If you are planning to install a solar panel system for home or travel use, you should ensure that you get the right solar charge controller. As its name implies, a solar charge controller is basically used to control and regulate the energy coming from the solar panels to store into the batteries.
Gathering energy from your solar panels, the solar charge controller then stores it in your batteries. Every solar-powered system requires regulation so that battery damage is prevented. A solar charge controller also ensures that your system operates safely and over long periods of time.
Finding and buying the best solar charge controller for your system can be quite challenging. It requires considering factors such as safety features, rating, quality, and price point when making that purchase.
Most solar charge controllers can be quite expensive therefore consideration should be placed before buying them. In this list, we help you select the very best solar charge controllers available in the market today.
Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT 100V 30-amp 12/24-Volt Solar Charge Controller (Bluetooth)
Starting off this list is the Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT charge controller. Using the latest and fastest technology, SmartSolar maximizes the energy gathered from the solar panel and stores it in the batteries. In the process, it drives the energy intelligently so that full charge is achieved in the shortest possible time.
Coming from a premium brand, the SmartSolar charge controller will not pass up on a severely-depleted battery and will readily recharge it. It maintains the battery’s health thereby extending its life, too. As long as the cells are not permanently sulfated or otherwise damaged, they can operate with a battery voltage as low as 0 Volts. It offers a very high maximum current rating of 30 amps.
With a voltage rating of 12 volts and 24 volts, this solar charge controller can be virtually used with any solar panel. Needless to say, Victron Energy products are a great option for many because of their reliability and numerous features, which include Bluetooth connectivity.
Although it is quite an expensive solar charge controller, it does come with three years of warranty and excellent build quality for added durability.
Onesolar 60A MPPT Solar Charge Controller 60amp Panel Battery Charger Controller
Operating at a high maximum current rating of 60 amps, this Onesolar charge controller utilizes MPPT which means it can operate at higher power and voltage. Operating data and working conditions are very easy to see due to this controller’s LCD. In fact, you can even display real-time energy statistics functions with multiple load control modes and daily power generation and current curves.
This unit can support 4 charging options: sealed, gel, flooded, and user-defined. It automatically detects 12V, 24V, 48V, unlike other units that only allow 12V and 24V.
It has a tracking rate of maximum power is ≥99% and the maximum conversion rate is >98%. It comes with multiple protection against overcharge, over-discharge, overload, short circuit, reverse polarity, overheating, and battery under-voltage.
All these impressive features make this solar charge controller worth your money.
EPEVER 40A MPPT Solar Charge Controller
This negative-ground controller utilizes advanced MPPT technology with high tracking efficiency of up to 99.5%. Its peak conversion efficiency is 98%. This way, you can maximize the energy from solar panels to charge your system.
This charge controller also comes with built-in protection against reverse polarity, overcharging, over-discharging, overload, short-circuiting, and reverse current. This protects the battery from being overcharged by the solar modules and over-discharged by the loads, thereby increasing its life.
With 40A of power, the charging process has been optimized for prolonged battery life and improved system performance. A 4-stage battery charging process is utilized (bulk, boost, float, and equalization). Battery life and system performance are also improved through temperature compensation.
This solar controller even supports PC software for monitoring, APP, and MT-50 and automatically identifies 12V/24V DC system voltages. Like other solar charge controllers, it is also compatible with various deep cycle battery options including sealed, gel, flooded, and lithium.
With a backlight LCD screen, system information and working condition are easily displayed for real-time data checking and parameter setting. It comes with multiple load control modes which include manual control, lighting ON/OFF, and light On+Timer
Finally, its die-cast aluminum design allows for efficient heat dissipation to prolong the life of the unit.
OOYCYOO MPPT Charge Controller
As a positive ground MPPT controller, the unit is equipped with high tracking efficiency of up to 99.5%. This is ultra-efficient and hardly wastes the energy from solar panels.
The system automatically detects 12V/24V systems. It supports sealed, gel, flooded lead-acid batteries, and lithium batteries. With three charging stages (constant current, constant voltage, floating charge), it also compensates for the temperature to extend your battery life and improve your system’s performance.
With a multifunctional LCD, real-time data such as volts, amps, and temperature is shown for your convenience. Operating at 60 amps, the MPPT charge controller supports manual switch load. The LED shows if solar panels and batteries are indeed connected to the controller. It is programmable so you can specify battery type, load control, and timer setting. Additionally, it takes only 5 seconds to restore the factory settings.
