Saturday, January 05, 2013

Battery Tender

The plan was to fly 08Romeo and knock out approaches for instrument currency. I had 08R plugged in Friday night so she would be ready to go this morning, that was my plan.  When I arrived I had some light frost to clean and my pre-flight.  I parked the SUV in the lot to clear the air side of the ramp, came back in to unplug the Reiff heaters and pull the nose plugs. I climbed aboard and flowed through my start sequence and called clear prop so the only other ramp inhabitants (black birds) would know I was ready.  Prime complete, full rich on the mixture, crack open the throttle and click, click, click.

After a few descriptive phrases I climbed back out and walked for the SUV. I had my jumper cables and decided to pull one battery and charge for 20 minutes or so.  I had hopes of providing enough cranking power to turn my warm engine over. Following my reinstall, SUV parking, heater disconnect and nose plugs pulled, I once again climbed aboard.  Rinse and repeat, one blade this time then nothing but clicks.  At this point I was cold, missing skin on my left pinky from pinching it on the battery box and now faced with pulling both batteries and taking them home to charge. I was one unhappy pilot.
I called my friend John and asked what he thought about solar chargers. After our discussion I pointed my SUV to his house and we would hit the local shops.  John has the greatest tool collection known to man, a one car garage man cave.  We headed out to harbor freight and the local auto parts store for a charger.  We found a simple unit that would be enough to combat the cold and provide enough juice to keep 08Romeo's batteries up to snuff.  When we returned to John's we hooked up the batteries on his snap-on charger and gave them 30 minutes.

With the batteries fully charged it was time for the solar tender/battery minder install.  I had purchased an add on kit so I didn't need to use the alligator clips instead making a permanent install with the ring terminals. I'm going to head to the airport today and check the battery output. At least I can see what this unit will do over the winter. Maybe I'll need something along the lines of a five or ten watt solar unit, we shall see. I like the quick connect/disconnect and the overcharge and discharge protection features.
The Coleman 58012 2-Watt 12-Volt battery maintainer provides maintenance free charging of your  battery. Easily mounted to the winshield, the 58012 plugs into the cigarette lighter for easy charging in any weather.

Features and Specifications
  • Maintenance Free / Easy Installation
  • Charges in all Weather Conditions
  • Plugs into Cigarette Lighter with Alligator Battery Clamps Included
  • Mounts on Windshield with Included Suction Cups
  • Made of Durable ABS Plastic & Amorphous Solar Cells
  • Temperature Range: -40Z° to 176° F
  • Max Output 2 Watts 133 mAh Under Optimal Conditions
  • Includes:
    • Solar Panel
    • Alligator Battery Clamps
    • 12 Volt DC Plug
  • Manufacturer’s Part Number: 58012
  • Dimensions (L x W x H): 19 5/8” x 61/2” x 1 1/8” (50 x 16.5 x 3 cm)
  • Weight: 1.8 lbs

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