Another battery question

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dodgy55
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Another battery question

Post by dodgy55 » Mon Sep 11, 2017 6:40 pm

Back in July I posted a question as to why I needed 3 auto batteries in less than five years. Based on the many responses I concluded that lack of use of my vehicle was the cause of the short battery life. I am retired and my 2003 Ford Ranger sits in the driveway most of the time. To correct this last week I purchased from Harbor Freight a 1.5v solar power charger for $13. However, when I read the instructions it advised to purchase a charger regulator so that my battery does not over charge. Little miffed that neither the box nor the catalog description gave a hint that I need to spend another $29 to acquire a product to avoid damaging my battery. Two questions: 1-what are the chances a 1.5v solar charger will over charge and damage my battery; 2-Is it best to connect directly to battery or is using the auxillary power port/cigaret lighter OK?
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BTDT
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Re: Another battery question

Post by BTDT » Mon Sep 11, 2017 6:47 pm

First question- You went the cheap route with a $13 Harbor Freight charger and now your stuck getting a controller or frequent battery replacement.

Second question- Both methods work OK, it's more an ease of vehicle use question
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oldcomputerguy
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Re: Another battery question

Post by oldcomputerguy » Mon Sep 11, 2017 6:53 pm

dodgy55 wrote:
Mon Sep 11, 2017 6:40 pm
Back in July I posted a question as to why I needed 3 auto batteries in less than five years. Based on the many responses I concluded that lack of use of my vehicle was the cause of the short battery life. I am retired and my 2003 Ford Ranger sits in the driveway most of the time. To correct this last week I purchased from Harbor Freight a 1.5v solar power charger for $13. However, when I read the instructions it advised to purchase a charger regulator so that my battery does not over charge. Little miffed that neither the box nor the catalog description gave a hint that I need to spend another $29 to acquire a product to avoid damaging my battery. Two questions: 1-what are the chances a 1.5v solar charger will over charge and damage my battery; 2-Is it best to connect directly to battery or is using the auxillary power port/cigaret lighter OK?

A 1.5-volt charger will do absolutely nothing for you. Car batteries operate at 12-13 volts. If the charger only presents 1.5 volts on the output, it cannot push charging current into the battery; in fact, it's more likely that your car battery will push reverse current through the charger and destroy it. Your 1.5-volt charger was more likely designed to provide charging current for D, C, or AA sized nickel cadmium (I.e. flashlight) batteries.
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Re: Another battery question

Post by Yooper » Mon Sep 11, 2017 6:55 pm

I'd have gone the (https://www.amazon.com/Battery-Tender-0 ... B000CITK8S) route and bypassed all the grief. Leave a pigtail hanging out the grill and it's truly plug n play.

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F150HD
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Re: Another battery question

Post by F150HD » Mon Sep 11, 2017 7:08 pm

I'd have gone the (https://www.amazon.com/Battery-Tender-0 ... B000CITK8S) route and bypassed all the grief. Leave a pigtail hanging out the grill and it's truly plug n play.
by 'pigtail' he means a ring terminal to SAE plug pigtail cord. Can buy at Autoparts store or even Ebay etc. Use w/ the float charger link above.

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iamlucky13
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Re: Another battery question

Post by iamlucky13 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:01 am

I also have a Battery Tender Junior, mainly for my riding mower. It seems to do the job fine, and is basically the benchmark for battery maintainers. Harbor Freight has similar products for cheaper, but their long term reliability is hard to guess at.

I also left it plugged into a Kill-A-Watt power meter for a couple days while in use and confirmed that its standby power usage is very low. I don't remember the exact amount, but I think I figured the electrical cost was a couple pennies per month.

The downside, of course, is that you need to be parked where you can plug the Battery Tender in.

I think you mixed up Volts and Watts. Was the Harbor Freight solar charger this one?
https://www.harborfreight.com/15-watt-s ... 62449.html

Overcharging a car battery will not be a problem with that model. No charge controller needed. It might actually be borderline small for keeping your battery topped up.

