Solar regulator for AGM batteries

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Solar regulator for AGM batteries

Post  Nightjar on Sun Feb 03, 2013 9:54 am

Hi all,
Can anyone recommend a tried and proven solar regulator for charging AGM batteries.?
Need one with a remote readout because the existing electrics are positioned under the van bed.
Now technology has moved to Maximum Power Point Trackers (MPPT) type regulators to improve solar recovery so the existing set up has become obsolete.
Did a search and found there are many different brands available so am hoping someone has one they can recommend?


Cheers
Peter
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I Use Plasmatronics

Post  bungarra on Sun Feb 03, 2013 10:09 am

Hi

I use a Plasmatronics regulator...in fact I have three of their regulators...one in the camper trailer and one in the 'cruiser. They are an Australian company that I am very satisified with and any questions you can just pick up the phone so easily to talk to a technician if needed

The one in the 'Van sitting in the boot has a remote monitor throught to the interior of the 'van and I can control everything from there. It is flush mounted and the size of a standard GPO wall plate.

Cheers

Graeme
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Re: Solar regulator for AGM batteries

Post  Nightjar on Sun Feb 03, 2013 12:41 pm

Thanks Graeme,
Will check them out.
It always helps getting first hand info.

Peter
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Re: Solar regulator for AGM batteries

Post  Guest on Sun Feb 03, 2013 12:58 pm

G'day Peter this is the solar regulator setup we have in our van... The batteries are under the seats and the solar panel is on the roof above the regulator...



Cheers.

Mike. cheers

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Re: Solar regulator for AGM batteries

Post  Guest on Sun Feb 03, 2013 1:21 pm

Brilliant posts ! Keep them coming as I'm thinking of setting up a system for my van !!! Park fees are getting to dear in a lot of cases and it is good to be able to leave your pump and sluice set up overnight ! I do remember 40 yrs ago you could leave your stuff on the river and go into town for a shower or to stay in the caravan park and travel to,and from where you were working and your gear was never touched !!!!! Hhhhmmmm ya can't leave your lawn mower in the front yard now a days without it been lifted ! Shocked

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Re: Solar regulator for AGM batteries

Post  Narrawa on Sun Feb 03, 2013 2:33 pm

What ever reg you decide on, make sure its fully user adjustable. This is so you can compensate for the lose in cables ect. I never take much notice of what the regs meter reading is as there not real accurate.
I take my readings from the battery with a quality meter....not from the readout of the reg.
I set the reg up so that its withing the battery specs at the battery end. ...Undercharging is just as bad as overcharging.

Read this for a better understanding of MPPT before committing.
http://www.windsun.com/ChargeControls/MPPT.htm

This two sites tells you like it is in easy to understand terms from a user level...not a sales level.
http://www.wind-sun.com/ForumVB/showthread.php?14767-MPPT-vs-PWM-controllers

http://www.solarpaneltalk.com/showthread.php?4109-Oh-the-Mystery-of-PWM-vs-MPPT-Controllers

Basically, if your system is under x amount of Watts...stick to PWM regs.
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re Solar regulator

Post  bungarra on Sun Feb 03, 2013 3:36 pm

At the end of the day all SOC on sealed batteries can only ever be an estimate based on the static voltage of the battery. The only true test is to measure the SG with a hydrometer which obviously wew cant do on sealed batteries.

Voltage drop and cable size is easier to relate to if you compare water flow and hose dia. as the same in principle. Small hose dia = less water flow and pressure...small cable size = voltage drop over distance and consequently amp draw up on the appliance...you end up chasing your tail

on my system I now get the same voltage read out on the controller as I do with a multi meter at either end of the system........its about cable size.

Over the many years on solar I have had best success and at last achieved longetivity in the batteries (some died prematurely because of the defeciencies of the controllers in their "logic control") by adhering to the basic principles of

Choose cable size to minimise volt drop to the acceptable (remember it is the total distance of cable to calculate volt drop (pos + earth return)
Start with a fully charged battery (ideally bench charged) so you know itg is going into the system fully charged
Use an intillegent controller that bases its SOC assesment and manages its solar charge on
a) knowing the true SOC at the beginning of setting the system up (100% ideally)
b) amps out + amps in to know how much the battery actually needs...as against simply battery voltage alone.....otherwise you will get a top up but never a full battery
c) low voltage cut out protection on the battery to prolong its life.

