Have you been considering buying one of the solar powered battery chargers, but you’re unsure where to start? This article is designed to help you understand the difference between 12V solar battery chargers so that you can choose the right one for you.
What are you trying to accomplish with a solar battery charger? Do you need power off the grid, maybe at a campground or during some other off-road adventure? Are you looking to go green and take advantage of the environmentally friendly nature of solar power? These are both good reasons for going solar.
If you’re just looking for a 12-volt battery charger, you need to consider if solar is really what you need. Solar powered battery chargers are less efficient than a regular 12-volt battery charger. It would take a lot of solar energy to produce the power of most popular 12-volt chargers and so they are generally less powerful.
Although some solar chargers can work in less than bright sunlight, the fact remains, when the light goes away, the charging goes away.
Watt for watt, solar powered battery chargers are still more expensive to buy when compared to equivalent output 12-volt chargers. It may take some time for you to make up the cost using the savings of solar power.
Given that you like solar power and have decided to buy a 12-volt solar battery charger, what should features and specifications should you be looking for?
Your solar charger needs to match the voltage requirements of the battery you’re charging. While we’re taking a look at one of the 12-volt chargers in this article, garden tractors, motorcycles, classic cars, and other vehicles may have 6-volt batteries.
To get more watts from a solar battery charger, you need a larger panel. That equates to more cost. That’s why in general a solar panel battery charger is mostly used for trickle charging or battery tending rather than for charging low or dead batteries and why it’s used for smaller batteries rather than larger ones.
Solar chargers put out too few watts to charge a 12-volt vehicle battery in a timely fashion. You can expect it to take several hours depending on the size of your charger and your battery. If you want your solar powered battery charger to charge your battery nearly as fast as a regular 12-volt charger you will need a very large solar panel.
Which solar panel type should you be considering? There are basically two types of solar panels used for 12-volt charging applications with some further options within the types.
Thin film or amorphous panels work better in low light, high heat, and are more durable. Their downside is that they have a shorter lifespan than other panel types and their efficiency is not as good. That means that you will need a larger panel to produce the same power.
Flexible thin film are peel and stick versions of regular thin film panels which broadens their applications, but doesn’t change their characteristics.
Mono-chrystalline panels are heavier, but smaller in size than thin film panels of the same power. They are more efficient than thin film and have a longer lifespan.
Flexible mono-chrystalline panels are more durable than regular mono-chrystalline panels because they can be bent at up to a 30% bending angle.
The more watts produced, the faster a solar charger can be. More watts also equals a large panel. You need to decide whether your application requires or can handle a larger panel. All applications require some tradeoff between size and power.
Which features should you look for in a solar powered battery charger?
Don’t forget to checkout our other solar charger articles including SunForce 50022 5-Watt Solar Battery Trickle Charger, 12 Volt Solar Battery Charger Saves Family Adventures, RV Solar Battery Charger: Let Sun Power Charge Your RV Battery, Solar Panel Battery Charger: Top 5 For 2014, and Solar Car Battery Chargers: Best Buying Tips.
You should look for a solar battery charger with a smart solar charge controller capable of providing overcharge/discharger protection. If you want to set and forget the charger for long periods, it is essential that the charge controller protects your battery.
Not all solar panels are designed to be used as 12-volt battery chargers. In order to charge batteries you need to use a charge controller in conjunction with the solar panel.
If weight is a concern, that will be another tradeoff between weight and power output.
Well hopefully that gives you a brief rundown on solar powered battery chargers, their features, and specifications.
We have selected one of the most popular solar battery chargers to review, because it has the features you’re looking for at a value price. Read on to see if it is the perfect solar battery charger for your application.
NOCO BLSOLAR2 Battery Life Black 2.5W Solar Powered Battery Chargers
The BLSOLAR2 2.5W solar battery charger and maintainer is an ultra-thin, ultra-low profile, thin film charger designed specifically for charging and maintaining 12-volt batteries. They are used to charge 12-volt batteries on many types of vehicles including cars, trucks, motorcycles, ATVs, boats, RVs, tractors, and lawn mowers just to name a few. They are also suitable for a variety of lead-acid battery chemistries including Wet, Gel, Maintenance-Free, and AGM. Take a look at its many great features and specifications.
Solar Powered Battery Chargers: Features
- Completely weatherproof solar battery charger and maintainer construction rated at IP65.
- Provides up to 2.5 W/180 milliampere (0.18 Amps) of charging current for 12-volt lead-acid batteries
- Protects batteries against accidental reverse battery drain
- Thin-film technology provides optimal performance in low-light, cloudy, and overcast conditions
- Safety features include protection against short circuit, open circuit, overheating, and overcurrent.
- Handles multiple lead-acid battery chemistries including Wet, Gel, Maintenance-Free, and AGM
- The NOCO BLSOLAR2 comes with 1 – Battery clamp connector, 1 – 12V plug connector, 4- suction cup mounts, and 4 – stainless steel mounting screws.
Note: If you are thinking you will go to the NOCO Genius site at www.geniuschargers.com to look at the BLSOLAR2 and BLSOLAR5 solar battery chargers, you won’t find them there. NOCO sells their BLSOLAR series at www.batterylife.com.
- Durable, quality construction
- Great value
- Doesn’t require any plug-in power
- Easy to use
- Long charging times
- Thin, fragile solar panel
- Cables are short
- No charge indicator lights
Solar Powered Battery Charger
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What do you think of the BLSOLAR2? Which solar battery charger are you planning to buy? Please take a moment to leave a comment below.
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As always, thanks for reading our post! We sincerely hope that we have given you valuable information that will help you as you shop for solar powered battery chargers.