Blog and FAQ

12V Batteries FAQ

How big do I need my battery to be in amp hours (AH)?

When deciding how many AH you need, it’s best to first consider what it is you want from your battery. For instance, are you going to be running a fridge and some lights and if so how many AH will they draw from your battery? If you work backwards in this way you can then get a good idea of what you will need.

What is the difference between a deep cycle battery and a starting battery?

A deep-cycle battery has the ability to be deeply discharged many times during its life. It is designed for powering electrical equipment for long periods of time. An automotive or starting battery is designed for brief bursts of high current and cannot withstand more than a few deep discharges before failure.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of AGM and Flooded Wet Lead Acid?

Flooded wet cell batteries will last a long time if maintained and tend to be cheaper.  They can also be placed under the bonnet of your vehicle.

AGM batteries require no maintenance, unlike the flooded lead acid batteries which require watering. AGM batteries are safer and can be placed in a variety of positions except under the bonnet. They have a slower self-discharge and are more efficient in discharging and charging than flooded batteries.

What makes lithium batteries so good?

Lithium batteries can be discharged to a lower percentage than other batteries, in effect storing a larger capacity. They are also a lot lighter than wet cell or AGM Batteries. Lithium batteries also charge more efficiently, so you will notice a faster recovery.

How can I tell if my battery is charged?

The easiest way to test if your battery is charged is to use a voltmeter to measure the voltage between the positive and negative terminals. To get an accurate reading it is best to have the battery sit idle with nothing attached to it so that the battery is not receiving or delivering charge. The voltmeter will indicate how full or empty your battery is with the closer the battery is to 13 volts , the closer it is to being fully charged. 

A Victron battery monitor is another good instrument to detect how much charge your battery currently has the essential function of a battery monitor is to calculate amp hours consumed and the state of charge of a battery.

What are Battery Management Systems (BMS)?

A battery management system (BMS) is an electronic regulator that controls and monitors the charging and discharging of rechargeable Batteries.

Essentially a BMS works as a safeguard for your batteries, helping to prevent your battery coming to harm from discharging too low.

If your battery reaches a state that the BMI detects is too low it will shut down the battery and you will need to use an AC to DC charger to get the battery back into a working state.

Do I need a battery box?

A Battery box is a good option if you want to run multiple electronics of your battery and is a great option if you want an easy to use setup.

Most battery boxes will have multiple cig ports and USB ports to support both big and small electronics as well as terminals for easy charging from solar or mains.

 

Solar Panel FAQ

How do solar panels work?

12V solar panels work by converting sunlight into an electric current which can be used to charge batteries through a regulator. Solar panels are made up of cells which convert sunlight into electrical current. As photons of light come into contact with the top layer of the cell it allows electrons to flow from the top of the cell to the bottom which creates a current, the sunlight hitting the electrons excites them and gives them enough energy to move.


What are Watts?

The watt is a basic unit of power. (Watts = Volts x Amps).


What are Volts?

A volt measures how much potential there is in an electric circuit.  The higher the voltage, the more electrical current will flow in the circuit.


What are Amps?

Amps are the measure of electric current. One amp is equal to a number of electrons passing a set point in a circuit each second at a set voltage.


What are Amp hours?

Amp hours are the measurement of stored power for the amount of time in hours that you draw that current. (Amps x hours = AH)


What do I need: a fixed panel, fold up panel, flexible panel or solar blanket?

It all depends on what you want to get out of your system. A good solar set up can use multiple different panels or blankets for different conditions and needs.

Fixed panels on the roof of your vehicle or boat are a great choice if you are looking to charge your batteries on the go. The downside is that you will not be able to park under shade if you want the best out of the panels. To get around this problem, a portable fold up panel or solar blanket are a good choice. You can park in the shade and then move your portable into the sun. Fold up and blankets come with their own regulators so you can go straight to your batteries. The benefits of the flexi panels and solar blankets is the weight. They are the lightest options which can be useful when you have to keep the weight down in your vehicle.


What is the difference between wiring solar panels in series and parallel?

Connecting solar panels in series increases volts, however the amperage stays the same. However when connecting solar panels in parallel, amps increase and the voltage stays the same. To wire all your panels in series, simply connect the negative wire of one panel to the positive wire of the next panel. To connect your solar panels in parallel, connect the positive wires from each solar panel to a single positive wire and do the same for the negative wires.


Do I need a regulator and what size?

The short answer is yes, you will need a regulator to prevent damage to your batteries. A regulator is basically a voltage and/or current regulator to keep batteries from overcharging. It regulates the voltage and current coming from the solar panels going to the battery. Most "12 volt" panels put out above 12 volts, so if there is no regulation the batteries will be damaged from overcharging. The size of the regulator will depend on how many solar panels you have connected; the more you have the larger the regulator will need to be to handle the power coming from your solar system. For a look at our product range and more information please visit our website.


What is the difference between PWM and MPPT solar charge controllers?

With a PWM controller the current is drawn from the panel at just above the battery voltage. With an MPPT controller the current is drawn out of the panel at the panel’s maximum power voltage. MPPT solar regulators convert the additional voltage to amps.


How long do portable solar panels last?

It depends on if your solar panels are looked after and maintained, if they are well looked after solar panels can last for up to 30 years and possibly more.


How do you check solar panel output?

You can run a watt meter in line between your solar panels and regulator. The watt meter measures solar power in volts and amps giving the total power in Watts. Watt meters can also measure how much power each appliance you have hooked up to your batteries is using if placed in line between the battery and appliance.

 

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