Is a Solar Trickle Charger Worth It? When to Get One

During the pandemic, we parked our white Toyota Fielder hatchback for several months to comply with the movement restrictions using cars.

I made it a point to rev the car engine from time to time to keep the battery topped up or so I thought.

Unfortunately, the car battery eventually died and had to be replaced.

Would a solar battery charger have kept the over 1-year-old battery working for longer?

Honestly, I’m not sure.

is the solar trickle charger really necessary – there are car owners who’ve probably driven cars for many years and never used a battery charger.

So, this begs the question, is a solar battery charger any good? Is it worthwhile investing in one?

To answer just this question, I decided to put together this blog post based on my experience and research of other car owners to make my findings more objective.

Here’s what I found.

When to Get a Solar Trickle Charger

Only get one if you plan to keep your car parked outdoors, your location receives several hours of sunshine and you plan to park the car for an extended period ( a week +) without driving it.

Car batteries lose charge over time, especially when the car is parked for an extended period without driving it. When the car battery charge is low.

You’ll notice slow cranking of the engine, shorter battery lifespan, and in extreme cases, the battery can fail prematurely.

Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Charger

Sometimes even when there are several hours of sunshine and you plan to park outdoors the solar trickly charge may fail to work.

Here are a few tips that can hopefully help you get the best out of your charger!

1. Check if it is weatherproof. If not, you’ll need to install it on the dashboard and then plug it into the cigarette lighter socket.

Check if the cords will be long enough to extend from the solar charger on the dashboard to the cigarette lighter socket before buying.

2. Keep in mind that the trickle charger should have enough watts depending on:

  • the car battery capacity(Ah), and
  • the current drawn by the accessories when the car ignition is off.

The solar battery trickle charge specifications should indicate what capacity of the battery (Ah) it should be able to keep topped up!

Now, usually, the draw on a car’s battery is under 50mA. So, 0.83 amps from a 10-watt/12V solar maintainer can keep the battery topped up.

Should the draw be considerably higher? Locate and fix the cause of parasitic draw and/or consider a maintenance charger with more power or else you’ll find the battery discharged!

3. Will there be sunshine for the duration when the car will be parked? Will the car be parked in the garage for instance?

Then get yourself a maintenance charger that uses 120V instead of solar to keep the battery topped up.

4. Get one that has a charge indicator light so that you’re sure it is charging the battery.

Otherwise, you risk coming back to a flat car battery should the solar maintainer not be properly plugged in and charging the battery.

5. Read other user reviews. This is a gold mine and insurance against stress and frustration from contacting support later.

How many incidents of stopped working after a few days or months? Is the seller responsive in replacing the faulty product?

If it looks like an unreliable product from the dead go and or the seller appears unresponsive then I’d advise not to buy!

Do not Get a Solar Trickle Charger if:

1. You plan to park the car indoors say over the winter. Get a good quality 120V trickle charger battery maintainer instead to keep the battery topped up

2. The battery is drained flat. Do not expect or count on a trickle charger to fully charge a battery.

Use a car battery charger to fully charge the battery and then you can use a trickly charger to keep it charged.

Closing Thoughts

If you plan to park your car for an extended period, usually a week or longer definitely get a solar trickle charger if there’s sunshine to keep the battery topped up. Otherwise, get a 120V car battery maintenance charger.

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