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Old 08-02-2014, 22:47   #1
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Solar Panel Regulator

I installed a solar panel on my 21 footer but have trouble reading the lights on the regulator- those Chinese are not too talkative with info. When the sun is out and battery is being charged [13.2 v] the charge light is on and a load light is on. Load light is on regardless if I am drawing any current or not to an appliance. Next are three lights together labeled battery with a triangular scale wider to the right. When the battery is charging on a bright sunny day, all three lights are on, As the sun goes down, only the far left light stays on all night. I want to see the state of charge of the battery in all this. eg 1/3 charge, 2/3 charge, or full charge. Is that info being given as a riddle or is there some fault? There is an unused terminal for connecting your appliances. Bilge pump, lights, chart plotter all run straight from the battery, though. Any electrical experts know how to set this up?
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Old 08-02-2014, 23:23   #2
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Re: Solar panel regulator

If you put a multimeter on the battery you will get a better idea of what the lights are indicating.
They probably indicate if the regulator is in bulk, absorption, or float mode, but this is only very loosely related to SOC.

The load terminals are not generally useful on a boat, although occasional they can be used to do something like turn off an anchor light during the day.
The led marked load probably, when its illuminated, indicates the load terminal is connected and therefore would supply power.
Some regulators connect the load terminals when the battery voltage is adequate (so it works as a low voltage cut off), others at night only (to turn lights off during the day). If the load light has remained illuminated all of the time it is probably the former type.

Be aware the load terminals will only carry a limited current so you may need a relay if you wish to power a large load like a fridge fridge via these terminals (and have it automatically disconect if the battery voltage drops)
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Old 09-02-2014, 04:55   #3
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Re: Solar panel regulator

I crewed on a larger boat going up the Barrier Reef [from this site] and he had one guage showing the percent charge of his batteries. I got a separate guage which was to show the state of charge but it always showed full battery charge, even on a battery from my car I just threw out because it could not hold a charge. When cruising for longer periods you need to know if your batteries are going flat with your average current use.
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Old 09-02-2014, 05:11   #4
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Re: Solar panel regulator

A solar regulator will normally provide information about the solar input and regulation state, but not any information about discharge current, or direct information on battery SOC.

A battery monitor will give you information about your battery SOC, but the battery monitor is different and separate to a solar regulator. (although some advanced regulators will "talk" to battery monitors and vice versa).
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Old 09-02-2014, 06:33   #5
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Re: Solar panel regulator

Thanks, I'll get a better quality "battery monitor".
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Old 10-02-2014, 06:23   #6
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Re: Solar Panel Regulator

Victron battery monitor is good and less expensive than other brands
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Old 10-02-2014, 07:17   #7
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Re: Solar Panel Regulator

there was a reason I spent twice as much on my controller than on my panel, it was for the information, programming, and recording that the better controller provided
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Old 12-02-2014, 20:54   #8
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Re: Solar Panel Regulator

Delcor, the mfg of my batteries, publishes a table of voltages and percent charge. I'll just use my $15 multimeter to keep record, taking readings at night when there is no charge and when I am not drawing any current. My 60 watt solar panel is supposed to deliver enough current [on a sunny day] for me to draw a bit over an amp continuously in one day. I can use my chart plotter, cabin and nav lights drawing less than that. The bad news is I discovered I have calcium batteries which need 14.5 to 15 volts to charge fully. My reguator is delivering 13.8 volts as measured at the battery terminals. Need to get a regulator with a calcium battery setting.
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