Rewiring my Steca Solar Charger...

Discussion in 'Tech/Mech General' started by JJ, Jul 3, 2011.

  1. JJ

    JJ Funster

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    Boring? I'll show you boring...

    After a chat on Chat with Wildman (Roger the King Killer) several months ago about solar controllers and, despite how my Steca charger has always been wired up in both my Wagon and several other vans (mine by me on instruction from the vendor and the others by professionals), I am going to rewire the Wagon's 12 volt habitation circuits.

    When I bought my Steca solar charger at a show sometime ago, the salesman told me that it had this function that would turn on lights when night came (for an awning etc.) This light would be wired to the third set of connections which the manual called the "consumer". (the other two being panel and battery)

    I tried reading the manual that explained all the various settings and how by pressing one button for three seconds and waiting for flashing signs and then scrolling through menu choices pressing the second button to select one of them and then counting to 30... etc etc... etc... :Eeek:

    As you can imagine my brain started hurting and so I just wired up the thing as per the simple instructions I had been given...

    I subsequently noticed that other vans fitted with the same charger were wired the same way...

    But this discussion with Roger got me thinking (I do a lot of that you know) and I started working things out a bit... my controller offers all sorts of information but some of it didn't register. It tells me how many amp hours go into the battery but can't tell me how many come out (obviously not as all my "loads" are connected directly to the battery.)

    So I re-read the (imo very badly written) manual several more times and I did a lot more thinking. (By spreading this study over several weeks my brain temperature was kept within acceptable levels.)

    This study reveals that you can, by pressing the correct sequence of buttons, turn off the "night light" feature or have it on a timer. I reckon by turning off the feature the "consumer" connections will be live all the time (which is what I want obviously.)

    Then it dawned on me. The Steca controller isn't just for motorhomes but for other solar systems as well and the "night light" switch function might be for people who use the solar panel as a stand alone item (garden lights etc) and so switch these off in the day allowing the battery to charge up more rapidly.

    Therefore, full of trepidation and after a coffee and toast (with marmalade) I am connecting all my habitation circuits to the third pair of connectors...

    If anyone here present knows of any impediment or other reason why this should not proceed please speak now or forever hold their peace...

    JJ :Cool:

    (There were too many non motorhome specific posts so I posted this one...) Might report back later... might not be able to...)

     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2011
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  2. JeanLuc

    JeanLuc Funster

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    Well I am not an auto electrical expert JJ, but I did quite a bit of research before having a panel installed by Stephen at Aire & Sun (that was in May).
    Before you proceed, I would suggest visiting his website and downloading the first two guideline papers: "Guide to the selection of charge controllers" and "Basic solar system guide".

    http://www.aireandsun.co.uk/guides___datasheets.php

    It seems to me that there are two issues in particular to consider. Firstly, if you connect all the 12V 'consumer' circuits directly to the controller, will there be sufficient power left to charge the batteries? And secondly, does your charge controller have a high enough current rating to support the likely use? E.g. if you connect say 120 watts of total load to the van's circuits, that will take 10 amps from the controller. Then if the batteries kick in as well and demand charge, you could soon be calling on the controller for quite a few amps - assuming that the panel(s) are big enough to deliver it.

    Hopefully, the suggested guides will help, otherwise I'm sure a more technically competent Funster will be along soon.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2011
  3. Terry

    Terry Funster

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    Ask yourself does it work now ? Leave it as it is JJ :thumb::Rofl1: you may mess it up :Eeek:
    terry
     
  4. hilldweller

    hilldweller Funster Life Member

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    It does not sound a very user friendly device.

    It might not have sufficient switching capacity for all your 12V needs.

    If you want to log energy throw in a NASA. This needs little modification to your electrics and is very user friendly mainly because it has a decent display.
     
  5. JJ

    JJ Funster

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    Thanks for the advice chaps... but too late now :Wink:

    The Steca is a 20 amp charger/controller... used to use a 15 amp one but Jim sold me his 20 amp one for a bargain price... :thumb:

    All seems ok at the moment...

    JJ :Cool:

    (Been using the 15 amp one for years...)
     
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