A solar trickle charger is a tool, and with the help of this tool, we can charge different devices by using solar power. These are considered low-power charging devices, and these solar trickle chargers are excellent for charging laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc.
A solar trickle charger provides an outlet for these devices at our home and can be left plugged in all the time without using any power grid.
What is a solar Trickle charger?
A solar trickle charger is an excellent option for battery charging, and it can be used without or with overcharge protection. But generally, it is recommended that we use a solar trickle charger with overcharge protection.
Almost all the commercial solar trickle chargers are designed in such a way that they can either incorporate over-charge protection or generate very low power. A solar trickle charger can be left connected all the time to a battery, and there would not be any effect. And we should always prefer to use a simple solar trickle charger with any solar charging application.
Solar-powered trickle chargers are new in technology, but trickle chargers have been in use for decades. A trickle charger is an effective and safe way to ensure that the battery keeps some charge, even if the device installed in it has not run for a long time.
Generally, trickle chargers are used with different vehicles, and a traditional trickle charger must always remain plugged into a power source, making them a bit tedious to use.
A solar trickle charger is only connected to a battery, and due to this property, we prefer a solar trickle charger over a standard trickle charger.
How does solar trickle charger really work?
A solar panel powers each solar trickle charger, and this solar panel is composed of multiple solar cells. Here, solar panels are used to charge 12volt batteries having Voc (open circuit voltage) of 21 volts and 35 cells.
An electric current from the sunlight gets generated from a solar cell and transfers this electric current to the charging devices, and then it charges the devices which are connected to it. In general, a typical power rating for this type of solar trickle charger is 0.5 watts to 1.0 watts.
It is very easy to operate a solar trickle charger. A solar trickle charger has three significant components, which are:
- Power inverter,
- Flexible solar panel,
- Wires with alligator clips.
To set up a solar trickle charger maintainer, just connect the alligator clips to the negative and positive poles of a battery that we want to charge, and one clip is always attached to each pole. After that, find a place where the sunlight is coming directly and place the solar panel.
There are different models of solar trickle chargers as well. There may be a small ON/OFF switch on the inverter box in some models. If it is there, then make sure that the switch is in the ON state. And as said earlier, not all solar trickle chargers have these switches, keep this in mind. In the case of your solar trickle charger, no switch is present, then do not worry. As soon as the clips get connected, it will automatically start working, and the solar panel starts producing electricity as well.
How much energy does it take to charge a battery?
If we talk about charging a battery with the help of a solar panel, the output of a solar panel is measured in watts, and it depends on the product to the product. Though a solar panel can generate up to 350 watts, a solar trickle charger can generate very low power, just a few watts.
In general, the batteries are rated in ampere-hours (Ah). In case you have a battery, and it is rated as 50Ah, then accordingly, we should be able to draw 25 amps for 2 hours, but this technique doesn’t seem right.
Let us take an example of a normal lead-acid car battery. This type of battery discharged to 25% maximum, and thus the adequate capacity of this lead-acid car battery is much less than its rated capacity.
Even if we talk about a deep-cycle marine battery, it should technically discharge 50% to 80%.
So, if we want to calculate the energy, then rather than expressing battery capacity energy in Ah, express it in Wh. Here is the formula for it:
Wh = Ah x V
How to connect a solar trickle charger to a battery?
If there is no charge controller and just using a solar trickle charger, in that case connecting it to a battery is very simple. First, attach the crocodile clips to the battery terminals that are red to positive and black to negative, and then place the solar panel in the sun.
Since a solar charge controller is required, the connection is also not that much complicated. Then simply negative and positive solar panel leads to the controller, and the controller black and red lead connect to the battery’s negative and positive, respectively.
What size solar trickle charger do I need for a battery?
Before purchasing a solar trickle charger, there are multiple factors we should know as it depends on its state of discharge, the size of the battery, and how much power we can get from our solar panel.
For example, let us assume you need a 100Ah battery, and a battery at 12 volts and 20 amps per hour charges an average device. As a result, it would take around 5 hours to charge a 100Ah battery fully and to calculate the wattage, and you just need to multiply the volts by amps.
It is very important to keep in mind that if the battery is large, it will take more time to charge it. If you have a battery with a larger capacity, that means more Ah, then make sure that the solar trickle charger that you have matches its power requirements.
