Battery charger vs solar

Discussion in 'First Time & New Camper Owners' started by 1Step, Nov 15, 2019.

  1. 1Step

    1Step New Member

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    Hello-
    I was about to purchase a battery charger for use when the pup is not on the road. After reading a bit about deep cycle marine batteries, which we have, I learned a higher end charger is ideal for a good charge. However, rather than spending $85 on the charger, figured investing that money toward a solar panel would be better....as we could use it when boondocking too.

    So the question is, will I get a deep cycle charge using solar (would leave it out while stored in driveway) or is a high end charger the better way to go?
     
  2. joet

    joet Well-Known Member

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    Get a battery charger. Sooner or later you will need the charger. I have both and use the solar while boondocking and once home I plug the charger/maintainer in
     
  3. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

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    I’m with buying a true charger for now. Although I’ve seen people use solar you would have to be taking it out often/all day. I know in my neighborhood I wouldn’t dare leave it out when I’m not home. Just easier to throw the battery on the charger and forget about it. I use a 3 way charger which can charge a dead or nearly depleted battery and automatically switches to a trickle charge when it nearly charged. Came in real handy when I got my camper from the shop for some repairs and found out they didn’t disconnect the battery. Don’t think solar can recover a dead battery like that.
     
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  4. BikeNFish

    BikeNFish Well-Known Member

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    I second the charger. They have more uses than just for the pup. In my neighborhood, a solar charger sitting out would not be there long. My neighbor just had packages stolen from her steps.

    I would suggest using a battery maintainer on the battery if it sits for more than a week or two. You can also get a battery charger for a lot less than $85.
     
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  5. Dingit

    Dingit Well-Known Member

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    I'd start with the good charger and add solar for camping.
     
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  6. xvz12

    xvz12 Well-Known Member

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    +1 on what Dingit says.....I have a good charger (several actually), but 2 years ago, I mounted 2 100 watt solar panels on the roof with a controller that does 3-stage charging.....I haven't hooked a charger to our batteries since I installed the panels. The panels even get enough light thru the storage cover to keep the batteries topped up throughout the winter. YMMV.
     
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  7. PopUpSteve

    PopUpSteve Administrator

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    I say solar. With a good 100 + watt system you're covered at home and on the road.
     
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  8. hq308

    hq308 Active Member

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    I have a couple of good chargers and portable solar panels. For me I find it easier to hook the solar panels up every so often for a day (usually on a weekend) to keep the battery topped up.
     
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  9. 1Step

    1Step New Member

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    You guys are great. Thanks for all the helpful advice.
    xvz12 mentioned a solar charger which does 3-stage charging. Hadn't even occurred to me to look into that, simply assumed a solar charger did not have that capability.
    So you know your advice is not falling on stubborn ears, I am going to pick up a nominal (cheaper) charger AND also grab a Renogy 100w solar panel with charger (hoping they have one with 3-stage abilities).
     
  10. Dingit

    Dingit Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like an excellent plan!

    We use solar for camping, but have a light portable panel that would probably blow off if we left it on the camper at home (if we stored the camper outside--which we don't so panels wouldn't work for topping the battery off anyway)...
     
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  11. rabird

    rabird Howdy!

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    It is almost impossible to determine a plug in chargers charge profile (voltage) and compare to what battery makers recommend. Easy for solar charge controller as the manuals list the voltage specs. Many charge controllers have a decent charge profile and temp compensation for both AGM and flooded batteries.

    I'll add that solar is likely gonna be limited in current (5A/100w) while one can find a 20-30A plug in, or just use the trailer's charging capability along with solar!
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2019
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  12. BillyMc

    BillyMc Well-Known Member

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    You can do either. If you are going to be doing a fair amount of off grid camping I'd say solar. Either way look for three way charging.
     
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