Every solar-powered system needs power regulation to stop battery damage, and this is why we have made this list of best solar charge controllers. Whether you are an eco-conscious homeowner or a self-taught DIY enthusiast or even if you just need an excellent trickle charging unit – these chargers are crucial.
Most solar charge controllers might require a significant investment, and this makes sense because they are highly important. The price of the charger, along with various other install issues, means solar system users might be intimidated by the many types on the market. That said, the good news is that it’s easy to determine the amount of power required to run your system. It does not matter whether it's for an RV, camping home, or even a residential household.
With a little bit of math and some informed decision making, finding the best solar charge controller becomes simple! Of course, there are the obvious factors you have to consider, including safety features, power customization functions, price points, and more.
- 1 Top Pick
- 2 Runners Up
- 3 Also A Top Pick
- 4 Also Consider
- 4.1 Renogy 20 Amp MPPT Solar Charge Controller
- 4.2 XCSOURCE 30A 12V/24V Solar Charge Controller
- 4.3 HQST 30 Amp 12V/24V PWM Common Positive Solar Charge Controller
- 4.4 Renogy Wanderer 30 Amp 12V Solar Charge Controller
- 4.5 20A Solar Charge Controller Solar Panel Battery Intelligent Regulator by Binen
- 4.6 ALLPOWERS 20A Solar Charger Controller
- 4.7 Victron SmartSolar MPPT 150/35 Solar Charge Controller
- 5 How to Buy the Best Solar Charge Controller
- 6 What to Consider When Buying a Solar Charge Controller
- 7 Finally
Charge way more efficiently than ever before when you have the Temank Solar Charge Controller. This unit comes with a three-load work mode to make it highly convenient for your power supply needs. The first mode is the light control mode, which turns off the load at dawn. More so, the controller has a load output of 24 hours, which makes it ideal for powering your devices.
Furthermore, the charge controller has a rating of 10amps to make it suitable for charging various types of lead-acid batteries. These include OPEN, AGM, GEL, and seal batteries. The makers of this unit have an understanding of the importance of protecting your batteries from damage. Thus, this is why this unit will turn off automatically for your convenience. It’s a feature that helps protect the lifespan of your battery once the voltage levels drop below 9v.
Designed to be simple to use and install, this solar charge controller is ideal for both DIY users and enthusiasts. The charger is also highly durable, and you can be sure of several years of reliable power performance. Furthermore, the charger is also compatible with most types of solar panels, and offers several electrical protection benefits.
Outback Flexmax 80 FM80 MPPT 80 AMP Solar Charge Controller
With the FlexMax80 FM80-150VDC Charge Controller, you are sure of a powerful unit for versatile and efficient charging results. The FLEXmax charge controller, indeed, has all the features you need to make the most out of your solar panel. For instance, it supports an extensive range of nominal battery voltages, and it also can step down a high voltage solar array. Even more, this unit comes with an inbuilt backlit 80-character display. The display shows the current status and logged system performance data for the last 128 days.
You will be pleased with the MPPT software algorithm, which is both continuous and active. Thus, it helps improve the photovoltaic power yield by up to 30%, as when compared to the non-MPPT controllers. Thanks to active cooling and internal thermal management cooling, the charger can operate at its full rating even in ambient temperatures.
As one of the best chargers on the market, this unit also lets you program the voltage levels. To be specific, the charger is programmable to charge battery voltages from 12 VDC to 60 VDC. Therefore, you will be able to customize the functions of the charger, to suit the rating of your solar panel. The Advanced Continuous Maximum Power Point Tracking function will increase the PV output by well over 30%.
Also A Top Pick
Morningstar TriStar Charge Controller
This list would not have been complete without the Morningstar Tristar Charge Controller. This unit is fully adjustable, and it comes with a DIP switch for optimal convenience. The DIP switch lets you select from as many as seven different presets and custom settings for your convenience. Even more, the charger also offers high reliability, and it's available with a large heat sink for enhanced performance.
The charge supports a three-function mechanism that is ideal for large systems. Thus, you have reliable power, suitable for battery charging or load control. Made for performance and reliability, this charger is a reliable addition to your power supply regimen. It even comes with an oversized heatsink and over spec`d components to improve the performance system. The charger is reliable and functions even in temperatures of as much as 45C.
Thanks to the optimal meter display system, you will appreciate the reliability that this unit offers for your needs. It even supports as many as five different languages to make it suitable for many types of users. The makers of the Morningstar Tristar Charge controller have also done well to include convenient communication ports with RS-232 ports. These make it easy to connect to a PC for custom settings, data logging, remote monitoring, and control.
