Have you recently switched to solar energy? Well done! You’re currently trying to manage your energy bill while using a clean source of energy. However, there are a few devices that you need to buy in order to make your experience more pleasant.
The best solar charge controller will help preserve the condition of your solar battery so it can last for a long time. Whatever you’re using the battery for, this little device guarantees that your solar system setup will be more efficient.
In this article, you’ll learn everything about the best controllers available. Adding the right solar charge controller will help you make better use of the system you’re using at home.
Reviews of the Best Solar Charge Controller
We know that finding the best solar charge controller isn’t always an easy task. This is why we collected information about some of the best products out there, so you can find the right one for you. Check out our top picks.
1. EPEVER MPPT Solar Charge Controller 40A MaxInput Voltage 100V Negative Grounded Tracer
- ☀Negative Ground Controller Advanced MPPT technology High tracking...
- ☀ 12V/24VDC automatically identifying system voltage.User...
- ☀ Multi-function Backlight LCD displays system information...
This MPPT controller is designed to work with 12/24V batteries providing an output of 40A with minimum energy loss for the most complicated tasks. Although this is not a cheap option, it’s considered to be extremely affordable compared to other top-tier controllers that have the same safety features.
It features a high tracking efficiency of no less than 99.5%. There are other models that provide 20A and 30A output so they’re suitable if you want something less expensive and simpler.
If you’re looking for a versatile controller, you should look no further. It’s designed to work with Sealed, Gel, Flooded and Lithium batteries. There are some safety features to prevent overload with a light on/off switch and timer giving you more control. These include reverse polarity protection, over-voltage protection, and over-discharge protection.
You can always monitor how the controller works thanks to the backlight LCD. It displays all the system and operating information so you’re always monitoring how the controller is working. It can be connected to your PC for real-time data observation.
We recommend this controller if you’re placing solar panels on trailers and houses. It’s quite easy to install and weighs 5 pounds. The installation manual is a bit confusing, so you need the help of a professional to set it up.
What We Like
- High-quality MPPT controller for output of 40A.
- High-tracking efficiency.
- Premium safety features.
- Backlit LCD to display all data.
- Works with different types of batteries.
What We Don’t Like
- The user manual is confusing.
2. Renogy Wanderer Li 30A 12V PWM Negative Ground Charge Controller
- Optimized for a 12V system; Deep cycle Sealed, Gel, Flooded, and...
- Smart 4 Stage PWM charging (Bulk, Boost, Float, and Equalization) and...
- Multiple LED indicators for easy to read charge status and battery...
If you’re on a tight budget, you should stick to this middle-level controller as it provides excellent performance given its affordable price. This is a ground controller that works with any negative ground system.
To protect the battery from any damage, the controller works in 4 stages Bulk, Boost, Float, and Equalization. This reduces the risk of overloading, overcharging, reverse polarity, and short circuits. Moreover, you can always monitor the operation of the controller thanks to the LED indicators. The temperature compensation increases the battery life and protects your investment.
Just like other PWM controllers, the beauty of this controller lies in its simplicity. This model is compatible with all types of Flooded, Gel, Sealed, and Lithium batteries.
There’s a port for Bluetooth connectivity so you can easily connect the controller to your smartphone. Once you download the app, you’ll be able to control and monitor the status of the controller wherever you are.
Although this is a simple controller, it’s extremely practical and suitable for most applications. It works on 12V nominal voltage and comes with pre-drilled holes for easy mounting, in addition to a button to help you select the right battery. This is a lightweight controller weighing 0.65 pounds.
The screws connecting the wire are very small and the controller doesn’t accept wire with a diameter big enough for 30A. It lacks an LCD and can’t be connected to the computer. However, it’s still a good option given its price.
What We Like
- Affordable and simple controller.
- Safety features to protect it from overloading, overcharging, and reverse polarity.
- Works with different batteries.
- Can be connected to the smartphone.
What We Don’t Like
- Doesn’t accept wire with a diameter big enough for 30A.
- Less versatile than other options.
3. Outback Flexmax 80 FM80 MPPT 80 AMP Solar Charge Controller
- Programmable to Charge Battery Voltages from 12 VDC to 60 VDC.
- Advanced Continuous Maximum Power Point Tracking Increases PV Array...
- Backlit 80 character-display shows the current operational status.
