Solar regulators

i was looking at smart solar regulators like the Steca and Plasmatronics that give information as to the state of charge (SOC) of the battery. However as my intended solar set up will not support the load at all times the battery will be charged via the vehicle alternator when travelling and a honda powered 80 amp alternator to be used when stationary to put in a bulk charge and let the solar panel continue to charge.
So for most regulators used this way the SOC information is irrelevant as the regulator is unaware of inputs from other sources than solar. My understanding is only the plasmatronics with the addition of a shunt kit is capable of giving meaningful state of charge information in this application.

I have one 100 amp AGM battery and will probably buy another one. I intend to buy 2 x 65 amp panels and hinge them together so that they can be vehicle mounted or portable. This trip is camped for 4 weeks on the coast with 2 X 40 litre engels. So it seems I need the plasmatronics unit to do the job properly but as its not cheap I was wondering what others are doing or using and how they can tell the true state of the battery ?
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Reply By: Member - 1/2A - Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 20:57

Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 20:57
I have a Xantrex Battery Monitor in the Vision and it's the only way to go if you really what to know the SOC of your batteries. It employs a shunt on the negative terminal and thus calculates the SOC regardless of input.
AnswerID: 345126

Follow Up By: Member - 1/2A - Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 21:19

Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 21:19
Just realised the product has been discontinued and is no longer available.
Val from Fridge and Solar might still have some available as there is still a picture of one on his Web site.
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FollowupID: 613119

Reply By: Rod - Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 21:28

Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 21:28
Slightly off topic I know....

Be careful to establish if your regulator is positively earthed if considering a vehicle based install. I managed to blow up several Stecca controllers by accidentally earthing them to the vehicle and solar panel at the same time, assuming they were all negatively earthed. Took me some time to establish what was going wrong.

When I looked into it, some models of Plasmatronics were also positively earthed.

There are both great units when used with care.

As to your question, I have always doubted the accuracy of the SoC and saw it as an interesting figure. I would measure terminal voltage after a few hours rest as an alternative.
AnswerID: 345134

Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 22:23

Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 22:23
Quote: "the plasmatronics with the addition of a shunt kit is capable of giving meaningful state of charge information in this application."

That is a correct statement.

Cheers,
Peter
OKA196 Motorhome
AnswerID: 345139

Follow Up By: RV Powerstream P/L - Tuesday, Jan 20, 2009 at 08:01

Tuesday, Jan 20, 2009 at 08:01
A Manson built Solar Regulator and a battery monitor will do everything you want and for less than a Plazmatronic and Shunt.

The Manson regulator is digital and is sold under different names in Aus one being Powertech.
Ian
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FollowupID: 613153

Follow Up By: dedabato (SA) - Tuesday, Jan 20, 2009 at 21:52

Tuesday, Jan 20, 2009 at 21:52
I agree with RV Powerstream,
I have Manson 30 Amp solar regulator mounted in my Galaxy van and it's a 3 stage charger ( Bulk,Absorb,Float ) Very happy user
Regards
Steve





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FollowupID: 613266

Reply By: JR - Tuesday, Jan 20, 2009 at 09:53

Tuesday, Jan 20, 2009 at 09:53
I have a spare PL20 for sale?
jwmr@bigpond.com.au
JR
AnswerID: 345178

Reply By: Member - bungarra (WA) - Tuesday, Jan 20, 2009 at 21:05

Tuesday, Jan 20, 2009 at 21:05
We have two solar set ups both using the Plasmatroniccs PL20

Both set ups receive charge from the solar panels and / or the vehicles alternator......both also monitor the charge from sources other than the sloar panels via a shunt in the negative.

I have found the system works very well and is an accurate indication or SOC

secondly should you require any advice Plasmatronics have an excellent website with down loads and an excellent response over the phone if need be.

yes I am one very happy user

cheers

Life is a journey, it is not how we fall down, it is how we get up.
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AnswerID: 345280

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