Solar regulator.

Submitted: Thursday, Jan 13, 2005 at 16:16
ThreadID: 19331 Views:2517 Replies:9 FollowUps:15
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G'day all,
Advice required as to WHY and IF a regulator from an 80watt solar panel has to be used to work an 80lt TRAILBLAZA from an EXIDE EXTREME battery.
Camping in the one spot for a week or two.
Sorry about the shouting.
Cheers,
Bros.
Work is the curse of the down and out bludger.

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Reply By: snailbate - Thursday, Jan 13, 2005 at 17:06

Thursday, Jan 13, 2005 at 17:06
hi Bros
the solar panel is like the alternater it can put more charge into the batery than the batery can take . The regulater is like a safty valve it stops the batery going into internal melt down.
I would call it risk managment take pot luck i know if the panell is 80 watt it is not much power
thts my bit
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AnswerID: 92844

Reply By: Rod - Thursday, Jan 13, 2005 at 17:11

Thursday, Jan 13, 2005 at 17:11
I have 2 x 40w solar panels. If I connect them to the DC battery, it starts to boil in under a minute due to the high voltage coming out of the panel. Panels typically put out around 16V, too high to charge a battery, hence the regulator.

If you had a much smaller panel you may get away with it as the current would be lower. Much better to use a regulator, especially one with Pulse Width Modulation like a Stecca et al.
AnswerID: 92845

Reply By: David Au - Thursday, Jan 13, 2005 at 18:09

Thursday, Jan 13, 2005 at 18:09
There is a substantial amount more than just prevent overcharging. It is about longevity of the battery and proper battery treatment.
http://www.morningstarcorp.com/support/Why-PWM/why-pwm-1.shtml
http://www.morningstarcorp.com/support/Why-PWM/why-pwm-2.shtml

For your purpose the little SHS6 Morningstar Solar Controller is my preference due to their PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) charging program built into the regulator. What is more, things like electronic fuses and all the other great features built in makes them bullet proof. They are a steal at $75.00 incl postage.
Check out all the features on the Internet page on panel top left hand side under SHS MORE INFO
AnswerID: 92854

Follow Up By: Topcat (WA) - Thursday, Jan 13, 2005 at 19:26

Thursday, Jan 13, 2005 at 19:26
Hi David Au, You have been promoting solar power products on this site recently & how good these products are. I for one would like to know where in this country are the retailers of this product (since the web site doesn't give this) & have you personally got one in use & can give details on what system you are using it on? Cheers.
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FollowupID: 351804

Follow Up By: David Au - Thursday, Jan 13, 2005 at 19:40

Thursday, Jan 13, 2005 at 19:40
Many professional solar outlets carry these in stock.
They are a popular regulator due to their superior PWM formula.
We carry them in stock as well. You can e-mail me at landline_equipment at the hotmail company if you are interested and will e-mail you back on my work account. In our case we do not sell anything we do not use ourselves.
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FollowupID: 351810

Reply By: Bros - Thursday, Jan 13, 2005 at 19:20

Thursday, Jan 13, 2005 at 19:20
snailbate, Rod and David Au,
Thanks for your replies guys. Something to think about. I will have to do a bit of study.
Cheers,
Bros.
Work is the curse of the down and out bludger.

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AnswerID: 92866

Reply By: hl - Thursday, Jan 13, 2005 at 20:07

Thursday, Jan 13, 2005 at 20:07
Hi,

Your battery is very unlikely to overcharge if you keep your fridge running for a week or so. In fact, with an 80w panel you would be pushing it to keep it going for more than a few days without a supplementary charge. Having said that, it is good practice to have a regulator in circuit, but it won't give you any benefit in the conditions you anticipate.

