Using the best solar charge controller is one of the essentials if you have a recreational vehicle or a solar panel system. It can help in regulating the energy coming from the photovoltaic panel or array before transferring it to your batteries. However, it may be hard to select this unit from a wide range of choices available online and in other places.
To help you with it, we’ve prepared a buying guide with the top picks in the category along with their pros and cons. With this information, you will be able to compare and pick the right controller that matches your needs. If you’re ready, let’s begin.
|Top 1||Top 2||Top 3|
|Preview||Renogy Solar Charge Controller||Depvko Solar Charge Controller||Victron Solar Charge Controller|
|Max Volts||12V/ 24V||12V/ 24V||12V/ 24V|
|Max Power||130W/ 260W||390W/ 780W||440W/ 880W|
- Top-Tier Solar Charge Controller Reviews
- 1. Renogy Wanderer 10 Amp Solar Charge Controller
- 2. Depvko 30A Solar Charge Controller
- 3. Victron Energy SmartSolar Charge Controller
- 4. EPEVER Solar Charge Controller
- 5. GHP Solar Charge Controller
- 6. PowMr MPPT Solar Charge Controller
- 7. OOYCYOO MPPT Solar Charge Controller
- 8. EPVER MPPT Solar Charge Controller
- 9. Outback Flexmax Solar Charge Controller
- 10. GP-PWM-30-UL Solar Charge Controller
- 11. AMPINVT MPPT Solar Charge Controller
- What Is A Solar Charge Controller And Who Is This For
- How Does It Work
- What Are The Different Types Of Solar Charge Controllers
- Advantages And Disadvantages Of Using A Solar Charge Controller
- How We Picked And Tested
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top-Tier Solar Charge Controller Reviews
1. Renogy Wanderer 10 Amp Solar Charge Controller
- Protects different types of batteries from faults
- Safe and secure to use
- Easy to carry and install
- High-quality construction and very affordable
- Produced by a reputable and multi-awarded solar company
- Utilizes an already-outdated type of charge controller
Renogy has been in the solar energy business since 2010. They have humble beginnings. Through the years, the company has wowed proponents of green technology and renewable energy with its innovative products. One of their devices is the Wanderer Solar Charge Controller.
The Wanderer is an excellent choice for people who live in a place where it is always sunny and warm. It harnesses the sun’s energy and stores it in 12 VDC and 24 VDC systems. And if you have a lithium-ion battery that needs recharging, you can rely on the Wanderer to provide the much-needed energy.
The best solar charge controller for RV is small enough to slip in the pocket of your bag. It is lightweight, so there is no complaint there either. The design is unobtrusive. Renogy focused more on the functionality of their device than its aesthetics. It does not mean the Wanderer is ugly, though. It has a clean and neat interface with a small LCD on top. Control buttons are easy to manipulate. The housing feels high-end, although it is made of PC and ABS.
There are several electrical safety protections, too. These include protections against shorts, over current, overload, overcharging, and reverse polarity, among others. This solar charge controller also has a maximum PV input voltage rating of 50 VDC. It is lower than many MPPT devices. For those looking to power up their small gadgets with clean energy, the Wanderer will suffice.
Pulse Width Modulation technology has also been around for many years.
2. Depvko 30A Solar Charge Controller
- 30-amp system for 12V and 24V off-grid applications
- Supports devices with USB cables
- Simple LCD display for easy device configuration
- Multiple integrated protections against electric-related hazards
- Effortless setup and operation
- Affordable for budget-conscious families
- Not compatible with lithium-ion batteries
- Indoor use only
The Depvko might be small, but it is as dependable as any other charge controller, with a few aces up its sleeve.
For starters, I like this charge controller for the solar system’s 30-amp capacity, which I find suitable for 12-volt and 24-volt systems. It should be an excellent addition to my ongoing off-grid trips, ensuring that my battery bank will never overcharge.
Setting this charge controller is effortless—I had no trouble following the four-step guide to link the device with an existing solar system and battery bank. So families will never fret about codes to memorize or complex procedures to perform.
My favorite is this solar charge controller’s dual USB port. I could channel a 2.5A 5.0V current to a smartphone and a tablet for quick and easy charging. The user-friendly LCD screen also makes it an effortless task to program the device’s settings. Despite offering such highly sought-after features, this product’s price tag is quite reasonable.
Like other high-quality solar charge controllers, this product has several protective features. Families will feel more confident about this device’s ability to prevent over-discharging, short-circuiting, over-current, over-voltage, under-voltage, and overcharging. Its dual MOSFET technology even safeguards this device against lightning strikes.
