Diesel truck needs solar charging love - help me with a minimalist system for batt charging

sshibly

Solar Addict
Joined
Dec 8, 2020
Messages
506
Guten Morgen von Sunny/Balmy West Michigan,

It was -5F yesterday and today I woke up to 11F.

We got a bunch of snow and I had to move my Diesel for the plow trucks, and I remote started it, I could hear the batts struggling a bit.


System: Chevy Duramax Diesel with 2 x Costco 34 flooded lead acid batteries

Vehicle is curbed parked and gets afternoon sun for 3 to 5 hours.

I can zap the batts in the driveway with my a/c charger.

What do I need to put in a little solar thing so it keeps the batts fresh?

1. PVM Controller?
2. Small solar panel on the windshield? folding maybe?
3. Should I run some wire though the firewall to the batt with an inline 10A fuse?
 
Last edited:

HRTKD

Boondocker
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Apr 24, 2020
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7,479
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Somewhere South of Denver
Simple:


I use the 5w version to keep the batteries in my side-by-side charged up.

For the dual batteries in your Chebby you'll need a bigger panel. A way to keep the panel in place is also recommended. Simply placing it in the bed might work, but I would want it secured somehow so it doesn't walk away.
 

Bob B

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Sep 21, 2019
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I went overkill on mine .... I've got a panel like the one below that I put on the dash and plug into the cigarette adaptor. I use if for other things, but for the winter when I rarely drive my chevy diesel truck, it is connected to the truck most of the time..... yes, the cigarette lighter plug is active when the vehicle is shut off.

 

chrisski

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Aug 14, 2020
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As a guy that has dual batteries and uses a small solar powered trickle charger, but located in sunny AZ, I'm not quite sure that charging your batteries when its -3 F would help what your problem. I see this more as the battery does not have the chemistry to move the electrons as such a cold temp, and I'm not sure a 100 watt panel hooked to a PWM would make the battery any more startable in the cold. I think you could measure the temp adjusted hydrometer to find the state of charge when its cold and not wanting to start, and if the battery were full, it'd be other things.

I would like to here form someone who's gotten results from this.

Slow starts to me in a diesel means plugging in the block heater a few hours before starting the truck. That warms up the coolant and oil and helps the oil flow through the engine better. For someone who has hard starts cold, plugging in the block heater can work.

My trickle charger is just a trickle charger for when I have the truck parked outside for weeks on end so it fires up nice and strong.
 

HRTKD

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Apr 24, 2020
Messages
7,479
Location
Somewhere South of Denver
True. A dead battery is a dead battery. A solar charger is a band-aid that may or may not help. But keeping a good battery charged goes a long way to keeping it a good battery.

On a non-Ford forum I'm on, they have a saying that, "It's always the battery."
 

sshibly

Solar Addict
Joined
Dec 8, 2020
Messages
506
Simple:


I use the 5w version to keep the batteries in my side-by-side charged up.

For the dual batteries in your Chebby you'll need a bigger panel. A way to keep the panel in place is also recommended. Simply placing it in the bed might work, but I would want it secured somehow so it doesn't walk away.
Truck Bed you say Sir,
That is possible but not sure how much sun the panel will get, the bed is full of snow overflowing....
 

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sshibly

Solar Addict
Joined
Dec 8, 2020
Messages
506
As a guy that has dual batteries and uses a small solar powered trickle charger, but located in sunny AZ, I'm not quite sure that charging your batteries when its -3 F would help what your problem. I see this more as the battery does not have the chemistry to move the electrons as such a cold temp, and I'm not sure a 100 watt panel hooked to a PWM would make the battery any more startable in the cold. I think you could measure the temp adjusted hydrometer to find the state of charge when its cold and not wanting to start, and if the battery were full, it'd be other things.

I would like to here form someone who's gotten results from this.

Slow starts to me in a diesel means plugging in the block heater a few hours before starting the truck. That warms up the coolant and oil and helps the oil flow through the engine better. For someone who has hard starts cold, plugging in the block heater can work.

My trickle charger is just a trickle charger for when I have the truck parked outside for weeks on end so it fires up nice and strong.

I have never used a block heater, my diesel starts right up, never had starting issues. I use up my summer diesel and make sure I pump quality winter diesel and never have gelled all the way down to -17F

I opt for 5w40 or 10w30 [diesel engine oil] and oil flows well when it is cold. Glow plugs rarely get used.

Few winters I did have time to burn off the 35 gallons of summer blend and I added some addy [smells really bad] to prevent fuel gelling.

I recharge the diesel in the driveway monthly with an a/c charger, so I am not looking to recharge a dead cell with solar [but it would be nice if I could]


True. A dead battery is a dead battery. A solar charger is a band-aid that may or may not help. But keeping a good battery charged goes a long way to keeping it a good battery.

On a non-Ford forum I'm on, they have a saying that, "It's always the battery."

The truck has to be moved few times a day for the plows, so short start and bit of idle is all it sees.
Yes, charging a flooded cell and de-sulfation is key, my flooded cells last 10 years plus with this simple steps.

I charge my daily driver monthly too, as the alternator is not designed to bring back a depleted battery.


Back on topic:
A folding solar panel in the dash will be the best option, I can hard wire PWM charge controller to the battery with an inline fuse.

I have a small Harborfright solar panel, not sure of the output though.
 
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