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Does anyone have any thoughts on what may be a good brand/model of solar battery charger? Also what are your opinons on the best rechargeable batteries out there? Thanks.
 

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AKA The Dragon
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Depending on the geographic situation and seasonal weather, there are different panels for low light conditions as well.
I use 5 and 10 watt panels to keep the float charge up on vehicle batteries.
Not enough to charge a battery from dead flat, need something with about 4 amps to charge a battery from dead flat.
Also remember ambient air temps particularly very cold conditions can kill a vehicle battery.
I use lead acid 12 volt light truck batteries as a general purpose battery for all my applications including the 4X4's, save on a lot of cost by using a generic sized battery that has enough grunt to start a vehicle and, run an led lighting system which has a very low power consumption.
Effectively interchangable and one size fits all applications.
Depends what your battery requirements are.
 

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Recommendations on Solar Battery Chargers

Battery Chargers
Recommendations on Solar Battery Chargers

Criteria Looked for:
1. Charger powered by both 110 volt AC and 12 volt DC PV panel.
2. Can charge NiMH (regular & low self discharge (LSD)), and NiCD batteries in the various sizes.
3. Is a "smart" charger that
a. has a gentle cycle and never over heats batteries.
b. recharged gently enough to allow a shallow cycle to keep NiMH cells topped off for longest life.
c. automatically detects micro shorts, applies "conditioning" pulse and then a special, gentle charging cycle for reviving old or "dead" NiMH batteries.
d. automatically detects NiCd that need "conditioning" batteries to prevent the "memory" effect by draining them fully before recharging to full capacity.
4. Will hold a large number of batteries at one time while charging.
5. Allows mixed battery sizes to be charges at the same time.
6. Reasonable price and availability.


Here are several models that I have investigated and, for the most part, owned over the years.
#1 Best
MH-C9000 Wizard One Charger-Analyzer- $69.95 {very smart}
1. Four independent slots NiMH / NiCD batteries to charge 1 up to 4 AA and AAA at the same time.
2. 110V AC or will work on car when used with the optional cigarette lighter adapter
3. NiMH Low Discharge Battery Compatible
4. Digitally displays capacity, voltage, time and current.
5. Five modes of operation
a. Charge: Suitable for batteries used frequently.
b. Refresh & Analyze: Suitable for batteries stored for more than two weeks but less than 3 month or those showing poor performance.
c. Break-In: Suitable for new batteries and those stored for more than 3 month
d. Discharge conditioning and recharge NiMH / NiCD batteries
6. Features four independent temperature sensors using for temperature raise detection in addition to peak temperature detection.
7. Recharging typically will take 5 to 6 hours with temperature sensing are very gentle on batteries.
http://thomasdistributing.com/shop/-mah ... ec1ed34d51


ACCUPOWER ACCUMANAGER 20 BATTERY CHARGER- $49.97{somewhat smart}
1. 4 regular slots (for AA, AAA, C, D, ([email protected] Max) and two 9V slots.
2. Includes AC 110V Power Adapter and a 12V Car cord for mobile
3. Will charge NiMH, NiCD, or Rechargeable Batteries Rechargeable Alkaline Manganese (RAM) batteries. NiMH LSD where not specifically recommended as Compatible.
4. charger automatically recognizes the battery chemistry type.
5. Batteries can be charged in any combination of battery chemistry at the same time
6. The Automatic Float Charge can often revive batteries that have been stored for long periods of time
7. a "semi-smart" charger with over-voltage and reverse polarity protection, recognition of defective batteries- (lets you know if a battery is defective), and self protection disconnect
8. refreshing function prevents memory-effect in new batteries and overridden in older batteries. The regeneration of your batteries is conducted automatically without prior discharging.
9. Charging Time for 4 Batteries in Hours:
Battery Size "AAA" "AA" "C" "D" 9v
NiCad 0.2 0.4 4.0 8.0 9.0
NiMH 2.0 3.5 6.0 12 9.0

