A reliable battery is one of the most important parts of your boat. You want to find you battery ready to go when taking your boat out for a ride. However since you don’t use your boat everyday like your car it is bound to discharge. Even it is just being kept in storage. This is where a battery maintainer comes in as it slowly charges at the battery (at the discharge rate) to make sure you don’t find a dead battery and be ready to go.
A Solar Battery Trickle Charger allows you to harness the power of the sun to maintain your boat battery without worrying about overcharging.
Features of a Good Solar Battery Charger
There are various Solar Battery Chargers in the market that you can use to charge your boat battery. Below are features we have identified when choosing the best one.
When using a Solar charger it is important that you place the charger where there is sufficient sunlight. Whether you are storing you batteries in a cabin or charging them while still on the boat, you will find that you need long cables. This will ensure that you can place the charge where there is sufficient sunlight.
Solar panels are known for their bad efficiency i.e sunlight to electricity conversion rate. It is therefore important to get Solar panels that allow for charging in low light and cloudy conditions. Monocrystalline solar panel with a 20% conversion rate will not leave you disappointed.
Covered in tempered Solar glass
Tempered Solar Glass allows for better protection of the panel and will better survive the rugged treatment of the outdoors.
Interchangeable clamps and Cigarette Cable
The charger should come with a connection cable, cigarette lighter and bare connector. A Cigarette Lighter cable allows you to also charge your car battery.
An LED light that indicates flow of current is a feature that enables you to know whether the charger will charge your battery. If you aim the panel to the sun the LED should turn on to proves it is generating a current. You can also plug into the lighter socket when the panel to disconnected to check that the socket is live.
It is important as the Solar Panel charges the battery that is does not drain the battery at night.
A Solar Charge controller is important for the system as it ensures the battery is protected from overcharging, reverse discharge and overload protection.
It also provides short circuit protection.
The Charge Controller is not waterproof and should be mounted where it cannot get wet.
TP Solar Panel Kit
TP Solar panel kit is a White 20 watt Monocrystalline Solar Panel rated at 6.55 amps. It comes with a 10A PWM Solar Charge Controller and two 6.5ft extension cables with a o-ring terminal and battery clip. It is a light weight solar panel with at around 2.75 pounds.
With mounting holds ready this is an easy to use and easy to install kit. The The small size and weight also makes it easy to carry around. It has a sturdy design that can withstand the elements of the outdoors.
It has a Solar Charge controller that protects the battery from overcharging, discharging and overload protection. The USB has a USB output that can be used to charge small devices like your phone or IPAD
Easy to Install and Fix
Portable and light weight
Waterproof and Dustproof
Comes with a Charge Controller
Long Extension cable
Controller not Waterproof
Eco-Worthy Solar Panel Battery Charger Kit
The Eco-worthy Solar Panel kit is a Waterproof 25 Watt Solar charger. It also comes with a sturdy design that is dustproof and waterproof. It comes with plug and play SAE connectors that are easy to install and free of maintenance.
It also comes with a 3A USB Charge controller with an indicator for charging and discharging.
This also a great starter kit that is easy to install with plug and play cables with a pre-attached cable on the solar panel.
USB Charge Controller
1 Year Warranty
Long battery clamps and O-ring terminal cables
3A Charge Controller
A great starter kit that can also be used in other DC applications such as door openers, chicken coops and electric fences.
How to Build a Solar Kit for Charging a Boat Battery
We have listed some of these specialized solar panels that are plug and play and customized to be used on boats later in this article. But if you are a DIY person you can pick up a 60 Watt Solar Panel, a Charge Controller and Wiring and build it yourself. The reason for this is that this panel will allow you to charge your boat battery but can also be used to charge other devices like phones, laptops.
High Efficient Solar Panel
A 20 Watt Solar Panel will be sufficient for charging a battery. However it might be to slow in bad weather conditions and you should consider a higher Wattage to get faster charging.
A Monocrystalline Solar panel that ensure is efficient with high conversation rate (around 20%) will ensure the panel can perform even in cloudy conditions.
A Charge Regulator or a Charge Controller will ensure the battery is protected from Overcharging. A three Stage Charge controller will ensure bulk charging where the highest voltage and amperage of the charger will be used, the absorption charge where the charge continually declines and float charge where it charges at the discharge rate or trickle charges the battery to maintain a 100% charge.
The controller also prevents reverse charging or the solar panel discharging the battery at night or when not in the sun.
A 10A PWM Charge Controller will do the job. A PWM Charge Controller will work for AGM, SLA and Gel Batteries. I recommend the Zamp controller it gives the best readings and has three stage charging feature.
You will need the following wiring to ensure charge is delivered from the Solar Panel to your battery;
- DC to SAE Connector
- SAE Alligator Clips to attach to battery.
- An extension cable.
Ensure that you have long cables (up to 6ft) according to the boat size to ensure that battery is connected to the Solar panel and the Solar Panel is mounted at the best location ensure maximum sunlight absorption. You will also need to mount the charge controller away from any water exposure as the most charge controllers are not waterproof.
Depending on your battery you may also find that Cables with Ring clips may suit you better as they don’t easily detach from the battery. This can lead to great disappointment if you leave the alligator clips intact only to find them detached later and battery not charged.
Remember also always connect the battery before connecting the solar panel and when disconnecting disconnect the solar panel first and then the battery.