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Old 07-01-2015, 12:02 PM   #1
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How Much Solar Needed to Maintain Batteries?

Anyone using solar panels to maintain batteries while trailer is stored over the winter?

I'm looking for a solar panel to maintain the four 6-volt batteries in my Rushmore Springfield over the off-season (Oct thru April). Plan on putting the solar panel inside the trailer against an east-facing tinted window. (All windows are tinted, and the east-facing window gets the most sun at my storage space.) The trailer is located in the Seattle area and we get a lot of gray days during the off-season.

Battery Tender makes a 10-watt and a 15-watt Solar Tender Charger with built in controller. Do think the 10-watt will do the job or do I need the 15-watt unit, or maybe neither will do the job?

Thanks in advance for your help.
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Old 07-01-2015, 12:54 PM   #2
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My guess: 100w in your scenario, if it's even possible. I need a 4.8w panel in the middle of summer, outside, facing south.

Your best bet is to disconnect the batteries and put them on a plug-in tender at home.
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Old 07-01-2015, 04:11 PM   #3
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I have 2 group 27 batteries in my unit and I use a solar panel from harbor freight #96418 to keep my batteries charged while in storage. Have had this setup for the last 4 years and so far no problems. Whenever I'v gone to my unit in storage to do some work, the batteries are fully charged and generator starts ok.
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Old 07-01-2015, 07:38 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by gepaine View Post
Anyone using solar panels to maintain batteries while trailer is stored over the winter?



Battery Tender makes a 10-watt and a 15-watt Solar Tender Charger with built in controller. Do think the 10-watt will do the job or do I need the 15-watt unit, or maybe neither will do the job?

Thanks in advance for your help.
I would be concerned that you are going to have it setup behind a tinted window. That in it's self will cut down on the output of the solar panel.

I would go with the 15 watt and if you can get it setup outside of the trailer you will have better results.
Even though you don't see to much of the sun in your part of the country, it shouldn't take to much to keep the batteries up. Some of the solar panels even claim to put out some power even if it's cloudy. I know mine does, but not like if the sun is shining down on it.
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Old 09-14-2015, 08:35 PM   #5
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Update by OP

I bought a 30-watt panel and Battery Tender Charge Controller. Tried it inside behind the tinted glass, plugged in to a 12-volt outlet. This was a convenient setup as it didn't require I get up on the roof or run the cord out a window; however, it did require that I not turn the batteries off with the shutoff switch.

I removed the fuse that powered the propane detector. (Note: Crossroads had this fuse position labeled as 3 amps, but had a 15 amp fuse installed. Nice! I replaced with a 3 amp fuse after completing this test.) I still had 0.1 amp draw and the 30-watt panel couldn't keep up. (I could have pulled more fuses, but decided that wasn't something I wanted to do each Fall.)

Today, I turned the batteries off and installed the panel on the roof at a 45-degree angle, facing south. I ran the output of the charge controller directly to the batteries.

I'll post again after I see how this does.
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Old 09-14-2015, 09:18 PM   #6
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There is another option - bring the battery home with you. No need to worry about freezing, keep it in your garage. Charge/trickle/test/and even load as necessary. Once I was in Iceland for a year. I kept my motorcycle battery on a trickle charger, plugged into a 120VAC timer set to one/hr/day. Just some ideas cheaper than solar.
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Old 09-14-2015, 09:40 PM   #7
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There is another option - bring the battery home with you. No need to worry about freezing, keep it in your garage. Charge/trickle/test/and even load as necessary. Once I was in Iceland for a year. I kept my motorcycle battery on a trickle charger, plugged into a 120VAC timer set to one/hr/day. Just some ideas cheaper than solar.
With our previous trailers where the batteries were mounted on the tongue and easy to remove, I brought them home each fall and put them on a Battery Tender maintainer. Worked great, but annual removal is NOT an option with our 5th-wheel.

I have four 6-volt batteries in the front storage compartment. They weigh about 55 pounds each. They are installed in a single, heavy-duty plastic box and fit inside the box with no room to spare. (The dealer actually designed a very nice setup including plastic lid with vent hose to the outside.)

See if you can picture how removal would go. I would bend over 90 degrees at the waist and stick my head and arms in the compartment. Then struggle to lift 55 pounds straight up with my arms fully extended. And I'd have to repeat that 3 more times! Let's see - what's more expensive? A cheap solar system or back surgery?

I'd move the trailer to a storage site with electricity before attempting to remove the batteries.
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Old 10-07-2015, 08:16 PM   #8
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Another Update by OP

Checked the trailer batteries yesterday 23 days after hooking up the solar system.

They were at 12.68 volts 23 days ago. I disconnected the charge controller and read the voltage yesterday. It was at 13.56 volts. So far so good!
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