As to the cigarette plug - it depends on your car. If the cigarette outlet has power to it when the ignition is off, you can use the plug. If not, you need to connect directly to the battery.

sport
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Re: Another battery question

Post by sport » Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:08 am

iamlucky13 wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:01 am
If the cigarette outlet has power to it when the ignition is off, you can use the plug. If not, you need to connect directly to the battery.
If you do this, connect only the positive connector to the battery. Connect the negative elsewhere to a bare metal grounded part away from the battery. Connect the positive connector first. This is to avoid sparks in the vicinity of the battery which can be dangerous. Always wear eye protection when working around a vehicle battery.

dodgy55
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Re: Another battery question

Post by dodgy55 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:21 am

dodgy55 wrote:
Mon Sep 11, 2017 6:40 pm
Back in July I posted a question as to why I needed 3 auto batteries in less than five years. Based on the many responses I concluded that lack of use of my vehicle was the cause of the short battery life. I am retired and my 2003 Ford Ranger sits in the driveway most of the time. To correct this last week I purchased from Harbor Freight a 1.5v solar power charger for $13. However, when I read the instructions it advised to purchase a charger regulator so that my battery does not over charge. Little miffed that neither the box nor the catalog description gave a hint that I need to spend another $29 to acquire a product to avoid damaging my battery. Two questions: 1-what are the chances a 1.5v solar charger will over charge and damage my battery; 2-Is it best to connect directly to battery or is using the auxillary power port/cigaret lighter OK?
I use a battery tender for my car in a Florida garage. Works great but it also has easy access to power source. The beauty of a solar charger is it sits in your vehicle with no power cords to deal with. Also, before I bought the solar charger from Harbor Freight I read the reviews and almost all seem to have positive things to say about it so it was a no brainer to spend the $13 for the 1.5w solar charger.
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Rotarman
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Re: Another battery question

Post by Rotarman » Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:03 pm

I'm sure someone can do a better calculation, but my battery is ~ 500 CCA, 12v, and can crank for maybe 3 mins (?) straight before being dead I'd guess. That's 1000kJ. A 1.5w charger would produce (with losses) about 1 kJ a day, or 1/1000 of the batter's total storage. Given a battery charge doesn't last 1000 days, it must lose more than 1kJ/day and therefore would be impossible to overcharge with your charger.

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Re: Another battery question

Post by sport » Tue Sep 12, 2017 2:22 pm

Rotarman wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:03 pm
I'm sure someone can do a better calculation, but my battery is ~ 500 CCA, 12v, and can crank for maybe 3 mins (?) straight before being dead I'd guess. That's 1000kJ. A 1.5w charger would produce (with losses) about 1 kJ a day, or 1/1000 of the batter's total storage. Given a battery charge doesn't last 1000 days, it must lose more than 1kJ/day and therefore would be impossible to overcharge with your charger.
An auto battery does not work the way you portray it. CCA is based on 30 seconds at 0 degrees F. This is a surface charge effect on the plates because there is insufficient time for the acid to flow into the interior of the plates. Try your calculation again using the reserve capacity rating. This is minutes for 25 amps at 80F. This is a better measure of "capacity".

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Re: Another battery question

Post by Rotarman » Wed Sep 13, 2017 5:58 pm

sport wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 2:22 pm
Rotarman wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:03 pm
I'm sure someone can do a better calculation, but my battery is ~ 500 CCA, 12v, and can crank for maybe 3 mins (?) straight before being dead I'd guess. That's 1000kJ. A 1.5w charger would produce (with losses) about 1 kJ a day, or 1/1000 of the batter's total storage. Given a battery charge doesn't last 1000 days, it must lose more than 1kJ/day and therefore would be impossible to overcharge with your charger.
An auto battery does not work the way you portray it. CCA is based on 30 seconds at 0 degrees F. This is a surface charge effect on the plates because there is insufficient time for the acid to flow into the interior of the plates. Try your calculation again using the reserve capacity rating. This is minutes for 25 amps at 80F. This is a better measure of "capacity".
I think the way you're describing is how I would imagine most people use their battery in order to avoid frying their starter. Say 6 cranks for 30s with breaks in between. If anything a good battery would last more than 6 cranks I think and OP is even safer.