Two things rob a star from my evaluation of this solar charge controller. As impressive as its performance is for its price, this solar charge controller is not for lithium-ion battery units. It only accepts lead-acid, including SLA, gel, flooded, and AGM. Second, it is not waterproof, as the company recommends indoor-only use.
It is not perfect, but this solar charge controller delivers the job surprisingly efficiently and safely at a price most people consider a steal.
3. Victron Energy SmartSolar Charge Controller
- Bluetooth connection for monitoring
- High efficiency
- Durable construction
- Great customer support
- Inconsistent Bluetooth connection
Another excellent alternative for a solar charge controller is the Victron Energy SmartSolar charge controller. Victron energy uses advance technology and high-grade materials with top-tier artistry to deliver to its customers a reliable and well-made product.
Whether or not shopping around for the top-rated PWM solar charge controller, you might want to consider the VICTRON charge controller. One of my favorite things about the Victron Energy SmartSolar charge controller is that it can be remotely controlled and monitored using a built-in Bluetooth via VictronConnect. It makes it easier to track and view the date and allows you to manage the settings of your controller. It might be intimidating, but everything is easy to figure out.
I also like how easy you can hook this charge controller to panels. Everything in the Victron Energy SmartSolar charge controller might be intimidating, especially the monitoring on the phone app, but everything is easy to figure out.
The Victron Energy SmartSolar charge controller offers high-efficiency. It works great, and its charging and maintenance capacity will surely top-up your batteries and extend its battery life.
You can also trust the quality and durability of the Victron Energy SmartSolar charge controller for a long-lasting product. It is well-made with durable materials. It is sturdy and compact, which I like. Its portable design is another advantage because you can easily carry it and use it wherever and whenever.
I also like how the Victron Energy SmartSolar charge controller has an internal sensor that compensates its temperature. It helps create a sense of security that the controller will not overheat and end up being damaged.
Another aspect that makes the Victron Energy SmartSolar charge controller even better is its excellent customer support. If you have any issues or questions regarding your controller, you need not worry; you can rely on their customer service to assist you.
4. EPEVER Solar Charge Controller
- Offers full protection
- 4-stage battery charging
- Suitable for most battery types
- Backlight LCD
- Does not have a good warranty
If you’re shopping around for a top-tier MPPT charge controller, you might want to take a look at this controller.
The controller is one of the top-rated options for a charge controller in the market today. EPEVER is one of the leading brands committed to delivering high-quality and reliable products. With their solar charge controller, rest assured that your battery is protected and maintained.
You might have read about this item when reading an Epever MPPT review. As compared to the other brands, the EPEVER solar charge controller delivers higher efficiency. It has s peak conversion efficiency at 98%. This controller effectively maximizes the energy from solar panels for more effective charging. Not only that, but this product is also known for its ultra-fast tracking speed, which I find necessary and convenient.
I also like the full protection that the charge controller offers for the battery. This controller is designed with a built-in system to protect your battery from reverse charging, overcharging overload, and short circuit for a long-lasting battery.
Another feature that I like about the EPEVER solar charge controller is its 4 stage battery charging. It has bulk, boost, float, and equalization properties to better support and increase battery life. Its temperature sensor conveniently compensates the temperature in the equipment to further improved performance.
I also like how this controller is suitable for different battery types. You can use this for sealed, gel, flood, and lithium batteries, so it is practically a good investment.
The EPEVER solar charge controller is has a backlight LCD, which I find useful and convenient. It makes it easier to monitor the state of my battery and controller. It displays if your equipment is working correctly or not. It also allows you to conveniently monitor using an app and software.
5. GHP Solar Charge Controller
- Provides full protection
- Dual USB charging output
- Easy to operate
- Not suitable for lithium batteries
If you are on the hunt for an efficient and reliable solar charge controller without breaking the bank, you might want to consider GHP solar charge controller. If you know of the EPEVER MPPT charge controller, they are popular in the market for its amazing features but at a lower price point. Now the GHP solar charge controller offers just the same, if not better performance and more economical as well.
You can trust the quality of the GHP solar charge controller for battery regulation. It provides full protection, among which is over-load, short circuit, lightning, under-voltage, and overcharging protection. This equipment not only helps top-up your battery but prolong its life as well.
I also like how the GHP solar charge controller has dual USB charging output. It allows you to charge two devices simultaneously that require 5V power, such as mobile phones and tablets. It is handy to have whenever you go on outdoor trips.
