Should you bypass a solar panel regulator? The simple answer is no. Doing so presents a considerable risk that can damage solar batteries, and devices attached to the solar array and potentially be dangerous or cause electrocution or fire.
So whether we are discussing a home solar array or a mobile solar array, the regulator is there to protect you and your gear.
In this article, we discuss:
- What is a solar regulator is
- Why you need a regulator
- When you Should Bypass a Solar regulator
- The Different Applications of Solar Power
- How to Bypass a Solar Regulator
Let’s have a look at this critical component for solar panels, the regulator, and how to bypass one.
What is a Solar Panel Regulator
A solar panel regulator is a circuited device that regulates the voltage from a solar panel into a battery.
For example, a solar panel regulator would keep the solar energy voltage within a safe level for a home solar array before that energy enters the batteries for storage.
Why are Solar Regulators Are Necessary?
A key point is understanding the “flow” of sunshine. In the morning, sunlight is weaker, but during the afternoon, the sunlight intensifies, and in the evening, the sunlight begins to diminish.
Throughout the day, the sun’s intensity on the panels causes a spike in the voltage that the panels produce. During that spike, the voltage can exceed what is safe for batteries to handle.
A solar regulator limits the voltage to a specific rate, which helps to keep solar components, especially batteries, safe.
So long as the solar array is connected to a home or business, the solar regulator should always be in place.
When Should You Bypass a Solar Regulator?
The key to solar regulators is voltage. That means that anytime you have a situation where you need a voltage that is below or above what the solar regulator dictates, you would bypass the solar regulator.
For the most part, those situations involve portable solar and the components that would connect with those panels.
It is also important to note that you bypass one solar regulator and connect to a second regulator.
How about an example? If you have a 12v battery and you want to charge it faster, you could bypass the 12v solar regulator and connect to a regulator that has a higher voltage rating.
For example, it might take 5-8 hours to charge a car battery at 12v but significantly less time if the voltage regulator was 20v.
Of course, you would still have to monitor the battery charge level so that the battery did not overcharge.
The Same is True about Solar Inverters
Solar energy comes in wave format, and if the wave format does not match the device, you risk burning out the device or battery.
The difference in waves is why homes have an inverter to switch from DC to AC, and the spike in voltage is why there is a solar regulator, which limits the amount of voltage that enters the battery.
Are All Solar Regulators The Same?
Most solar regulators are 12v, 24v, or 48v, but some products may require different voltages. Handheld radios are an example of a product that sometimes requires 13 volts.
Many devices such as handheld radios have a built-in regulator that is part of the charging cord.
Another example of a difference in voltage requirements is USB charge cords. Most require only 5 volts.
Suppose you are on the go and your mobile solar panel or array is producing too much energy. In that case, you bypass the solar regulator and plug the system into a second regulator with a rating that matches your device.
Add to this that you never want to go without a solar regular. You would always bypass a solar regulator and connect to a different regulator that matches your power needs.
What Are the Different Applications for Solar?
Generally, when we talk solar, we mean solar PV for homes or businesses. However, the solar industry has grown, and niche markets are common. The different applications for solar include:
- Home and Commercial Applications
- Auto and Marine recharging
- Portable and Mobile recharging
- Off-grid Application excluding home PV.
How each segment of solar transitions power from a solar panel to a device can be different.
Some devices have built-in solar regulators, and others use a solar regulator that is a component. It is the add-on solar regulators that you can bypass.
Do You Need to Connect to A Solar Regulator?
Yes, it would be best if you had a solar regulator. However, some devices have their own, and in those cases, you would not need an additional solar regulator because one is already available to the device.
The job of solar regulators, which are also called charge controllers, is to protect the battery system on a solar array.
An Exception to needing a solar regulator occurs when batteries are not in the picture.
For example, grid-tied homes may not have a battery storage system. No batteries and no solar regulators are needed; however, it would be advisable to have a voltage regulator that keeps the flow of volts below the recommended voltage of solar components and household appliances and gadgets.
Another exception for bypassing a solar regulator would be when you need to charge a battery quickly.
For example, Quick-charging may apply to automobile batteries and handheld devices. Even so, there is always a risk involved, and you must continue to monitor the battery charge level.
The danger occurs when batteries overcharge, which can cause damage to the battery, fire, and destruction of the battery.
Given that the battery backup system on a home solar array can cost nearly 1/2 of the total cost of the solar array, it is critical to protect the batteries and extend their lifecycle for as long as possible.
The same is true of car batteries, including solar batteries for hybrids.
How to Bypass a Solar Regulator
Most modern solar regulators attach to the solar array or solar panel with a snap clip. However, before releasing the clip, make sure that:
- The solar array or solar panel is not producing energy. If you are not familiar with how electricity works, you should hire a professional to do this for you.
- There is another solar regulator installed — You would disconnect from one and connect to another.
Safety is essential as electricity is dangerous to you, the equipment, and the device.
Therefore, you must use a professional electrician if you do not understand how to work with electrical wiring.
How To Disconnect the Solar Regulator:
- Power down the solar panel or array.
- Use a voltage meter to check that the connector does not have electricity running through it.
- Disconnect the wiring clip to the Solar Regulator. — never disconnect the wiring clip to any part of the solar array or solar panel while producing electricity. Doing so could cause an arc which would destroy the connection, damage the component, and potentially cause electrocution.
- Reconnect the harness or clip clamp to the new solar regulator. Make sure the clip clamp is fully closed.
- Power on the solar panel or array.
- Test the voltage through the clamp to make sure it is working and within range.
- Monitor battery charge levels at least every half-hour.
There are not many reasons you would bypass a solar regulator, but the need to do so occurs. The main point to know is that safety is always the first step.