By Mike Sokol
Welcome to my J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session, a weekly column where I answer your basic electrical questions. If you’re a newbie who’s never plugged in a shore power cord (or ask – what’s a shore power cord?), or wonder why your daughter’s hair dryer keeps tripping the circuit breaker, this column is for you. Send your questions to Mike Sokol at mike (at) noshockzone.org with the subject line – JAM.
Once again the question has come up on my Facebook group about how to maintain the health of RV house batteries when the RV is parked somewhere remote without a nearby electrical outlet. Of course, you can get a solar panel and a separate charge controller, then add some kind of float charger (such as a battery tender, etc.). But that’s a lot of work and expense if you just need a battery tender and a solar panel.
Well, look what I just found – a 15-watt trickle/float battery tender with a built-in solar panel. It’s waterproof so you can mount this solar panel with an integrated float charger however you like on the outside of your RV so it gets lots of sunshine. According to the literature, it will properly float-charge flooded cell, AGM or lithium batteries, and will work with a single 12-volt battery, two 12-volt batteries in parallel, and two or four 6-volt batteries in series or series-parallel.
And if this is a temporary storage situation, simply route the connecting cables through whatever access hole you can find into your battery compartment, using the supplied alligator clips to connect it to the RV house batteries. Now all you have to do is turn the RV battery connect switch to the OFF position in order to reduce parasitic drain, and your RV batteries should be safely maintained by the sun for months on end without fear of damage. Sure is a lot easier than disconnecting and carrying all those heavy batteries into your garage to put them on a float charger.
OK, everyone. Remember that electricity is a useful and powerful force, so we all need to pay attention to safety precautions while using it.
Let’s play safe out there….
Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. ##RVDT 1327;##RVT946