The GHP solar charge controller is also easy to operate, which I like. It is not as complicated that you need to have some professional knowledge. The sequence is pretty easy to figure out. Everything you need is in the package, including a manual for your reference. You don’t have to guess second because the indicator light will turn on if you installed it properly, but if otherwise, then you have to reconnect.
The LCD of the GHP solar charge controller is made even. It has an energy-saving blacking LCD that looks more modern and, more importantly, power-efficient. It displays all parameters regarding your controller and battery for easy monitoring.
6. PowMr MPPT Solar Charge Controller
- Highly efficient
- Easy to install
- Instant cooling system
- Backlight LCD
- 24-month warranty
- The fan creates buzzing sound
There is a long list of great alternatives for a solar charge controller. But among the top-tier that I can confidently recommend is the PowMr MPPT solar charge controller. This particular MPPT solar charge controller, in comparison with other models, is reliable and more budget-friendly.
One of the reasons why I think that the PowMr MPPT solar charge controller is one of the best out of all the other models is because of its high efficiency. It offers maximum efficiency of over 98% with a PV utilization of 99%.
What makes the PowMr MPPT solar charge controller even more appealing is its complete protection features. Its design works to protect your device from short circuits, reverse-current, overload, and reverse polarity protection. The charge controller solar offers optimal protection of your battery for extended battery life.
The PowMr MPPT solar charger control is suitable for most battery types from sealed, gel, NiCd, or lithium batteries. It is one of the most reliable charge controllers that offer flexibility to cater accordingly to your needs.
Another useful feature that the PowMr MPPT solar charge controller has is its fan cooling. This charge controller effectively dissipates heat for your controller to ensure optimal performance for extended use and to avoid damaging your controller, one of the things to look for charge controllers
The PowMr MPPT solar charge controller is also easy to install. Included in the package are the mounting materials, which are easy to figure out with the manual. I also like the backlight LCD in the PowMr MPPT solar charge controller for easy monitoring.
What makes the PowMr MPPT solar charge controller even more attractive is the 24-month warranty it offers. And their responsive customer service is always ready to help with any questions you have.
7. OOYCYOO MPPT Solar Charge Controller
- High efficiency in both power tracking and conversion
- Built-in safety features, including reverse polarity, short, reverse current, overload, under-voltage, and reverse discharge
- Multiple modes for more efficient charging
- Compact and weatherproof construction
- Large, easy-to-read display
- Maximum PV input is lower than competitors
You have probably bumped into this controller when reading MPPT charge controller reviews. If you are the kind of modern nomad who cannot live without the convenience of technology, then this solar charge controller is for you. Its price is one of the lowest on the MPPT market. It also comes with neat features that you seldom see in this price range.
This solar charge controller features a compact and lightweight construction. You can install it almost anywhere without taking too much space. The housing of the controller is made of impact-resistant, high-quality materials, also.
The top-rated part of this device is its use of MPPT technology. It addresses many of the issues that traditional charge controllers cannot answer. It leads to better power management and more efficient delivery of voltage power from photovoltaic cells to the battery bank. The technology keeps track of power delivery with an efficiency rating of 99.5 percent. It also ensures more efficient voltage conversion into usable power by at least 98 percent.
The MPPT charge controller also comes with a few other innovations. There is no need to manually dial-in the actual battery voltage set up in the system. The device already detects it in an instant. It also features a 3-stage charging mechanism. This allows you to charge your battery in bulk, float, or constant mode. You can go on with your normal activities without worrying whether your battery bank is already loaded.
The large display is also a welcome feature. All the information you need to get displayed at once. It can be confusing at first. With repeated use, however, looking at the digital data will be second nature.
8. EPVER MPPT Solar Charge Controller
- Robust and weatherproof construction
- Can charge and manage different types of battery
- Supports a standard ModBUS data interface
- Already comes with the remote MT-50 meter
- Efficient heat dissipation technology and other safety features
- Requires a separate solid-state relay for those using power inverters
Are you looking for a cheap MPPT charge controller? Living off-grid requires an understanding of the unique tools that will help you lead a “normal” life. One of these tools is a solar charge controller that can safeguard the integrity of your power-generation and storage system. The EPVER MPPT Solar Charge Controller is an excellent device to consider.
This controller stays true to the principles of MPPT technology. It can accommodate up to 150 volts coming from your solar panels. With this technology, you can also rest assured of at least 99% efficiency. You get to utilize the energy harnessed by your solar system to power up your devices.
The EPVER features an advanced MPPT algorithm. You can connect several solar panels without sacrificing power efficiency. It works with solar panels that deliver 600 watts to a 12-volt battery. The system can charge different types of cells, including flooded, sealed AGM, gel, and lead-acid batteries. The device detects the voltage level of your battery bank.
