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Sunforce 50012 1.8W Solar Battery Maintainer Review
A pictures illustrated consumer review of the Sunforce 50012 1.8 watt solar powered automotive battery maintainer.

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Sunforce 50012
1.8 Watt Solar Panel

LED Light - Testing Output
In preparation for some extended traveling, I purchased a Sunforce 50012 1.8W solar battery maintainer for about $23.

My plan is to have this solar panel sit on my car's dashboard while I'm out of town so that the 12V automotive battery gets a slow "top off" trickle charge during daylight hours.

During my last long trip, I had a friend start my car and drive it around for a few minutes about once a month. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough time for the car's alternator to charge the battery. That battery didn't last long after the trip and had to be replaced.

The Sunforce 50012 came with four suction cups, a wire with a 12v car adapter plug, and a wire with +/- alligator clips.

I first tested the solar panel by hooking up a small LED light taken out of an old key chain flashlight. The LED glowed brightly when the panel was exposed to sunlight.

Solar Power Blue LED Light
Package Contents
Solar Panel Plug
The Sunforce 50012 1.8W solar battery maintainer can either be plugged into your car's 12V plug or it can attached directly to the battery with the alligator clips.
Four Rubber Suction Cups
12V Car Plug / Alligator Clips
Suction Cups Attached
Most American cars, like my 2001 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP, have "hot" or "live" 12V power sockets that may be used even when the car is off.

Most Japanese cars, like our 2005 Toyota Corolla, need to have the key inserted and the ignition turned on for the 12V plug to work.

This means that I can just plug the Sunforce solar panel's 12V plug into the Pontiac's 12V power socket and it will charge the battery.

For the Toyota, I'll have to run the wire into the engine bay and attach the provided alligator clips directly to the battery's positive and negative terminals.


2001 Pontiac Grand Prix
"Hot" or "Live" 12V Car Power Plug
Solar Panel On Dashboard
To test the Sunforce 50012 in a real world situation, I first partially ran down my car's battery.

I did this by simultaneously turning on the hazard lights, the headlights, the air conditioning, the stereo, and the CD player with the engine turned off. After about 30 minutes of this constant drain, I turned everything off and tried to start the car.

The car still started but not almost instantly as it usually does.

With the engine turned off, the headlights seemed dim. I could tell that the battery had been significantly weakened.

Then I left the Sunforce 50012 solar battery maintainer plugged in to the parked car's 12V power socket for almost a week in direct sunlight.

The panel received about 80-90 hours of bright South Florida sun during five mostly clear days.

I started the car for the first time on the 6th morning and it fired right up.

This may not be a very scientific test, but I'm convinced that the Sunforce 50012 solar panel will do a great job keeping my car's battery charged during extended periods of disuse.

For any vehicle, yard tool, or generator that can be kept inside a garage, I'd recommend using a Battery Tender or Battery Tender Jr. trickle charger to keep the battery maintained.

The Sunforce 50012 is ideal for recreational vehicles, project cars, lawnmowers or any 12V battery equipped device that has to be stored away from a 120V home power source like in a shed.

Hazard Lights On / Headlights
A/C On, Stereo On, CD Playing
Suction Cups On Windshield
For more, check out the following related pages: Buffing Faded Headlights, K&N Air Filter Cleaning Guide, Honda EU3000is Generator Review, Garmin 260W GPS Review, WeatherTech FloorLiner Mats Review, Honda EU3000is Generator Maintenance Guide.
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