For serious users who need maximum output power, this is the best MPPT controller to install. It’s more expensive than other models, but it’s an excellent choice for someone who is planning to connect a large number of devices to the solar panel.
It’s designed to work with various solar systems and battery types so it’s a versatile option that doesn’t limit your options. If you’re installing a solar system in a rural area to power your house, this is the best controller to buy. It weighs around 12 pounds.
This controller is designed to maximize photovoltaic array output by 30%. This means that you will get more amp hours from your solar system. It protects your investment, especially if you’re using the system to power your house or trailer. It can handle up to 150VDC open circuit to charge batteries from 12V to 60VDC.
Even if you don’t have much experience with solar controllers, this one is extremely easy to control, set up, program, and manage. Once you connect it to the MATE system display and controller, you’ll be able to explore more advanced configuration options.
You can easily monitor the status of the controller thanks to the 80-character backlight LCD. With the active cooling technology and thermal control, this system will last for long. It’s a sturdy product that can withstand several weather conditions.
It doesn’t come with a data cable, so you’ll have to buy one if you want to manage and centralize your data by connecting it to a HUB. This is a bit disappointing given the price of the controller.
What We Like
- Robust MTTP controller for heavy-duty tasks.
- Versatile options that work with various systems and batteries.
- Easy to install and control.
- Smart cooling technology to increase the life of your solar battery.
- Comes with a backlit display.
What We Like
- Expensive model.
- Doesn’t come with a data cable.
4. Victron SmartSolar MPPT 150/35 Solar Charge Controller 150V 35A with Bluetooth
- Battery Voltage: 12/24/48V Auto Select (software tool needed to select...
- Bluetooth Smart Built-In: The wireless solution to set-up, monitor,...
- Solar Charge Controller – A solar charger gathers energy from your...
Choose this MPPT controller if you need a maximum PV short circuit current of 40A. It’s designed to deliver 98% of peak efficiency. The voltage output range is adjustable as it can successfully work with 12, 24, and 48V thanks to the auto-select feature. Moreover, you can select 36V using a software tool.
This is what you should get if you need a reliable MPPT converter for the most challenging tasks. It comes with built-in Bluetooth so you can easily connect the controller to your smartphone or computer. This gives you maximum control over how the controller is working so you monitor all the operations in real-time.
Using this controller will maximum energy harvest from your panels to be stored in the batteries. This means that it will decrease the time needed to reach a full charge.
The fast MPPT technology guarantees that no energy will be lost while harvesting for maximum efficiency. This is a great feature, especially when the light intensity and weather conditions are always changing. The controller is lightweight and weighs 3.44 pounds.
Although it features an internal sensor, it might be a good idea to connect it to a smart battery temperature sensor for more reliable results. It’s quite easy to install but there’s no setting for lithium batteries which is a bit disappointing given the price of the model.
What We Like
- Designed to deliver 98% of energy efficiency.
- Adjustable voltage output.
- Built-in Bluetooth to connect it to your smartphone and computer.
- Guarantees maximum energy harvest in all weather conditions.
What We Don’t Like
- No Lithium battery setting.
- Expensive model.
5. WindyNation 30A PWM Solar Panel Regulator Charge Controller
- WindyNation P30L PWM 30 amp solar charge controller prevents battery...
- Electronic protection: overload, short circuit, and reverse polarity...
- LCD digital display provides system information (amperage, voltage,...
PWM controllers like this one are practical and affordable so they don’t represent a burden when you’re a tight budget. This controller is ideal for 12 and 24-volt batteries, preventing their damage by eliminating the risk of overcharging and overloading. It’s so versatile that it can be adjusted for AGM, Gel, and lead-acid batteries.
In spite of its affordable price, this controller features reliable safety features to prevent short circuits, overload, and reverse polarity. Moreover, there is an LCD to display different settings so you can always monitor how the controller is working to make any necessary adjustments.
Unlike other expensive models, this one comes with a battery temperature sensor BTS. This makes it excellent value for money given its affordable price.
Adjusting the settings is straightforward thanks to the up and down buttons. It’s very lightweight, weighing around 1 pound.
It lacks some of the features that you can find on more expensive models. The LCD isn’t backlit and doesn’t show all the information related to how the battery and controller are working.
What We Like
- An affordable controller.
- Reliable safety features to prevent damage.
