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Would plugging in one of those Solar car chargers into my Escape Hybrid's accessory slot improve efficiency?

I'm having a debate with someone and need help finding the correct answer. I have a 2006 Escape Hybrid.

Their argument is that, because those solar car chargers (the ones you plug into your car's lighter adapter) actually provide some charge to the car, it would help keep the hybrid's batter slightly more charged when it's parked, and also while driving, allowing the battery to be used more then for waiting for it's charge to come from the engine alone. (The person admits this amount of charge from the solar panel would be very small).

I believe that the charge would only charge the battery under the hood, (used for starting) and it wouldn't affect the hybrid battery (the one used for driving the car itself). So it would be like charging a regular car's battery when it's too cold or dead to start, but it would not affect the efficiency of the hybrid battery.

It is understood that the small solar panel is too small to supply a large charge, but we're curious of the truth to the theory.

Who one of us is correct?

4 Answers

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  • 9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    You are correct. The lighter outlet is not connected to the hybrid battery in any way. It is fed off the 12 volt battery under the hood.

    Another example, The GMC Denali hybrid has a 110 volt outlet in the back for any home item you can plug into it. Even that is not connected to the 300 volt hybrid battery. It's powered by a conventional power invertor connected to the 12 volt battery under the hood.

  • 9 years ago

    I have several of those car battery chargers. Yes they only provide a very small tickle charge, basically enough to eliminate the batteries tendency for self depletion. Additionally they can't be left plugged in when the vehicle is operating as the higher voltage of the alternator would damage the unit.

    Because the output is only about 13 volts it will not provide sufficient voltage for the hybrid battery. Because the accessory outlet is a 12 volt outlet it is connected to the starter battery and not the hybrid battery. Therefore there is and can be no direct connection between the solar unit and the hybrid battery (especially with the vehicle turned off and you can't use these items with the car turned on.)

    The only benefit then is if you are leaving the vehicle standing for an extended period of time. There might be some small fuel savings because the battery would not need to be charged up to full capacity. However the petrol engine is so inefficient (only about 15%) that that this improvement to the very efficient electrical sub system is unlikely to be noticed.

  • ?
    Lv 6
    9 years ago

    In either case, a solar panel that small wouldnt provide enough charge to make any sort of difference either way

  • Mike
    Lv 5
    9 years ago

    You have it correct.

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