Ideas to keep a battery charged.
This relates to father's EH Holden but I guess the problem could happen with any OLD car.
My aging father (80+) now only usually drives this van once a week about 2 km to the shops and back. It should be no surprise that he keeps having a flat battery. Avoiding this flat battery is a problem as:
a) He recently split from mum and is living in units; this means i) his car is in a carport with no mains power to use his battery charger, ii) running the engine or otherwise working on the car in the car port is a "no no" and iii) no sun for a dash mounted solar charger.
b) He has an long term injury that makes it very difficult for him open the driver's door from the passengers side (where the only original key lock is). To overcome this I have fitted an alarm system with central locking. This means that it is not praticable for him to disconnect the battery to stop current drain while the car is parked. Rewiring it so that only the central locking is connected would make the alarm wiring a bit too obvious.
As a first step I plan to replace the original generator with an alternator (his local Holden dealer still has the upgrade kit for the HD aternator with mounting brackets for $202; yes wreckers are cheaper but this is his preferred option). This should mean that even at the relativly leasurly pace he drives, the battery will get a better charge. However, I think in winter time the low kms will still be a problem. The only other solution I can think of is to add a little circuit with a dozen Nicads that can be switched out of circuit and switched in to start the car when the main battery is flat (but this still leaves the main battery flat and just adds another set of batteries to be charged). However, he could charge the nicads in his flat as required. Any better ideas?
BTW Before you say "get him off the road" I might add that in all his years of driving he has never yet had an accident or been fined by the police. He may not drive like a larrikin but he is no road hazard. Besides, I inherit the EH (which has been in the family since day 1) if he stops driving and I don't have room for yet another car. He is also licenced to ride motorbikes and trucks of all sizes but I don't think the oldies in his flats would like either in their carports.