Unlike most MPPT controllers, the EPVER does not come with a user interface built into its housing. Instead, the company decided to create a separate control console to manage the different modes and operation of the charge controller. The kit already comes with this control interface. You do not need to purchase a separate module.
The device also comes with a PC monitoring cable. It allows you to update the software that runs the system. It can also support a ModBUS data interface. It further expands the usefulness of the system.
9. Outback Flexmax Solar Charge Controller
- Can charge batteries up to 60 VDC
- Efficient and reliable power tracking
- Simple, bright, and functional display
- Can enhance PV power output by as much as 30 percent
- The unique data logging feature
- Quite expensive
People who are serious about utilizing only renewable energy in their day-to-day activities should consider getting the Outback Flexmax MPPT solar charge controller. It can provide you with clean energy while taking care of your batteries.
Flexmax has one of the most advanced MPPT algorithms around. Unlike other devices, this controller can manage the voltage output of solar panels so that it can direct the power to batteries with a 60-volt rating. Other systems can only accommodate 24 VDC. The system keeps track of the voltage running through the system. It ensures that the solar panel array will increase its power generation by as much as 30 percent.
The controller comes with a straightforward design that belies its robust features. The green-backlit display is large enough to provide users with the data they need. The control buttons are easy to press, and the menu is a joy to navigate.
Adding the Flexmax in your solar system makes perfect sense if you have a broad solar array. For instance, it can handle 1000-watt PV cells if you have a 12 VDC system. Those with 48 VDC systems can expect the FM80 to handle up to 4,000 watts. The implications are immense. You can use the system to power up your entire home or a small farm. A few of these units will come in handy among commercial establishments.
The FM80 also features a smart thermal management cooling mechanism. There is also an active cooling system to aid in the more efficient management of heat during operation.
10. GP-PWM-30-UL Solar Charge Controller
- Pulse Width Modulation Technology
- Intelligent LCD
- Easy to install
- Power boost technology
- 5-year warranty
- Some users ended up using the warranty
If you are in the market looking for a reliable solar charge controller for AGM batteries choosing the GP-PWM-30-UL by Valterra Power Us is a smart decision. Valterra Power is committed to providing their customers with products that are high-quality and is guaranteed to perform so you can be confident that your batteries will be protected and maintained.
With its Pulse Width Modulation Technology, this device reduces and controls the current level flowing to your battery to avoid overpowering and thereby damaging it. The device supports various kinds of cells, but before using it, you should set the battery type, for the default battery setting is for AGM batteries.
The solar charge controller also has the Maximum Power Boost Technology, which allows the controller to go into a boost the solar charge for 30 minutes. It is ideal for making sure that your batteries are topped up for the evening. The solar charge controller is also capable of handling 570 watts of solar and charger 1 or 2 battery banks.
I like the LCD that the charge controller has. It makes it easier to know the state and if your controller is properly working. It displays everything so you can monitor your battery. It shows the voltage, amperage, and battery percentage of charge, which I find useful.
What makes the GP-PWM-30-UL is its easy installation process. You are provided with a manual that you can easily follow.
But still, one of the most suitable things that I like about GP-PWM-30-UL is its warranty. It offers a limited 5-year warranty so you can be more confident with your purchase and it is also one way of making sure that you get a reliable product and service for your money.
11. AMPINVT MPPT Solar Charge Controller
- High efficiency
- Ultra-fast tracking
- Temperature sensor
- Intelligent LCD
- Offers wireless monitoring
- The fan is a bit loud
Another good option that you can try if you are looking for a 12-volt solar charge controller is the AMPINVT MPPT solar charge controller. This product is made with high-grade materials and advanced technology for the maintenance of your battery.
You can never go wrong with choosing the AMPINVT MPPT solar charge controller. With its latest algorithm, it has massively improved in its efficiency. This charge controller is sure to maintain and protect your batteries from damage with its auto identifying system. With this, you can make sure that your battery will not overcharge. It supports four types of battery charging – sealed, AGM, gel, and flooded.
With its charging efficiency of over 98.5% and tracking accuracy of over 99%, you can be more confident that not only will your battery be top-up and maintained but also that its battery life will be extended ultimately saving you the trouble and money from needing frequent maintenance and replacement.
I also like the ultra-fast tracking speed of the AMPINVT MPPT solar charge controller. Couple this with the battery temperature sensor (BTS), which automatically provides temperature compensation, I am more confident with the long-term performance of this solar charge controller.
