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Old 02-02-2015, 12:29 PM   #1
juddspaintballs OP
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Harbor Freight solar battery charger

I have a '96 Blazer I drive about 2x a month. It's had a slow drain on the battery for years that I could never find (and I've done a motor replacement and 3 transmission replacements that ended up in a stick shift conversion so I'm not afraid to dig into it). When I used to drive it daily, it would start after sitting overnight with no issue. 2 days and the battery is nearly flat and 3 will totally drain it. No big deal, I put a battery switch on it so when I park it now, I cut the battery off. It's annoying, though, especially when I just want to take the trash to the bottom of the drive with it.

I'm looking at a HF solar battery charger (item #68692). The Blazer sits outside 100% of the time. I can park it with the windshield towards the sun. Will this thing fry my battery or be enough to keep it topped off?
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Old 02-02-2015, 12:32 PM   #2
MrPulldown
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I have a dodge camper van conversion of the same vintage with a similar battery drain. I also have that exact HF solar charger, and a battery disconnect. The little solar panel can not keep up with the drain.
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Old 02-02-2015, 01:46 PM   #3
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I have two Ford F350's. The '89 has a 11" camper on it and a battery isolator. Since I seldomly drive this truck I got a Volkswagen solar charger that VW sends with every new car so the batteries stay charged. I have no problems with this trucks battery.

The other F350 is a '94 and I also have a VW solar charger on but this truck has a draw and the charger can't keep up with it. I think it's because of the alarm system that is on this truck.
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Old 02-02-2015, 02:00 PM   #4
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Re: battery drain

I had a problem with my '92 Bronco going flat dead every time it sat for two days also. Turned out to be the electric 4WD module in the cab, which had gotten damp due to a tiny water leak (lower corner of the windshield) and was causing a constant drain of just under 2 amps. Once that was replaced, no more drain. Don't know if OP's Chebby has a similar arrangement...

Kinda off topic, just a thought.
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Old 02-02-2015, 02:04 PM   #5
juddspaintballs OP
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I've had this thing 10+ years and chased the draw most of those years. I just don't care anymore to try to find it. Next major thing to go wrong with it and it goes to scrap. The Interstate battery in there is probably worth more than the vehicle is now.
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Old 02-03-2015, 02:59 AM   #6
Langanobob
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I don't like giving anything from HF a positive review but I have several of those little solar chargers and they work OK. No worries about frying your battery, they aren't capable of enough current or high enough voltage.

If you have any sort of current drain on your battery the HF solar tender will not keep up. Like you, I use a cheap battery disconnect switch to isolate the battery while the vehicle isn't in use. The HF solar tender should keep up OK as long as the battery is isolated. Not that it doesn't have the capacity to charge a low battery, it only has the capacity to maintain an already charged battery.
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Old 02-03-2015, 09:28 AM   #7
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Find out where the leak is.

Pull either battery cable and connect the ends with an ammeter.

Pull one fuse at a time to find out which circuit it is.

Now that you know, good luck at chasing down exactly where the leak is.

I could not find mine, but I could live without the things on that circuit.

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Old 02-03-2015, 09:58 AM   #8
ezrdr55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Langanobob View Post
I don't like giving anything from HF a positive review but I have several of those little solar chargers and they work OK. No worries about frying your battery, they aren't capable of enough current or high enough voltage.

If you have any sort of current drain on your battery the HF solar tender will not keep up. Like you, I use a cheap battery disconnect switch to isolate the battery while the vehicle isn't in use. The HF solar tender should keep up OK as long as the battery is isolated. Not that it doesn't have the capacity to charge a low battery, it only has the capacity to maintain an already charged battery.
I have this charger and the output on a sunny day is 19 volts (not connected to the battery). Claimed output is up to 24 volts. When I connected it to the battery the voltage drops to 13.6 volts. I've used it once and it did maintain the charge on my V-Strom. BUT then I read the in the manual: "Installation Precautions #11. Install an appropriate charge controller/regulator to regulate output and prevent damage. Do not attach panel to battery or power grid without proper regulator, inverter, and/or charge controller".
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Old 02-03-2015, 10:02 AM   #9
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One more warning about this charger in the manual under OPERATION it says "Use Voltage Regulator (not included) between Solar Battery Charger and battery to prevent overcharging battery and consequent damage." I'll probably not use it in the future.
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Old 02-03-2015, 10:29 AM   #10
fast4d
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I have one and it was not enough.

car has an alarm with LED.

I think HF sells a much larger solar charger. that one I've read will work. but it is huge.
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Old 02-03-2015, 11:13 AM   #11
Langanobob
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ezrdr55 View Post
One more warning about this charger in the manual under OPERATION it says "Use Voltage Regulator (not included) between Solar Battery Charger and battery to prevent overcharging battery and consequent damage." I'll probably not use it in the future.
That does not make sense. The little $20 HF solar "chargers" can't possibly overcharge a battery, their problem is the opposite, they don't have the output to charge a battery or barely maintain it, much less overcharge it.

Charge controllers are not 100% efficient and probably draw more than the rated output of the HF solar "charger." If you did hook up a controller it would suck up all the panel output and you wouldn't have anything left for maintaining the battery.
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Old 02-06-2015, 07:39 PM   #12
juddspaintballs OP
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I went for it. It was cheap and I had to order some other stuff.

I cut out the LED that indicates it is charging. I read in the reviews on it that the LED can be removed with no ill effects and it gives you a better charge since it's not drawing from the solar panel.

Anyways, I took it for a nice long drive tonight to make sure the battery is fully charged. I parked the windshield towards where the sun is most of the day and left the battery switch on. I'll measure voltage at the battery tomorrow morning and tomorrow evening to see how it's doing.
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Old 02-06-2015, 09:04 PM   #13
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I've been using one for more than a year.

My vehicles are just long distance transportation with a load or large cargo; they sit a lot.

One has a 455ci Olds engine. I have let it set for a month at a time during the winter and it always started just fine. The car has an alarm with flashing indicator LED.

The blue LED on the charge stopped working, but that's the only problem.

I am a several thousand miles away from my car right now and will be for at least a few months. I left the charger on it. I'm certain it'll start when I return.

The charger was inexpensive and seems to work for my purposes.
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Old 02-07-2015, 04:10 PM   #14
juddspaintballs OP
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Well, early reports of success! I parked it last night just before 8 PM and left the battery switch in the ON position. At 8 AM this morning, voltage at the battery as read on my Fluke was 11.45v. At 6 PM tonight, voltage was 12.02v. That's not half bad for February sun.
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Old 02-08-2015, 11:59 AM   #15
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11.45 volts at the battery after driving it yesterday?

Id say you have a faulty alternator, and or more than a slight drain.
sitting 12 hours and taking the battery to 20% state of charge is bad.

I would like to see voltage numbers, immediately after you parked it at 8pm, and while running also.

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