Solar Charging and Battery Care FAQ

Will my battery stay charged if I test the Wind Instrument at home before mounting on my boat? Yes, just keep your Wind Instrument outside when turned on, so solar charging can keep the battery full. Anytime you connect/disconnect, you can see the battery level icon in the app. That gives you lots of notice if the battery level is gradually starting to drop. The Wind Instrument is sent to you with a full battery. When not in use, just disconnect the battery to turn off your Wind Instrument, until it is put on the masthead.
What are the issues if I let my battery go flat? Do not flatten your battery. It is difficult to fill up again with the trickle charge from a small solar panel. (In Accessories there is a wall charger that is faster.) The battery may lose its ability to hold a charge if left flat for an extended period. Also, if a flat battery causes a problem with the electronics, that would not have warranty coverage since battery care is under the customer’s control. Fortunately, it is easy to monitor your battery level using the battery icon in the app whenever you connect/disconnect on Bluetooth.
What is the fastest way to fill up the battery with solar charging? 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 charging 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. For previous models with a sealed battery in the tail, solar charging is faster with the blue cap for the magnetic off-switch, because the unit is not consuming power then.
Does turning off the Wind Instrument reset the battery level indicator? Yes, if you turn off your Wind Instrument the battery level indicator in the API is reset to the default 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 gas 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 different battery assessment with earlier models on page 12 of the Owners Manual.
Is there any trick for activating the battery icon? Yes, here is one thing you can do… Once the battery is full, it may lose e.g. 1-2% before you turn it on. When you turn your Wind Instrument on, connect in the app and you’ll see the default battery level of 2 bars (half-full) in the app. Then aim the solar panel at the sun, and within a couple minutes you’ll fill up the last 1-2% again, and  the battery icon will go to 4 bars (full). Then the battery gauge is working and accurate. Then you can monitor the battery level, and it should stay full indefinitely if you keep the Wind Instrument outside (until put away for off-season storage if you are in an area that gets freezing weather). Just don’t unplug the battery again, which would reset the battery icon to the default level of 2 bars.
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.
Should I remove my Wind Instrument from the masthead for winter in my location? Yes — this avoids any damage from ice and brittle plastic during blizzards, and helps to protect your lithium battery. These are very advanced batteries designed for use in a wide temperature range outdoors. The battery specs show that it provides power better than most battery types in temperatures near or below freezing. But as the temperature gets colder near or below freezing, the battery becomes less efficient for taking or holding a charge. As the battery becomes less efficient it may not provide enough power for the electronics. So temperatures near freeing are not recommended. We recommend storing your Wind Instrument inside for the winter.  It will not lose power when the battery is disconnected, so it should not be kept in a window turned on all winter. Just disconnect the battery and put it in storage for the offseason.
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.
When I remove the RB battery for the offseason and put it in the LCD charger it shows 3.4 volts. Is this normal? Yes, these lithium batteries are designed to put out the same voltage all the time regardless of how full they are. They are not like traditional batteries. A voltmeter cannot be used with these lithium batteries to determine how full they are. Your Wind Instrument uses an elaborate system to determine how full the battery is, by measuring in millionths of a volt the power going in from the solar panels, and the power consumption coming out. The LCD charger uses a similar approach (not voltage) to assess the battery level. Most of the time from when the battery is full to empty the voltage will stay within the range 3.0 to 3.8V. After the charging the battery to full you’ll probably see it at 4.2V, but then within a few minutes of use it will settle down to around 3.8V.

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