The OOYCYOO MPPT charge controller comes with a lightning protection function. Aside from that, intelligent protection against reverse polarity, reverse discharge, overload, short-circuiting, under-voltage, and reverse current is built in the system.
A yearlong 100% warranty is given for all customers to top it all off.
RICH SOLAR 20 Amp 12V/24V DC Input MPPT Solar Charge Controller
Using innovative MPPT technology, the RICH SOLAR charge controller has a high tracking efficiency of up to 99% and a conversion efficiency of 98%. Now that is hard to beat!
This solar charge controller is compatible with various deep cycle batteries such as sealed, gel, flooded, and lithium batteries. It can automatically detect 12V or 24V DC system voltages and operate accordingly.
Protection against overcharging, over-discharging, overload, and short circuit is in place to ensure safe operation. It also comes with reverse protection. At the end of the day, you can use any solar module and battery, without causing damage to any component.
A high-tech solution, the RICH SOLAR charge controller comes with an RS232 port that allows communication with the BT-1 Bluetooth module that can also pair with a mobile app. With an LCD, you have the capability of measuring the battery’s temperature and remote monitoring so that you can keep it operating safely. The charging voltages are customizable as well.
Finally, it comes in a die-cast aluminum design for better heat dissipation and added durability.
Renogy Adventurer 30A 12V/24V Negative Ground PWM Flush Mount Charge Controller with LCD Display
Compatible with 12V and 24V systems, this solar charger is ready to use deep cycle sealed, gel, flooded, and lithium battery options.
This Renogy Adventurer is a negative ground controller, which ensures compatibility with any negative ground system. This is the standard and most conventional way of grounding, where any negative connection on the solar module, battery, and load can be safely grounded to the earth as required.
It utilizes a smart 4-stage PWM charging technology. Its temperature compensation improves the performance of the system and increases battery life. It also features intelligent protection against reverse polarity, overcharging, short-circuit and reverse current to ensure safe operation.
With a backlit LCD screen, operating information and error codes can easily be viewed. It comes with 5V 2. 4A USB port on the front display, which can be used to charge your electronic devices.
Like the other charge controllers, it is equipped with an RS232 port that can communicate with a BT-1 Bluetooth module. It can be operated using a Renogy DC Home smartphone app.
Designed for an aesthetically clean and integrated look on your RV and camper walls, this flush-mounted solar charge controller also comes with a surface mount attachment if flush mounting does not appeal to you.
Finally, the Adventurer integrates highly-efficient PWM charging to increase battery longevity. This is done by regulating the charge flowing from the solar panels to the battery bank.
Autoday MPPT 40A-100A 12V/24V Auto Focus Tracking Solar Panel Regulator Dual USB Port Charge Controller
A controller that will automatically cut off the load from the system when the battery voltage is low? The Autoday charge controller does just that to prolong the life of the unit. The load will restart working if the voltage of the battery is back to normal.
Using MPPT technology, this controller has perfect SOC function. It controls charge current and supplies power to the loads. It helps prevent the battery from overcharging, over-discharging and reverse charging to solar panels especially during nights, therefore prolonging the life of your entire system.
Compared with normal solar charge controllers, this MPPT controller has the potential to increase efficiency by 10%-30%. That is hard to beat!
However, perhaps its greatest limitation is the fact that it is only suitable for lead-acid batteries: OPEN, AGM, GEL. It is not suitable for nickel-metal hydride, lithium ions, or other batteries, limiting its flexibility.
In case you have a problem with the unit, the company offers excellent 24 hours customer support for your convenience.
ALLPOWERS 20A Solar Charger Controller
With a rated discharge current of 20A, this solar charge controller has a USB output voltage of 5V/3A. Its battery voltage is 12V/24V, which is automatically detected by the system.
With dual USB ports, it has an adjustable power rate and features a 3-Stage (bulk, ABS, and float) charge management and 4-Stage PWM charge.
The ALLPOWERS solar charger controller comes with an industrial-grade STM 8 microprocessor that efficiently controls the charge and discharge process. Over-current and short-circuit protections are in place along with inverse connection protection, low voltage, and overcharge protection to ensure a long life. It features good heat dissipation as well.
The unit comes with a display that can indicate the status of the unit. Switching modes and parameter configurations are simple and easy to do. With a low price tag, this solar charge controller is definitely suitable for home, industrial, commercial applications.