How to select the best Solar battery trickle charger?
The solar battery trickle charger is a very user-friendly and flexible device. These solar battery trickle chargers can be connected to just about any type of battery. But not all trickle charger maintainers are created equal. So, it is very important to do some research and wisely choose the right solution for the solar energy system.
In a solar battery trickle charger, there is nothing like the freestyle or one-size-fits-all option and so before purchasing it, consider these below factors as well:
- Charging Ports Required – Though some of the power banks and solar battery trickle chargers include multiple USB ports. If you are a sole and who likes to venture out on your own, then it is better to go with a smaller device with a single port, and it will also work just fine.
- The capacity of the Device – Another major reason to select a solar battery trickle charger is the capacity of a device that we need to charge. For example, generally, a deep cycle battery is used for a large boat and will have a higher capacity than the battery in our cell phone. If we purchase a solar battery trickle charger for the boat, we should select only large panels.
Can a solar trickle charger overcharge a battery?
Generally, if a solar trickle charger has low power, then it cannot overcharge a battery. It follows the normal pace with natural discharge rates as time passes.
Still, the solar trickle charger which we are using must have both the protection that is overload and overcharge protection, and it ensures we will never encounter this issue.
Some good solar trickle charger has an auto-shutoff feature, and it will cut off the power to the unit when the battery reaches the threshold temperature.
And some solar trickle charge has both blocking diodes and overcharge protection to quash discharge through battery drain, for example, a Super-power model.
Can a trickle charger ruin a battery?
Generally, no, a solar battery trickle charger will not be able to ruin a battery, but a standard battery charger may ruin a battery. The main reason for this difference is that a regular solar power battery charger is specially designed to recharge the connected device quickly. If we forget to unplug the battery and leave it for too long, it will reduce the battery’s capacity. If we are using a solar battery trickle charger maintainer, then there is no risk that the capacity of the battery will be ruined.
Some solar charging devices, especially marine batteries, are designed to be left on all the time and don’t forget that we should use a solar trickle charger with overcharge protection.
How long do I leave a solar trickle charger ON?
One of the most useful features of a solar trickle charger is that you can leave a solar trickle charger ON all the time. Since the trickle charger delivers a steady and small stream of electricity to the battery, the amount of electricity is so small that you can neglect it. It does not matter how long the device is connected to the battery; your device will not over-charge and be safe.
Also, one more important point you should remember here is that it completely depends on the capacity of the solar panel and the size of the battery. If you have a larger battery with a high capacity, it will take more than to charge your device than a smaller battery with a lower capacity.
If you want to disconnect your solar trickle charger and connect it to your boat, remove the alligator clips first and secure the solar panel before even starting the motor.
Difference between a Battery Maintainer and a Battery Charger
Nowadays, the battery charger and trickle charger maintainer are used frequently and interchangeably. Though both the devices are used for charging purposes only, they are completely different.
If we talk about a battery charger, it is used to recharge a battery as safely and fast as possible. A battery charger delivers a large amount of current (amperes) and voltage to the battery so that the attached equipment or load charges quickly. It is not advisable to plug in your device all the time because the device can seriously damage the capacity of your battery.
On the other hand, a solar battery trickle charger maintainer charges the battery with a slow and steady approach. These devices are capable of continuous delivery of electricity over several hours.
Where do we use Solar Battery Trickle chargers?
A solar battery trickle charger is a multi-purpose device, and a solar battery trickle charger can be used for different applications. If you have access to a good amount of sunlight and need a small battery, then a solar trickle charger maintainer is good.
Most lithium-ion batteries have warranties of 10 years or more, and in the case of lead-acid batteries, you can expect five years or fewer.
If you have large equipment or devices, such as a boat or RV, and already use it for your solar battery trickle charger, you might add a power box to your complete system. Since these devices mostly work like portable power banks, these devices are not capable enough to store more energy.
One of the benefits of a solar trickle charger is that it can help a battery and keep it in a better condition by keeping it at the most suitable charge level. Also, make sure that the solar charger which you are using has both the protection that is automatic shut-off protection and overcharges protection.
If you plan to connect even one device, it is better to use a solar charge controller. The solar charge controller will protect the battery from overcharging.
Before even thinking and selecting a solar battery trickle charger, kindly make sure you consider all the input and output you plan to use it.