If you own an ATV or side by side (SXS) for long enough, you start to learn how much ATV batteries suck, especially when you don’t use your ATV for months.
Not many people realize how ATV batteries will go flat if you’re not riding your ATV often. Sometimes the batteries go so flat that charging them won’t help.
A battery charger will help, but many people keep their ATVs far away from an outlet, so it’s not possible or easy to keep their batteries charged. That is where solar battery chargers for ATVs come in to play, and I want to show you what are the best ones and why you should use one.
What Is A Solar Battery Charger?
Most people know about the automotive battery chargers that plug into a wall outlet and will charge your battery.
These wall outlet powered battery chargers are great, and I give you a list of the best ones here, but not everyone keeps their ATVs or SXS near a power outlet. That is why solar battery chargers have become so useful these days, especially if you keep your ATV in a shed, barn, garage or anywhere that doesn’t have power.
The goal of a solar battery charger for your ATV is not so much about charging the battery, but to keep it from going flat. The biggest reason why ATV batteries die is because you’re not using them enough.
So long as the solar charger gets some sunlight, it can keep the battery active, which keeps it from going flat.
Just to give you an idea, here is the one I use, it’s not in direct sunlight, but it keeps my batteries active for many years.
Where I keep my ATV, there is no power, but I use a solar charger to keep the battery from going flat.
Best ATV Solar Battery Chargers
The ideal ATV solar battery chargers are those that operate at 12 volts and preferably under 5 watts.
It is crucial that these solar chargers are weatherproof and capable of withstanding various environmental conditions.
Additionally, I personally prefer models that offer quick and easy connection options, ensuring a seamless attachment of the panel to the ATV battery using the appropriate connectors. Below, you will find my recommended list of solar battery chargers.
1. SUNAPEX 12V Solar Trickle Charger
This is the classic 1.8-Watt solar battery charger that I tell most people to buy. 1.8-watts is more than enough power, remember, it’s more about maintaining the battery than charging the battery.
One standout feature of this solar charger is its upgraded intelligent charger controller, which is not commonly found in low-wattage versions. This controller is a significant selling point as it automatically turns off the panel once the battery reaches a full charge, ensuring optimal efficiency.
Furthermore, this solar charger is weatherproof, which is crucial for durability and longevity. It’s incredibly straightforward to use—simply plug it in, and you’re good to go. These chargers are also easy to install; just disconnect them from the battery before riding and reconnect them when you’re done.
2. Sunway Solar Car Battery Trickle Charger & Maintainer
The Sunway is what I use personally, and it’s been perfect!
I use the 1.5W version, as that is all you need, and my ATV starts every time. With a solar battery charger, I easily get 5 years out of my lead acid ATV batteries.
The best part about this solar charger is that it works on cloudy days, It even works when it’s not in direct sunlight. You only need some sunlight every so often, and the battery stays ready to go.
I do recommend getting the battery connector with the quick disconnect and the longer extension cable setup sold here*. Having the ability to quickly connect the solar charger to the battery and having a long cable has been a huge help.
One great advantage of this solar battery charger is its compact size, making it easy to store in the cargo box of my ATV. This allows me to take it with me on rides, ensuring I keep my ATV battery ready. Moreover, I also utilize it when stationary, using it to charge my phone through the ATV’s 12-volt plug. In this way, the sun becomes the primary source of energy for charging my phone.
3. SUNAPEX Portable 10W Solar Battery Charger
My next recommendation for an ATV solar battery charger is breaking my rule of not going over 5-watts, but there is a reason.
Generally, you want to stay under 5-watts, and I, personally, use one that is at 1.5-watts. But under 5-watts you’re more of a battery maintainer, and not a charger, so what if you need to be able to charge your battery?
If you want more of a battery charger that runs on solar, then need something like the SUNAPEX Portable 10W Solar Battery Charger.
The only time it’s okay to go over 5-watts is if the solar battery charger has a charge controller, which this one does.
Another perk with this solar charger is that it can be used on more things than your ATV. This thing can easily charge larger batteries, like for your car or truck.
The only downside with going with this solar battery charger, or any larger wattage solar chargers, is that they’re bigger. You might not be able to easily store this charger in your cargo box of your ATV, and is more of attach it once and leave it kind of thing.
Why Use A Solar Battery Charger?
The benefits of using a solar battery charger on an ATV may not always be immediately apparent, and there are several aspects that many people may not realize. Below, I will outline the reasons why I believe individuals will find value in utilizing a solar battery charger for their ATV.
- Keeps battery alive – This goes for any battery charger, if you keep the battery charged, it’s always ready to go. It’s very common for new ATV owners to have their ATV sit for a few months and when they want to go ride the battery is dead. The lead acid batteries used in ATVs go flat when not used, so keep a solar charger on it, and it won’t go flat.
- Extends battery life – Before getting a solar battery charger, I was lucky to get 1 or 2 years out of a battery. When I’m not riding, I keep the battery on charge and get closer to 5 years. Compared to the price of a new battery, these solar chargers are a great deal.
- Don’t need an outlet – Many ATV owners keep their ATVs somewhere that doesn’t have power, but does get some sunlight. Throw the solar charger on top of the shed, garage or wherever you keep your ATV. Shoot, if you keep your ATV outside with a cover on it, just throw the charger over the cover.
- Easier – I find using a solar charger easier than using a wall charger. No need to find a plug and no extension cord to trip over. When ready to ride, unplug it and store it in the ATV cargo box. I’ve even had guys in commercial settings permanently install the solar charger to the ATV and keep it plugged in all the time because the ATV lives outside, and it starting every time is the most important feature. I can’t recommend keeping the solar charger connected when riding your ATV, but you can add a simple switch. I’m honestly just waiting for the ATV manufacturers to add such solar charger accessories option to their ATVs.
- Take it on trips – If you’re riding far and going on long trips, simply carrying a solar charger is a smart idea. I even carry a super capacitor jump pack* that doesn’t need to be kept charged. When stopping, I take the panel out, charge my ATV battery and charge my phone off the ATV’s 12-volt plug. I basically turn my ATV in to a simple charging station that doesn’t require fuel.
- Weatherproof – Solar battery chargers tend to be much simpler than regular chargers that plug into a wall. There are no cooling vents, not much circuitry involved, and holds up better to the elements.
- Free energy from the sun – It’s free electricity from the sun. So long as there is some sun, they charge/maintain your ATV battery without costing you money on your electric bill.
- Emergency situations – Don’t expect a 1.5-Watt solar charger to help much in an emergency situation, but when you go over 5-watts with a charge controller, you open more opportunities for more things. While it can be used to charge your ATV battery, a larger wattage solar charger can also be turned around to charge larger batteries for when the power goes out. Or, since your ATV battery has been kept charged, you can take it out during emergencies and, using an inverter*, power things like phones, fridges and more.
A Solar ATV Battery Charger Is A Good Idea!
In conclusion, keeping a solar battery charger on your ATV is a wise decision for several reasons.
First, ATV batteries tend to go flat when not in use for extended periods. A solar charger ensures that your battery remains active, preventing it from losing charge and always being ready to start.
Additionally, using a solar charger helps extend the lifespan of your ATV battery, allowing you to get more years out of it.
The convenience of not needing access to a power outlet is another significant advantage, as solar chargers can be easily mounted on sheds, garages, or even on top of ATV covers. They are also weatherproof, durable, and require almost no maintenance.
In emergency situations, a solar charger with a larger wattage and charge controller can offer versatility by charging not only your ATV battery but also larger batteries for essential devices during power outages. Embrace the benefits of solar technology and ensure that your ATV is always ready for your next adventure.