Renogy Wanderer 10 Amp 12V/24V PWM Negative Ground Solar Charge Controller
Another Renogy solar charge controller in this list, the Renogy Wanderer utilizes PWM technology yet again. It is optimized for a 12V/24V system and is deep cycle sealed (AGM), gel, flooded and lithium battery option-ready.
With a Smart 4-Stage PWM charging that has bulk, boost, float, and equalization functions, your battery life and system performance are effectively improved. It comes with protection against reverse polarity, overcharging, short-circuit, and reverse current, too.
A convenient backlit LCD screen displays system operation, diverse load control, and error codes to keep you constantly informed. Integrated 5V 2A USB ports allow you to charge your USB devices.
An integrated RS232 port promotes communication with BT-1 Bluetooth module so you can communicate with it through a Renogy DC Home smartphone app.
Due to its compact size, it is very simple to install. This unit is even capable of charging over-discharged lithium batteries. And with that budget-friendly price, you won’t regret getting this controller.
HUINE 20A 12V 24V Auto IP68 Waterproof PWM Solar Charge Controller
An IP68 rated waterproof unit, this solar charge controller utilizes an intelligent 4-stage PWM solar charging technology. It makes this suitable for outdoor use for a variety of applications such as solar monitoring systems or solar lighting systems.
The HUINE solar charge controller allows your battery life to be extended. With a 24-hour working mode, it comes with short circuit protection, overcharge protection, over-discharge protection, and reverse protection.
This unit can automatically sense and detect 12V or 24 volts for your batteries. Unlike other units though, it does not come with an LCD. Instead, three LED lights help you know solar charging status, battery level, and load status, which is just as useful as an LCD.
With the heat sink placed at the bottom, this unit is very easy to mount on the frame of the solar panel with 2 mounting holes. The short cables allow for connecting with solar panels, battery, and load easily.
Lastly, its small size also lets you save you some space. With that price, this is a very good deal.
The maximum current rating tells you about the highest electrical load the controller can handle. Some solar charge controllers support up to 20 amps of current, while other models can support up to 40 amps.
The number of amps that your controller will feed to your devices from the battery bank determines what devices you can charge with your solar panels. A higher capacity means that more devices can be charged.
Common solar charge controllers out there include 12-volt ones and 24-volt ones. It is important to verify that your solar charge controller can support both 12 volts and 24-volt current for versatility and compatibility.
The best solar charge controllers are those with a higher max input voltage as this will allow users to scale their systems when needed. Additionally, a higher max input will also account for varying weather patterns that affect the efficiency of the solar system.
There are two main types of solar charge controllers: Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) and Pulse Width Modulation (PWM).
MPPT controllers allow for up to 30% more power than PWM controllers and can be used for higher voltages. They are also more power-efficient (up to 98%). They are capable of operating in bad weather as they can preserve the battery output and compensate for low power. Their ability to convert voltage for input and output sources results in very little power loss. As such, MPPT controllers are the more expensive option.
On the other hand, a PWM controller is ideal for those looking to devise simple systems such as powering a mobile device. It is basically a switch that connects a solar array to a battery and often leads to low power output when the outside temperature is either very high or very low. It forces the output voltage of a solar array to be decreased to match that of the battery. Although the actual controller itself is the cheapest option on the market, the use of large wiring when you increase the array of your solar panels to compensate for the size of the area increases the cost of the system.
Ultimately, the PMW is an outdated technology that is inferior to the MPPT charge controller when it comes to battery regulation.
Many solar charge controllers come with features that promote customization. This just means that the users can design the ideal system to service their solar array and batteries. Perhaps the most important features are those related to safety, as they prevent unfortunate accidents that often come with electrical systems. These include protection against overcharging, overload, short-circuit, reverse polarity, and electric arcs.
Other useful features include LED screens, data logging, and remote-control management systems, among many others.
How does a solar charge controller work?
A solar charge controller simply regulates the power that is transferred from a solar panel to a storage device such as a battery. Using a charge controller improves the efficiency of a solar-powered system by up to 50%. This can also extend the life of batteries by preventing them from being overcharged.
Is the MPPT charge controller better than the PWM charge controller?
MPPT charge controllers feature a lot of benefits over the PWM type. Those seeking to install solar panels on their roofs, or power large systems, should definitely go with the MPPT charge controllers as they can help to keep the amperage low and wire size small. They are also more power-efficient.
Only those looking to power small devices should opt for the PWM charge controllers, although they have the benefit of being more budget-friendly. They can also handle the low voltage.