solar regulator query

hello to all,
i have been reading threads and surfing the net for the last year or more on mobile solar power and seem to get deeper in the murk trying to understand it all.
i am running 4x37 watt s/panels and a 30 watt regulator,[is that a match?]the panels are 20 yrs old and i guess i would be recieving 80-100 watts. it is putting power into a new 115ah deep cycle commander marine battery.
i have been turning it off when it gets to 14 v ,as the heat sink is getting damn hot when reg. shuts power off to battery when it is charged,reg has a load facility,can any one tell me if i attatch a load ,will the heat sink stop getting red hot?
also what does one attatch to the load to dissipate the power when theres not anything that needs more energy and does the load draw power if connected ,if the battery still needs charging ?
i bought a $67.00 20amp regulator a few weeks ago and it stuffed up .
and because i attempted to fix it terminated any warranty.so i didnt get a chance to compare it to my old 30 watt which is 2.5 a/h.
is my regulator supplying my battery with enough power assuming it has 100watts charging into it?
to those who know can probably answer these queries in a few short words,but dont be to severe as any help to smooth these probs out will be much appreciated by myself and anyone else interested.
i have this set up on a rodeo tray back [not using car to charge d/cycle battery]and towing a camper/tent trailer,fridge freezer will use 2.5 amps when cold,one 2-4 watt fluro at night,notebook computer 1 hr twice a week,small cassette cd 2hrs/day all used probably only a short while each day excepting for freezer 24/7.
well who can get their teeth into this one,
cheers roger.p
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Reply By: Topcat (WA) - Friday, Feb 27, 2009 at 19:35

Friday, Feb 27, 2009 at 19:35
Hi Roger,
Assuming your panels can push out 100 watts, you should be able to produce a charge rate somewhere around 5-6 amps in good conditions. Because you are using a regulator that is rated at only 2.5 amps & you have 100 watts of power, you are not getting the best charge efficiency out of your panels & also if your regulator is operating correctly it should not overheat when the battery is fully charged. They are designed to run hot will charging but not to give off excessive heat. That is why a heatsink is fitted.
Overloading the regular will possibly cause it to run too hot. I would recommend you go to a 3 stage solar regulator that is rated at at least 10 amps for the panels you are using so you will get the maximum charge possible.
There are several models available. I'm sure other people on this site will give you heaps of info on which one to use. Cheers.
AnswerID: 351387

Reply By: Member - Malcolm (Townsville) - Friday, Feb 27, 2009 at 19:37

Friday, Feb 27, 2009 at 19:37
Hi Roger

I'm no expert with solar but do know a few fundamentals. I'll try to keep this in real layman terms (because that's all I know ;-) )

1st you need to understand the difference between Volts; Amps and Watts. You say you have a 30 Watt regulator and then you say you have another 20 Amp regulator. It would help if you expressed in like terms. The 20 Amp Regulator would be equivalent to 240 Watts (W = A x V) Your panels; 4 x 37 = 148 Watts divided by 12 (Volts) = 12 Amps. BUT !! you are not going to get 100% efficiency from the panels so say around 10 Amps.

Depending WHERE you are in Australia will depend how much sun you will get to work those panels. Might only be 5-6 hours efficiency per day. So, using above, in theory, we may get 50-60 Amps (or 600 Watts).

Sit down with pencil and paper, calculate what you will have on and for how long. Now look at the back of the appliance and see how much power it uses. What you have to do now is calculate for every 12V appliance you are going to use. If it says 100W it means it will draw 100 Watts EVERY hour. Add them all up and , in theory, that's how much you will use each day.

How did that stack up against the power available from your battery and solar panels.

HTH

Malcolm
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AnswerID: 351388

Follow Up By: Kim and Damn Dog - Friday, Feb 27, 2009 at 20:09

Friday, Feb 27, 2009 at 20:09
Fair dickum

Do you know what this sounds like to an old fart like me?

You take two skinned rabbits, multiply by road kill, divide that by a mangy wombat and throw a couple of chops on the fire. Add it all up and subtract a bit of bat poo = Watts.

LOL

I assume a 6 Watt regulator would handle a second battey and control the charge?

Regards

Kim
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Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Friday, Feb 27, 2009 at 21:54

Friday, Feb 27, 2009 at 21:54
i
"I assume a 6 Watt regulator would handle a second battey and control the charge?
Regards
Kim "

Hi Kim
If the termoinology is not correct it makes it hard to give a sensible answer.
Regulators are rated in amps not watts
A 6AMP regulator is that A 6AMP REGULATOR& can handle 1x 100watt panel
Battery size [ amphrs ]does not determine regulator size.
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Follow Up By: Member - Mike DID - Friday, Feb 27, 2009 at 22:13

Friday, Feb 27, 2009 at 22:13
Malcolm

Your knowledge of electrical units is better than quite a few "solar experts" here, but just one quantity needs correcting.