Cheers

AnswerID: 92870

Follow Up By: Bros - Thursday, Jan 13, 2005 at 20:25

Thursday, Jan 13, 2005 at 20:25
hl,
Thanks for that. A bit more info to digest.
Cheers,
Bros.
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FollowupID: 351826

Follow Up By: David Au - Thursday, Jan 13, 2005 at 21:51

Thursday, Jan 13, 2005 at 21:51
If you chase the sun like crazy in absolute mid-summer in some parts of Australia and you run the fridge at 5°C you can just make it. You do still get the benefit of the PWM while the fridge is off. That is why I always tell people to go to the extra wattage 110w fold up panels in preference to the 80w.
I will be taking these solar tables down from this website at the weekend and putting them up with a full explanation on my main website. In the meantime you can see exactly what wattage a solar panel puts out in a battery charging environment from 2w to 80w right across Australia.
Landline Website
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FollowupID: 351835

Follow Up By: Mainey... - Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 10:51

Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 10:51
0zi,
to advise anyone to set a fridge to run at 5°C is wrong, bacteria can live at that temperature, I believe it is very dangerous to suggest to anyone that a fridge could be run at such high temperatures as food packaging contains the warning that food should be kept as close to 2°C as possible to keep it bacteria free and safe for human consumption.

The fact is, I have been using a 80 watt Solarex panel without a regulator to charge my battery system and run a fridge and recharge lights etc, as a stand alone system, for 8 years now, it does work because it was set up by qualified person who had actual experience with solar systems and ...solar powered race cars... did I mention "qualified" and "experience"

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FollowupID: 351956

Follow Up By: David N. - Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 11:20

Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 11:20
Mainey,
Half the fridges in the country would be 5 degrees (or even more.)
Sure, most foods will keep longer at 2 degrees, longer still at 0.1!
Bacteria will grow below zero! It's all a question of time.
Try putting an accurate thermometer in most household fridges in mid summer, with kids regularly opening the door. You might get a very rude shock!

David was not ADVISING anyone to run their fridge at 5 degrees, rather simply stating you can do much better on battery consumption by raising the temp a little. It's all a trade-off. Run it cooler and virtually all food will last longer, but at the expense of much more power used.
Don't attack the messenger!
David's advice on solar panels/ regulators etc is very honest and realistic- far more so than some.....
Some wild and outlandish claims are made by some of those who sell panels!
Cheers
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FollowupID: 351981

Follow Up By: hl - Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 11:27

Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 11:27
Mainey,

Just how many years experience and training does it take to connect 2 wires and point a panel at the sun?

Cheers
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FollowupID: 351986

Follow Up By: Mainey... - Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 11:40

Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 11:40
David n,
0zi sells solar panels, I don't, I have no barrow to push here, just facts.

I run my fridge to keep my food safe, no other reason, I don't have any death wish to get any food bugs out in the bush, and I don't have a problem with lack of battery power as the fridge has, like most fridge's a limiting cut off point, and is also powered by a quality solar system and DC battery setup.

Quote, "If you chase the sun like crazy in absolute mid-summer in some parts of Australia and you run the fridge at 5°C you can just make it". end quote, the preceeding reads like a statement of fact to me and that is why I posted to qualify the statement and point out the medical facts.
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FollowupID: 351994

Reply By: shaggy - Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 10:01

Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 10:01
Hello,
I read a user manual of a solar panel made by a very large solar panel manufacturer from US. They recommend a voltage regulator on any system that has a panel output (current) greater then 1% of the battery capacity.
ie If an 80 W panel can at any time put out say 5A then the minimum battery bank size that could handle this panel would be 500 Ah. Otherwise you risk boiling the electrolyte and dissociating hydrogen gas, and quite likely shortening the life of battery severely.
They said only solar trickle chargers of output say 500 mA or less on a common 4wd battery is safe to use.
Cheers

AnswerID: 92968

Follow Up By: Mainey... - Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 11:19

Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 11:19
shaggy
they are refering to wet batteries
Quote, "you risk boiling the electrolyte and dissociating hydrogen gas, and quite likely shortening the life of battery severely, only solar trickle chargers of output say 500 mA or less on a common 4wd battery is safe to use." end quote.
You have to remember the fridge should be connected and run from a Deep Cycle battery system and not a "common 4wd battery" as the solar panel manufacturer site states, as it will damage a "common battery" as they are designed for a quick surge of power to start a vehicle and are rated as CCA, not as a constant power supply capable to run a fridge, which is rated as Amp/Hours.
They look the same on the outside however they are built different on the inside and the charge and discharge limits are also different.
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FollowupID: 351980

