
SunCharger Series product features
Samlex solar battery maintainers come in two models; a 5W solar panel and a 10W solar panel. If you are looking for a way to keep your batteries charged up when not in use, using a Samlex battery maintainer is a great solution as it is packed with many features such as:
- High-efficiency portable monocrystalline solar panel
- Built-in charge controller
- Semi-flexible panel construction
- Rugged, weather-proof design with UV protection
- Designed for extreme temperatures –40°C to 85°C (-40°F to +185°F)
- 10ft cable
- 1ft cable with 12V Power plug
- 1ft cable with ring terminals for your ignition battery
Our verdict on using a battery maintainer
Battery maintainers or float chargers are an essential tool for anyone who needs to store their car, RV, boat, ATV, work truck, motorcycle or trailer for an extended period. By slowly charging your batteries, you can prevent damage caused by overcharging or undercharging and keep your vehicles ready to go when you need them. Using a battery maintainer is simple— connect with the power plug or ring terminals, position in a sunny location, and you will have no trouble keeping your batteries charged up!
Need More Info?
If you would like more information on battery maintainers for your RV, or you’d like to explore our solar panel kits for RV and overlanding rigs, our team of experts is here to help. Contact our expert sales team by phone or email or visit our where to buy page. Tell us what you want to power and we’ll help you with the rest!
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