Power problems & SOC on Steca PR2020

We've been on the road for almost 3 weeks now & have had a lot of power problems. The van has a 105ah deep cycle battery which showed 100% SOC before we left. We also had a dual battery system installed in the car with the 2nd battery identical to the van battery. The van is a Golf Outback with a single 80 watt solar panel, and a smart charger for 240v mode.
Because we have an inverter & a couple of 12 volt sockets not hooked up to the regulator we were running the Steca in voltage mode. We haven't used either inverter or additional sockets at all since leaving home. After 3 days in the bush we had no power. I swapped the 2nd car battery & van battery, charged them both fully & bought an additional 97ah deep cycle battery. I also disconnected the inverter & 12v sockets & swapped the Steca to SOC which showed 100%.
Within 2 days the SOC was showing 1%, so I installed the new battery which only showed 62%. The next evening the Steca was flashing, with a voltage of 10.7 but still SOC at 62%. I swapped batteries again, SOC now 15% & then back to the new one again. SOC showed 46% but I charged it to float, still showing 46% with 13.7v. I also disconnected the 2nd battery so no charge is going to it. Having done that the voltage has been pretty stable for 3 days but SOC hasn't moved. Checking voltages with multimeter confirms the voltage showing on the Steca.
What is happening? I don't know whether I have a battery problem, regulator problem or no real problem. Is it just coincidence that voltage has stabilised since disconnecting 2nd battery or does the car need some other controller to make sure the van gets first feed?
I'm thinking maybe an auto-electrician may be the answer but any other ideas or suggestions would be appreciated.


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Reply By: Goldfind (Dunsborough) - Saturday, Jul 31, 2010 at 14:07

Saturday, Jul 31, 2010 at 14:07
Hi David,

You did not mention what appliances you are trying to run, If the van fridge and Waco are on the system, then I doubt that one panel would be enough.
I have a Golf van and I have two panels roof mounted with one large deep cycle in the van with dual batteries in the cruiser. When in the bush I really only use the van lighting, The fridge stays on gas as does the Chescold

Regards Wayne H
AnswerID: 425829

Follow Up By: dje - Saturday, Jul 31, 2010 at 14:27

Saturday, Jul 31, 2010 at 14:27
That's the odd thing. We do essentially as you do, the van fridge only runs on 12v when we are travelling. As soon as we stop it goes to gas. The fridge in the back of the car is running off the 2nd car battery but even that has been turned off at night as its been so cold. I have reset the Steca to its defaults now which has set the SOC to 100% so hopefully that's solved that problem.
The only thing we have different this time to what we have previously done is to have a proper dual battery system in the car to run the 2nd fridge.

FollowupID: 696353

Reply By: Maîneÿ . . .- Saturday, Jul 31, 2010 at 19:28

Saturday, Jul 31, 2010 at 19:28
forget about the SOC setting and stick with battery voltage view, if your putting in any charge with the vehicle, the SOC will be wrong anyway because the Alternator is charging the dual battery system and is not being registered by the Steca regulator, only the Solar charge is being registered and also all losses going out *via* the solar regulator, not those going out direct from the battery post connections.

Maîneÿ . . .
AnswerID: 425850

Reply By: Maîneÿ . . .- Saturday, Jul 31, 2010 at 20:47

Saturday, Jul 31, 2010 at 20:47

Ok, this is a bit of a muddle because I find it difficult to understand what’s happening because the SOC is not relevant to anything at all because you changing the batteries so often.

80w solar panel on van
Van = 105ah battery,
Vehicle = 105ah battery
New battery = 97ah is situated where ???

I would connect the two 105ah batteries together in parallel, in the van if at all possible.
Put the new 97ah battery in the vehicle.

Use the 80 watt solar panel to charge the 2 x 105ah batteries (210ah battery)

Maîneÿ . . .
AnswerID: 425856

Follow Up By: dje - Sunday, Aug 01, 2010 at 07:59

Sunday, Aug 01, 2010 at 07:59
Great, thanks for your replies, looks like I am worrying over nothing. I have now charged all 3 batteries & will do as you suggest.


FollowupID: 696411

Reply By: Mike DiD - Monday, Aug 02, 2010 at 23:31

Monday, Aug 02, 2010 at 23:31
If the Dual Battery System was installed by the average Auto Electrician the wiring will be chronically undersized, and that means minimal charging.

Maybe the Solar Panel was installed the way a smaller panel was installed on a friends Avan - so close to elevated vents that it would be partly shadowed for most of the day - and that means minimal charging.
AnswerID: 426033

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