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Author Topic: Multi-Stage Battery Charger  (Read 192 times)
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« Reply #15 on: February 23, 2017, 08:14:06 pm »

I would agree that solar could provide equalization voltage.  Some wet cell battery manufacturers recommend equalization voltage up to 16.5 volts.  Once the batteries are fully charged the solar panels and some controllers can be programmed to provide this voltage.  Many of the electrical appliances specify max operating voltage of 15 volts.  Based on this I have limited the equalization to 15 volts to minimize the risk of damaging the appliances.  On a previous camper I did periodically isolate the battery and equalized at 16-16.5 volts.  The 4 year old battery was performing well when I sold the camper but I can't say it was because of the equalization.  I think why I had good battery performance had more to do with not discharging below 80% state of charge, promptly recharging, and maintaining electrolyte level.

An advantage of having a converter that operates at 14.4 vs. 13.7 volts is it allows higher amperage thus quicker recharge time. After a night of typical battery use while camping off grid the Progressive Dynamics converter delivers about 25-30 amps when using the generator.  After about an hour or so of charging using the generator the amperage drops to about 15-20 amps.  My 320 watt solar system typically maxes out at about 15 amps meaning if I am receiving good sun the solar system can then pickup the charging load.  The battery can then be brought up to full charge.  With the solar output at 14.7-14.8 volts and the amps dropping off to 1-2 amps I am confident of full charge.

Bottom line I think given a properly designed solar charging system for the expected load and design solar conditions the solar system is capable of saisfactorily maintaining the batteries without the need for a converter.  It is when either solar output is reduced because of shade, sun angle, etc. and/or the power usage is greater than design that a converter is needed.  The multi stage converter reduces generator run time.  As mentioned earlier the multi stage unit also reduces the chance of boiling the batteries dry if left plugged in for an extended period.
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