Another excellent feature that I like and found convenient is the intelligent LCD of the AMPINVT MPPT solar charge controller. It displays everything that you need to know – from its real-time power generation to cumulative power generation. You can also use it to check if your solar panel has been installed correctly. Generally, it helps you know the state of your device and your battery.
I found the optional wireless monitoring also convenient. The AMPINVT MPPT solar charge controller offers its users the option to monitor their device using a mobile phone app closely.
Onesolar Solar Charge Controller (Outdated)
- Durable construction
- Portable and lightweight design
- High efficient and ultra-fast tracking speed
- LCD for easy monitoring
- Offers multiple protection for your battery
- Lacking customer support
If you are looking for a solar charge controller you can trust to do its intended job without breaking the bank, I suggest that you avail of the Onesolar solar charge controller. With all its great features at a reasonable price point, you will not regret investing in it.
One of the reasons why I like the Onesolar solar charge controller is because of how efficient it is. It has a maximum conversion rate of over 98%for optimal charging of your battery. It also offers an ultra-fast tracking rate of 99%. With this product, you know you will get optimal performance for the maintenance of your battery.
I like the portable and sleek design of the Onesolar solar charge controller. It is handy enough and makes it easier to transport, store, and use. Its durable construction is also a plus. Designed to guarantee longevity, it is sturdy and capable of heavy-duty performance.
With the top-quality solar controller, you will never have to second guess about the condition of your battery and device through its LCD. I like how you can quickly know the state of your device. It displays everything you need to know, from the operating data and working conditions to real-time energy statistics.
You can never go wrong in choosing the Onesolar solar charge controller. This product caters to your different needs as it suits different battery types/ It supports four charging options – sealed, gel, flood, and user-defined.
What makes the Onesolar solar charge controller even more appealing is the added protection it offers. It protects your battery from overcharge, over-discharge, overload, short circuit, reverse polarity, and overheat. With this product, you can be confident that your battery will last for a long time.
ZEALLIFE Solar Panels Charge Controller (Outdated)
- Can be used for AGM, open and gel batteries
- Efficient and innovative
- A bright and clear LCD
- High capacity 12Ah up to 100Ah
- Protection indications
- Not ideal for NiMH or lithium battery
When shopping around for a charge controller, you might want to take a look at the ZEALIFE controller. It is as good or even better than some models of an EPEVER MPPT charge controller. It is loaded with the things that we are shopping around for this kind of device. One is functionality that you can expect from it, such as its solar indication and fault alarm indication.
This device with an upgraded LCD is also with a real-time display of info you need that also include battery voltage, battery power, and charging current. The bright enough LCD can also let you know and understand its charging effects as well as its working status.
In addition, the device features the separation of three ports so that you can connect the wires easily as well as check your lines clearly. You can also control the output manually using the output switch to find on the unit, adding to the ease of use and convenience.
Just like a great buy PWM or MPPT charge controller for the money, this item is one of the top-tier choices because it can offer a full protection range, including multiple protection functions. Some of these include lightning protection, short circuit protection, and overload protection.
And as when finding a solar charge controller for AGM batteries, you must also check for the efficiency of the charger. That is one of the things I liked about the ZEALLIFE controller. It can charge your battery without any hassles. It can combine absorption charge, bulk charge and float charge. This model is also integrated with an STM microprocessor that can control discharging and charging to prevent battery damage. More so, I would like to note that it has a USB output that can offer max current up to DC5V 2.1A to supply power to your devices.
It is also versatile that it can fit solar panels with max current output of up to 8 amps. This model is also compatible with a 12V rechargeable lead-acid battery. It also has a capacity range from 12Ah up to 100Ah.
What Is A Solar Charge Controller And Who Is This For
They come in different names. However, their function remains the same. Solar Charge Controllers are devices that are an important part of a solar charging system. In effect, these technologies prevent the overcharging and potential overvoltage of the batteries. It maintains the integrity of the system so that you will be able to derive the most from the cells. It is also a lot safer to work with all the time.
Not everyone needs a charge controller, however. Small devices that require a trickle charge or almost negligible power supply do not need such controllers. The same can also be said of photovoltaic panels that do not have more than 5 watts. If the solar array produces at most 2 watts for every 50 amp-hours in the battery bank, then there is no need for this device.
A good example is the 210 amp-hours of a golf cart standard battery. A 12-volt system is enough to run the storage or maintenance needs of the car. At the very minimum, you will want a solar panel that can churn out at least 4.2 watts. A 5-watt solar panel should suffice in this regard. You will not need a solar charge controller in such a setup.
