• Welcome Visitor! Please take a few seconds and Register for our forum. Even if you don't want to post, you can still 'Like' and react to posts.

Question about solar battery maint.


Shadowranger

Active Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2021
Messages
41
Reaction score
16
Location
Puerto Rico
Vehicle Year
2001
Make / Model
Ranger XLT 4x4
Transmission
Automatic
Lately I haven't been driving the Ranger much and recently replaced the battery. I have an old very small solar panel that I added a cigarette lighter plug to and it stays plugged in. But it only puts out 6 volts through the windshield.
Is that enough to keep the new battery charged for a week or 2 or, 3?
I spotted a 12 volt panel on the Bay site, 10 watts but max voltage is 18 volts . Would that work or would it fry some wires?
 


ericbphoto

Overlander in development
TRS Event Staff
TRS Forum Moderator
Supporting Member
U.S. Military - Veteran
TRS 20th Anniversary
VAGABOND
TRS Event Participant
GMRS Radio License
TRS 25th Anniversary
Joined
Feb 7, 2016
Messages
15,697
Reaction score
17,332
Age
60
Location
Wellford, SC
Vehicle Year
1993
Make / Model
Ford Ranger
Engine Type
3.0 V6
Engine Size
3.0L
Transmission
Manual
2WD / 4WD
4WD
Total Lift
6"
Tire Size
35"
My credo
In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are different.
No. 6 volts is less than 12. So no current will flow from panel to 12volt system. You need a solar panel that puts out slightly more than 12 volts, around 13 to 13.5 would be ok for trickle charging a battery since a healthy charged battery should be around 12.6volts.
 

RonD

Official TRS AI
TRS Technical Advisor
Joined
Jun 2, 2012
Messages
25,364
Reaction score
8,397
Location
canada
Vehicle Year
1994
Make / Model
Ford
Transmission
Manual
6volt panel won't do any thing hooked to 12volt battery

You need a panel that has slightly higher than battery voltage to add or maintain its voltage

So measure your battery voltage first, 12.3v to 12.8volt is expected
Under 12.2volt is a failed or failing battery, it will self drain
Then measure the panels voltage in full sunlight, must be higher than battery voltage to maintain its charge, 13.4volts to 14.4volts is usual voltage if panel is regulated
Over 15 volts will start to "cook" the battery

Most RV or Marine solar charging systems have a "solar charging controller" they are not that expensive for small ones, and are way cheaper than a new battery, lol, if your direct to battery solar panel ruins your current battery

Simply unhooking either battery cable will keep it charged up for many months, unless it is self draining which is the common end of life for most car batteries
There are also manual switches you can put on a battery terminal to disconnect it without tools

Current vehicles have a power draw when off
Radio clock and presets
Computer memory, learned settings, not needed for operation
Keyless entry, Fobs, it must be "listening" all the time for the lock/unlock signal from Fob

None of these are "required" or needed to restart vehicle after its been sitting for a long period
Just a convenience to not have to reset the clock when vehicle is used again, lol

And as is, with the above draws, when key is off the battery should be fine for 3 to 4 months of disused
If its not lasting that long then you have an "extra draw" something is on when it should be off
Adding a solar charger won't help, it may give you a few extra weeks but battery will still get drained which shortens battery life with these types of batteries
 
Last edited:

Shadowranger

Active Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2021
Messages
41
Reaction score
16
Location
Puerto Rico
Vehicle Year
2001
Make / Model
Ranger XLT 4x4
Transmission
Automatic
Just checked and it shows 12.2V. Hard to believe as it's about 2 weeks old although it hasn't been driven much lately.
Using an AC batt. maintainer is not feasible as I park it too far from the nearest outlet, so I'll keep looking for a solar maintainer. Or, new alt.?