Reply By: David N. - Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 11:27

Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 11:27
Mainey,
suggest you leave "technical" replies to experts.
No offence, but you have very limited knowledge on this subject.
Sure you can get away with no regulator IF your fridge is running and your 80w panel is connected, but it's NOT a good idea and you do risk "boiling" off excess electrolyte even with a deep cycle wet cell battery. However, the potential for damage with ANY other battery is even greater.
Never run a "sealed" battery without a regulator. They can and do explode!
Like I said- no offence- but you are the one giving "risky" advice.
AnswerID: 93001

Follow Up By: Mainey... - Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 22:07

Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 22:07
David N,
Will you please nominate who the "experts" are you are referring to, and what technical qualifications you believe they in fact have ...?

I have been continuously using a solar system and Deep Cycle battery system to power the fridge and lights etc since April 1996, (yes 9 years) not on weekend trips away to the local caravan park, but months at a time camped in the same spot on the same beach.

I have lived in a conventional 'home' with 240v electricity for about 14 or maybe 15 months of those nine years, and if you think I learnt nothing in those 9 years you are badly mistaken, you learn from mistakes, yes, both your own and others, even those who have bought the latest 'you beaut gismo' system or gennie, who camp in the same general area.

My first battery, a USA made DC lasted 4 years, the present batteries (2x 80a/h DC27's wired in parallel) are about 4 & 1/2 years old and are still holding their charge. They have not exploded or given problems to date and when you read most 4x4 forums many guys are replacing their batteries, due to failure, at 2 to 3 years.

Would it be rude of me to ask you, how old your batteries and solar panel/s are, and can you explain to me why my system is working so well for me, or are you not one of the "experts" you have mentioned ? ?
('technical' advice sought, no offence is intended & no answer expected)

Maybe I don't know the correct spelling of the big 'technical' words, but I know the maths and the principals of solar systems and DC batteries...

Let anyone who has used a solar powered, 12v DC, battery system, continuously, and for as long, tell me I’m not knowledgeable in their use and I will accept their judgement!
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FollowupID: 352126

Follow Up By: Flash - Sunday, Jan 16, 2005 at 08:39

Sunday, Jan 16, 2005 at 08:39
Mainey,
David N. is absolutely correct in everything he has said, ( I believe he's an engineer as I am) and David Au's advice is also spot on.
But then quite a bit of what you have said is too- it's just the fine details.
Sure, it's possible to use Solar without a regulator, but it's NOT A GOOD IDEA in most cases.
Batteries can and do blow up- I spent a few days last year out bush helping a guy in an off road van who's expensive sealed battery had exploded and made a hell of a mess.-thank goodness no body was hurt!
If you have a panel sized such that it's not going to ever get the battery fully charged, then you can safely use no regulator.
But for a decent sized panel and variable weather conditions- I would consider a PWM regulator virtually essential if you want to do the job correctly and SAFELY.
Cheers
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FollowupID: 352327

Follow Up By: Mad Dog (Victoria) - Sunday, Jan 16, 2005 at 10:08

Sunday, Jan 16, 2005 at 10:08
Flash, any thoughts about why the battery exploded.
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FollowupID: 352336

Reply By: MaxMod - Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 22:15

Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 22:15
Deep Cycle batteries can be wetcell, gel or AGM so don't assume that a Deep Cycle can't be boiled.

Deep Cycle vs Starting is determined by the structure of the plates - not the Electrolyte.

Wetcell, gel or AGM refers to the electrolyte - nothing to do with the plates.

Regardless of battery type, if a battery is overcharged it will be damaged. Overcharging will occur if more current is fed into it when it is fully charged.
Overcharging can be prevented by limiting the voltage - a car alternator puts out from 14.2 to 14.4 volts - that is the basic reason for having a solar regulator.
An 80W solar panel can put out up to 4.5 amps at 17 volts.

You could just put a voltmeter across the battery and disconnect the battery, but for $75 it is cheap protection for a $200+ battery.
AnswerID: 93143

Reply By: Bros - Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 23:03

Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 23:03
G'day all,
Thanks for all who contributed. Will have to purchase a regulator by the looks of it.
Cheers,
Bros.
Work is the curse of the down and out bludger.

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AnswerID: 93151

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