The charger is also fully adjustable, all thanks to DIP switches that have digital presets. As one of the best chargers on the market, this unit also offers a host of unique electronic protection functions. These include protection against short-circuiting, over-current, excessive temperature and more
Renogy 20 Amp MPPT Solar Charge Controller
The Renogy 20 Amp MPPT Solar Charge Controller also makes up for an excellent way to supply your devices with power. The charge controller can match the changing voltages that often occur due to the state of charge of the battery. Thus, this will lead to a 30% more efficient transfer of power to make this unit perfect for charging your solar devices. Even more, this unit will reduce the number of solar panels required by well over 30%. This is a tremendous benefit that will take your solar system performances to the next level.
Also, this solar panel will provide full power output in ambient temperature, and with access to a set of unique power control functions. Which functions exactly are these? They are the nature convection cooling and temperature compensation functions for your convenience. As one of the best chargers on the market, this unit also supports 4 stage charging with PWM output. Thus, you will find it easy to use this charge for sealed, gel, and flooded batteries.
The charger also supports negative grounding, and it has a peak conversion efficiency level of as much as 95%. The benefits of using this charger do not end there. Why? Well, it also features an LCD screen, with programmable parameters, to make it easy to adjust user settings. It can even self-diagnose, just by simply checking up the error code that appears on the screen.
XCSOURCE 30A 12V/24V Solar Charge Controller
Solar energy is the next big thing! Enjoy efficient and effective solar power benefits when you have the XCSOURCE 30A charge controller. This unit offers intelligent control, and it features a microprocessor, with a dedicated control calculation function. Even more, this unit features as many as five load working modes for convenience. These include pure lighting control, lighting control, timing control, hand operation, and debug mode.
Even more, the charger uses a large diameter wire terminal, which you can use to fix wires conveniently. The parameters of this unit are also set to power-down save function and various other forms of essential data stored in the system.
Featuring two digital LEDs display and settings, this unit is easy to use for your solar power supply needs. It is capable of one-button operation to complete all of the settings. Designed to be intuitive and easy to use, this solar charger is perfect for various types of solar panels.
HQST 30 Amp 12V/24V PWM Common Positive Solar Charge Controller
We also highly recommend the HQST 30 AMP Positive Solar Charge controller, which offers a host of benefits when in use. The solar charger controller is intelligent and multifunctional, to make it suitable for use on various types of solar panels. It supports 12V/24V system voltages, which are instantly recognized by the charger. Even more, the charger has temperature compensation mechanisms, and the charging parameters are also adjusted automatically.
The HQST solar brand has also done well to incorporate this unit with a broad range of load working modes. These facilitate the product application to suit different types of power supply load. You will also find it easy to control the parameters to satisfy specific power supply needs.
Ease of use is among some of the critical factors to consider when you use a solar charge controller. Thus, this unit comes with a dot matrix LCD screen and a human-machine interface with a key. This makes operation on the interface rather convenient, and also easy to customize the charge controller functions.
The benefits in performance do not stop there when you have this charger. It also comes with light control for your convenience. When daylight begins, the light source will turn off; meanwhile the solar panels will charge the batteries. When there is no sunlight, the garden light will switch on to make this unit a reliable addition to your property.
Renogy Wanderer 30 Amp 12V Solar Charge Controller
Change how you supply your solar panels with power when you have the Renogy Wanderer 30Amp 12 V solar charge controller. It classifies as a negative ground controller. Such a unique design ensures its compatible with all negative ground systems, which are the standard and most conventional methods for ground. Any negative connection on the solar module, battery, and this unit will safely earth ground the power.
Designed to support 4 stage PWM charging, this unit can prevent issues such as overcharging or over-discharging. The PWM charging stages include bulk, boost, float, and equalization. To support this feature, the charger also comes with multiple electronic protection functions. Yes, that`s right! The ideal solar charger also supports electrical protection. These include protection against issues such as short circuit, reverse polarity, overloading, and more. As such, you can be sure of using a highly reliable power supply unit for your solar panels.
The charger will also compensate for temperature automatically, and it also can correct any charging and discharging parameters for your convenience. It’s a feature that helps improve the longevity of your solar batteries. Thanks to the inclusion of LED indicators, this charger will instantly inform you about the status of the charge controller.
20A Solar Charge Controller Solar Panel Battery Intelligent Regulator by Binen
Are you wondering why your solar panel is never efficient? Well, it's maybe because of a wrong charger. Thus, consider using the 20A solar charger controller, which offers adjustable power, and with 3 stage charging benefits for your convenience. Equipped with an industrial grade STM-8 microprocessor, this unit provides smart charging benefits for your needs each time. It can control the charge and discharge processes, and the additional battery provides convenience in use.
