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Differences between a charge, voltage and current regulator

In this article we will talk about the differences between a charge, voltage and current regulator.

An installation of a solar panel requires knowledge about the different elements that come into play, as well as the operation of each one of them to ensure that it will work great, extending the useful life of some components such as the battery, as well as the own photovoltaic system in general. It is essential, therefore, to find out in detail everything that is needed to carry out a photovoltaic solar installation before proceeding with the installation.

Differences between a charge, voltage and current regulator

In this article we are going to explain what a solar charge regulator consists of —widely used in isolated photovoltaic solar installations—, as well as the solar voltage regulator and the solar current regulator. We recommend that you read this article to be clear about what these three fundamental components consist of.

What is the function of a regulator?

A regulator is a component that is part of an electronic circuit. As its name suggests, this component has the main function of regulating, however. What exactly does it regulate? You can regulate both the energy transfer, as well as the voltage and current keeping it as constant as possible. Each of the regulators that are marketed have specific functions and their uses vary from one to another. Depending on the variables that you want to keep provided by a generator, it is convenient to use one regulator or another.

What is a solar charge regulator?

A solar charge regulator is a device used to regulate and maintain as stable as possible the transfer of energy generated in a solar panel to a battery or accumulator. With this regulator, what is achieved is to control that the battery has an optimal filling and extend its useful life. Obviously, this is installed between the solar panels and the battery, controlling the flow of electricity between both elements.

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solar charge controller acts on the parameters of Intensity and Voltage during the charging process. And it is that, you must bear in mind that the batteries have several charging phases until they complement their optimal charge to avoid an overcharge —which is why the last battery charging phase is the slowest. These two parameters influence the loading speed. When a solar charge controller is connected to a battery, it is configured to apply the appropriate algorithm to maximize battery life.

It is also important to keep in mind that the charge regulator serves to protect the battery against overloads, as well as against excessive voltages. In addition, it prevents it from downloading since it disconnects at night —when it detects darkness—. These regulators can be of various types, in addition, depending on the manufacturers, they can have external screens to monitor their operation.

Types of solar charge regulators

We can find several types of solar charge regulators. These are:

  • PWM solar charge regulators: Its acronym comes from the English Pulse Width Modulation. These are the most common in isolated 12V and 24V solar installations. They are ideal for small and medium-sized installations.
  • MPPT Solar Charge Controllers: Its acronym comes from the English Maximum Power Tracking. These use all the power of the solar panels, regardless of the differences in voltage between the panel and the battery. With them it is achieved that the tension always remains at its optimum point. They are used in more complex installations, with a certain distance between the two elements that it regulates.

What is a solar voltage regulator?

This electronic device is used to keep the output voltage constant. Remember that tension has to do with the pressure of an energy source that is responsible for pushing charged electrons in an electrical circuit. Voltage regulators maintain a constant or adjustable voltage in an integrated circuit. These can be found in devices such as computer power supplies —in which case they stabilize the DC voltages used by the processor and other components—.

In the case of solar panels, the solar voltage regulators control the output of the plates. With it you can protect the different elements of the entire installation, as well as extend its useful life, making sure that everything works correctly.

What is a solar current regulator?

Solar current regulators have a different function than solar voltage regulators. These They are responsible for keeping the output current constant.. The current regulator prevents drastic changes in this, preventing it from causing damage to electrical devices. These are equipment used to protect a certain load from voltage variations, as is the case with UPSs. We can find several types of current regulators, depending on their main function. These are the following.

  • Single-phase current regulators: They regulate the current in a single-phase system. That is, when the distribution, production and consumption of electricity is carried out in a single phase. In these cases, the tension varies jointly and equally. This current is used for lighting, small electric motors and for heating.
  • Two-phase current regulators: These devices regulate the current in biphasic systems. That is to say, when the energy is generated and distributed in electricity that is based on two alternating currents that are out of phase by 90º in their frequency. The two-phase system consists of a line with two phases and neutral in which it is possible to obtain two voltages that are out of phase with each other. Two-phase supply applications include home and business installations, as well as for running motors up to 5 horsepower.

Three-phase current regulators: These systems have three conductors and a neutral. The three conductors are far from the phase and have a gap of 120º between each one. All three currents are produced simultaneously in a generator. This current is used massively in large industries with powerful machines that use three-phase motors with delta or star connections, among others.

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