Solar energy is the most cheap form of energy. You only need to buy all the solar devices in a set before you start enjoying free energy from the sun. Although solar energy is free, devices like the solar battery can get faulty over a long time of use. You should therefore pair the battery with maintainers also known as solar battery tenders. So, what exactly is a solar battery maintainer?
A solar battery maintainer is a device crafted with a primary reason of protecting your solar battery. Various reasons like overcharging can end up damaging your battery permanently. To prevent that, a solar battery tender will control the amount of current reaching the solar battery. This is not the only function a solar battery maintainer fulfills.
We will discuss other vital functions of a solar battery maintainer in our solar lighting system in this article. Stick around to find out why you should buy a solar battery maintainer.
What is a solar battery maintainer?
Solar batteries face a lot of uncertainties. Sometimes the sun is not reliable to charge your solar battery during winter. In this case, your battery might run flat. You might decide to revive the battery by charging the battery using electricity. Electricity produces a lot of current that might lead to a battery overcharge. This is where a solar battery maintainer comes in.
Solar battery maintainers are designed in various shapes such as; circle, triangle and square. They are then installed on your solar panel to fulfil its various work that we will discuss in this article. Consider factors like quality, size, price and the size of battery you are using when buying a solar battery maintainer.
What does a solar battery maintainer do?
Solar battery maintainer main aim is to add to the longevity of the solar battery lifespan. It does so by controlling the flow of current to and from the battery. Here are three ways a solar battery maintainer maintain the solar batteries
Charges the solar battery
You can harvest solar energy from the sun to light up your residence. To harvest more power, you need charging controllers.
- A solar battery maintainer is installed in a solar panel.
- It collects energy from the sun to charge the battery.
- When the maintainer is installed, it provides a sturdy flow of current even when the weather is not ideal for charging.
It is common for the battery to overcharge.
- This happens when the current reaching the solar battery is higher than the amount the battery can withstand.
- Standard solar batteries are rated 77°F, and the ideal temperature in which solar battery maintainer operate effectively is between 50°F and 85°F.
- When the temperature exceeds the rated range, then the battery starts to bulge, cause fire, and even explode.
- To prevent this the battery maintainer, the battery shuts off the current from reaching the solar battery when it is fully charged.
- The solar battery maintainer has a built-in indicator that shows the current and the voltage of the battery.
- Other solar battery maintainers have sound and light indicators that are triggered when the battery is either fully charged and almost drained.
When the sun is not enough, or when you are storing the battery for a long time, your solar battery might get drained.
- Solar battery maintainers holds some amount of charge in the battery when it is not being charged.
- Drained battery might damage the lead-diode plates which automatically makes a battery defective.
The function of the solar battery maintainer mostly revolve around improving the performance of the solar battery while still increasing the solar battery lifespan.
It is possible to mistake a solar battery maintainer and a solar battery charger. The two aims at supplying current to the solar battery. However, a solar battery maintainer and a solar battery charger are different. We will discuss some of the differences between solar battery maintainer and solar battery charger.
What is the difference between a battery charger and a battery maintainer?
You will need to charge your solar battery frequently to main the amount of power in the battery. To do this you will need to buy a solar battery charger or a solar battery maintainer. The only difference between the two is the complexity of their operation ability. Some of the difference between the two include;
- Charging rate: A solar battery charger will charge a battery at a constant rate. This might take up to 10 hours to fully charge a drained battery. A solar battery maintainer on the other hand will increase the rate of charging while still regulating the size of current reaching the battery.
- Disconnection: You will need to disconnect the solar battery charger manually when the battery is charged. A solar battery maintainer on the other hand automatically shuts down current from reaching the battery when it’s guy charged.
- Price: A standard battery maintainer is approximately $30-$120. While a solar battery charger might cost you around $200.
How do you use a solar battery maintainer?
Using a solar battery maintainer in your solar lighting system is quite easy. However, the variables that you should consider when choosing a solar battery maintainer is the complex part. You will need to consider the size, quality, wattage, and the price of the solar battery maintainer. You can learn about the variables in this guide.
After learning the variable used when choosing a solar battery maintainer, you can follow this video to learn how you can install a solar battery maintainer.
There are three ways you can mount a solar battery maintainer: Suction cups, stand, or a bracket.
- You can mount a solar battery maintainer on a permanent location, for example, on the house wall or garage.
- Some maintainers have a stand that can be placed in a stable place.
- While others have suction cups that can be easily mounted on a solar panel.
- After the solar battery maintainer is mounted, and connected to the battery, it automatically defects any current collected by the solar panel.
Like any other device, a solar battery maintainer might become defective. Ensure you check the status of the solar battery maintainer regularly to see if its working properly.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is a solar battery maintainer expensive?
Solar battery maintainers are quite affordable. The price of a solar battery will be determined by its brand, wattage produced and the size of the battery.
The price of solar battery maintainer is between $30 for low wattage solar battery maintainer and $120 for a high wattage solar battery maintainer.
Is a solar battery maintainer the same as solar battery trickle?
Both are solar charging controllers. However, they have different functions.
A solar battery trickle ensures the battery is properly charged. You can use a solar battery trickle to charge your solar battery even on a cloudy day.
Is a solar battery maintainer worth it?
To enjoy the free solar energy for many years, you should invest on a high quality solar battery maintainer. A solar battery maintainer has a lot of benefits such as; maintaining the flow of current to the solar battery. It also regulates the amount of energy reaching the battery to prevent overcharging.
How many types of classification of solar battery maintainers are there based on wattage?
There are three types of solar battery maintainers divided on the basis of wattage. Low wattage solar battery maintainer have a wattage of between 1.25-5 watts, medium wattage with 8-10 watts and a high wattage solar battery maintainer has a wattage of between 18-20 watts.
Solar battery maintainers are vital devices in our home solar lighting system. It controls the amount current that reach the battery, improves the performance of the battery and keep the battery alive for a long time.
You should invest on a high quality solar battery maintainer with the right wattage compatible with your solar battery and solar panel.
Eng. Matthew Joseph Nandirio is the Founder of walkingsolar.
After graduating from the University of Houston in 2002, matt started working as an electrical and electronic engineer for several multi-national solar energy companies.
He has a wide range of experiences including solar system requirement analysis, planning, maintaining, debugging and even solar device development through research.
He now shares his 20 years of expertise through his articles on the walkingsolar website.
Further, he is also the author of two books on Solar Technology, “Solar Power for Villages” and “DIY Solar System for Dummies”.