Designed to deliver optimal heat dissipation, this charger offers many benefits even used for long durations. It comes with dual reverse current protection and low heat production mechanisms. These are all electronic components that produce heat when in operation.
It's also easy to use and equipped with a host of electronic protection features. These include over current, short circuit protection, inverse connection protection, and overcharge protection. For ease of use, the maker of this has done well to include a display that indicates status and data. You will also find it easy to switch modes and parameter configuration. Thus, the charger is ideal for home, industrial and commercial uses.
As one of the most dynamic chargers on the market, this unit is suitable for charging different types of devices. You can use it to charge lead-acid batteries including the OPEN, AGM and GEL batteries conveniently.
ALLPOWERS 20A Solar Charger Controller
Equip yourself with the ALLPOWERS 20A Solar Charger Controller, which provides a host of unique benefits. The charger supports 3 stage charging, which includes bulk, ABS, float, and more. More so, the charger comes with an industrial-grade STM 8 microprocessor, that will control the charge and discharge process. The battery is also reliable, to make the charge and discharge period convenient.
With multiple circuit protection, you will be pleased that this unit offers various unique benefits. These include short circuit protection, inverse connection, low voltage, and overcharge protection. Furthermore, the charger also provides exceptional heat dissipation benefits. These include functions such as the dual Mosfet reverse current protection, low heat production, and overcharge protection.
Designed to be easy to use, this unit features a display that indicates all the vital system information. These include the status, data, and you can conveniently adjust various aspects of its functionality. These include switching parameter configuration to make the charger ideal for home, commercial and industrial use.
The charger even has circuitry that will protect it from lightning strikes. It also works smartly to help prolong the battery life cycle and keep the load work well. Furthermore, the charger is also easy to set up and operate. The dynamic design of this unit and its advanced electrical functions make it ideal for various types of solar systems.
Victron SmartSolar MPPT 150/35 Solar Charge Controller
The Victron SmartSolar MPPT Charge Controller is an excellent recommendation if you have a solar power panel. With a peak efficiency level of well over 98%, this unit is perfect for powering different types of devices. It’s a powerful charger that can work efficiently, even in the coldest conditions.
The Victron Smart solar charge controller also comes with advanced features, which should make it easy to use. For instance, the charger features Bluetooth functionality, which lets you set it up conveniently for your needs. This way, you will be able to set up, monitor, and update the charge controllers for your power supply panels.
A solar charger gathers energy from solar panels, and stores it your chosen battery package. Thus, this charger comes with advanced SmartSolar technology, which does well to optimize the harvesting of energy. This way, you can be sure of some of the shortest charging time spans you can expect with a solar charger. It’s a powerful charger that also does well to maintain the health of your battery, and also extends its life.
By constantly monitoring the voltage and current output of your solar panels, the MPPT technology in this charge ensures every drop of power is used up. You will notice the benefit of this technology when the sun is slightly cloudy, and the light intensity changes continuously.
How to Buy the Best Solar Charge Controller
What is a Solar Charge Controller?
A charge controller is an electronic appliance, which works to monitor and regular the amount of power that passes through a solar system. It’s a crucial component of all solar systems today. It’s a component that helps ensure your batteries don’t get damaged and would last for a long time. A charge controller performs various functions to protect and improve battery performance: Read More Here
- Prevents overcharging – overcharging is an issue, which might occur due to negligence, and a solar charger helps prevent it. To be specific, a charge controller regulates the voltage of the battery and reduces the current level based on a specific power limit.
- Prevents extremely low voltage: you should note that extremely low voltage levels will cause you to struggle to recharge your battery. You can stop this issue by turning off the load automatically when the battery gets to a certain voltage level.
- Prevents overheating – some charge controllers feature temperature sensors, which you can set up close to the battery. If the battery temperature increases the normal, the controller will reduce the voltage input to stop overheating.
- Prevents reverse charging – at night, a battery can discharge due to issues such as voltage differences between the battery and the panel. Using a charge controller helps to stop this issue.
- Increases performance – An MPPT solar charge controller ensures your battery storage charges fast, and efficiently. More so, the charger also works to improve efficiency even during cloud days.
Types of Solar Charge Controllers
There are three main types of solar charge controllers. They include PWM controllers, simple shunt controllers, and MPPT controllers.
The shunt controllers are no longer used due to their outdated structures. That said, they work by simply turning a shunt on, or off, to help block the supply of current to the battery.