- "If it says 100W it means it will draw 100 Watts EVERY hour."
Watts is an instantaneous measure, just like Volts and Amps. The amount energy consumed in an hour is WattHours - if your load draws 100 watts for an hour it has used 100 WattHours.
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Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Friday, Feb 27, 2009 at 22:30

Friday, Feb 27, 2009 at 22:30
"Roger saidDepending WHERE you are in Australia will depend how much sun you will get to work those panels. Might only be 5-6 hours efficiency per day. So, using above, in theory, we may get 50-60 Amps (or 600 Watts).

Sit down with pencil and paper, calculate what you will have on and for how long. Now look at the back of the appliance and see how much power it uses. What you have to do now is calculate for every 12V appliance you are going to use. If it says 100W it means it will draw 100 Watts EVERY hour. Add them all up and , in theory, that's how much you will use each day."

Hi
The charge that is put into a btterry & what is drawn out is called amp hrs ,not watts.the 4x37watt panels will in bright clear sun put out approx 8amps for as you say about 6hrs.
The charge if it all goes to charging batts is 24amphrs & would take, allowing for inefficiencies in the chemical reaction in charging take about 6hrs to fully charge a flat 100amphr battery.[if no other load is being supplied]
ALso when looking at available batterry capaciity they should not be regularly discharged below 50% of their capacityif you want long life ie a100amphr batterry should only have 50amphrs drawn from it.
To calculate your power usage take each devise find it's rated watts[ should always be somewhere on label or in manual] multiply by your expected hrs of daily use for each item ,add all up for total & divide by 12.
This will give your expected daily amphrs used.
From this you can see if you have sufficient solar to maintain your batteries charged above the 50% capacit,y.or if you need other supplementary means of charging

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Follow Up By: Member - Malcolm (Townsville) - Saturday, Feb 28, 2009 at 01:12

Saturday, Feb 28, 2009 at 01:12
Hi Mike

Thanks for that. I understand WattHours. Just didn't express myself properly. Again ;-)

Kim, it was all double dutch to me once as well. Just need to do a bit of reading up on any subject you don't understand.

Never let a day go by where you don't learn something new ;-)

Malcolm
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Reply By: bruce - Friday, Feb 27, 2009 at 19:43

Friday, Feb 27, 2009 at 19:43
I am no expert by any means , but from the looks of it you have more power going into your regulator than it will allow through...so it gets hot from all that power....and you do not need a 20amp regulator...my opinion...a 6 or 10 amp would be ample and would not get hot or as hot as you describe..I have been using a 10a reg. with a 85w panel and a 105 d/c sealed battery and it works well...a reasonably good regulator slows down the ingoing charge as the battery reaches its full charge , and thus will not stuff your battery.....and others may well be able to explain it better or different to me...good luck and cheers
AnswerID: 351392

Reply By: Eric Experience - Friday, Feb 27, 2009 at 19:49

Friday, Feb 27, 2009 at 19:49
Roger.
You are doing OK the regulator effectively shorts out the panels to prevent over charging. You can remove the regulator if you want and just watch the voltage then disconnect the panels when you get up to 14.8 volts or whatever maximum voltage is specified on the battery.The regulator is important on a domestic set up where overcharging is a problem but on a mobile set up with loads on 24 hours the danger of overcharging is low. Eric
AnswerID: 351394

Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Friday, Feb 27, 2009 at 22:02

Friday, Feb 27, 2009 at 22:02
HI
A good way of determining size of regulator needed is to divide total panel watts by 17[ not 12].The results is the amp rating of the required regulator
Result is what you should approximately expect to get from the panels on a bright clear sunny day [ you may on times get bhigher if there are highly reflective clouds.]
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Reply By: Member - Tony S (WA) - Saturday, Feb 28, 2009 at 01:29

Saturday, Feb 28, 2009 at 01:29
Roger ,

Just invest in a good regulator, not a cheapy. Plasmatronic PL20 or something simular and wire it up as per the instructions. No more problems. You can go to Plasmatronics web page and download a complete set of instructions for the regulator. Read them well.
Forget about skimping to much when playing with solar power for the van etc.
Plasmatronic regs. could be around $300.00 or so these days ,mine was about $220.00+ about 12 years ago.
I have had no problem with it.
Once you get experenced with it you can just about make it talk.

Tony
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Follow Up By: Member - Tony S (WA) - Saturday, Feb 28, 2009 at 01:33

Saturday, Feb 28, 2009 at 01:33
Sorry, should have also said talk to a specialist.
Not Tricky Dicky,Tandies or anybody like that.

