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Solar power battery charger choices


SM 2007
SM 2006
Full Member
Jun 28, 2006
Houston, TX (formerly NC)
I am interested in getting a solar powered battery charger that plugs into the cigarette lighter to keep my Av battery charged.

In doing some research I have found the following:

A decent one seems to be at least 5 Watts.  Some go up to 12.

There are marine, vehicle and PDA chargers.

Overcharging and undervoltage/drain are concerns.

$50-$100 seems like the price range I am finding for a nice one.

Some have charging modules and some do not.

I would appreciate some advice on this.

Thank you,


If you want a solar charger, it would be a larger panel with a regulator.

Most of the cheepies are simply float "maintainers" and even with a few hours of daily sun and a good battery, should do well, even through the windshield, which reduces effectiveness with some panels. A larger one of these should be selected in order to offset the system's small drain on the battery after your truck is shut off, to about 48 hours.

It would take a very large panel before you would need to be concerned about "to much". That would then need a regulator where it would bulk/absorb and float and be safe to use. Lead-acid batteries like a float charge and if the battery is (lets say) 66 Ampere-Hours:

  Five Watts @ 12~13.5V area is 350 to 420 milliAmps, which is only around 1/2% to 6/10% of the 66AH battery's capacity and should be perfectly "safe" and quite adequate, even without a regulator.

I've used an 80mA panel to "maintain" the battery in the S-10 and it worked just fine.
Isn't that a bit large to fit on your dash?

I've only had fair to poor luck with Coleman products. Better they stick to just the camping things, IMO.

I would say that it would certainly do the job electrically. Cheaper, less power ones will too.

Panels over $10/Watt are priced too high and this one and a 5W one @ Harbor Freight is at the limit, IMO.

Here's a cheepie that would work, and if it isn't enough - big deal, get a bigger one then..