Solar Powered SLA Battery Maintenance

This circuit was designed to ‘baby-sit’ SLA (sealed lead-acid or ‘gel’) batteries using freely available solar power. SLA batteries suffer from relatively high internal energy loss which is not normally a problem until you go on holidays and disconnect them from their trickle current charger. In some cases, the absence of trickle charging current may cause SLA batteries to go completely flat within a few weeks. The circuit shown here is intended to prevent this from happening. Two 3-volt solar panels, each shunted by a diode to bypass them when no electricity is generated, power a MAX762 step-up voltage converter IC.

Solar Powered SLA Battery Maintenance Circuit Diagram:

Battery Circuit Diagram

The ‘762 is the 15-volt-out version of the perhaps more familiar MAX761 (12 V out) and is used here to boost 6 V to 15 V.C1 and C2 are decoupling capacitors that suppress high and low frequency spurious components produced by the switch-mode regulator IC. Using Schottky diode D3, energy is stored in inductor L1 in the form of a magnetic field. When pin 7 of IC1 is open-circuited by the internal switching signal, the stored energy is diverted to the 15-volt output of the circuit. The V+ (sense) input of the MAX762, pin 8, is used to maintain the output voltage at 15 V. C4 and C5 serve to keep the ripple on the output voltage as small as possible. R1, LED D4 and pushbutton S1 allow you to check the presence of the 15-V output voltage.

D5 and D6 reduce the 15-volts to about 13.6 V which is a frequently quoted nominal standby trickle charging voltage for SLA batteries. This corresponds well with the IC’s maximum, internally limited, output current of about 120 mA. The value of inductor L1 is not critical — 22 µH or 47 µH will also work fine. The coil has to be rated at 1 A though in view of the peak current through it. The switching frequency is about 300 kHz. A suggestion for a practical coil is type M from the WEPD series supplied by Würth (www.we-online.com). Remarkably, Würth supply one-off inductors to individual customers. At the time of writing, it was possible, under certain conditions, to obtain samples, or order small quantities, of the MAX762 IC through the Maxim website at www.maxim-ic.com.


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