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Old 12-16-2011, 03:22 PM   #1
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Will mini solar panel trickle charge over winter?

I have a '05 AS LY 30 MH. It has a mini solar panel on the roof to charge the engine battery. Does anyone know whether or not it also charges the 2 coach batteries as well? Could I leave the batteries in the MH over the winter? I leave for the sunny south with my trailer but the MH stays until April. If I take the batteries out then nothing gets charged while I'm gone.
I guess that I could connect all 3 batteries to a charger and then connect the charger to a timer in order to turn the charger on 10 -15 minutes per day. What do you know!
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Old 12-16-2011, 05:52 PM   #2
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If the charger is only connected to the starting battery, that's all it will charge.
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Old 12-16-2011, 06:07 PM   #3
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I would say you have a good idea with the timer and charger. Are all the batteries about the same age and all wet cell?
I would set it to run 1 hour/day if you still have the batteries connected in the coach as there may be minor draw for gas alarm etc.
Lew has the best idea. If you are going to do this often, you may as well invest in the proper equipment.
If you tie the batteries together and something goes wrong, you will have trouble, without the proper equipment. A separate charger for each would be best.
SurePower has "separators" that allow charge both ways and protect each battery bank, but you may not have time to do this retrofit before you leave?
Dave
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Old 12-16-2011, 09:05 PM   #4
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Solar panels are great, however, I prefer to have a little larger panel, hooked through a good solar regulator. Then, IMHO, you have the hot setup. A solar panel without a good regulator could overcharge your batteries, just as a regular battery charter can, when left unattended.
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Old 12-16-2011, 10:42 PM   #5
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Clipper Electrical
This is my unit and it may give you some ideas as to how you can upgrade your electrical system on your motorhome.

Here is what I did on my CLIPPER. (Cummins CT300)
I have a upgraded Delco SI 22 160A alternator, charging 2 X HD GP31 wet cell starting batteries, bank #1, and have removed the OEM ISOLATOR because of the voltage drop.
I have installed a SurePower 1315-200 SEPARATOR.(replaces the isolator) and allows charging both ways over 13.2V. Also protects each battery bank from drain by the other. https://sites.google.com/site/surepowerisolator/
I have installed a cockpit controlled Cole Hersee 24200BX latching solenoid between the chassis circuit and the ISOALTOR to #2 BB so I can manually control the combined or separate charge.
24200 Cole Hersee: 12 Volt Latching Solenoid 110A (carry only) ~ All Battery Sales and Service

I have 4 X 6V T105's for the house bank #2.
I have one Trojan deep cycle wet cell 12V up front for the electronics. This has a charge line from the house battery circuit and another tie to the chassis circuit, which both have manual switches in the cockpit that I control as needed.
Xantrex Freedom Inverter Charger 2000 Watt 12 VDC 3 stage charger for the house #2 battery bank. (will charge all if switches and solenoid activated. AUX diesel 7000W slightly used.

All system are monitored in the cockpit with DIGITAL VOLT GAUGES.

SOLAR:
40W polycrystalline, charge controller, manual switch (to feed chassis or house depending on the need) Can be left on either, depending on solenoid setting between battery bank #1 or #2.
253W polycrystalline panels (4) run thru a MMPT controller to the #2 battery bank.
1 X 40W polycrystaline panel (no charge controller) to the #3 battery up front. Powers a 1000W invertor for the electronics.

+++Note +++I am currently installing another SurePower 1315-200, and a Cole Hersee 24200BX solenoid between the Chassis #1 bank and the Electronic #3 bank to ensure I can leave the unit unattended in the sun for long periods. This was a better choice than installing another solar controller in the #3 battery bank system after upgrading the panel recently.

My experience with this setup is:
While camping, if the sun is shinning next day, I can boomdock overnight and leave the house batteries on all the SOLAR and they will completely charge. (in this case I have the solenoid between 1&2 bank connected so that any solar over capacity goes to the chassis battery. If not using the #3 invertor I will tie this panel in also to the house.

When travelling during the sunny day after boomdocking, I will separate the #1, #2, #3 banks. This allows SOLAR to charge the #2 and #3 and the Delco to run the chassis load of DRL, AC, fans, etc.
In theory I should get better fuelmileage as the alternator is not running the # 2 or #3 if not necessary.
NOTE: THE SOLAR WILL NOT PRODUCE IF YOU ARE CHARGING FROM THE ALTERNATOR AT THE SAME TIME AS THE CONTROLLER WILL SIGNAL THE BATTERIES ARE AT CAPACITY.
ALWAYS DOCUMENT UPGRADES SO THAT FUTURE SERVICE WILL BE POSSIBLE WITHOUT UNNECESSARY EXPLORATION COST.


