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Solar charging for bike

David_W
Rising Star
Posts: 2,293
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Registered: 19-07-2007

Solar charging for bike

I think this counts as a technical question, so I'm posting it here.

For my bike I don't ride it as much as I'd like to, or as much as I should do which means recently I had to buy a new battery, to keep the battery topped up isn't actually all that hard, I can plug in my connectors and keep it topped up with my charger, the only problem there is that the charger would be outdoors and they tend not to react well to rain.

My solution to this was to get an Oxford Solar Panel.... thing, I'll rig something up on the back of my bike to keep the solar panel connected constantly, this will provide electricity.  To prevent overcharging the battery I also have a solar controller arriving, this should prevent the battery overcharging and keep it in tip top shape, so it'll always start and the battery won't become unhealthy.

You're probably wondering what the question is by now, but there is more preamble.  When you use a solar panel on a bike/car and connect it directly to the battery (for some absurd reason motorbikes don't come with those lighter thingies that cars have) you're not supposed to start it with the panel connected, or something happens, no idea what but it's probably not good and will probably fry the panel.

With a controller you have to first connect the battery to the controller, then the controller to the solar panel, when you want to remove it, you remove the solar panel from the controller then the controller from the battery.  This could get annoying.  So my question is, if I'm using a controller (which I am), would it be "safe" to start the bike with the battery connected to the controller and the controller connected to the solar panel, or would I need to disconnect everything before I go for a 2 minute ride?

8 REPLIES
Community Veteran
Posts: 6,607
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Registered: 16-02-2009

Re: Solar charging for bike

Fit a waterproof quick release connector on the feed from the SP. (something like this http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/1-pc-DC-Male-to-Female-DC-Waterproof-Plug-Cable-Wire-Connector-For-LED-Str... you want to go for a ride, unplug and ride (I would remove the SP as well but your call.
Given the size of the SP I don't think you actually need a charge regulator, they are more for large multi amp panels. If it is like the one I have it only delivers in the milliamp range.
David_W
Rising Star
Posts: 2,293
Thanks: 29
Registered: 19-07-2007

Re: Solar charging for bike

That sounds like a good solution, wouldn't I need two though, one for live the other for earth?

As for the controller, as the SP will be on the bike all the time, it's simply to prevent overcharging the battery and causing problems down the line, the panel is really just to keep the battery nice and healthy and topped up rather than my current set up of, leave the battery, go to start the bike, get that annoying WHRRRRRRRR sound, take battery off, charge battery, put battery back on and hope it held the charge Cheesy

I'm also thinking of getting a simple blade fuse on the live between the controller and the battery.

VileReynard
Seasoned Pro
Posts: 10,646
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Registered: 01-09-2007

Re: Solar charging for bike

It would be vastly cheaper to use mains electricity to charge a battery in these latitudes.

It might just be worth the capital cost of solar cells if you are travelling in equatorial regions...

198kHz
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Registered: 30-07-2008

Re: Solar charging for bike


David_W wrote:

That sounds like a good solution, wouldn't I need two though, one for live the other for earth?

No, only the live.

Not young enough to know everything
Community Veteran
Posts: 6,607
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Registered: 16-02-2009

Re: Solar charging for bike

Its a TWO way cable as far as I checked anyway. If you look it has a hole in the centre usually for the +ve pin.
An alternative is to wrap the charger in a plastic bag (clear) and duck tape it sealed. That way you could leave it outside. Again a quick disconnect to remove it when riding.
198kHz
Seasoned Pro
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Re: Solar charging for bike

In a cable carrying a battery feed and earth, you don't need to 'switch off' the earth.

Not young enough to know everything
Community Veteran
Posts: 6,607
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Registered: 16-02-2009

Re: Solar charging for bike

Yes but if he is removing it from the bike, then both are required to be disconnected. That cable will completely disconnect the "charger" from the battery, allowing it to be removed.
198kHz
Seasoned Pro
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Re: Solar charging for bike

Yeah,sorry, my confusion.  Embarrassed

Your suggested connector is 2-pole anyway, so no problem.

Not young enough to know everything