Solar trickle car chargers are an efficient energy solution that helps keep vehicle and equipment batteries topped up and fully charged. They harness solar energy to provide a consistent, low-level charge, ensuring that batteries remain ready for use without the risk of overcharging.
In this article, we explore the best solar trickle car chargers in 2024, we will look at the latest advancements and features of solar trickle chargers available in the UK market, providing you with a comprehensive guide to choosing the best solar trickle charger for your needs.
How Do Solar Trickle Chargers Work?
Solar trickle chargers provide a trickle charge that maintains the battery life in various types of cars and equipment. The solar panels are designed to absorb sunlight and convert it into electrical energy.
Solar trickle chargers can regulate the amount of charge that flows into the battery. This is important because it prevents overcharging, which can damage the battery.
Unlike conventional solar car battery chargers, solar trickle chargers are designed to provide a constant, low-level charge to the battery, hence the term “trickle.” This ensures that the battery remains fully charged over time, but does so at a rate that is safe and sustainable for the battery’s lifespan.
This type of charging is ideal for maintaining batteries that are not used frequently, such as those in cars or boats that might sit idle for extended periods.
Most solar trickle chargers come with built-in diodes, which prevent reverse charging. This means when the sun goes down, electricity won’t flow back from the battery into the solar panel. Advanced models include features like overcharge protection, further ensuring the longevity and health of the battery.
The Best Solar Trickle Chargers 2024
To find the Best Solar Trickle Chargers in the UK, we reviewed a range of options available in the market, employing a stringent set of criteria to ensure only the top performers made our list.
We focused on key aspects such as power output and solar panel efficiency, compatibility with different battery types and vehicles, advanced charging features, safety and protection mechanisms, portability and ease of installation, durability, user interface, and after-sales support.
We looked for chargers that not only offered the best in terms of technical specifications but also brought user-friendly designs and robust build quality to the table. Here’s our Best Solar Trickle Chargers in 2024:
|Best Solar Trickle Chargers
BEST 30W CHARGER
BEST 20W CHARGER
BEST 10W CHARGER
BEST 7.5W CHARGER
BEST 3.5W CHARGER
How to Compare Solar Trickle Chargers
When comparing solar trickle chargers, it’s important to consider a variety of features to find the best charger for your needs.
- Power Output and Solar Panel Efficiency
Look at the wattage (e.g., 10W, 20W) to understand the charger’s power output. A higher wattage typically means a faster and more efficient charging process. Also, consider the type of solar cells used (such as single-crystal silicon), as this affects the efficiency of converting sunlight into electricity.
Ensure the charger is suitable for your battery’s voltage (e.g., 12V). Check if the charger is designed for your specific type of equipment, like cars, motorcycles, boats, tractors, etc.
- Charging Features and Efficiency
Advanced models might offer intelligent charging modes, such as 3-stage PWM charging, which can optimise the charging process and enhance battery life. Consider if the charger is suitable for emergency charging situations, which can be vital in outdoor work, travel, or camping scenarios.
- Safety and Protection
Features like overcharge protection, short circuit protection, and reverse discharge prevention are crucial for safety and prolonging battery life. Some chargers may have automatic day/night recognition, stopping work at night to conserve energy and resuming in daylight.
- Portability and Installation
Assess the size, weight, and design for ease of transport and installation. Features like lightweight construction, ABS plastic frames, and mounting brackets can be advantageous. Check for included accessories like cigarette lighter adapters, battery clips, and PVC suckers for easy installation.
Look for chargers made with durable materials like toughened glass and weather-resistant components to ensure longevity. Opt for chargers that are maintenance-free and easy to clean.
- User Interface and Indicators
Indicators that show charging status and battery health can be incredibly useful for monitoring the charging process.
A longer warranty period can indicate the manufacturer’s confidence in the trickle charger.
Do Solar Powered Trickle Chargers Work?
Solar-powered trickle chargers work really well as a solution for maintaining battery health. Solar trickle chargers are good for maintaining the charge of a battery, especially useful for vehicles or equipment that aren’t used regularly.
By providing a steady charge, they counteract the natural discharge that batteries experience over time. They are particularly valuable in scenarios where access to conventional power sources is limited or for users who are seeking an environmentally friendly charging solution. While they are not designed for rapid charging, they are perfect for preventing battery drain in vehicles or equipment that are not used daily.
How Many Watts Is a Solar Trickle Charger?