It will be going in for the timing chain process soon and since there is a long list of other "to do's" should I have them check the alternator output? Or since it's the original, (from '01) just replace it?
This job is going to cost plenty so what's another hundred or two for an alternator? :rolleyes:
 

RonD

Official TRS AI
TRS Technical Advisor
Joined
Jun 2, 2012
Messages
25,364
Reaction score
8,397
Location
canada
Vehicle Year
1994
Make / Model
Ford
Transmission
Manual
12.2v on new battery means its being drained ALOT when sitting or not being charged at all when driving

Test battery voltage engine running
14.3v-14.8volts is normal just after starting
After 8-10min it should drop to under 14volts, 13.5v to 13.8v is normal

Under 13.4volts means alternator is not working like it should
Under 12.8volts means alternator is not working at all, truck is running off battery voltage only, which can be just a blown fuse or fusible link
 

Shadowranger

Active Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2021
Messages
41
Reaction score
16
Location
Puerto Rico
Vehicle Year
2001
Make / Model
Ranger XLT 4x4
Transmission
Automatic
Thanks, Ron. I'll check first thing tomorrow. It's hot as hell outside right now.
And we have a hurricane in the works for next week. Fingers crossed.
 

ericbphoto

Overlander in development
TRS Event Staff
TRS Forum Moderator
Supporting Member
U.S. Military - Veteran
TRS 20th Anniversary
VAGABOND
TRS Event Participant
GMRS Radio License
TRS 25th Anniversary
Joined
Feb 7, 2016
Messages
15,697
Reaction score
17,332
Age
60
Location
Wellford, SC
Vehicle Year
1993
Make / Model
Ford Ranger
Engine Type
3.0 V6
Engine Size
3.0L
Transmission
Manual
2WD / 4WD
4WD
Total Lift
6"
Tire Size
35"
My credo
In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are different.
You can check the alternator yourself.

Check battery voltage, engine off. Should be between 12 and 12.8 depending on age of battery. If that's good, continue. If not, battery is old and should be replaced.
Start engine.
Check voltage at battery or from alternator output to ground. For the first few minutes, it should be around 14.5.
Check again after 5 minutes or more. It should be around 13.5 - 13.8
Should stay there regardless of engine rpm.

If it's too high or too low, alternator is bad.
 

Shadowranger

Active Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2021
Messages
41
Reaction score
16
Location
Puerto Rico
Vehicle Year
2001
Make / Model
Ranger XLT 4x4
Transmission
Automatic
thanks Eric, will do later today or first thing AM.
RonD, So, this AM,
14.3V at startup
13.8V after 10 min. at idle
13.6V after a 30 minute drive averaging 30 mph
What do you think?
Will let it sit and check late this afternoon.
 

RonD

Official TRS AI
TRS Technical Advisor
Joined
Jun 2, 2012
Messages
25,364
Reaction score
8,397
Location
canada
Vehicle Year
1994
Make / Model
Ford
Transmission
Manual
Alternator and voltage regulator(in alternator) are working like they should
Check battery volts this afternoon, write it down
Then check it tomorrow, assuming no driving in between
Should show EXACTLY the same volts

If its lower, then disconnect one battery cable, check volts, write it down
Check it the next day
If its still dropping new battery is bad, self draining, it happens

If its the same then vehicle has a high amp draw, expected is 0.03 to 0.07amps, 30-70milliamps
You will need an amp meter and time, to pull fuses to narrow down what system is on when it should be off

Car batteries have about 350amp hours(500CCA)
A 50milliamp, 0.05amp, drain will be about 1amp per day
So 350 days for totally drained battery.............................but it won't have enough amps to start engine if it drops below, say 200amps, so it can sit for 150 days, so about 5 months with "normal" 50ma drain and it would still start up

If you are having slow or no start sooner than that a solar charger won't help, something is wrong with the system
 
Last edited:

Shadowranger

Active Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2021
Messages
41
Reaction score
16
Location
Puerto Rico
Vehicle Year
2001
Make / Model
Ranger XLT 4x4
Transmission
Automatic
Great info, thanks...will post again soon when the next readings are in.
Reminds me of a problem I had with probably my second vehicle, a '54 Ford stepside truck. Flathead 6 and ran great...drove it across country.
But somewhere a short developed and finally, finally, a mechanic found it: a wire lost insulation at the dimmer switch on the floor. Well hidden but he fixed it.
 