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just frank
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Re: Another battery question

Post by just frank » Wed Sep 13, 2017 6:13 pm

dodgy55 wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:21 am
dodgy55 wrote:
Mon Sep 11, 2017 6:40 pm
Back in July I posted a question as to why I needed 3 auto batteries in less than five years. Based on the many responses I concluded that lack of use of my vehicle was the cause of the short battery life. I am retired and my 2003 Ford Ranger sits in the driveway most of the time. To correct this last week I purchased from Harbor Freight a 1.5v solar power charger for $13. However, when I read the instructions it advised to purchase a charger regulator so that my battery does not over charge. Little miffed that neither the box nor the catalog description gave a hint that I need to spend another $29 to acquire a product to avoid damaging my battery. Two questions: 1-what are the chances a 1.5v solar charger will over charge and damage my battery; 2-Is it best to connect directly to battery or is using the auxillary power port/cigaret lighter OK?
I use a battery tender for my car in a Florida garage. Works great but it also has easy access to power source. The beauty of a solar charger is it sits in your vehicle with no power cords to deal with. Also, before I bought the solar charger from Harbor Freight I read the reviews and almost all seem to have positive things to say about it so it was a no brainer to spend the $13 for the 1.5w solar charger.
1.5W solar charger **will not** overcharge a car battery. Depending on light levels, it may be too small to keep up with the self-discharge you are trying to avoid. I suspect that the manual is simple azz-covering so that they don't get harassed by purchaser who's battery subsequently dies.

sport
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Re: Another battery question

Post by sport » Wed Sep 13, 2017 6:18 pm

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Last edited by sport on Wed Sep 13, 2017 6:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

sport
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Re: Another battery question

Post by sport » Wed Sep 13, 2017 6:19 pm

Rotarman wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 5:58 pm
sport wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 2:22 pm
Rotarman wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:03 pm
I'm sure someone can do a better calculation, but my battery is ~ 500 CCA, 12v, and can crank for maybe 3 mins (?) straight before being dead I'd guess. That's 1000kJ. A 1.5w charger would produce (with losses) about 1 kJ a day, or 1/1000 of the batter's total storage. Given a battery charge doesn't last 1000 days, it must lose more than 1kJ/day and therefore would be impossible to overcharge with your charger.
An auto battery does not work the way you portray it. CCA is based on 30 seconds at 0 degrees F. This is a surface charge effect on the plates because there is insufficient time for the acid to flow into the interior of the plates. Try your calculation again using the reserve capacity rating. This is minutes for 25 amps at 80F. This is a better measure of "capacity".
I think the way you're describing is how I would imagine most people use their battery in order to avoid frying their starter. Say 6 cranks for 30s with breaks in between. If anything a good battery would last more than 6 cranks I think and OP is even safer.
The way I described it is the definition of the CCA rating. Cold cranking performance is related to the amount of surface area of the plates. It is not a capacity rating. Reserve capacity is related to the amount of active material (lead) in the plates. If you want to consider the amount of ampere hours required to charge a discharged battery, the amount of lead is the variable involved. Surface area is strictly a very short term consideration. This is why CCA is rated in amperes, and reserve capacity is rated in minutes at 25 amperes, which can be directly converted into ampere-hours.

RetiredAL
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Re: Another battery question

Post by RetiredAL » Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:56 pm

1.5W works out to be about about 110ma, 1/10 of an amp. And that's assuming bright direct sunlight, which only happens for about 1/3 the day.

I'd wager with modern car's, the "Always On" stuff, like your entry/alarm system and the Engine Computer in standby, will consume more power than that charger will provide. To give an comparison to that dinky charger current, most cars these days have 60 to 150 amp alternators, and 200+ amps are not unheard of. My Honda Civic has a dinky little battery, but has a 70amp alternator.

No car I've ever heard of has a charge controller the battery. They just brute force charge the battery at a constant voltage, yet a battery in a miles per day daily driven car actually lasts for years in-spite for being overcharged most start cycles. Car batteries are pretty tough.

Now for deep cycle storage batteries like used 100% solar systems (no grid power) where you want the batteries to last 25 years, a proper charge controller is important. Different batteries, different needs.

sport
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Re: Another battery question

Post by sport » Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:26 pm

RetiredAL wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:56 pm
No car I've ever heard of has a charge controller the battery. They just brute force charge the battery at a constant voltage, yet a battery in a miles per day daily driven car actually lasts for years in-spite for being overcharged most start cycles. Car batteries are pretty tough.
I believe most cars have a voltage regulator. In the old old days, people used to drive with their headlights on during the day on long trips to keep the "generator" from overcharging the battery. Then, voltage regulators become standard. When the change to alternators occurred, I believe that the voltage regulator function was incorporated into the alternator. If this function was not provided, battery life would be greatly reduced due to corrosion of the positive grids.