The wattage of solar trickle chargers will vary widely depending on their design and intended use. Typically, the wattage of these chargers ranges from as low as 1.5 watts to about 20 watts or more.
1.5 to 5 Watts
These lower-wattage chargers are suitable for maintaining the charge of small batteries, such as those in motorcycles.
5 to 10 Watts
Chargers in this range are more versatile and can be used for car batteries, campervans, or boats that might sit idle for long periods.
10 to 20 Watts and above
Higher wattage chargers are designed for larger batteries or for situations where the battery undergoes more frequent use or needs a higher charge rate.
Can You Leave a Solar Trickle Charger on All the Time?
Yes, you can generally leave a solar trickle charger connected to a battery all the time. In fact, this is one of the primary advantages of using a solar trickle charger. These chargers are designed to provide a very slow, steady charge to a battery, which is just enough to counteract the natural discharge that batteries experience over time without overcharging them.
Although designed to be left connected, it’s important to consider the weather conditions, as extreme weather can potentially damage the solar panel or the charger’s electronics. Chargers designed with weather-resistant features are safer to leave out in various conditions.
Can a Solar Trickle Charger Overcharge?
The risk of overcharging a battery with a solar trickle charger is generally low, especially if the charger is designed correctly and used appropriately. Many modern solar trickle chargers come with built-in regulators or charge controllers. These devices are crucial as they control the amount of charge delivered to the battery, preventing overcharging.
A blocking diode is another common feature in solar trickle chargers, preventing reverse charging (battery draining back into the solar panel) at night, which could mimic overcharging symptoms.
Pros of a Solar Trickle Charger
Solar trickle chargers use renewable solar energy, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and lowering the carbon footprint.
After the initial purchase, there are no ongoing costs as they harness free solar energy. This can save money in the long run compared to traditional car jump starter packs.
- Convenience and Portability
Most solar trickle chargers are compact and easy to install. They can be used in remote locations where access to conventional power is limited.
- Low Maintenance
These chargers typically require minimal maintenance.
Cons of a Solar Trickle Charger
- Weather Dependent
Their efficiency can be significantly reduced in cloudy or rainy conditions, as they rely on sunlight to function.
- Slower Charging Rate
Solar trickle chargers generally provide a lower power output compared to conventional 12V chargers or portable EV granny chargers, which means they charge batteries more slowly.
- Limited Use
They are primarily designed for maintaining and slowly charging batteries, not for quick charging or recharging deeply discharged batteries.
- Space Requirements
Solar panels require space and ideally should be placed where they can receive maximum sunlight, which might not always be convenient.
- Potential for Damage in Extreme Weather
- While many are built to be weather-resistant, extreme conditions like hail or severe storms can damage the solar panels.
Do Trickle Chargers Shorten Battery Life?
Trickle chargers are designed to maintain or extend the life of a battery by keeping it fully charged, and when used correctly, they do not shorten battery life. However, it’s important to use a trickle charger correctly to avoid potential issues. Chargers that lack an automatic shut-off or overcharge protection can lead to overcharging if left connected for too long, which can damage the battery and reduce its lifespan.
Similarly, using a charger with an incorrect charge rate for your battery type can also be detrimental. Modern trickle chargers often include smart features to regulate charging and prevent overcharging, making them a safe choice for maintaining battery health. As long as the charger is suitable for your battery type and used as intended, it should help prolong the battery’s life rather than shorten it.
Is It Safe to Leave a Trickle Charger on All Winter?
Yes, it is generally safe to leave a trickle charger connected to a battery all winter, as long as the charger is of good quality and has the necessary safety features.
The Final Word On The Best Trickle Chargers 2024
As we wrap up our run-through of the Best Trickle Chargers of 2024, it’s great to see that advancements in this field are making battery maintenance more efficient and user-friendly than ever before.
The key to maximising the benefits of a trickle charger lies in choosing one that aligns with your specific requirements—be it for an EV, a car, a motorcycle, or a boat. Features like automatic shut-off, overcharge protection, and compatibility with various battery types are crucial for ensuring both safety and efficiency. The chargers we’ve highlighted are the best trickle chargers for maintaining battery health in an eco-friendly way!
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John is the Editor and Spokesperson for Electric Car Guide.
With over 20 years of writing experience, he has written for titles such as City AM, FE News and NerdWallet.com, covering various automotive and personal finance topics.
John’s market commentary has been covered by the likes of The Express, The Independent, Yahoo Finance and The Evening Standard.