Specific applications do not call for a charge controller. However, most professionals would recommend getting one to ensure the optimal operating function of the solar power system. It also safeguards the integrity of the battery. It allows you to make use of the system for a longer period. Such can also have economic implications. Since the battery bank component lasts longer, you get to save more money.
A solar charge controller is for anyone who would like to feel safe every time he or she generates and uses solar power. It improves the overall efficiency of the system.
How Does It Work
Solar charge controllers, such as a 12-volt solar charge controller, work in different ways to help perform two fundamental functions. One of these is making sure that deep cycle batteries receive the amount of power that they need. The second is to ensure the optimal safety of the system.
You can think of a charge controller as a flow regulator. It makes sure that the amount of electricity that flows through the system is not more than what the system was designed to accommodate. Since energy requirements vary from time to time, it is the controller’s job to make sure that the system receives its much-needed power.
Other more specific functions highlight how a solar charge controller works. For example, they can block reverse current. Photovoltaic cells or panels always deliver solar energy to the battery bank. It is unidirectional.
However, there are instances when this unidirectional nature of current flow gets undermined. In other words, some of the electricity will move in the reverse – from the battery and into the solar panels. A charge controller prevents such an occurrence. The reverse current moves through a transistor or semiconductor. This serves as a gate valve, preventing the flow of the current in a reverse manner.
Another action of a solar charge controller is the prevention of battery overcharging. Any battery system can only hold a charge up to a certain level. Once this predetermined level has been reached, the system can no longer squeeze in additional power. If the system continues to receive a charge, there is a chance that the voltage will increase. This can lead to the separation of the oxygen and hydrogen molecules and the formation of bubbles. Such a reaction can ignite. It can explode.
A solar charge controller works by adjusting the rate of energy flow to the battery. If the voltage gets too high, it slows down the flow. It does the opposite if there is a noticeable drop in battery voltage.
There are also charge controllers that can compensate for any fluctuation in temperature. There are predetermined voltage set points for any battery. In cases of low battery temperatures, the controller will attempt to increase the voltage setpoints.
Some solar charge regulators also compensate for the type of battery used in the system. They also come with a low voltage disconnect feature. It prevents the battery from discharging a hundred percent. This saves the battery from irreversible damage.
What Are The Different Types Of Solar Charge Controllers
Before discussing how to select a solar charge controller, let’s talk about the types of these devices to find on the market. Charge controllers are an essential part of any energy storage system. Whether it is from the sun, water, or wind, the system should be able to harness the energy for later use. A controller or regulator helps ensure that the solar power system runs more efficiently and safely. To date, solar charge controllers come in two types.
Pulse Width Modulation is a type of solar charge controller. It works like a switch mechanism that “chops” up the electrical signal into chunks or “pulses”. The electrical load moves from the supply and through the circuit at a very rapid pace of turning the switch on and off. If the length of time that the system is open or “on” is longer than the time that it is closed, then you will have more power in the load.
Many people consider PWM controllers as an outdated form of regulating the flow of energy from the solar panel array to the battery. It is also not very efficient in terms of producing energy when the environmental temperature drops or increases. These controllers also tend to reduce the voltage output of the solar power system relative to the battery.
Maximum Power Point Tracker technologies solve the energy efficiency loopholes of PWM controllers. These devices can improve the energy efficiency of solar-reliant power systems by as much as 30 percent. An MPPPT solar charge controller can provide more power to a solar system.
This technology addresses the issue of solar energy variability. The sun does not shine at a steady rate. There are certain times of the day when the amount of sunshine is at its greatest. There are also those instances when clouds obstruct the light coming from the sun.
An MPPT solar charge controller optimizes the power transfer to the battery from the photovoltaic cells. It makes sure that the load characteristics of the system remain where they are. It helps guarantee that the photovoltaic cells will produce the amount of power that people want and expect from the system.
The main advantage of a charge controller having the MPPT technology is its ability to adjust for low solar power production. It can also preserve the power output of the battery. This system is ideal for those who require a power-efficient charge controller. The drawback to the MPPT is that it is more expensive than a PWM solar charge controller.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Using A Solar Charge Controller
An energy storage system that relies on the power of the sun will need a solar charge controller. This device can provide consumers several advantages over other systems.
One of the most important advantages of such a technology is that it guarantees more efficient power generation and storage. It prevents the system from ever losing the power that it stores. It is very useful at night where the chance of reverse current is most significant. At least, one can ensure that the battery will be able to hold the charge that the system has put into it.
