Solar Charging and Battery Care FAQ

Why isn’t the battery full when the Wind Instrument arrives? We are legally not able to ship lithium batteries for manufacturing with a full charge (as noted on p. 12 of Owner’s Manual).  That is why the Wind Instrument arrives to you with a partial charge. You can get familiar with the Wind Instrument and some apps over a few days of solar charging.  Once the battery is full, the Wind Instrument can be mounted at the masthead and will generate its own renewable power.
What is the fastest way to recharge the battery? If the blue LED is not blinking (below the CE symbol), the battery is flat.  Recharging the battery takes more power than normal operation of the device. So you’ll need to lay it horizontally, tilted up at the sun (like in this photo). If convenient, turn it to follow the sun in morning and afternoon.  The more directly the solar panels face the sun, the faster your chargng will be.  One or two sunny days like this will usually get it charged enough to turn on, and a third day to fully top up the battery. You cannot charge up the battery with the Wind Instrument vertical on the mounting rod, because it does not get enough direct sunlight that way to charge up the battery.  The charging is faster outside rather than through a window. It will still charge on cloudy days, but not as fast. Solar charging is also faster with the blue cap for the magnetic off-switch, because the unit is not consuming power then.
Does turning off the Wind Instrument with the blue cap reset the battery level indicator? Yes, with the 5th-generation Wind Instrument, if you put on the blue cap the battery level indicator in the API is reset to the factory level of 2 bars (out of 4).  This does not mean your battery suddenly has less power;  it is like when you turn the keys off in a car, and the battery gauge goes to empty even though you know the tank is still full.  With the Wind Instrument, once the battery level is full and has fluctuated, the indicator will be activated again.  (Although it is very frugal on power, so this could take a week or weeks to happen.)  There are further details about the 5th generation and earlier models on page 12 of the Owners Manual.
Is the battery chemistry or lifespan affected if I flatten my battery? First, prevention is always best:  try to avoid flattening your battery if at all possible.  Monitor the battery level gauge until you know that it is fully charged and operating sustainably.  For normal operation, your Wind Instrument generates a lot more power than it consumes.  But it is much easier to keep the unit charged and operating than to have to fill up the battery with the trickle charge from a small solar panel.  Leaving any battery flat for weeks or months could damage your battery chemistry.  This is out of the manufacturer’s control, so is not covered by warranty.  (But we can provide a customer discount if you want an upgrade or replacement in this situation.) However, as long as you recharge the battery without delay, the lifespan of the battery will not be affected.
Do indoor lights or plant lights allow the solar panels to charge? These solar panels are designed for the wavelengths of sunlight. Indoor lights and plant lights will not charge the Wind Instrument. However, for Wind Instruments up to the 4th generation (2016):  based on reports from several customers we can confirm that the Snap-on Tools LED shop light in 2000 or 2700 lumens (available from stores like Costco in North America) does charge the Wind Instrument back up.  It actually appears to be faster than solar charging, because instead of 8 hours of sunlight per day for 3 days, you can get the same 24 hours with the shop lamp overnight.  If you have the 5th-generation (2017) or later:  it has different charging circuitry and this LED shop lamp (or others) should not be used.  The new charging circuitry provides a better display of battery levels, but can occasionally malfunction with LED light. This is preventable, so is not covered by warranty.
Does the battery on my Wind Instrument lose power when temperatures are below freezing? These are very advanced batteries designed for use in a wide temperature range outdoors.  The battery specs show that it can still provide power (less efficiently) down as low as -40, which is much better than most battery types.  But it may not take or hold a charge as well when temperatures go below freezing.  In extreme cold the capacity is reduced, and the battery won’t charge completely or efficiently.  If you have a Wind Instrument with an off-switch, it is recommended to store it inside for the winter (as also noted in the Owner’s Manual because of the effects of cold on the tail encapsulation).  It will not lose power when shut off, so it does not need to be kept in a window.
Do I need to follow the instructions for solar charging if I am in a very sunny location? Yes.  Paradoxically, most enquiries we get about flat batteries are from users in sunny locations.  It may appear that a location in the tropics where you can easily get a sunburn makes solar charging easier, but that is not true in this case.  All solar panels put out more electricity when facing directly at the sun.  However, near the equator, the sun is higher overhead (so it does not face the solar panels as often). Also, summer days are significantly shorter near the equator, giving you fewer hours of sunlight.  Inadequate solar charging is not covered by the warranty. Therefore, to get the best out of your Wind Instrument it is important follow the instruction sheet in the box, regardless of your location.

SailTimer Newsletter

Thousands of sailors worldwide receive the SailTimer newsletter every month or so.

You have successfully Subscribed