This week’s question for AAA Car Doctor John Paul comes from a car owner who’s thinking about using solar power to charge his battery.
Q: I’m 72 years old and don’t drive too much these days. I always worry about the battery in the car going dead from lack of use. I was considering a Battery Tender maintenance charger but hate the idea of running an extension cord to my car. Do you have any opinion on the NOCO 5 Watt Solar Battery Charge? This seems like it would be ideal for seniors like me who don’t travel much in winter.
A. I don’t have any personal experience with this brand of charger but have used solar battery chargers in the past and they generally work as advertised. According to the company website this charger is capable of one half ampere of current. This should be enough to maintain a fully charged battery in a proper operating car. You need to keep in mind that unless the cigarette lighter/12 volt power point is powered on all the time you will need to connect the charger directly to the battery. In addition, in case of an emergency you may want to invest in one of the new pocket sized battery jump packs. Several companies have them such as JUNO JUMPR and Pyle Audio just introduced a 5-in-1 car jump pack.
John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England. A certified mechanic, Paul tests dozens of new cars each year and also hosts a radio show on AM 950 and 550.