Solar Panel Regulators

Submitted: Friday, Jul 04, 2003 at 12:19
ThreadID: 5811 Views:2117 Replies:6 FollowUps:3
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Hi all,

Just wondering what regulators are using on their solar panels? Are the ones from *ick Smith/Jaycar any good. Jaycar have a German made 12V/5A reg that appears like it will do the job! Comments welcome.....of course!

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Reply By: stillthinkinaboutit - Friday, Jul 04, 2003 at 13:15

Friday, Jul 04, 2003 at 13:15
Hi Leroy,

I am using a Plasmatronics PL20. This costs around $300, it is a 20 Amp unit, fully programmable, 3 Stage Charge + Absorbtion Cycle, has low voltage cutout, records A/Hour In, records A/Hour Out, shows State of charge etc.

The cheaper ones will work but will only allow 5 amp charge and only have a single stage charge. It really depends on what sort of setup you want to have. If you are using relatively cheap batteries the cheap regulators are probably OK.

But if you are using expensive deep cycle or AGM batteries as I do ( my batteries cost around $ 800 ) then it pays to look after them with a better quality unit. I also use the regulator for charging the batteries from the mains, all you need is a 12V 20A transformer, a bridge rectifier and a capacitor ( all up cost around $ 90 ) and then you have a good 3 stage battery charger as well.
AnswerID: 24194

Follow Up By: Leroy - Friday, Jul 04, 2003 at 15:03

Friday, Jul 04, 2003 at 15:03
Sounds flash! I like the recording of A/hours in and out but I don't think I need to be that exact. What does the 3 stage charge involve?

FollowupID: 16278

Follow Up By: stillthinkinaboutit - Wednesday, Jul 09, 2003 at 09:40

Wednesday, Jul 09, 2003 at 09:40
Hi Leroy,

A 3 stage charger has as the name suggests, 3 stages to the charging cycle.
First is the BULK charge, this cycle typically runs until the battery reaches 85% of full charge, charging current is typically very high during this cycle and the voltage is not constant.
Second is the ABSORPTION charge, a constant charge voltage is now applied until the battery reaches 100% charge. The constant voltage limits the charging current and prevents excessive gassing of the battery which results in loss of electrolyte.
Third is the FLOAT charge, a lower charge voltage is applied to the battery such that current supplied is minimal and gassing does not occur, it is safe to leave the charger in this mode indefinitely.
An optional EQUALIZATION charge can also be applied periodically if you are using wet batteries, say once a month, this boosts the charge voltage to something around 15 or 16 volts and causes the electrolyte to gas, theory is it will equalize the charge between cells. Not for use with sealed batteries.

As an example for an AGM battery:

BULK charge voltage can be from 10.5 to 14.5 volts at a current up to 75% of the batteries capacity. So for a 100AH battery charging current could be as high as 75 Amps ( for a 100A/H wet cell battery you would normally limit current to 10 or 15 Amps ).

ABSORPTION Charge voltage is constant voltage and is in the range of 14.2 to 14.7 volts.

FLOAT Charge voltage is constant voltage and is in the range of 12.8 to 13.8 volts.

The above is an example for an AGM battery.
You would set the various voltages and current limits to suit the type of battery you are using, the manufacturers data sheet should state the ideal charging parameters.

The Plasmatronics PL series regulators also have some standard programs installed if you do not wish to go into great depth, although the units are very easy to program.
FollowupID: 16484

Reply By: paul - Friday, Jul 04, 2003 at 14:03

Friday, Jul 04, 2003 at 14:03
I use a steca model. They are amazing and comparatively very cheap, recommended by the World Bank on development projects. Bought mine over the internet from a sydney company, they sell them lots of places now. Quality 3 stage regulators that will reduce to trickle charge. Quite cheap, most solar panel places sell them now. I think my 10amp rated model cost about $100. But do a search on this site, actually even a google search on "steca regulator" will take you to a previous post thay may convince you that you might not need one ...
AnswerID: 24203

Reply By: Adam A - Friday, Jul 04, 2003 at 20:33

Friday, Jul 04, 2003 at 20:33
mate what size panels do you have and how many
what do you use your panels to run
what size and how many batteries do you have
there are some good cheap ones depending on what you have
Jaycar have a 20 amp aussie made switch mode which is great about $75
if you think you only need a 5A one you may not need one at all
sometimes you are better without a regulator
AnswerID: 24230

Follow Up By: Leroy - Wednesday, Jul 09, 2003 at 16:08

Wednesday, Jul 09, 2003 at 16:08
Adam, I measured the open cct voltage from the panel today (as it has been sunny!!) and it was 20v. I connected it up to my battery which I have been using a little but wouldn't of thought it to be completely charged and with it connected measured over 15v! So I will need a regulator. The panel is an older 33 watt.
The idea was to use it to top up the battery when camped for a couple of days. I will only run a fridge (Engle 40l) but maybe a floro.

FollowupID: 16502

Reply By: Member - Topcat - Friday, Jul 04, 2003 at 21:30

Friday, Jul 04, 2003 at 21:30
Hi Leroy, try this web site which supply good quality regulators for all purposes at a reasonable price. & look under regulators. I run a 12amp 'ARRID' reg on my solar panel setup that has a pulse generation to reduce sulphation & extend battery life. Only cost me $78.00!!!!
Have Wheels Will Travel
AnswerID: 24235

Reply By: David N. - Saturday, Jul 05, 2003 at 09:09

Saturday, Jul 05, 2003 at 09:09
When I go "light weight" camping I often just take a panel and hook it up direct to the battery. When I take my caravan, it has the PL20 Plasmatronics which is the "RollsRoyce" of regulators- picked it up second hand for $185.
AnswerID: 24247

Reply By: Rod - Monday, Jul 07, 2003 at 11:50

Monday, Jul 07, 2003 at 11:50
Have a stecca solsum 3-stage 6 amp regulator that cost around $70. I notice that if I try and charge my deep cycle without it, the battery starts to gas within 30 seconds even when partially discharged.
AnswerID: 24389

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