Solar Regulators for AGM Batteries

Submitted: Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009 at 20:00
ThreadID: 65875 Views:6357 Replies:5 FollowUps:2
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Have read some posts it seems the Steca is a popular choice. However it charges at 14.1 volts on gel setting where the fullriver 100amp dc takes charge up to 14.9 volts. I assume this to be important. As the solar panel will be supported by alternator charging I had decided to buy the Plasmatronics PL 20 as this can be set to 14.9V and a shunt added to record the charge from the alternator which isnt a cheap option.

The salesperson feels the plasmatronics is complicated to set up with stories of woe from customers unable to sought out the programing and that the difference in charge between 14.1volts and 14.9 volts is insignificant.He seems keen to sell me the Steca PR 2020. At the moment I just plan to buy one 90 amp panel and perhaps add another in the future.
I understand the regulator to be important so any advice or experience on the best option for my application which is fridge and versalite. I think getting a reg that will charge at 14.9 volts is important ?
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009 at 21:48

Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009 at 21:48
If you want best life and performance from your batteries, I reccon itis worth treating them appropriately.
I use a Plasmatronics controller. I did not find its installation unreasonable, but there are some subtleties. Read the instructions carefully and you will be OK.

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AnswerID: 348524

Reply By: Geoff (Newcastle, NSW) - Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009 at 22:32

Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009 at 22:32
Ask the salesman which one he makes the biggest margin on then pick the one that does exactly what you need.

You don't need to know the exact % or $ value, in fact you don't even really need an answer. The look on his face will tell it all.

They are both great units but one will suit your charging profile and needs more closely. That is the one you should choose.

Once you make your choice, RTFM. Politically correct version, Read The Fine Manual.


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Reply By: Member - bungarra (WA) - Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009 at 22:38

Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009 at 22:38

to put it bluntly the salesperson advisng you is either completely out of their depth and / or plain stupid if it is considered "complicated to set with stories of woe from customers"!.....

I couldnt think of a more straight foward and very very reliable and easy to set and use than the PL20....I have two of them in two different set ups......chosen and installed by myself after a through research and being led a bum steer on occassions over the years by salesperson llike you are dealing with

From past experince with deep cycle batteries being mismanaged by under performing controllers (yes, I went through a few of them while I educated myself)....... there is only one type of controller to consider...that is an intelligent controller that (via a shunt) uses not only voltage BUT just as importantly knowledge of amps in + amps out (from whatever source) to decide on the SOC and thence how to manage charge of the deep cycle battery

any charger that uses only voltage to manage a deep cycle battery will eventually allow them to develop a memory and in time their functional life will be premature.......

spent the money wisely....grow into your solar set up (not out of it) good gear from someone who knows what they are selling......

you are very correct and astute in deciding that the regulator is fact the single most important piece.......

Give the salesperson the flick..I personally wouldnt deal with someone who clearly does not fully understand what they are selling and so takes the easy way out...hence their comment on the PL20


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Follow Up By: Best Off Road - Wednesday, Feb 11, 2009 at 21:36

Wednesday, Feb 11, 2009 at 21:36
Lead Acid batteries do not from a "memory" effect.

They do, however, suffer from being discharged.



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Reply By: Maîneÿ (wa) has - Wednesday, Feb 11, 2009 at 00:16

Wednesday, Feb 11, 2009 at 00:16
Steca specs
FLOAT = 13.9 Volts (liquid) 14.1 Volts (Gel)
BOOST = 14.4 Volts
Equalisation = 14.7 Volts (deactivated for Gel)

100AH Fullriver DC specs
FLOAT = 13.6 Volts
CYCLE = 14.5 Volts

Is your 100ah Fullriver DC battery definitely GEL ?

Mainey . . .

AnswerID: 348541

Follow Up By: kwk56pt - Wednesday, Feb 11, 2009 at 20:39

Wednesday, Feb 11, 2009 at 20:39
My battery is AGM but I was told to use the gel setting by my salesperson. Below is the reply from Steca in Germany to my question as to whether the Steca PR reg was suitable for AGM Batteries.Yes the fullriver specs say float 13.6 to 13.8V and cycle 14.5 to 14.9V...........Peter

Hello Peter,

the thing is the AGM Batteries need a higher end of charge voltage ca. 14,8V maybe from manufacturer to manufacturer a little bit different.
But our charge controller PR and PRS has only the fix settings for GEL(14,1V) or LIQUID(13,8V) Batteries. For example with the Steca Solarix 2401 or the Tarom charge controller you can set the end of charge level in your needed position because the end of charge, equal and boost voltages are programmable. You can see it on our Website

Best regards,

i.A. Markus Gründemann
Solar Electronics

Steca Elektronik GmbH
Mammostraße 1
87700 Memmingen
Fon +49 (0) 8331 8558-835
Fax +49 (0) 8331 8558-132

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Reply By: Nomadic Navara - Thursday, Feb 12, 2009 at 11:45

Thursday, Feb 12, 2009 at 11:45
I have just looked at a PDF copy of the handbook for the Steca. The charging voltage (which they call Boost) is 14.4 V for all batteries. The float voltage for Gel/AGM batteries is 14.1 V and for liquid batteries (their term) is 13.9 V. The float voltages seem to be reversed to me and both are higher than I would use. However if you select the liquid battery setting to get the lower float voltage to better suit the Gel/AGM battery you are also going to subject your batteries to a 14.7 V equalising charge. Info on the PR20-20 can be found at Site Link

The Plasmatronics controller looks a better option to me, Get the handbook from Site Link and see if it suits.
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