Compact jump starter units for your car can get you out of a pickle if you forgot your lights on overnight on your car and wake up in the morning to a flat battery. Some jump starter units store energy in an internal battery to produce the charge required to jump-start your car. What can you do if your jump starter battery does not have sufficient charge? Can you charge your jump starter with a solar panel?
We will investigate the possibility of charging a jump starter with a solar panel along with the following additional queries.
- Is solar power sufficient to charge a jump starter?
- Will a solar panel work on its own, or do you need other solar gear?
- How fast will a solar panel charge a jump starter?
If your jump starter is not hooked up to AC power to charge, the internal battery charge will deplete just sitting on the shelf! If you need your jump starter and do not have mains power, is charging it with a solar panel an option?
Can You Charge A Jump Starter With A Solar Panel?
You can charge a jump starter with a solar panel. With some jump starters, capacity for solar compatibility is designed into the unit, allowing a solar panel to be plugged in to charge the unit. On other types, you will need a little more solar gear, but it is achievable.
There are many jump starter designs, some intended as jump starters only and others intended as mini-power stations for camping or power outage emergencies at home.
Some jump starter units incorporate solar charging capability into their design, while others only cater to AC mains charging. If your jump starter is mains only, you may think you are out of luck with charging the unit.
However, with a little additional equipment combined with a solar panel, you can also charge these units with the sun’s power.
Can Any Jump Starter Be Charged With A Solar Panel?
If you only have a solar panel at your disposal, you cannot charge any jump starter with the solar panel alone. The only jump starter you can recharge with a solar panel is a unit with solar charging capability built into it. Other jump starters will require additional equipment.
Some jump starters and mini power stations come with ports in the unit for charging via solar panels. These units have solar charge controllers built into the jump starter.
These components regulate the power generated by the solar panel and render it suitable for charging the internal battery of the jump starter.
Some jump starters come standard with a mini-solar panel built into the casing of the jump starter that will trickle charge the internal battery when the unit is left outside in the sun.
It is impossible to charge the device with a solar panel alone for jump starters that only have an AC power input to charge the internal battery. Additional equipment is needed to clean, regulate and convert the energy from the solar panel into a useable format for the jump starter.
What Equipment Do You Need To Charge A Jump Starter With A Solar Panel?
If your jump starter is not designed to work with a solar panel, you will need a solar charge controller, an additional battery, and an inverter to convert the solar output to 120-volts or 240-volts.
Jumpstarters that do not have input sockets to receive solar panel input require some additional equipment before you can charge it with a solar panel.
In addition to the solar panel, you will need the following solar equipment to charge the jump starter.
- A solar charge controller. The solar panel produces an erratic energy source that needs to be regulated to prevent damage to electronic equipment connected to it. The solar regulator will serve to lean up the input from the solar panel and pass clean power to the other devices.
- A second battery. A solar charge controller needs a battery connected as part of its regulation function for the power coming from the solar panel. The energy from the solar panel is stored in the battery, which acts as a reservoir of clean power.
- An inverter. The jump starter will be configured to receive either 120-volts or 240-volts as an input to charge the internal battery. The 12-volts from the solar battery must be stepped up using an inverter to the voltage needed by the jump starter.
With this configuration, you can safely charge the jump starter with solar power, even if the jump starter is not designed to receive a solar input.
Suppose the battery in the jump starter can be easily removed from the unit. In that case, you could open the jump starter, remove the battery and connect the jump starter battery directly to the charge controller to be charged by the solar panel.
You would not need the additional battery or the inverter to charge the jump starter in this scenario.
If you already have a solar setup in your RV or camper, you will already have all this equipment installed in your vehicle.
There will be some 120-Volt outlets included in the configuration of your camper, so you can simply plug your jump starter directly into one of these outlets to charge it with solar energy for your solar panels in your system.
How Long Does It Take To Charge A Jump Starter With A Solar Panel?
It will take between 6 to 8-hours to charge a jump starter with a 100-Watt solar panel. Larger solar panels will charge the unit in a shorter time, and smaller panels will take longer.
The time it will take to charge a jump starter with a solar panel will depend on the size of the battery and the size of the solar panel. A 100-Watt solar panel will take, on average, about 6-hours to charge the battery in the jump starter.
This time will be dependent on having clear, uninterrupted direct sunlight for this period to maximize the solar panel output.
Passing clouds obscuring the sun shadows falling on the solar panel and the panel not being at an optimal angle to the sun can increase the time it takes to charge the unit with a solar panel.
Increasing the size of the solar panel or connecting multiple solar panels together will increase the panels’ output and decrease the time it takes to charge the jump starter battery.
Some Jump starters do not need to be fully charged to provide enough energy to jump-start your car. This means that you may not have to wait until the unit is fully charged before using it to get your car going.
This parameter will vary from unit to unit, so you need to clarify this feature on your particular model by consulting the user manual.