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Input on Solar Trickle Chargers

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I'll be spending the next couple of years in a new duplex and I don't have a source of electrical power in the detached carport. I'd like to set up a small solar panel on the metal roof of the carport to help keep the batteries in two different motorcycles topped off. I'm thinking I'd need (at minimum) a 10W-15W panel and a charge controller with at least two ouputs. From there I could run the wiring to each bike. Both bikes have Powerlet charge ports that I've been using with a BatteryTender wall wart for many years.

Has anyone here setup a similar system for their bikes? Any potential issues I should keep in mind?

Thanks for any info.
 

Vinny

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Easy solution is to buy a Shorai battery for each one. They last forever.
Otherwise, I have a 20W solar panel for my RV battery. Works great. I just toss it on the roof of the RV when I park at my house and its always toped off when I go on a trip. It has a smart sensor that doesn't overcharge. SUNER POWER waterproof 12 V solar power charger and maintainer pro. $79 on Amazon.
 
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Thanks for the input. I've had two Shorai li-po batteries swell up and die on me in the past year, so I have given up on them for awhile. I still have two that are going strong, though. Maybe I'll take the risk and order another one day. For now, I think I'll just stick with with the AGMs.

Glad to know you've had good results with the RV battery. Currently, I'm shopping for a charge controller with dual outputs. A friend of mine reached out a few minutes ago and hooked up me with an extra 20W panel that he wasn't using, so once I find a decent programable controller, I should be ready to go. Although I may get a single output controller and just wire up a distribution block/meter setup so I can monitor both batteries at the same time. Still need to do some research.

Thanks again!
 
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bwdmax

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Post up what controls you set up. I might have an application for this type of setup.

Im goiyto check out the one. Vinny posted too.
 
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Thanks for the input. I've had two Shorai li-po batteries swell up and die on me in the past year, so I have given up on them for awhile. I still have two that are going strong, though. Maybe I'll take the risk and order another one day. For now, I think I'll just stick with with the AGMs...

AGM's are not far behind LiPo for drain. As long as your battery is relatively fresh and you ride each bike every few months you should be ok without battery tender/trickle needed. I had a AGM sit up for a year and it still measured over 12V and started my bike without charging.

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I've had two Shorai li-po batteries swell up and die on me in the past year, so I have given up on them for awhile.
Wow - really? What did their customer support folks say?

I've totally abused one Shorai - deep discharged a couple times below 5v. They 'reconditioned' for free both times, and even paid shipping both ways the first time. I'm TOTALLY sold on their quality and support. But, two swollen / dead batteries from you does make me nervous.

Hmm, you say "li-po" but I was pretty sure mine were li-ion. Did they change their chemistry in the last couple years? My newest Shorai is probably 3, maybe 4 years old.

I switched to Lithium for exactly the reason you say: bikes that could sit for months away from any convenient 120v outlet....
 

JMZ

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Speaking of lithium batteries , we have a 20 volt chain saw at work. I was pretty amazed at how much it can cut.

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"Speaking of lithium batteries , we have a 20 volt chain saw at work. I was pretty amazed at how much it can cut."

I'm interested. What is the brand?
 
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Just to follow up, I finally got my solar trickle charger setup today. I installed a 20w panel on the roof of my carport since it has good southern exposure and ran a ~25' length of 10ga wire to an inexpensive waterproof "Solperk" controller from Amazon. I then soldered up another 10" length of 10ga wire with an SAE connector. I have an SAE - Powerlet cable that I've been using to charge via fused Powerlet sockets that I install on every bike I've owned in the past couple of decades.

I have the controller set to charge at 14.2v until the battery is at 13.5v. At that point, the controller will monitor the battery voltage and float at 13.5v to keep the battery at 100%. When solar output drops below charging voltage (night/overcast), the controller will prevent the battery from discharging through the panel. I didn't get started on the project until late in the afternoon, so I only had about an hour of full sun once I got it all sorted out, but my multimeter says everything is functioning as intended.

I'll track the controller's performance on a spare "off-bike" battery for a week or so. I want to be sure everything is kosher before I hook it up to a bike. If it all works well, I'll buy a couple more controllers for the other bikes. The panel should put out enough juice to keep all three topped off since I tend to ride one bike (depending on my mood) and let the others sit sometimes for weeks/months at a time until I get bored and switch bikes.

Also, to answer one of the questions above, I did mean Li-Ion, not Li-Po. My kids and I have been playing with our RC trucks a lot lately and I've been charging a lot of Li-Po batteries for them, so I've had that on my brain. I didn't get a response from Shorai when I emailed them about the the batteries failed, so I just went back to Odyssey AGMs. I've always had good luck with them. The Shorai batteries that failed were used on my UTV and a boat. I only used the Shorai charger on them occasionally, but they still failed. The two good ones are on a tractor and another UTV and still seem fine.
 
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Please forgive the noob question. I know just enough about setting up a solar charging system to be dangerous, to myself and my bike.

I've got a couple of 100w 12v panels, coupled in parallel, that a friend gave me that I've been thinking about getting a controller for and turning into a trickle charger/maintainer for my bike. However, I'm concerned that the output of the panels will be too much for the battery. I'd read somewhere that you should charge the battery with no more amperage than the bike would charge it with while running and that over amping would damage the battery. Assuming that's all correct (please correct me if it's not), can you buy a controller that will limit the amount of current going to the battery in addition to the 14.2v/13.5v charge/float limits?

Also, my bike, a KTM 1290, has a lithium battery. I don't know if it's Li-Ion or Li-Po, much less do I know what the difference is. The manual doesn't say and I have yet to pull the seat and look at the battery. Will this make a difference in the type of controller I should buy?

Thanks in advance.
 
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Hmm, you say "li-po" but I was pretty sure mine were li-ion. Did they change their chemistry in the last couple years? My newest Shorai is probably 3, maybe 4 years old.

I think maybe he's just shorthanding "LiFePO4" ... which is technically "lithium ion" but not the chemistry we ordinarily associate with batteries marketed as "lithium ion".

But the Shorai (and all automotive-application "lithium" batteries AFAIK) are LiFePO4, more commonly known simply as "Lithium-Iron".
 
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I've used solar pulse on a lot of stuff. Usually the 2 watt will keep up with basic lead acid over time, but if you have some fancy vehicle that is pulling power all the time you will need something larger. The good thing about pulsing is it will desulfate a battery. I have a friend that started putting them on all his equipment which made me a believer. If you are putting it on a trailer or something, you can just buy magnets and machine screws and toss the panel anywhere. With a truck I just leave it on the dash and run the wires through my power pole connectors I have in the cab for my radio.
 
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