Some controllers are more sophisticated at this than others and utilise battery temp etc to mange the system as well in its decision making and charge principals

Adhering to the basic principles above means I now have a couple of sealed AGM deep cycles into their 8th year.......prior to that I went through a few till I chose the right controller and understood it better than when I started........

have fun
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Re: Solar regulator for AGM batteries

Post  Narrawa on Sun Feb 03, 2013 5:41 pm

What model Plasmatronics do use Bungarra??.




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models

Post  bungarra on Sun Feb 03, 2013 7:47 pm

I have two PL 20's one each in the camper trailer and one in the 'cruiser. They have worked a treat with the oldest being about 10 years (camper)

In the 'van I put a PL 60 with the remote monitor........ the reason for the larger unit in the 'van was that I set it all up for remote camping and already had some solar panels I carted around for the old set up and wanted the ability to still use those as well as the fixed ones on the roof of the 'van. As I was unsure how much power I would use in a worst case scenerio of high usgae and a poor solar panel day my intention was to top up the 'van system with the portable ones. I had an input plug on the side of the 'van for these.

On the 'van I have 3 x 130w panels and 3 x 100ah batteries and to date havent needed to use the portable panels..I now dont cart them with me as I have learnt that my set up is in balance with good reserve..........In hindsight I didnt need the PL60 as I said I am in balance with the 390w on the roof

Plasmatronics have some new models out as well.....pay to look at them all relative to each individual set up and power use.

Graeme
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Re: Solar regulator for AGM batteries

Post  Narrawa on Sun Feb 03, 2013 10:43 pm

I think myself that most PWM controllers work off the same principle. Same Bulk Absorb Float regimes as the budget ones. (i could be wrong) scratch

What i was looking for was a reg that takes into account the battery to be charged thats in service, and to my knowledge, none do. All the talk on regs batteries and panels is assuming the battery is not in service.Therefore just about any charger is good enough.

Having a reg that is user programmable is one thing worth a mention now days due to the LVD and LVR parameters. Most will charge to the correct battery parameters without our input, but not turn off the load at the desired LVD...most turn off when the battery is to low, 11.5 and lower.....thats cycling well below 50% SOC. affraid
Many fridges do the same....including my Weaco CDF-35L...10.5v. Rapid surface charge will cause the fridge to cycle quite a bit before the surface voltage does not reach the LVR figure set by the manufacturer.
With none programmable regs.....that constant cycling is a battery killer if for some reason your system has reached this point. I set my adjustable reg to a higher reconnect voltage so this cycling is none existent....also a higher off voltage well before the manufacturers.
Type into google SOC graph and have a look..

If i was going down the MPPT road, id look at this mob below due to some of their awards in the industry.
http://www.gsl.com.au/about-us.html



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Re: Solar regulator for AGM batteries

Post  Nightjar on Sun Feb 03, 2013 11:56 pm

Many thanks for all the input fellas, plenty of reading and lots to learn.
Up until now I have been using Orora RO20's, were a fiddle to set up initially but the one in my ute has been working flawlessly for about 5/6 years, however the one in the van, 4yo, has taken a dive, the remote failed and now the unit is telling me the batterries are flat after being connected for about 3/4 hour, they are brand new (2X Vision 110AH AGM's) and fully charged.
Will make a decision after I've digested all the info you supplied, at this stage it looks like the Plasmatronics maybe the way to go.

Cheers
Peter
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Re: Solar regulator for AGM batteries

Post  Nightjar on Thu Feb 07, 2013 12:15 am

Can anyone comment on this one?

http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/281060236797?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1438.l2649#ht_3928wt_1163



Peter
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Re: Solar regulator for AGM batteries

Post  Guest on Thu Feb 07, 2013 12:52 am

G'day Peter just had a look at it and looks fine.. The only question is the Amps depends on how many panels you are going to have on the system.. Just remembered I fitted a little 8 Amp one in the ute for our fridge and still going fine.. This is our permanent freezer so it runs 24/7... Hope this helps... I would say 20Amp should be ok for what you want... It does look like a very good unit...

Cheers.

Mike. cheers

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Looks ok to me

Post  bungarra on Thu Feb 07, 2013 11:01 am

It seems to check out with all the specs. Dont know how it compares to a Plasmatronics equivalent but well worth a serious consideration. I have purchased from that seller and they are good to deal with. Reckon subject to price comparison I would probably run with it.

