Using Solar Panels to Charge Car Batteries: What You Need to Know

Solar panels for cars have become the most popular back up power solutions for vehicle owners due to the convenience they provide. Solar panels trickle charge your car battery while you drive and you would not have to worry about the battery draining out on you even if you have to stop for some time.

Unlike your standard car battery chargers, solar panels do not have to be plugged in a power outlet to work. As long as the panels get unobstructed view of the sky and exposed to direct sunlight, it can trickle charge your car batteries. The question is, can solar panels really generate enough electricity to charge car batteries?

Does a solar panel for cars really work?

The answer is yes – solar panels work to charge car batteries. However, these devices come with limits. First, solar panels are not as powerful as your standard car chargers. Not that solar panels won’t be able to charge the batteries in full, because it can, it just takes a longer time than standard car battery chargers.

Second, solar panels are more effective at maintaining a charge than charging a dead battery. This is because solar panel battery chargers do not produce as much current as a standard car battery charger. This is why users are advised to use solar panels to trickle charge batteries while driving or while on a stopover. You would be hard pressed at reviving a deeply discharged battery using solar panels.

Can portable solar panels charge my car batteries?

Yes, portable solar panels can charge car batteries. Keep in mind though that the amount of power a solar panel car charger can produce will depend on a number of factors (amount of sunlight available, size of the portable solar panel, etc.). This is why solar panels for cars are best used as trickle chargers.

While many of the solar panels online come with a voltage regulator, there are some cheaper alternatives that do not include regulators. Voltage regulators work to adjust the amount of electricity transferred, and keep the batteries for overcharging. Make sure that you buy solar battery chargers that come with voltage regulators so you can just turn the charge on and forget about it.

What to consider when buying solar panels for cars

A quick search online will provide you with hundreds of portable solar panel choices. There are solar mats, flexible solar panels for boats, and bigger, fixed panels for caravans or even for residential use. Obviously, you’re awash with options and it can be a bit overwhelming trying to decide what solar panel to get.

The first thing you need to consider is the amount of power you require. Do you need something to just trickle charge your battery while you are setting up a campsite? What outdoor appliances or gadgets do you plan to power up using your 12 volt battery? How long would you use it for?

Lastly, you need to make sure you buy solar panels that are guaranteed reliable. Sure, you need to consider your budget limits but taking some time to do research, comparing prices and reviews from at least two online retailers help ensure you’re making the best investment.