Another advantage of such technologies is that they safeguard the integrity of the battery. There are two ways the system can do this. First, it prevents the battery from overcharging. Second, it protects against possible electrical overload. Many people leave their batteries charging in one part of their home. Avoiding overcharging can increase the service life of the battery. It can provide homeowners with savings in terms of extending battery life. Overload protection can also prevent overheating. It protects the home or any other property from potential damage secondary to electrical faults.
Many of these gadgets also have a feature that disconnects the electrical load of the system. Excessive discharge of the battery can lead to different problems. It can damage the battery because of overheating. The phenomenon also reduces both the service life and the capacity of the battery. The low voltage disconnect feature is a very important component of modern solar charge controllers.
These technologies also compensate for the changes in both the type of battery and ambient environmental temperature. It does this to maintain the electrical load of the system. Unfortunately, you can only see such an advantage on systems that utilize the Maximum Power Point Tracking technology. It ensures better power efficiency so that no energy gets lost.
Such systems can increase the overall power efficiency of your existing solar-powered systems. It has an efficiency rating that can reach more than 50 percent. The downside is that newer technologies, like the MPPT, are often very expensive. Using an outdated type of charge controller may solve the issue. The only hiccup is that it is not as efficient as an MPPT system. The energy savings you get from using such a system should pay for itself in the long run.
Not every solar-powered system requires a controller. If your system does, then these advantages can provide you with the necessary impetus to choose the right solar charge controller.
There you have what to know when making a PWM or MPPT solar charge controller comparison.
How We Picked And Tested
Part of these solar charge controllers reviews, we also need to talk about the ways on how you can pick the right charge controller based on the features of the different items in the category. Homes with solar energy systems need an efficient charge controller. This compensates for temperature and environmental fluctuations. It ensures a more efficient conversion, generation, and storage of solar energy into usable forms. Everyone should, thus, learn how to pick the right controller for their current setup.
Consider the Local Weather
There are people who believe that solar energy generators work best in very hot environments. However, greater power efficiency is top-rated achieved in an overcast and cold environment with the sun shining full.
If you live in an area where the weather is as unpredictable as your next-door-neighbor, then you should choose an MPPT solar charge controller. This system can provide you with better temperature and voltage compensation than PWM systems. A PWM controller should be fine if you live in an area where the weather is more or less constant.
Check the Battery and Photovoltaic Panels’ Voltage Requirements
Small photovoltaic cells that produce at most 2 watts per 50 battery ampere-hours do not need a charge controller. It is the upper limit, although there are people who say that the high threshold is 5 watts. Whatever the case, if your system only produces about 2 watts, then there is no need to purchase a controller.
Check also the voltage requirement of the battery bank. Most systems have 12 volts. Others have 48 volts. The controller should be able to match the power output of the battery. A safer and easier solution will be to use a charge controller that uses MPPT technology.
Make a List of the Devices You Intend to Power
Small electrical appliances and lighting fixtures can benefit from a controller that has a low-voltage disconnect feature. One that has a load output can also be a wise choice. One thing you need to keep in mind with this technology is that it has a threshold of 60 amps. Anything higher than this amperage can result in device malfunction.
Larger devices can benefit a lot from MPPT charge controllers. Remote systems like solar lanterns work best with a PWM charge controller.
Evaluate the Placement of the PV Cells Related to the Battery
The distance between these two components can affect the performance of the system. If it is too far, you may notice a substantial reduction in battery voltage as well as power loss. One way to go about this is by using a larger gauge wire. The main issue here is that it can increase the cost of setting up the system.
A better alternative is to purchase an MPPT charge controller. Such devices convert battery voltage, minimizing power loss. MPPT systems also do not need large wires. Small wires will suffice.
Look at the Device’s Maximum Input Voltage
Solar energy generation fluctuates throughout the day. As such, it is not wise to get a 12V solar panel for a 12V battery. You will need a controller that has a higher rating for its maximum input voltage. It allows users to scale their solar-powered systems.
Such a system can also compensate for fluctuations in the weather. It ensures a more reliable electrical load that your home or devices need.
Choosing the most appropriate solar charge controller should not be difficult. Keep these points whenever you are shopping for one.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much do solar charge controllers cost?
The expected cost will vary depending on the types of solar controllers—whether it’s a Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) or a Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) version.
In general, the former is more affordable than the latter. An off-grid solar charge controller with PWM technology can range in price from $15 to $40. Meanwhile, an MPPT unit can set you back by $70 or as much as $600.
How do I connect the solar charge controller to the inverter?
Manufacturers have specific instructions for connecting devices to their solar charge controllers, including a solar charger controller inverter.