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Electron
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Re: Another battery question

Post by Electron » Wed Sep 13, 2017 11:41 pm

I would connect the solar charger and then measure the voltage at the battery terminals using a digital voltmeter. You need to see where the voltage is relative to float voltage.

"Float voltage is the voltage at which a battery is maintained after being fully charged to maintain that capacity by compensating for self-discharge of the battery."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Float_voltage

The float voltage for a car battery is in the area of 13.4 volts. You need to do this test with a fully charged battery. If the charger cannot maintain 13.4 volts, then it cannot supply enough current to compensate for self discharge and the parasitic current drawn by your vehicle. Any voltage above float voltage up to approximately 13.6 volts should be safe for the battery. I have a Black & Decker 2 amp charger/maintainer and typically see 13.65 volts after the battery is fully charged and in low current maintain mode.

If your battery is not fully charged, you can still take a measurement and note any changes after several hours. A lot will depend on the brightness of the sun and the orientation of the solar panel. If you run the engine you should wait several hours or more for the surface charge to dissipate.
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Hyperborea
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Re: Another battery question

Post by Hyperborea » Wed Sep 13, 2017 11:51 pm

sport wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:08 am
iamlucky13 wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:01 am
If the cigarette outlet has power to it when the ignition is off, you can use the plug. If not, you need to connect directly to the battery.
If you do this, connect only the positive connector to the battery. Connect the negative elsewhere to a bare metal grounded part away from the battery. Connect the positive connector first. This is to avoid sparks in the vicinity of the battery which can be dangerous. Always wear eye protection when working around a vehicle battery.
With these types of maintenance chargers you can connect to both terminals of the battery without sparking issues. There will be no electricity flowing until you make the final connection which is usually plugging the charger itself into the wall outlet. I've got a couple of these for motorcycles and one for a car that doesn't get driven enough.

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Re: Another battery question

Post by sport » Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:41 am

Hyperborea wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 11:51 pm
sport wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:08 am
iamlucky13 wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:01 am
If the cigarette outlet has power to it when the ignition is off, you can use the plug. If not, you need to connect directly to the battery.
If you do this, connect only the positive connector to the battery. Connect the negative elsewhere to a bare metal grounded part away from the battery. Connect the positive connector first. This is to avoid sparks in the vicinity of the battery which can be dangerous. Always wear eye protection when working around a vehicle battery.
With these types of maintenance chargers you can connect to both terminals of the battery without sparking issues. There will be no electricity flowing until you make the final connection which is usually plugging the charger itself into the wall outlet. I've got a couple of these for motorcycles and one for a car that doesn't get driven enough.
If this is true, then it would not be hazardous. However, there is the possibility that there are sparks that are too small to notice. In any case, it cannot hurt to use safer procedures.

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Electron
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Re: Another battery question

Post by Electron » Thu Sep 14, 2017 1:09 pm

An ammeter can be connected in series with one lead if you want to see the charge current. As mentioned in an earlier reply, the charge current will likely be only a fraction of one ampere.

One interesting thing about charging a lead-acid battery is that surface charge builds up on the plates and effectively increases the voltage of the battery as seen by the charger. This means that the current will decline as surface charge builds up when charging with a relatively constant voltage. A car battery will typically measure 12.5-12.8 volts if checked in the morning. The voltage can give you an idea of the state of charge.

http://all-about-lead-acid-batteries.ca ... voltmeter/

Here is an interesting chart illustrating the buildup of surface charge. The charger was a constant current design as opposed to the relatively constant voltage provided by an alternator. As a result, the voltage varies to whatever is required to charge at 2 amps. Note how the voltage rose over time from 12.75 volts to a little over 14.2 volts after the surface charge reached equilibrium.

https://postimg.org/image/p50uhjdwz/
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sport
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Re: Another battery question

Post by sport » Thu Sep 14, 2017 1:13 pm

Electron wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 1:09 pm
An ammeter can be connected in series with one lead if you want to see the charge current.
As mentioned above, be sure to use the negative lead if you do this.

