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Thread: Solar chargers

  1. #1

    Default Solar chargers

    This summer I happened into a cove to find a lone sailboat with a dead battery looking for a jump. There first mistake was they were sailboaters, and the second was running all there equipment all weekend until the battery was no longer able to crank there diesel. After that weekend, I thought of my own fate of making such an error of running all my toys camping in a cove to the point of killing a battery, thus I bought a dash solar charger, just in case. Does anyone have any experience with them? Who knows if it really works being a trickle charger and with our sun??? It weighs nothing and is small, maybe it would be the last resort someday or maybe I could use it as a cutting board. I have been told they do what there made for. Any thoughts???

  2. #2
    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    Solar power works quite well in Alaska during the summer. It doesn't take direct sunlight, just light and we have plenty of it. My dad has a large solar panel on his Cook Inlet boat. It is about 12" x 18" but I don't recall what the power rating is. He's had it for over 10 years. He only used it when they went out for long multi-day treks such as spending several days on the beach in Anchor point for halibut fishing or spending a few days over on some obscure silver hot spot on the West side (before all the @#$&! fly-in guides showed up and ruined the experience for all of us, but that's another story).

    Anyhow, he's never had a dead battery. But he doesn't run much with the engine off. Maybe the radio, GPS, and depth sounder as needed. I don't know that he ever tested it to see how far he could go, but at least you'd have the trickle charger function that could get you going in maybe a few hours.

    Another friend of mine has a roll-up solar panel that has a nicad battery charger and a bunch of different charger adapters for cell phones and such. The whole thing rolls up into a rather small package and he carries it camping and hunting so he can recharge GPS batteries in the field. If I remember correctly, he paid a couple hundred for it. It looked like a bit too much for camping to me, but would have value in a "go-bag" survival kit for sure. This panel rolls out to something like 8" by 12" or so.

  3. #3
    Member broncoformudv's Avatar
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    A friend of mine sent me this link the other day. We were talking about using bear fences to protect remote cabins when you are not around. They would work great for that and or as a trickle charger for a boat.

    http://www.brunton.com/catalog.php?cat=8

  4. #4

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    If you decide to not go with the solar charger, and have the room and don't mind the weight, you might consider one of those portable battery jump starters/air compressors/cigarette lighters (the plug in for cell phone chargers, etc.). I keep it in the truck during the winter and in the boat during the summer. Plus, if someone needs a jump start, you can just hand it over to them. But if you're on the hook for a while, then I think a solar charger makes a lot of sense.

  5. #5

    Default Solar chargers

    Thanks for the replys. Like many gadgets, some work but many are just gadgets that only work if all the planets are alined perfectly. Another "gadget" I took a chance on that has worked awesome that happens to be solar also, is those little solar lights on a post. I have one mounted next to my regular anchor light, It comes on like a street light in the dark everytime. Sometimes you go into a cove and you might see eight other boats and no one has there anchor light on, we might forget or don't bother to turn it on because its always so light in the summer. This does have an on/off switch, but I leave it on all summer and it takes care of itself.

  6. #6
    Member PatrickH's Avatar
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    I just carry a spare fully charged battery on board. It is much cheaper, has nothing to break down, and is simpler than using battery switches. I have considered using a battery isolator like my camper, but why complicate things? I would still have to buy a second battery. Plus I can move the battery to another area if I need access to where it sits for some reason. Before I go out I put the charger on it to be sure it is topped off.
    But if you prefer to have gadgets....

  7. #7
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    I run 2 good optima marine deep cycle batteries. And...I isolate them. If I run one dead...the other one will be fully charged. I also carry one of those portable jump start batteries....and have lent it out at least 3 times in the PWS. Usually at the dock when a new boat owner or rental tries to start the motor without turning on the fuel....

    On one occasion....a guy dumped his brand new 30+' kingfisher in with 2 250 horse honda fourstrokes. Very nice...and obviously brand new. His buddy decided to start the motors to let them warm up while the other guy parked the truck and made the trek (you know what I'm talking about if you've been to whittier)...anyway...2 batteries later I suggested that he either wait until his friend got back, or turn the fuel on and prime the lines first....and then I handed him my portable batter jumper and said...you're going to need this.

    That was the best one,,,other times its just been guys who didn't disconnect or check their batteries before putting in for the first time in the season. I always pull my batteries, bring them in the garage, and put a good trickle charge on them at the end and beginning of the season. Never had a problem.

  8. #8
    Member broncoformudv's Avatar
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    While this will not stop you from running a battery dead it will help maintain it thereby increasing its life span. I looked these up before after reading an article on them and am impressed. At that time they were a couple hundred dollars, looks like the price has come down and they have them at ABS in Anchorage.

    http://www.absak.com/catalog/product...roducts_id/168

  9. #9
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    Has anyone used one of these? It won't charge your battery, but will keep the battery from dicharging below 11.7 volts. Seems like a good idea?

    http://www.prioritystart.com/index.html

  10. #10
    Member mod elan's Avatar
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    The priority start gadget looks okay, but what is the lowest voltage needed for starting some of our rigs? I've experienced cranking power fall off before it reached 11.7 volts. I believe some of the EFI systems need more than that to power up. It would be good to keep a battery from getting killed during times of storage though. Once a battery sits drained it's never the same again. Of course the proper thing to do for storage is remove it and trickle charge every so often. I know I'm guilty of not doing this!

  11. #11

    Default Solar Chargers

    Yes, I certainly have two batteries on board, isolator switch, bring em' in come winter, the whole thing. I'll spend a few days cove camping, shrimping, fishing, running electronics, radios, etc. One night it was raining very hard (like normal) so we didn't leave the boat, just stayed in and watched movies (I know..movies is totally inappropriate when in the wilderness). The next morning I fumbled when I went to start it up, almost flooded her, and cranked on her a bit more than I care to when I'm not within' walking distance of land!
    Here is a thought one might consider on the battery/starting issues: The kicker has an emergency pull-start rope in the engine, your mains are dead, you fire up the kicker with the old rope start, would it charge your main batteries as the kicker runs? My kicker is a 9.9 Yamaha four-stroke all hooked up battery-wise with the main etc... Or am missing something in the equation?

  12. #12
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    Your kicker should charge it. Specs say the alternater output is 6amps at WOT.

  13. #13
    Member broncoformudv's Avatar
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    Your kicker has a charging system and will charge up your batteries in this situation. But not all kickers have charging systems.

  14. #14

    Default Kicker Charging/Solar/Switch

    My Honda 9.9 charged up my spare battery that I only use for Aux power needs, Movie, two lights, Wallas Stove. It's not attached to the two starting circuits at all, except for a switch to charge it if I wanted, but that said charging two batterys at the same time is not a good idea. Charge will stop when one of the batterys voltage reaches 13VDC. The regulator then shuts it off, so the weaker of the two don't get a full charge.
    I had a solar panel on my Zodiac which had a small control 12VDC battery and no charging circuit. It did well to keep it up for only fishfinder.

    The switch that shuts off the battery at 11.7 vdc do work, will shut off long before you only hear a click of the starter. Turning over fast enough to start has many more factors.

  15. #15

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    This may be a question that can't be answered except by the kicker manufacturer, but I have an 18hp Tohatsu kicker. It has cables for a battery hookup for electric start, but I never hook it up and just pull start it. If my 2 boat batteries died on me, do you think it would work to remove one of the batteries, hook it up to the kicker, pull start the kicker and then the kicker would charge the battery that I hooked up to it? This would be a backup to the portable jump starter that I keep on board.

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