Linking a power inverter to a charge controller is not a good idea because each device has a different purpose. Inverters convert DC power to AC electricity. Hence, the inverter must connect first to the battery before you can establish a linkage with the charge controller.
For example, Depvko has specific instructions for an inverter charge controller linkage. Users must link the battery to the charge controller first before connecting the solar panels. Then, plug the electrical load into the charge controller. Only then the user can connect the inverter to the battery—which serves as a bridge for the inverter and the charger controller.
What should I do with my old solar controller?
You can do at least four things with your old waterproof solar charge controller.
First, you can reuse it by replacing the fuses if they are no longer working. Most solar charge controllers have two fuses, one for controlling the power supply and another for the backup battery. You might want to determine the defective fuse first before repurposing the device.
Reusing an old solar charge controller makes sense for families living off the grid. They can add as many solar panels as the charge controller and the battery bank can accommodate, allowing them to lead more comfortable and convenient lives.
Alternatively, you can sell it on Craigslist or eBay. Somebody might still find the old charge controller useful.
Lastly, you can contact a recycling company to handle the old 60 amp MPPT charge controller in your basement. They have specialists who know what to do and how to manage an old charge controller’s different components.
How long does a solar charge controller last?
No definitive guide exists about a solar charge controller’s longevity because everything depends on the manufacturer. A 10 amp solar charge controller brand might last ten years, while a competing device might only provide five years of functionality. System environment and maintenance regimen can also impact a charge controller’s lifespan.
We recommend checking the charge controller’s warranty to determine its longevity. In most cases, solar charge controllers can outlive the length of the warranty. For example, if top solar charge controller has a limited 5-year warranty, you can expect it to last for 6-10 years.
What are the most trusted solar charge controller brands?
Factoring in the brand when selecting a solar charge controller is vital to ensure that you’re dealing with manufacturers that are serious about giving their users a satisfying experience when using this device. A few of the trusted ones include EPEVER, Victron Energy, Onesolar, and OOYCYOO, among the others, featured earlier.
Which is better MPPT or PWM?
It depends on certain factors, including your budget and situation. At the very least, the PWM is for those looking for an inexpensive solution for a small solar system. It also applies if the solar cell temperature is between 45 and 75 degrees Celsius or moderate to high.
On the other hand, the MPPT controller can be for you if you have a high power system. It will harvest more power if the temperature of your solar cell is below 45 degrees Celsius or extremely high or over 75 degrees Celsius. It also applies if the irradiance is low.
How big of a solar charge controller do I need?
To determine what you need, you must select a device compatible with your system voltage; usually, configurations are 12, 24, or 48 volts. You should choose a charge controller rated at 24V if you have batteries to the wire for 24 volts.
Also, you should check for current capacity, too. At the very least, you should choose one that can accommodate the max output current of your solar panel or array. Take note that the max current that a photovoltaic panel can produce is referred to as the short circuit current (LSC) in the specs sheet.
What is the warranty?
The product’s warranty is another factor to consider when shopping around for a good controller. It will add to your peace of mind and satisfaction because it can ensure that you can ask for help or assistance if something goes wrong with your unit. Some manufacturers can offer a 24-month warranty, while others can be shorter or longer. Check for it when shopping around for a charge controller.
How to install and use?
Typically, you can find it in the user manual of your unit. Generally, it’s not hard to install at all, taking only a few minutes of your time. It won’t also require any outside help in many cases.
How to care & clean?
These units are easy to care for and clean, and the top-tier ones also do not require any maintenance at all. You might just have to wipe it off with clean and dry cloth from time to time.
Where to buy?
Many places offer different charge controllers. Some of them include marketplaces, such as Amazon.com. You can also find these units in RV supplies stores and electronics shops. You can get started with the comparison and selection process in our reviews earlier.
Hoping we’re able to shed light in this buying guide with the reviews of different solar charge controllers, their pros and cons, and special qualities. You might also want to refer to this guide to compare the factors to check when studying your options. Also, we’re hoping we’ve answered the most common questions surrounding this topic.
Using this information, compare and weigh your options when shopping around for a charge controller. With it, you will be able to find one that suits your needs and situation. And with the right equipment, you will find more satisfaction in its use. Buy the best solar charge controller today!
Hi, I am Eddie, Cleanenergysummit’s content editor. It’s so much joy to work alongside Justin, as the idea of providing knowledge about using clean energy excites us.
I’ve been working to address any concerns or questions you may have as you transition to using solar electricity to power your home. Tune in to hear our advice and suggestions on anything clean energy. Welcome!