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Re: Another battery question

Post by Hyperborea » Fri Sep 15, 2017 10:38 am

sport wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:41 am
Hyperborea wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 11:51 pm
sport wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:08 am
iamlucky13 wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:01 am
If the cigarette outlet has power to it when the ignition is off, you can use the plug. If not, you need to connect directly to the battery.
If you do this, connect only the positive connector to the battery. Connect the negative elsewhere to a bare metal grounded part away from the battery. Connect the positive connector first. This is to avoid sparks in the vicinity of the battery which can be dangerous. Always wear eye protection when working around a vehicle battery.
With these types of maintenance chargers you can connect to both terminals of the battery without sparking issues. There will be no electricity flowing until you make the final connection which is usually plugging the charger itself into the wall outlet. I've got a couple of these for motorcycles and one for a car that doesn't get driven enough.
If this is true, then it would not be hazardous. However, there is the possibility that there are sparks that are too small to notice. In any case, it cannot hurt to use safer procedures.
If the lead is properly connected to the terminal then there is a direct connection between the lead and the terminal and electricity will take the path of least resistance. It will not make an air jump and spark. If it would do this for the negative terminal then it would also do this for the positive terminal - there's nothing special about one versus the other that one would spark and the other wouldn't. The leads in any of these pigtails is usually not long enough to allow for anything but direct connection to the battery terminals.

The reason for not doing a direct connection when using jumper cables is that the final battery connection to the negative terminal of the good battery means that you complete the circuit but before you do that there is an air gap that may be jumped to complete the circuit. If it was an issue with any connections near the battery then none of the leads would be connected to the battery. In fact if it was any connection that was problematic then your normal battery connections in the car are also sources of sparking.

There is nothing wrong with taking more unneeded precautions other than the wasted time and cost.

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Electron
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Re: Another battery question

Post by Electron » Fri Sep 15, 2017 11:54 am

Regarding the spark risk, I thought the recommendation was to always connect the negative lead last but to make the connection away from the battery on a frame bolt. In that way, any spark would be a safe distance from the battery. Hydrogen gas should only be present when a battery is charging and for a short time afterward.
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Re: Another battery question

Post by Hyperborea » Fri Sep 15, 2017 12:14 pm

Electron wrote:
Fri Sep 15, 2017 11:54 am
Regarding the spark risk, I thought the recommendation was to always connect the negative lead last but to make the connection away from the battery on a frame bolt. In that way, any spark would be a safe distance from the battery. Hydrogen gas should only be present when a battery is charging and for a short time afterward.
Yes, that is the traditional recommendation. The final connection of the jumper cables is not made to the negative of the donor/charged battery but to a grounded frame point on the car. This is to avoid the almost completed circuit having a small air gap that might have a spark jump from the cable clamp to the battery terminal. If you get sparking when you make that final connection it will be away from the battery.

With the trickle chargers/maintainers you won't have a live circuit when you make the connections since you won't turn the circuit on (or plug in the trickle charger) until after the connections to the car battery have been made.

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Re: Another battery question

Post by Electron » Fri Sep 15, 2017 1:40 pm

dodgy55 wrote:
Mon Sep 11, 2017 6:40 pm
However, when I read the instructions it advised to purchase a charger regulator so that my battery does not over charge.
I just looked at the manual for the 1.5 watt solar charger and it appears to include information for higher wattage solar panels as well. Note the table showing recommended wire gauge which covers installations up to 200 amperes. The note about installing a charge controller/regulator is directly below the wire table. I don't believe a charge controller is required at all for the small 1.5 watt panel.

As others have mentioned, this solar panel may be marginal for the purposes of maintaining a car battery at full charge. Amazon sells the same product and the reviews might be worth reading.

Note that a car battery typically has a capacity of 50-60 amp hours or more. That means that a discharged battery might require a charge current of 5 amps for ten hours or more. I only mention that as a reference point relative to the small charge current that would be provided by the 1.5 watt solar panel.
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Re: Another battery question

Post by mrc » Fri Sep 15, 2017 1:52 pm

Yooper wrote:
Mon Sep 11, 2017 6:55 pm
I'd have gone the (https://www.amazon.com/Battery-Tender-0 ... B000CITK8S) route and bypassed all the grief. Leave a pigtail hanging out the grill and it's truly plug n play.
I purchased a larger version of this and keep it on my F-350 diesel (two batteries), pausing only to charge up a dump trailer deep cycle battery. When I run the truck now (hot or cold weather) it cranks like a top. Best money I ever spent given the cost of a pair of new batteries sized for a HD truck. I weighed solar against running an extension cord until I can lay an underground cable for an outdoor outlet. I didn't like the solar idea, nor the cheap charger/minder solution to protect nearly $300 worth of batteries.
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