One main benefit of shunt controllers is that they help stop electromagnetic interference issues. Since it's not easy to find one, this guide will be focusing on the remaining controller types.
PWM Solar Charge Controllers
PWM is a term that refers to Pulse Width Modulation. It works by sending a set of pulses to the battery, instead of a single and continual output. When the battery level goes low, the charger will send long and far signals, using an almost constant pattern. As the battery fills up, the pulses become nearer and shorter, until the state changes to trickle charging. This helps to maintain the functionality of the battery.
It also helps ensure the battery won't overcharge. The PWM solar charge controllers are ideal for small systems where efficiency is not crucial. More so, they are commonly used in boats, RVs, and in camping solar systems. These controllers work well to protect the battery but might have some “power wastage” issues.
For instance, a 12V solar panel might have an output of 16V-18V of power, and this relates to factors such as the weather. To charge the 12V battery, the charge controller has to step down the voltage to match the level in the battery. If you want to capture the lost power, consider investing in an MPPT controller.
MPPT Charge Controllers
MPPT refers to Maximum Power Point Tracking. Its an algorithm in the controller, which regularly observes the maximum power the solar array produces. Then, the controller calibrates the voltage level to ensure optimal power delivery to the batteries. In this case, the MPPT controller will step the voltage, from 16V to 12V, for safe charging. However, it won't have any power wastage, because it will convert the power into amps. The battery bank will receive improved current and will charge much faster. The ideal solar charge controller will improve the efficiency of your systems by 30%.
What to Consider When Buying a Solar Charge Controller
1. Type - MPPT vs. PWM: which option is best?
The answer depends on various factors, such as your needs. If your panel is small or medium-sized, then a PWM controller should suffice. Usually, it's used in boats, RVs, or small homes. That said, if you want a residential solar system, then an MPPT controller will be ideal.
2. Max Voltage and Current
The next factor to consider is the capacity of the controller. The amount of power and current it can accommodate. The maximum voltage ranges between 12V to as 150V for the larger MPPT charge controllers. Ensure that you check the open-circuit voltage of the solar array in relation to the limit.
When calculating the total voltage from your solar panels, remember to add a 25% margin. Most solar panels can produce higher voltages than the metric indicated on the product. Do the same when you want to determine the total current. The maximum input current ranges between 8A for RV and truck charge controllers, to as much as 100A for the large types.
3. Battery Compatibility
Remember to determine the voltage level, which is compatible with your charge controller. You can connect most to 12V or 24V batteries. While some types have a 12V rating, others can charge to as much as 60V. Aside from the voltage, remember to check the requirement of the battery. Most PWM chargers are only able to charge lead-acid batteries, such as the flooded, sealed, and gel batteries. That said, the MPPT controllers are dynamic and can charge lithium batteries. Plus, you can still find PWM controllers that can charge lithium batteries.
4. Load Control
Charge controllers can turn off the output level automatically if the battery power goes below the required levels. It’s a feature that helps top issues such as extreme discharging, which can compromise the longevity of your battery. If you would like to turn off the load at any point, then consider a charge controller that comes with manual load control.
Usually, it comes in the form of a switch you can toggle or press. Other charge controller types come with time on/off functions for your convenience. Also, you can customize the load to go on or off at specific points in time. It’s a handy feature for use in tools such as outdoor lights.
5. Temperature Compensation
Remember to check whether the charge controller comes with temperature compensation functions. It's particularly useful if you live in places with high temperatures. The controller will reduce the voltage level if it detects the battery temperature levels have increased significantly. Also, issues such as overheating can lead to battery damage and compromise its lifespan. If your charge controller has this function, then it's likely it has an external temperature sensor. That said, you may have to purchase a new one separately.
6. System Monitoring and Control
Perhaps the most notable benefit of a charge controller is that it lets you observe and control the power in your solar system. Most high-end chargers let you check the status of the battery with ease. Also, it allows you to check the amount of energy the panel produces and other critical performance data. Most solar charge controllers also feature simple displays, which you can use to configure user parameters. For ease of monitoring and improved control, consider a charge controller that has a remote meter. You can also consider investing in the charge controllers that have Bluetooth functions for system monitoring.
There are various factors to consider when you want to make the most of solar panels. The best solar charge controller will provide many benefits. It will protect issues such as overcharging and also ensure your panel charges efficiently. We have identified many top products, such as the Temank Solar Charge Controller 12V/24V Auto and more. When you have one of these products, charing your solar panel and making the most of solar energy becomes a breeze. That said, you also have to remember the basic safety and recommended power ratings for your chosen panel, in relation to the charger.