This is the ultimate guide to choosing a solar charge controller that fits your needs. First, we will demonstrate the use of solar controllers. Then you’ll be able to decide on either PWM or MPPT solar charge controllers. Finally, you’ll get to know the leading companies to look out for when choosing the right one.
Functions Of A Solar Charge Controller
When dealing with anything that stores up energy which is otherwise called a battery, we need to simultaneously think of ways that this energy can be regulated and properly managed.
A solar charge controller is mainly responsible for regulating the energy which flows between solar modules and batteries used in storing up energy generated from solar panels.
With this in place, a battery can have a longer and more efficient duration of service. Solar charge controller has a lot of other functions such as displaying the present state of your battery and managing the discharge current of the battery. The most important function of a charge controller though is to prevent batteries from getting overcharged
When a solar power system is working optimally, there is the likelihood of the battery getting overcharged. This is because the solar panels are built for the purpose of generating higher levels of voltage which if not controlled could lead to damage of the solar power system.
In most cases, batteries need around 14 volts to be fully charged and an average solar panel can give off up to 16 or more volts at a go. In other words, when your batteries are charged, the solar panels are giving off far more than what is needed to charge them.
What Solar Charge Controller Do I Need?
There are mainly two different types of solar chargers out there with various features combined in them.
Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) solar charge controller:
The PWM or “Standard” solar charge controller can be referred to the older models of solar chargers.
To fully optimize the usage of a PWM, you need to be in an area where solar power is in constant supply which isn’t actually guaranteed anywhere.
With the PWM, more than 30% of the actual power is lost thereby resulting in less utility of the solar panels.
The solar arrays in these system controllers have a link to the battery through which pulse charges are moved.
For this to work, the solar array and the bank should be within equal range of voltage. The PWM is usually considered a cheaper and less reliable option depending on the brand.
Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) charge controllers:
These are more efficient and durable charge controllers and are commonly seen in markets compared to the PWM.
These controllers are able to manage voltage output in correspondence with the amount of solar radiation input and still deliver 100% power.
Depending on the type of MPPT you opt for, they can take up over 300 VDC. Although excellent in performance, it comes at a higher cost than the PWM.
Solar Charge Controller Companies To Look Out For
Do not open the Amazon links we are providing here unless you read this: There are many people who fell victims for buying cheap MPPT Solar charge controllers. Unfortunately, you cannot get a good one unless you pay over $100.
They are one of the top producers of MPPT solar charge controllers. They have quality MPPT solar charge controllers that are easy to use and have efficient tracking capacity. Their products range from below 100 dollars to 160 dollars. So depending on your budget, you can get something that fits.
With a return back policy for dissatisfied customers and over one year of warranty, they are a good choice.
One thing that has it going for this company is lots of positive customer reviews. Of course, behind any positive response is optimum satisfaction.
Renogy offers both MPPT and PWM charge controllers ranging from below 100 dollars upward. Each offers high efficiency as they make their products to meet quality standards.
They are also quite easy to use and understand, their solar charge controllers are made to suit different purposes. You can make purchases directly on their website.
This is one company that deals in only solar charge controllers based in the US. Unlike other companies that merge the sales of controllers with panels and other solar services. They deal strictly in solar charge controllers and it’s accessories which gives them an edge over other competitors in terms of specialization and product knowledge.
They offer both PWM and MPPT solar charge controllers and have very enticing sales deals from time to time which you can take advantage of.
ZHCSolar have a very wide variety of solar charge controllers which come in different sizes and specifications. So if you are one mindful of specific features, you can get it here.
They also have technical support and up to date information to meet customer needs.
Now, if you are low on budget and need something you can put to good use for a short period of time but still enjoy its use, try the charge controllers produced by Mohoo.
They offer high-level PWM charge controllers without any very complex features to contend with. So if you are new to using charge controllers, this also works for a very good start on it.
Their charge controllers are very easy to mount and understand. They also offer other services aside charge controllers such as solar panels.
Sadly, you wouldn’t get a lot of options for charge controllers. Their charge controllers are limited but, the few they have, they receive some very good customer ratings which are good to go.
Better use of energy is something that has become a global trend in recent years. So, it is no surprise that solar charge controllers are evolving by the second with dedicated engineers working round the clock to create charge controllers with more functionality, speed, accuracy, and durability.
With the growing demand to save energy, the demand for quality charge controllers is also increasing as a well-protected battery ensures optimal use in the long run.
Without a good solar charge controller, suffice it to say that your solar panels will remain underused. Which in most cases, still leaves you dependent on other forms of energy generation and use.
Ensure you make extensive research when picking a solar charge controller in order to have corresponding voltage for your solar panels. Also, go for quality not minding the cost, your batteries are worth a lot more.