http://thomasdistributing.com/shop/accu ... 8ad8035b99



MAHA MH-C204F-DC FAST CHARGER-$22.97 {smart}
1. Includes 110V AC POWER ADAPTER &12V DC 500mA CAR POWER CORD
2. charges 2 or 4 AA - AAA batteries at a time.
3. will charge both NiMH & NiCAD
4. Rapid Battery Charger can recharge in 60-160 Minutes plus Rechargeable Battery Conditioner.
5. drops to a trickle charge mode after the fast charging is complete, which does help to "top off" the batteries if you leave them in the charger overnight.
6. includes discharge circuitry for thoroughly "conditioning" batteries to prevent the "memory" effect by draining them fully to about 1.0 volts/cell helps restore full capacity for both NiCd and NiMH cells.
7. It's safe to leave batteries in the C-204F indefinitely, helping avoid the "self-discharge" of NiMH cells that would otherwise severely limit shelf life.
8. can bring a set of high-capacity NiMH AA cells from "empty" to fully charged in about three hours or three and a half hours.
9. This fast of charge is harder on batteries than slow chargers.
10. Operation:
a. insert two or four AA or AAA cells and the charger immediately begins rapid-charging the batteries, and the indicator LEDs light red.
b. When the rapid charging is complete, the LEDs turn green, and the charger enters trickle mode.
c. Just leave the batteries in the C-204F after they're charged to keep them topped off.
d. Most good-quality NiMH cells can tolerate this just fine, as the 24 mA trickle current is a very gentle level of charging but some cheaper battery brands may not be able to handle this.
Thomas Distributing http://thomasdistributing.com/shop/-mah ... bdccf500ad



MH-C401FS: Cool Very Fast Charger $39.95
1. Charging Cell Configuration- One to Four NiMH, NiMH LSD and NiCD AA / AAA Batteries
2. Included: US style power adapter & adapter with DC Car Adapter (12V 1000mA)
3. Recharges AA & AAA NiMH or NiCD batteries accurately and relatively coolly, around 100 minutes (AAA charges in around 1 hour).
4. Will charge all of the New Low Discharge Batteries such as the Sanyo Eneloop.
5. FLEX Pulse: makes traditional "battery conditioning & cycling" unnecessary as the pulse eliminates the memory effect just by charging the batteries
6.
7. Manually Switch
a. between 100 minute extremely fast recharge time.
b. 5 hour gentle charge; a slower, achieves ultra-cool charging when charging time is not crucial
c. both driven by a microprocessor termination control to prevent overcharge.
8. Difference between the MH-C204F & MH-C401FS charger
a. The MH-C204F charges the batteries in pairs.
b. The MH-C401FS charges batteries independently and twice as fast.
9. The faster the charge, the harder it is on batteries life, with the slow chargers in the 5 hr range or longer the best.

http://www.mahaenergy.com/store/viewIte ... atures#mid
http://www.thomas-distributing.com/mhc4 ... tional.php
http://www.mahaenergy.com/store/viewIte ... atures#mid



UNIVERSAL SOLAR 11 in One BATTERY CHARGER with Meter
a. Not costly- $21.99 to $14.95
b. Battery types charged - D, C, AA, AAA - Ni-Cad, or Ni-MH (+7 metric prism shaped types)
c. Charges only 2 batteries at one time, MUST be same type, brand & size
d. Charging time: AAA(180mA)- 1 to 3 Hours, AA(500 mA)- 3 to 6 Hrs, C(1000mA)- 6 to 12 Hrs, and D(1500 mA)- 9 to 18 Hrs. (depending on strength of sunlight)
e. Intrigril Solar Pannel: is small (160 mA max) with a blocking diode to prevent reverse flow at night.
f. No Circuitry for specialized charging for
g. Break-In new batteries & those stored for more than 3 month
h. or those showing poor performance or that have developed memories
i. or for NiMH vrs NiCD types
j. Meter shows you approximate rate of charge and rough time to charges.
k. There is no batter charge indicator or over charge indicator.
l. No conditioning or analyzing problem batteries, not smart, no Ni-MH LSD recommendations.
m. Gentleness of charging cycle unknown.
http://www.readymaderesources.com/cart/ ... roductId=7
or
http://www.ccrane.com/more-categories/b ... arger.aspx



