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Solar Charger for Breakaway Battery

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  • Solar Charger for Breakaway Battery

    Has anyone successfully installed a solar charger to keep their trailer breakaway battery charged? I'm talking just the small 4.5 amp/hr 12 volt on the tongue of the trailer.


  • #2
    I keep a trickle charger plugged into ours in our trailer shed. I don't see why a solar one wouldn't work. Those little batteries have drastically shortened lives if you don't keep a charge going into them.


    I looked, and Battery Tender doesn't make a really small solar charger. I'd be inclined to try a cheaper one to start with, but I know this one would work:



    • Original Poster

      Thanks Tom. Unfortunately, I don't have access to an electrical outlet where I keep my trailer, hence the desire for solar. I had already hit the batterymart site

      I think the trick is going to be figuring out where to hook up the solar panel. I have a small battery in a box, there aren't any regular battery posts to clamp onto. I'm thinking I can rig up something to plug into the regular electric plug that will charge that puppy up.


      • #4
        the solar charger Tom linked to is a 5 watt... a 12Volt 5 watt panel should produce in bright sunlight just about 330 milliamps (mA) of charge at 17.5VDC....the trailer's breakaway backup battery is only 4.5 amps (4500 milliamps)

        The battery's discharge voltage should at a little over 12VDC, full charge is 12.5 to 12.6VDC

        A 5 watt solar panel should recharge a discharged serviceable battery is a few hours at the most

        The system must have a regulator that works other wise the panel will overcharge the battery shorting it out. The regulator requires a system ground to dump the excess charge rate of the solar panel..

        The system ground is going to be the hard thing to locate as the trailer itself is insulated from an earth ground by the rubber tires


        • #5
          The Battery Tender brand "trickle chargers" have a chip that doesn't allow an overcharge. It would be nice if they made a smaller solar one.

          We've had good luck with Battery Tenders on everything with these small batteries, like trailers, lawnmowers, and jetskiis, allowing these batteries to last for 4 to 5 years, or maybe more-haven't really kept up with them. I do know that without the Tenders, we were lucky to get 2 years out of them.


          • Original Poster

            Thanks for the responses, the problem of how to connect the darn thing remains since the battery terminals are not easily accessible. I'm aware of the need for a regulator, and they are pretty easy to find.

            I remain hopeful of being able to wire the darn thing to a plug. I think I can rig up a ground easily enough since the battery is on the tongue and I can either use a metal stake or the jack stand.


            • #7
              I have all our various things that we use a Battery Tender on hooked up with quick-disconnects, so you don't have to go digging for the battery every time you want to hook one up.



              • Original Poster

                Thanks. my challenge is that the battery is contained in a box (that is zip-tied closed) and is hardwired to the electrical harness that we plug into the truck. This appears to be the standard protocol as all other trailers I've looked at are the same. When I sit down and think about it, I'm confident I can put something together that will allow me to plug the solar panel into the standard plug on the trailer.

                I'll report back. Thanks for the help.


                • Original Poster

                  Got a nice solar panel from Camping World. Wired it onto a vehicle end 7 way plug which had blades way too big for my trailer plug (who knew). Rewired it onto a simple little plug that was spliced on to the battery wires. Found out that a truly dead battery will show as "charged" on a battery charger as they measure the current coming out of the battery which is absolutely nothing both when the battery is charged and when it will not take a charge. Found out my circuit board that monitors the battery charge works exactly fine and thinks the dead battery is charged. Read my owners manual and will forever more faithfully check and charge the darn battery if needed every 3 months.

                  In short, I think I'm set once I get a new battery.


                  • #10
                    Which solar panel did you get?

                    This is a good solution; my battery is not staying charged either and it's not easy to just go grab a new one on a misty weekend morning.
                    If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


                    • Original Poster

                      I got this little solar panel


                      I got the small one so I wouldn't have to worry about over charging.

                      Also, Radio Shack carries the battery I needed. Turns out it's the same battery used as backup in home alarm systems.