Cheers

Graeme
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Re: Solar regulator for AGM batteries

Post  Narrawa on Fri Feb 08, 2013 1:02 am

Overpriced for a non user adjustable PWM unit....i looked at them some time ago and was not overly impressed. Others may feel differently tho.??
Better value for money is the Manson SBC-7120.<--(sold under a few different brand names)
http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Manson-Solar-Panel-Voltage-Regulator-12V-20A-/370752810499?pt=AU_Solar&hash=item565296ee03
Its fully user adjustable...however it also is not all that accurate in the readout department.
The CM series are similar units being fully adjustable, yet have a better graphical display thats user controlled...unlike the one above which has a set cycle time ....as to their accuracy im not sure....speak to Davesgold about that. These units iv seen in operation and for a budget PWM unit feel at ease with its program ability, and may go ahead with one shortly as im about to replace the Steca PR3030 in my van due to its factory set-points being fixed.
The readout means diddly once you have set them up at the battery end for peace of mind thats its doing the job correctly. Also able to be adjusted for the cut out and in voltages as explained above.
http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/60A-Solar-Regulator-Charge-Controller-12V-24V-auto-1440W-Solar-Panel-CM6024Z-/261163676833?pt=AU_Solar&hash=item3cce9174a1 <--(same as above re brand names.)
All three units mentioned here have the ability for temp compensation.

Narrawa
I think myself that most PWM controllers work off the same principle. Same Bulk Absorb Float regimes as the budget ones. (i could be wrong) scratch
And i was....which makes it more daunting. Rolling Eyes Morningstar claim differences. scratch

The more you read on the subject.....the more you didn't want to know. Laughing Laughing

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Re: Solar regulator for AGM batteries

Post  Nightjar on Fri Feb 08, 2013 10:17 am

Narrawa quote:
The more you read on the subject.....the more you didn't want to know.

Hi Narrawa,
Thanks for the feed back.
Agree, gets very confusing with all suppliers promoting their item is a must have.
The Manson mention optional remote but don't have them in their store?
Your second eBay site sells handbags gloves etc, don't believe they would be much of a help with technical questions?

There doesn't seem to be one particular model that more than one member can recommend.

Suppose it is a sign of the times like buying a loaf of bread, a rack of brands all promoting why customers should buy their product, however at the end of the day there is little difference, flour, baking soda, water and a couple of bells & whistles?

Still looking.
Cheers
Peter



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Re: Solar regulator for AGM batteries

Post  bungarra on Fri Feb 08, 2013 11:01 am

"Narrawa" "Its fully user adjustable...however it also is not all that accurate in the readout department"[quote]

I would be concerned that if not that accurate in the display then where else is it not accurate?.

For the cost of replacing badly managed batteries + the cost of solar panels the actual controller is the critical compoment and yet the tendency is to chase a cheaper price on the whole brain that manages it.............am thinking that you get what you pay for.....

Simply put I have used the Plasmatronics over the years because they have proven themselves to me over the years and there is a real person on the end of the phone that talks to you!........might I suggest you give them a call and just run your query/dilema past their tech guy?......

I have no affliation at all with the company....but with three units I am a very happy customer thats all.......and as mentioned previously....have batteries managed by their controller into the 8th year

cheers

Graeme
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Re: Solar regulator for AGM batteries

Post  4rd on Fri Feb 08, 2013 9:28 pm

I have been using a Plasmatronic PL20 in my van for 3 years without any issues or problems, currently set up with one 80W panel however I can increase that to maximum of 240W using same the PL20. The 80W panel is permanently mounted on van's roof, any future addition would probably be a 120W fold-up panel so I can choose whether to take or leave behind (added weight) as well as being able to have it positioned in full sun (i.e. if van in the shade). It seems there are many new makes/models now available with lots of additional smarts, the PL20 does its job of reliably charging and protecting the battery and provides an interface/readout sufficient for my needs.

I have no affiliation with Plasmatronics, just sharing my set-up as added info... Smile
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Re: Solar regulator for AGM batteries

Post  Aurumick on Sat Dec 13, 2014 12:00 am

Plasmatronics regulator, as the others say, is the one I would use

As I have one of these PL60 model ,had it for years now
good thing about these regulators  they are pre-programed for 3 different type of batteries as well you can program it your self for other type batteries
As 3 stage charger , or however you wish to charge the batteries. on 4th program .
Selectable Between 12v, 24v, 32v, & 48v (PL60=60amps) so a (PL20=20amps) and (PL40=40amps)at which ever voltage, is selectable.
They are a sophisticated regulator can be set up as pwm (pulse width modulator) regulator
Dose a few other things as well,


Hope this will help any one for choosing a regulator

Cheers mick
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