Sunforce 12v Power Sports Charger 50014 is but a battery maintainer, not a charger
Solar power has always been enticing idea. You point a panel to the lovely sun and it returns usable power. With few exceptions the sun rises each and every day, so theoretically you have unlimited access to power. Unfortunately the reality of economics creeps into the equation, initially taking the shine off solar power. Wanting to play with the technology, a Canadian Tire sale on small solar panels allowed me to try it out.
Early solar devices were nuisances. These include solar powered night lights. Not only were they so dim as to almost be non-existent, and did they usually not last very long, they provided just enough contribution to Toronto’s light pollution problem: We can no longer easily see the stars at night.
I have a battery that I only use in the summer. During the winter it sits in my garage, dormant and losing power each month. Left to its own devices, when spring rolls around the battery has lost sufficient charge as to not work, and needs to be recharged. Every other month I need to remember to put a charger on it for 14 hours or so.
My solution is a Solar battery maintainer. Pointing to the sun, it puts out just 80maH, but for 12 hours a day, varying its output with the sun. I am hoping that this will be enough to maintain my battery throughout the winter. We shall see. The key word here is to maintain a battery’s charge level, but not have the ability to recharge it.
In researching solar power it is evident that solar panels sufficient to recharge a large car or RV battery are quite expensive. You need a couple of large photo-voltaic panels, along with a voltage regulator. The voltage regulator tests the battery to ensure that it will not overcharge the battery and cook it dead. You also need deep cycle batteries, which are expensive. And lastly you need to severely restrict your power consumption on items such as your microwave oven, iron and hair dryer. To get the maximum power from the sun the panels need to automatically turn towards the sun as the sun turns. This requires a motor and power. Add this all up and it spells expensive. The conclusion is that getting off the grid is expensive.
Hot water from a solar system is used all over China, so I was thinking of looking into it. For Toronto I don’t think we have enough wind to justify a wind power system, even more expensive than solar.
No, solar has far to go to solve the world’s power crisis. Still, it is a step in the right direction. I’ll still need my plug in battery charger, though.
Note: In another feat of marketing trickery Sunforce offers a 5 year warranty on this solar panel. In the fine print the solar panel is actually warrantied for only a year. The solar panel, if it survives, is warrantied for 5 years only for power output. In other words, buyer beware.