Archive for the ‘Xantrex’ tag
Over the weekend I installed and connected my second solar panel system on my RTS bus conversion. Now the starting batteries will be kept fully charged even if I don’t start the vehicle frequently, which is currently the case since I’m working on it on weekends and never taking trips.
Since I only drive it a block or two at a time, to move it to the other side of the street for street cleaning, the batteries have discharged several times this year. Since buses have 24 volt starting systems, I can’t get a jump start from my car or a regular tow truck.
What I have to do is take out the 4 batteries and take them home, where I charge them individually on a 12 volt charger. This takes about a full day to accomplish, including charging through the night. I have to wake up once to switch the charger to the next battery. This has happened enough times that I finally climbed up on the bus conversion roof and bolted my set of two 12 volt Uni-Solar 20 watt panels and wired them in series to get 24 volts.
I then ran the wires through the roof and down to a 24 volt Xantrex C35 solar charge controller, which was connected through a fuse to the starting battery cut off switch in the dedicated battery bay in front of the rear wheels.
Everything worked perfectly the first time I switched on the batteries.
It’s hard on batteries to let them discharge to the point they won’t start the vehicle. Keeping the batteries fully charged will certainly make the batteries last longer. I don’t understand why all vehicles don’t incorporate small solar panels to keep the battery charged during periods of non use. You can get small battery maintainer systems for around USD $25.00, and if they were built in, I can see the price dropping by half.
Would you pay USD $12.50 more for a car that would not be stranded if you don’t drive it for a few months? The tow truck operators might not like it, but I think it’s a good idea. Excess solar power could be used to drive a tiny fan to keep the passenger compartment cooler. This would result in less petroleum fuel being used to run the air conditioner on high to cool down an interior that might reach 140 degrees F sitting in the hot sun in the summer. Fewer batteries being discarded prematurely plus lower air conditioning costs? Seems like that would be well worth an extra USD $12.50 per vehicle.