We often keep our mobile phones overnight for charging. Though today’s phones get automatically disconnected when fully charged, the process goes like this: the battery sends a signal called ‘trickle charge’ to the battery to sense if it is fully charged. As soon as it comes down to 99% while disconnected, the battery starts to charge the battery again, so it keeps oscillating between 99% and 100%. But, older cell phones did not have this feature, and the battery used to be overcharged, which could harm the battery in the long run.
The main problem is overheating. This was an example – cell phones’ batteries are too small to be affected by overcharging. But big batteries like vehicle batteries are affected if overcharged or discharged for too long. In these cases, a regular battery charger is not an option. A battery charge maintainer is what we need. It helps the batteries not get overcharged or stay discharged for so long, making the lifetime longer. This article will help you learn about a Solar Battery Charge Maintainer.
What is a solar charge controller?
Solar technology has great potential to handle our future energy crisis. With time as the demand increases, this is time to make the technology smarter. A battery charge maintainer is a ‘smart’ device that maintains a battery. One can say that this is a smarter version of a battery charger.
When the battery is fully charged, it stops sending current to it and also helps it stop discharging. Thus, it keeps the battery’s charging state just right and makes the lifetime longer. With a battery charge maintainer, solar technology can get more efficient.
Why is a Battery Maintainer essential?
A regular battery charger charges a battery; the battery gets fully charged. Then one expects it to stop charging the battery, right? But, no. The charger keeps sending current to the battery, and that also with a high amount of charge. This makes the chemical composition of the battery imbalanced. An overcharged battery boils the sulfuric acid and gets overheated. The rising temperature makes the battery hot, and its surface may start to melt.
If the hydrogen inside the battery comes in contact with oxygen, it becomes hazardous. A small spark can make it catch fire and explode. This is a huge deal causing even the death of a person. To avoid the danger of overheating or overcharging the battery charge, the maintainer makes the difference. It always sends the current to the battery with lower amperes and stops once it is fully charged.
Working principle of a battery maintainer
Battery maintainers work similarly to trickle chargers. But the difference is, in the case of trickle chargers, if they remain connected to the batteries. The battery gets a continuous supply of a small
number of charges called ‘trickle charges,’ thus risking the batteries getting overcharged. Still, in the case of a battery maintainer, they can be left connected as they do not deliver any charges once the battery is fully charged. The maintainers are often called ‘float chargers’ and also keep them away from discharging. ONE THING HAS TO BE CLEAR AND LOUD – THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A CHARGER AND A MAINTAINER.
Why is a battery maintainer required?
Batteries do not charge unless the engine of the vehicle is running. So, suppose a vehicle is not being used for like a week or a month. In that case, these maintainers help them maintain the charge in the batteries because there is something called ‘self-discharging.’
If a battery is unused for so long, the battery gets discharged automatically. The electronics inside the vehicle also drain some charge from the battery due to its chemical nature. So to keep the battery charged while used less frequently, we need battery maintainers.
- Low range: If the price of a maintainer ranges between $20-$30, the wattage of a maintainer is supposed to be as low as 1.8 watts, 2.4 watts of power.
- Middle range: The middle range of pricing ranges between $30-$50; at this pricing, one can have more power, up to 7.5 watts to 10 watts.
- Upper range: At $50-$80, one can have the highest power, up to 18 to 20 watts. The quality is also very high at this price.
Let’s check out some of the famous brands to understand an overall idea about the manufactured maintainers:
Schumacher SP-200 solar battery charger and maintainer
This charger and maintainer are usually suitable for a 12V battery. This one can be used for batteries in cars, boats, trucks, and other vehicles. As this is stocky, it can be installed indoors and outdoors both. Additionally, it can generate power and charge or maintain a battery even when the weather is cloudy. It demands minimum to no effort in maintenance and is simple to install.
The problem with this unit is that it does not contain any indicator light to indicate whether it is working correctly. It does not contain any suction cup, which is vital for a battery maintainer.
TP Solar Car Battery Charger and Maintainer
Like most of the other maintainers, this also best works for 12V batteries. It can be used in cars, boats, motorcycles, etc. This maintains the peak power as it charges or maintains a battery. Unlike the previous one, it has an LED indicator, and it does not have any discharging problem. The best feature is that it is portable, so one can always have this near their hand, and it is also waterproof.
The main drawback of this unit is that it needs total exposure to sunlight, and when the sky is overcast, it does not work with its full efficiency.
Eco-worthy Solar Battery Charger and Controller
This maintainer is manufactured in an ideal size so that it can be taken to anywhere and used. It can fit in a car’s hood, boat deck, roof, etc. It can work in any weather condition and can stop power reversing.
But, It is not waterproof. Hence, it can work in a cloudy situation but not in the rain, which is a bit awkward. There is also no indicator light, making it problematic to detect if it is working perfectly.
SUNER Power Solar Battery Charger and Maintainer
This can be used in sunny and cloudy both situations. The batteries it can charge or maintain our AGM, SLA, wet, gel, etc. It can be installed and used in any type of automobile, such as trucks, marines, tractors, etc. It stops the reverse discharging, which causes drainage of charge in batteries. It is durable and can provide long-term service.
On the other hand, this charger often faces problems like polarity change, which drains the battery’s power.
Key features of Battery Maintainer
The following features are a must for a battery maintainer.
- Weather condition independent: Exposure to direct sunlight is not needed. In any weather condition, it can generate power.
- Sturdy in structure: As power generation is needed for a long course of time, the maintainers have to be sturdy and durable
- Minimum to low maintenance: This item is meant to be used long-term. So, high maintenance would not be a good option from an industrial perspective.
Advantages of using a battery maintainer
As we have already discussed, the advantages of a battery maintainer are pretty clear. It charges the battery and maintains it. Someone with a car is always ready to hit the road or use their vehicles in general. It prolongs the lifetime of a battery as it provides a very small amount of charge to maintain.
As these maintainers have to be installed outside to get the sunlight, the designs are done in a way that requires minimum maintenance and can be used for a long time. On the other hand, it is so cost-effective. A battery maintainer can take power directly from the solar panel, so there is no need to buy it from ‘the grid.’
Disadvantages battery maintainer
By all means, a battery maintainer is a great idea. But one must understand that this is not a charger but a maintainer. When the load on the battery is very high, the maintainer can not be used to charge up the battery.
One may not need a battery maintainer if they use it very rarely. A maintainer is only required when there is a frequent need to use your vehicles, and the maintainer becomes very handy for regular use. A maintainer should be used when every other thing the car is switched off; otherwise, it can leave the battery dead if connected with the maintainer keeping every other thing switched on.
Battery maintainers are called ‘smart’ battery chargers. Though the method used is not for charging a battery. As mentioned earlier, there is a difference between a charger and a maintainer. Still, from the products, we can say that nowadays, devices are manufactured so that they can both charge and maintain a battery. From the advantages of the maintainer, it is always advisable and safe to have a battery maintainer if one has an automobile.