Shadowranger

Active Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2021
Messages
41
Reaction score
16
Location
Puerto Rico
Vehicle Year
2001
Make / Model
Ranger XLT 4x4
Transmission
Automatic
Yesterday afternoon readings just before dark was 12.59V
Today, Sun. AM, 12.56V
Now after a 15 min. drive, 12.86V
Battery is a Willard Titan 24, CCA 550A--CA @0*C. 700A and CA @ 22*C. 800A.
I think it's made in South America. And if it's bad I'm stuck with it.
 

RonD

Official TRS AI
TRS Technical Advisor
Joined
Jun 2, 2012
Messages
25,364
Reaction score
8,397
Location
canada
Vehicle Year
1994
Make / Model
Ford
Transmission
Manual
You can't get a true voltage reading from a battery for at least 4 hours after it was charged(driven), so you have to let it sit

Battery seems fine, 0.03 drop is OK, but means there is something on that shouldn't be with key off
I would do the Cable disconnected test to be sure
So unhook either battery cable, after engine has been off for at least 4 hours
Test voltage, write it down
Test it again the next day, should be NO change

You will need an Amp meter to test for which circuit is on when it should be off


And just as a heads up, you don't have anything plugged into the Cigar Lighter or AUX port correct?
Anything plugged into either of those draws power all the time, even if its switched off
 

Shadowranger

Active Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2021
Messages
41
Reaction score
16
Location
Puerto Rico
Vehicle Year
2001
Make / Model
Ranger XLT 4x4
Transmission
Automatic
Nothing is plugged in to those. . Will try unhooking the batt. and test, thanks
 

Shadowranger

Active Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2021
Messages
41
Reaction score
16
Location
Puerto Rico
Vehicle Year
2001
Make / Model
Ranger XLT 4x4
Transmission
Automatic
Ok, maybe good news...this morning's battery reading after being disconnected late yesterday afternoon (it read 12.56V) is now 12.57V.

Weird question.....the little solar panel I had been using plugged into the power outlet was a 12V panel (about 6"x6") and since it was only putting out 5.5V could it have been drawing from the battery? It's heading for the landfill.
 

09fx4guy

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 10, 2010
Messages
409
Reaction score
176
Location
USA
Vehicle Year
2009
Make / Model
Ford
Engine Type
4.0 V6
Engine Size
4.0
Transmission
Automatic
2WD / 4WD
4WD
Total Lift
Pre Key w/ #1 Bars
Tire Size
265/70R16
I would recommend that if possible, you hook the battery to an actual charger and charge it to full. Driving it around will help bring it up, but the alternator will not charge a battery that is discharged more than usual.

It might not be a bad idea to do a parasitic draw test to see if there is something draining your battery more than it should. You can look on the forum to find the procedure, it is relatively simple if you have a multimeter.

Take a look at harbor freight, they do make a solar panel charger for about $50 if I recall. It would be better than the one you have.
 

Sponsored Ad


Sponsored Ad

Members online

Today's birthdays

Member & Vendor Upgrades

For a small yearly donation, you can support this forum and receive a 'Supporting Member' banner, or become a 'Supporting Vendor' and promote your products here. Click the banner to find out how.

Latest posts

Truck of The Month


TexasDuck66
July Truck of The Month

Recently Featured

Want to see your truck here? Share your photos and details in the forum.

Follow TRS On Instagram

TRS Events

25th Anniversary Sponsors

Check Out The TRS Store


Sponsored Ad


Sponsored Ad

Sponsored Ad


Amazon Deals

Top