- LCD to show all the settings.
- Adjustable settings.
What We Don’t Like
- LCD isn’t backlit.
- Some information isn’t displayed.
What is a Solar Charge Controller?
Every solar-powered system has a battery that charges when it’s exposed to the sun. However, overcharging the battery can damage it. This means that your system won’t be functional.
A solar charge controller regulates the amount of energy absorbed by the battery. The controller adds to the cost of the solar panel and batteries but guarantees that your system will last for a long time.
How to Choose the Best Solar Charge Controller
Buying a reliable solar charge controller is an investment. This device will protect your solar battery and allow you to make the best of it. Here are some factors that you should consider before buying the right solar charge controller.
There are two types of models MPPT and PWM controllers. PWM solar charge controllers are simple and work if you want to set up a simple solar system in your garden. MPPT controllers are more complicated and work for more serious applications.
A PWM or Pulse Width Modulation controller is a simple switch that connects a solar array to a battery. It pushes the solar array output to decrease so it can reach that of the solar battery.
The power output is usually low when the temperature is too high or too low. Although it’s not very advanced, it’s a suitable choice for someone who needs an affordable option so they can power a simple device.
An MPPT or Maximum power point tracking charge controller allows for up to 30% more output power than the PWM controller. It can also handle higher voltages.
This controller is what you need if you’re likely to experience extreme weather changes. It reserves the power of the battery and minimizes the loss of power. However, this type is more expensive and is suitable if you want to power an entire home or a big number of appliances and devices.
Since solar panels are left outside all the time, you need a robust controller that can withstand various weather conditions. As a rule of thumb, solar panels work slightly better when the weather is cloudy and cold. This is true because the extra heat can affect the efficiency of the panel.
At the same time, rain and snow will also affect how efficient the solar panel will be. An MPPT controller is the best option as it increases the power of the battery. A good controller will have a sensor to help it function better and deliver more energy at different temperatures.
If you have a small battery that doesn’t give out much power, you might not even need a controller. However, if your solar battery gives more than 2 watts, you’ll need to install one to protect your investment.
The higher voltage capacity is suitable if you’re looking for a solar charge controller for a system that powers your entire house.
The maximum input voltage should exceed the value of the battery bank, especially if you want to connect several panels creating a grid-tie system. This will also help the controller last even if the sun is exceptionally bright.
The job of the controller is to handle the current from the solar panel without any damage. As a matter of fact, you should do some calculations to find out the amp requirements.
Solar panel wattage/battery bank voltage= the number of amps required to be in your charge controller. You should stick to an MPPT controller if you have a high voltage system.
This number affects the type and number of devices that you can actually charge using the solar battery. Higher current output means that you can power more devices.
In addition to safety features, some charge controllers have Bluetooth connection. Some of them have LED screens that allow you to keep track of the current to maintain the condition of the battery.
A good solar charge controller should have some safety features that prevent the controller from overcharging. This can cause overload or short-circuits that can damage your expensive appliances and devices.
1. Do you always need a charge controller?
Most of the time, yes. If the solar panel puts out 2 watts for every 50 battery amp-hours, then you don’t need to buy a controller. However, this will only work if you’re using the solar panel to power a small device.
2. Which is better: MPPT or PWM controllers?
PWM controllers are more affordable and can handle up to 60A. However, these controllers are limited and not equipped for a higher voltage grid.
MPPT controllers are more energy efficient so they will decrease the loss of energy during harvest. They can handle higher amperage and offer more flexibility for system growth. Nevertheless, these controllers are bigger and more expensive.
Choosing the right controller depends on your needs and budget. If you’re using your solar battery to power small devices and appliances, a PMW will be fine.
3. Can I use 2 solar charge controllers?
Yes, you can if a single controller isn’t able to handle the output of a solar array.
Installing the best solar charge controller will maintain the condition of the battery and protect your investment in a solar panel. We chose the EPEVER MPPT Solar Charge Controller 40A MaxInput Voltage 100V Negative Grounded Tracer as our top choice because it’s designed to handle all the heavy-duty tasks while minimizing energy loss. Whether you have limited or big energy needs, this controller won’t disappoint you.
Your choice depends on several factors. Luckily, there are various models that can satisfy your needs. Check the products on our list and you’ll definitely find something that works.
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Last update on 2020-05-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API