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  #1  
Old 01-03-2008
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solar panel suggestion

any suggestions for a small solar battery charger? only looking to keep one battery charged on a small boat. battery is only used to start 8hp outboard and minor instruments when under sail. it seems that all the reviews i read for the smaller charges are pretty poor as they don't seem to with stand the weather. is this just a case of you get what you pay for? does anyone make a small charger of decent quality?
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Old 01-03-2008
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I have something similar to this:
http://www.defender.com/product.jsp?path=-1|328|49497|852986&id=746017

It is enough to keep the batteries topped up for my weekend sails but not too much so that I need a charge controller and any other pricey gear. Mine came with two wire leads, one of which I cut and installed an inline fuse. That's it. It's worked well enough for a year so far.
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Old 01-03-2008
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How big is the battery.

If it is a reasonable size, any of the "maintenance" type solar panel chargers should work, without requiring a charge controller. However, you do want to make sure that the panels have a blocking diode, otherwise, the panels will eat a lot of electricity at night, when the current reverses and flows through the panel.

The real problem is that you really need to figure out how much of the batteries capacity you use on a trip on average, as well as what it loses per day on average just sitting there...and then to get a panel that is going to be strong enough to top the battery up and keep it there.

A 2W panel, like the one Jotun has picked, only provides less than an amp-hour per day. This is barely enough to keep up with the normal loss from a battery just sitting... and likely too small for your needs. A 20W panel, might be a better choice, since it would act to top off the batteries, as well as keep them topped off—providing 4-6 amp-hours per day.

It also depends on where in the world you are... in the higher latitudes, during the winter, the hours are much shorter, and the corresponding charging capabilities are reduced.
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Old 01-03-2008
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I got for Christmas a 10 watter from Farm and Family on sale for 67$.
Looks good but I have been trapped at work since then so I have not tried it.
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