Skip to content
New Customer Get 8% OFF | Code: GG8
5-8 Days Free Shipping
New Customer Get 8% OFF | Code: GG8
5-8 Days Free Shipping
New Customer Get 8% OFF | Code: GG8
5-8 Days Free Shipping

Solar Charge Controller Basics

If you're considering building your own off-grid system, the part you often find most confusing is the solar charge controller. In this article, we'll delve into the basics of solar...

If you're considering building your own off-grid system, the part you often find most confusing is the solar charge controller. In this article, we'll delve into the basics of solar charge controllers, their types, and how they work to make your off-grid system more efficient.

What Are Solar Charge Controllers?

 solar charge contollers

Solar charge controllers, also known as solar regulators, are devices that regulate the voltage and current from solar panels to batteries. They prevent overcharging, over-discharging, and excessive voltage fluctuations, which can damage batteries and reduce their lifespan. In essence, they act as guardians of your battery bank, ensuring it receives the right amount of charge while preventing any potential harm.

Solar Charge Controller Types

There are two main types of solar charge controllers: Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) and Pulse Width Modulation (PWM).

What is MPPT?

MPPT solar charge controllers are more advanced and efficient. They’re up to 30% more efficient than the PWM solar charge controllers that preceded them. This efficiency comes from constantly monitoring the output voltage throughout the day and determining the maximum voltage possible for the temperature and amount of sunlight.

For example, depending on the state of charge, a 12-volt battery has a nominal voltage that ranges between just over 10 volts and just under 13 volts. Furthermore, the voltage required to charge a 12-volt battery ranges between 13.5 and 14.5 volts depending on the charging phase.

On the other hand, the optimum output voltage of a solar panel varies depending on the panel’s temperature, time of day, how cloudy it is, and other environmental factors. For instance, under ideal conditions, a 250-watt solar panel may have an optimal operating voltage of 32 volts. As the panel heats up in the sun or on a hot day, the optimal voltage may drop to as low as 26 volts.

The rated panel voltage must be higher than the battery voltage to accommodate for these voltage drops in the panel and the increased required battery charging voltage. Without an MPPT charge controller, this voltage differential leads to a lot of wasted power.

What is PWM?

PWM solar charge controllers use a transistor switch that rapidly opens and closes as needed to regulate the charge current going into the battery. Since PWM controllers can’t modulate the voltage, they pull the output voltage of the solar panel down to match the battery voltage. Let’s look at an example.

A 250-watt solar panel may have an optimal or max power voltage (Vmp) of 32 volts and a max power current (Imp) of 7.8 amps. (32 volts x 7.8 amps = 250 watts)

Using a PWM controller, your panel will still produce 7.8 amps. But the voltage will drop to match the battery at 12 volts. Now, your panel is only providing 94 watts instead of 250 watts. (12 volts x 7.8 amps = 94 watts)

How Do Solar Charge Controllers Work?

As we mentioned before, MPPT charge controllers are DC-DC converters. This means they regulate the charge current into the battery like a PWM controller. But, they also convert the voltage coming out of the panel to match what the battery needs. Let’s look at an example of how this drastically improves efficiency.

Using the same 250-watt panel, the MPPT controller allows the panel to operate at the max power voltage (Vmp). Now the power going into the controller is the full rated 250 watts.

The output from the controller to the battery still needs to match the battery at 12 volts. But the current increases to 20.8 amps allowing you to utilize the full 250 watt potential of your panel. (12 volts x 20.8 amps = 250 watts)

For simplicity, these examples assumed a 100% efficient conversion in the charge controllers. In reality, a small amount of power is lost as heat during the conversion.

Benefits of an MPPT Charge Controller

More Efficient at Using Power

On a properly sized solar power system, it’s not uncommon to see up to a 30% increase in efficiency by switching to an MPPT controller. This efficiency increase is even more significant on systems where the solar panel voltage is much higher than the battery voltage, like our example above.

Best for off grid system

Utilizing an additional 20-30% of power out of your system becomes more advantageous as the size of your system grows. For this reason, MPPT controllers are often best used on large systems and may not be worth it on smaller, simpler setups.

Utilizing an additional 20-30% of power out of your system becomes more advantageous as the off grid system. For this reason, MPPT controllers are often best used on off grid system.

Better in Cloudier Environments

The maximum power point tracking feature of MPPT controllers is a huge benefit in cloudy environments where the max power point of the solar panels will be fluctuating all day.

What Problems Should Be Paid Attention When buying?

When choosing a solar charge controller, several factors need to be considered. These include the maximum input voltage and current of the solar panels, the battery voltage, the controller's capacity, and the type of technology (MPPT or PWM). Additionally, the controller's build quality, safety features, and warranty should be evaluated to ensure reliable and long-lasting performance.

To save you some more time, we have come up with some suggestions of our own, which is kind of fun if you look at it!

Bateria Power PWM Solar Charge Controller

Bateria Power 12v/24v pwm solar controller

Bateria Power 12v/24v pwm solar controller with LCD display dual usb multiple load control modes for AGM, gel, flooded and lithium battery, used in RVs, boats, yachts.

 Automatically detects the voltage of the battery system (for non-lithium batteries) and adjusts the charging parameters accordingly, ensuring that the battery is charged safely and efficiently. Compatible with various 12v or 24v batteries, such as SLD, FLD, GEL, AGM, SLA, LiFePO4, ternary lithium battery, and LTO battery. The solar panel regulator is dependable to be your battery maintainer.

Bateria Power 40A  Mppt Solar Charge Controller-Wireless Monitor With App

Bateria Power 40A  Mppt Solar Charge Controller-Wireless Monitor With App

Built-in BT Module, Pairing the solar controller with a mobile phone via ChargePro 2.0, which makes seeing the output and history data a breeze, also allows the charge voltage, current, etc. to be set for different types of battery.

The Negative Ground controller with dual MOS circuit to prevent the reverse current and to reduce the heat in operation, also has various protections for overcharge, over-discharge, overload, short circuit, reverse connection, overheating, battery under voltage, and TVS lightning protection.

Bateria Power 20A 12V/24V MPPT Wireless Solar Charge Controller

Bateria Power 20A 12V/24V MPPT Wireless Solar Charge Controller

Wireless Phone APP intelligent control: Convenient Remote Monitoring. With a built-ineasy-to-use phone APP control, you can remotely monitor your charger and panel productivity while. Its APP remote monitoring technology ensures that you are always up-to-date.

Bateria Power's newly upgraded 20A MPPT solar charge controller can automatically monitor the 12V and 24V DC system voltage, and the tracking efficiency is up to 100%, which means it can charge your battery to the maximum, compared with other products. Can help you save 20%-30% of the charging time.

In conclusion, solar charge controllers are essential components of a off-grid system. They ensure that the energy from the sun is harnessed efficiently, stored optimally, and used effectively. Whether you opt for an MPPT or PWM controller, the right choice depends on your specific system requirements and budget. As you embark on your solar energy journey, Bateria Power offers a range of high-quality solar charge controllers to meet your needs. From MPPT controllers to PWM models, explore our collection to find the perfect match for your solar setup and ensure a reliable and sustainable energy solution for years to come.


Your cart is currently empty.

Start Shopping

Select options