C. Crane QuickCharger Battery Charger
1. Cost is $39.95 + $12.95
2. AC adapter included and there is an optional 12V Cigarette Lighter Power Adapter.
3. Charges 1 to 4 at a time of NiMH and NiCads AAA, AA, C & D however not mix and match battery sizes or types together at one time.
4. Negative pulse charging Automatically discharges NiCad batteries prior to charging to improve capacity and life.
5. Rejects batteries that cannot be charged (can save problem batteries).
6. Battery Analyzer button shows in a few seconds the battery's voltage and a bar graph representing it's remaining charge will appear on the LCD screen.
7. Charge cycle:
a. Soft Start to charge process slowly without heating the batteries
b. then Fast Charge mode which will bring the batteries up to 80 to 90 percent of their capacity
c. then Top-Off mode which brings the batteries to their maximum charge and “fully charged” will appear
d. and continual trickle current to keep them topped off until you are ready to use them.
e. times range from:
i. 1 hour and 20 minutes for 2 AAA NiMH cells
ii. 2 hours to charge 2 1800 mAh NiMH AA batteries & about double that to charge 4
iii. 16 hours for 4 NiMH D cells. .
8. Gentleness of charging cycle is very questionable.
9. No conditioning or analyzing problem batteries, not smart, no Ni-MH LSD recommendations.

http://www.ccrane.com/more-categories/b ... 01WSDG0100

Duracell 15 minute Charger
1. Cost is around $31.34
2. AC 120 volt adapter included and a 12V Car Adapter
3. Fastest charger technology in the market but SEVERELY DECREASES THE LIFESPAN of your batteries!
4. Charges four AA or AAA NiMH batteries in 15 minutes.
5. Specs say it charges AA batteries at whopping 8.3A during the fast charge phase and the batteries become aggressively hot and to keep them cool, it is forcefully cooled with a fan.
6. The fan operates during the 15 minute session and during the 10 minute cool down.
After the cool down, charger enters top off charge phase 1, which takes 1 1/2 hours with Duracell 2650mAh batteries. After that there is a final top off cycle that takes an additional half hour, pushing the total charging time to full capacity to around 2 1/2 hours.
7. The available capacity of Duracell 2650mAh battery at 1,000mA discharge rate:
Charged for 15 minutes and pulled: 2100mAh
Charged through the entire "hidden" 2.5 hr cycle 2700mAh
8. HOWEVER, there are many reports that after a few months of charging in this charger, batteries would only charge to about 1/2 power.
9. No conditioning or analyzing problem batteries, not smart, no Ni-MH LSD or NiCads recommendations
10. might be useful for emergency battery charging but not for regular use.

http://www.geekbro.com/index.cfm/hurl/p ... GoogleBase


MAHA - MH-C204W Conditioning Battery Charger {Very Smart} $38.97
1. Charger comes with power cord but CAN NOT be run with 12V DC
2. Charges 2 or 4 at a time of NiMH and NiMH LSD only in AAA and AA on two unique sets of two rechargeable batteries
3. Built-in microprocessor controller with trickle charge
4. developed a more sophisticated dead-battery detection algorithm
5. Built-in conditioner for rejuvenating your NiMH rechargeable batteries the ramp-up jolts the rechargeable batteries if needed to revive old or “dead” batteries. This jolting feature is a series of carefully timed high current pulses that can activate both new and inactive rechargeable batteries.
6. designed with an intermediate, medium current, top-off charge so that the rechargeable battery will retain most of its charge
7. Charge Time: about 60 Minutes (1 Hr) when charging 2 batteries - about 120 minutes (2 Hr) when charging 4 batteries. NiMH batteries will be nearly 98% charged
8. Maintain a continued full charge condition with trickle charging and set to use while charging another set of rechargeable batteries
9. An improved MH-C401FS, which is excellent in grid up conditions but it’s lack of 12V battery and solar panel operation severely limit its SHTF capability.

Solar Charged Walkway Lights --An Option for Battery Charging
1. solar powered sidewalk lights have a solar charger & NiMH AA batteries.
2. Left out in full sun, with the batteries removed over night (to prevent draining) then repeated for several days.
3. The batteries will be mostly charged and, at least, used in non-critical applications.
4. These lights can also be used at night for night light and in the bathroom and are much safer than candles.
5. The batteries would almost certainly affect a “memory” if the lights where used exclusively for recharging unless occasional recharged by a smart charger that could condition them.
 

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When I started the project I had no idea how important the type of charger was to the recharge life of the various types of rechargeable batteries. In a long term EOTWAWKI situation, we must get every charge from our limited supply of batteries.
Hope this helps.
 
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