Dave


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Originally Posted by masseyfarm View Post
SurePower has "separators" that allow charge both ways and protect each battery bank, but you may not have time to do this retrofit before you leave?
Dave
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Old 12-17-2011, 07:39 AM   #6
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I use a 15 watt trickle solar panel for summer use. I puts out about 950mA (net, after parisitics are taken into account)on a sunny SUMMER day. In these northern climes, about November, because of the angle of the sun, it would not keep up. Especially with increased clouds and snow cover.
I still take batts out, garage them, and put them on a BatteryMinder.
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Old 12-17-2011, 08:19 AM   #7
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I use a 15 watt trickle solar panel for summer use. I puts out about 950mA (net, after parisitics are taken into account)on a sunny SUMMER day. In these northern climes, about November, because of the angle of the sun, it would not keep up. Especially with increased clouds and snow cover.
I still take batts out, garage them, and put them on a BatteryMinder.
Same here in WNY

Bob
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Old 12-18-2011, 11:35 AM   #8
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OK its time to remove them to the garage.

OK the're being put in the garage along with the 3 batteries from the boat. That's a total of 6 batteries. Past experience has led me to believe that if each is fully charged when I leave they should be OK for 3 1/2 months. But I'll look into a tricle charger for them all.
Now all I need to do is struggle to remove them from the MH. One is tucked into a corner but the other 2 are right in front behind the grill.

Thanks for all your comments and advice.
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Old 12-18-2011, 01:04 PM   #9
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OK the're being put in the garage along with the 3 batteries from the boat. That's a total of 6 batteries. Past experience has led me to believe that if each is fully charged when I leave they should be OK for 3 1/2 months. But I'll look into a tricle charger for them all.
Now all I need to do is struggle to remove them from the MH. One is tucked into a corner but the other 2 are right in front behind the grill.

Thanks for all your comments and advice.
Why remove them at all? They will be no better off in a garage than in the MH or trailer. Just a lot of work, in my mind. Just pull one battery cable and leave them. Up to 6 months, there should be no real problem if totally disconnected, so there is no way they can discharge other than the very slow self discharge you will get from any lead acid battery. That should not be significant in any reasonable time period.

Mine are that way now, and have been used that way for years. I finally replaced the T 105's in the 20' Argosy last year, they were 10 years old, and left just disconnected, in place, every winter. The ones in the Caravel are even older now, same deal.

However, they must be truly disconnected so there is no possibility of any small discharge taking them down.
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Old 12-18-2011, 01:25 PM   #10
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Why remove them at all? They will be no better off in a garage than in the MH or trailer. Just a lot of work, in my mind. Just pull one battery cable and leave them. Up to 6 months, there should be no real problem if totally disconnected, so there is no way they can discharge other than the very slow self discharge you will get from any lead acid battery. That should not be significant in any reasonable time period.

Mine are that way now, and have been used that way for years. I finally replaced the T 105's in the 20' Argosy last year, they were 10 years old, and left just disconnected, in place, every winter. The ones in the Caravel are even older now, same deal.

However, they must be truly disconnected so there is no possibility of any small discharge taking them down.
It's risky, especially if they have a few years on them. And it only takes once to make a real mess and damage the aluminum.

Woody, IIRC the BatteryMinder is good for 4 bats, so you would only need 2. Make up some jumpers for paralleling multiple batteries out of scrap wire, I use 12 ga, which is probably overkill.

I have 2 for my 2 trailer batts and 2 other pieces of equipment. I used two because they are significantly different battery sizes and capacities. I was worried about paralleling motorcycle and lawn tractor with big group 29 AS batts.
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Old 12-18-2011, 03:36 PM   #11
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North of us here in WNY....I would not want them to freeze and cause damage that was easily preventable.

A BatteryMinder would keep the MH start batt from freezing if you have power,
I use one on each of our vehicles that don't get driven much during the Winter.
TV battery stays connected, Ford(6v) disconnected and BM cycled on/off periodically.

Bob
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Old 12-18-2011, 05:36 PM   #12
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North of us here in WNY....I would not want them to freeze and cause damage that was easily preventable.

Bob
A charged battery will not freeze, and a charged battery, disconnected will not discharge by itself in 4 or 5 winter months. So, why remove it?

Sure, if you have power available a battery minder is not a bad idea, and I use them sometimes, but honestly, I have never had any problems just leaving them in place, fully charged but disconnected, all winter. I live in Idaho, and yes, it gets cold there too.

Again, this is my experience, for your reference and consideration. It is what I have done for many years and many trailers and cars left outside and unused all winter.
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Old 12-18-2011, 07:01 PM   #13
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A charged battery will not freeze, and a charged battery, disconnected will not discharge by itself in 4 or 5 winter months. So, why remove it?

Sure, if you have power available a battery minder is not a bad idea, and I use them sometimes, but honestly, I have never had any problems just leaving them in place, fully charged but disconnected, all winter. I live in Idaho, and yes, it gets cold there too.

Again, this is my experience, for your reference and consideration. It is what I have done for many years and many trailers and cars left outside and unused all winter.
That is true, but they tend to eventually fail when you're not watching. Say a plate shorts and you don't know it....it sits for four months ...self discharges and freezes and cracks.....now there's acid all over everything which eats aluminum.
Or you have an older one which is getting sulfated. You THINK it is fine and fully charged when you park it. After a month...same scenario as above.

Is it probable....that's arguable. Is it possible?....VERY. IMO.
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Old 12-18-2011, 07:09 PM   #14
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