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Steca Solar Regulators


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I posted a plea for help on the Motorhome Matters Forum, concerning the installation of a Steca solar panel regulator and received exactly zero replies.


This is not a moan at Forum members, but it does seem to indicate that knowledge of the installation and peculiarities of these regulators is not very good and I am writing to share my findings with you all.


Steca regulators are 12 and 24-volt regulators in the same package and automatically switch to the correct voltage, providing that the battery is connected BEFORE the solar panel. The regulator needs the habitation (leisure) battery voltage to set itself to 12 volt working, if the solar panel is connected first, then there is a good chance that the regulator will switch to 24 volt working. If the panel does set itself to 24 volt working then it will usually show a low voltage alarm and other signs of distress.


Solar panels for 12-volt systems usually produce 18+ volts when not connected to the battery and so the regulator is easily fooled into thinking that it is connected to a 24-volt system.


The regulator must be connected to the battery first and then to the solar panel and this must always be the case.


If the battery feed to the regulator goes via the ignition switched power supply of the motorvan, then in effect when the ignition is switched, on the battery supply is disconnected whilst the solar panel is still connected. When the ignition is switched off, the battery is now reconnected, but the solar panel was connected all this time and so there is a good chance that the regulator will have switched itself to 24 volt working and be in a confused state.


Simple message in two parts:


1) Always connect the battery first and solar panel second. When disconnecting always disconnect solar panel first and battery second.


2) Always connect the battery feed to the regulator through a (fused) unswitched, permanent supply.


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You may be interested to know that Steca regulators have two different charging systems built-in, one for 'Liquid' (Lead-Acid) and the other for 'Gel' batteries. Either charging regime can be selected at will, depending on the type of battery fitted, so if you were to change battery type there would be no need to change the regulator.




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