Tony
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Reply By: roger p - Saturday, Feb 28, 2009 at 08:31

Saturday, Feb 28, 2009 at 08:31
thanks to all imput people,has put me on track.
my old arlec reg. has 30watt 12v stamped on top.whatu say topcat sure makes sense,a lot of power tying to get past a 2.5 amp reg will cause some friction .

malcolm i will be buying a evakool 7lt f/freezer as they draw approx 2.5a when at operating level.a few hrs of fluro and music a day should see my 115a/h batt. lasting ok.i will be powering freezer off cranking battery while driving and solar on roof can charge with no load at the same time to be toped up when reaching camp.cant afford to set up dual battery isolator just yet.
last winter north through channel country qld which took 5 weeks as i camp a week or two when i stop [i am from hunter valley nsw] was fairly cloudy,but from cloncurry n/w to cape crawford and roper river right through to timber creek was nary a cloud.i didnt have solar then,just a 3 way fridge.[which as it goes worked best on gas]

Hello kim definately drop the batpoop off that recipe,i think a 6 amp reg u mean ! Old track 123 has calculations there to make usage easy to unnerstand.thanks man.
i am going out to run some of these ideas with and without the regulator and monitor readings throughout the day.
Bruce i will remove the arlec reg. but first will see if i attatch a load[eg spotlight or something]and see if and how much it draws power away from the actual battery charge and stops the exsessive o/heating.
thanks for the info people.explore oz really is like a travellers bible.
cheers roger p
AnswerID: 351456

Follow Up By: roger p - Saturday, Feb 28, 2009 at 09:13

Saturday, Feb 28, 2009 at 09:13
hey tony,
checked out some of ur photos,great shots,you get the best oppertunities while out bush thats for sure.
i am into photography as well,have a couple of cameras but my fav an olympus e300 8mp slr with long lenses.
this is one of the reasons i need to get this regulator business fixed,camera charging and down loading.
i spend little time in c/van parks,just to do a couple of loads of washing occasionally and a decent scrub of course.
i am just setting up this holden rodeo 04 ,3.5 lt v6 tray back.
have just built canvass canopy on the tray to house f/freezer etc.have mattress on one side for o/nite stops.i will be towing my bushmans c/trailer as last winter.
i just found out this vehicle wont do more than 400km /55lt tank of unleaded,i will get 300km towing,if i am lucky.
my 4lt falcon ba xt [which i traded] was getting 400km/55lt tank towing the same trailer last trip.
i am bleep off with my lack of home work on this vehicle and holden/isusu for producing a vehicle of such poor economy [but well built though]for people like me to blunder into.
but the trip must go on !! i just wont be driving into headwinds if i can help it.

cheers roger p
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FollowupID: 619718

Reply By: RV Powerstream P/L - Saturday, Feb 28, 2009 at 11:20

Saturday, Feb 28, 2009 at 11:20
Roger P
If you like you can contact me and Ill lend you a 20A Switchmode reg with a digital display to try. No obligation whatsoever.

I am regularly there in Newcastle so it depends on where you are in the Hunter.

As much as the PL 20 is good the cost is not justified in your case.

ring me on 0427648726 or email me nitramir@bigpond.net.au
Ian
AnswerID: 351472

Reply By: roger p - Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 07:51

Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 07:51
hi Ian,
I sent you an email yesterday but was returned,mail system error.
i appreciate your offer of a lend of your powerstream reg. but as money is short i will have to go the cheapest way possible.
I also am running short on time before departure so what i rig up will stay there and iron out the bugs enroute.
when i return i may contact you to disscuss the powerstream further.
thanks again,happy travelling roger
AnswerID: 351595

Reply By: Member - Lance S (VIC) - Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 10:55

Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 10:55
Roger,

I have 2 x 80w BP panels wired in sequence with a 20amp continuous and 25amp surge regulator
It has a .....................
1. Built in microprocessor for pv charge control
2. Automatic dusk detection and on/off operations
3. Adjustable low voltage disconnect and reconnect
4. Adjustable charging voltages
5. LCD displays charging and battery status
6. Electronic blocking and fuse protection

Basically it tells you what amps and watts are going through to charge your battery every few seconds. It can tell you how much has gone through the last 2 days, then once it gets to 14.4v it goes into a float mode, until it drops lower than the 14.4v it starts charging the battery again. I have had it for 4 years and fully recommend it. I bought it from Jaycar in Frankston.

Model no. is MP3129

Serial no is 440502311

cheers,

Lance
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AnswerID: 351630

Reply By: roger p - Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 11:38

Sunday, Mar 01, 2009 at 11:38
hi lance,
is that reg.of yours actually jaycar brand?
how do you find the 110lt fridge? thats a grand size to fit in the back.
The camper trailers have their advantages towing and out bush.
I have put a mattress on one side in the canopy as with a crook back find it a pain to put up the c/trailer for one night stops.But long term camps are great,the room ,more than enough to swing a cat.
cannot wait to leave again this april.
if you read my first post regarding my 30watt regulater [2.5 amps],
without going into detail,is still putting power in when my primus fridge is plugged in which uses 6.5 amps.[full sun] so it seems to be ok until the battery is full and it overheats.[the regulator that is]
its just a matter of balancing in and out amps.as the new fridge freezer will use 2.5 amps and be on 24/7 plus nightly amp usage i dont think i will have the overheating problem at all.
you have a great setup there.
happy camping roger p
AnswerID: 351635

Follow Up By: Lex M (Brisbane) - Saturday, Mar 07, 2009 at 23:12

Saturday, Mar 07, 2009 at 23:12
That Jaycar regulator looks to be the same as this one.
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