Renogy Solar Charge Controller Series: A Comprehensive Review Of The MPPT Range
As RV, travel trailer, motorhome, and camper van owners, we increasingly use solar power for our energy needs.
Finding a suitable solar charge controller becomes essential to maximize the potential of our solar panels and charge our RV batteries.
Renogy’s MPPT solar charge controller range is undoubtedly worth considering due to its advanced technology, high efficiency, and excellent value for money.
Renogy’s range of solar charge controllers includes three series:
We’ve got our hands on four models from their range series:
- Rover 100 Amp MPPT Solar Charge Controller
- Rover 60 Amp MPPT Solar Charge Controller
- Rover Li 40 Amp MPPT Solar Charge Controller
- REGO 12V 60A MPPT Solar Charge Controller
In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the Renogy MPPT solar charge controller range, including the Rover 20A 30A and the Elite series.
- introduce the range,
- discuss specifications,
- key benefits,
- installation process, and
- compare the models.
By the end, you’ll clearly understand which model best suits your vehicle and solar power requirements.
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Disclaimer: Renogy sent us some MPPT solar charge controllers for this review. However, the content of this post is not sponsored by Renogy, and all opinions are our own.
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Introduction To The Renogy Solar Charge Controller Range
Renogy is a well-known brand in the solar industry. They offer high-quality products designed for efficiency and durability.
The MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) solar charge controller series is no exception.
These controllers optimize the energy harvested from solar panels, ensuring your RV or camper gets the most out of its solar power system.
Renogy’s charge controllers offer an outstanding balance between performance and affordability. It makes them an excellent choice for your RV or camper solar power system.
The Complete Renogy Solar Charge Controller Range
Rover Elite 40A
The Renogy MPPT solar charge controller range offers several critical benefits for RV and camper owners:
- Efficiency: You know, MPPT technology helps you get the most energy from your solar panels, which means more power for you.
- Versatility: They come in different sizes and work with various battery systems, so they’re perfect for all kinds of solar setups.
- Ease of Use: With a simple LCD screen and customizable settings, it’s super easy to keep an eye on things and make adjustments as needed.
- Safety: Built-in protection mechanisms guard against overcharging, short-circuiting, and other potential hazards.
- Price: Plus, they’re affordable compared to other MPPT controllers on the market. For instance, popular alternatives like Victron’s MPPT controllers often come with a heftier price tag.
By choosing Renogy, you’ll enjoy the many benefits of an efficient and versatile MPPT controller without breaking the bank.
Renogy MPPT Charge Controllers Compared: Rover vs. Elite vs. Rego
The Renogy Rover, Elite, and Rego MPPT charge controllers all offer a range of features and specifications to suit different applications.
The Renogy Rover is a 12V/24V/36V/48V auto-detecting MPPT charge controller with a maximum solar panel input of 100V and up to 98% efficiency.
The range offers an output power of between 20A and 100A. When paired with Renogy’s BT-1 Bluetooth module, it can be monitored via the Renogy App or Renogy One.
The Renogy Elite is a 12V/24V auto-detecting MPPT charge controller with a maximum solar panel input of 100V and up to 96% efficiency.
Depending on the model, it has an output power of between 20 and 40A. It can also be monitored via Bluetooth when paired with Renogy’s BT-2 Bluetooth module.
Finally, the Renogy Rego Solar Charge Controller is a 12V-only MPPT charge controller with a maximum solar panel input of 100V and up to 99% efficiency.
There is currently only one model in the range, the 60A, with an output power of 60A. It can be monitored via Bluetooth out of the box.
All three series are highly reliable, so you can be confident, no matter which series best suits your RV solar panel system.
How do you determine which Renogy MPPT charge controller best suits your needs?
There are only a few differences between the series, so we’ll FOCUS on those differences in the following sections.
System Battery Voltage
Most campers, RVs, and van conversions run with 12v batteries, with a smaller number running 24v systems.
If you run a 12v setup, the entire range is compatible.
For 24v systems, the Elite and Rover series are suitable.
For the few RVers running 36 or 48v systems, only the Rover series will suit.
The Renogy Rover and Elite series can connect to Bluetooth, but you must buy a separate Bluetooth module.
The Rover series uses the older BT-1 module, and the Elite needs the BT-2 module. These Bluetooth modules cost around 40 and are straightforward to set up.
Finally, there’s the Rego MPPT, which has Bluetooth built right in without additional accessories.
This makes installation much more straightforward than with the other two models.
Once connected to Bluetooth, all three charge controllers can be monitored via Renogy’s mobile app or the Renogy One.
With these features, users have greater control over their solar systems and can easily monitor their performance.
Renogy Rover, Renogy Elite, and Renogy Rego MPPT charge controllers are all excellent options when it comes to converting solar energy into usable electric energy.
The conversion efficiency of the Renogy Rover and the Rego series is 98%, and the Renogy Elite is 96%.
These values reflect how well each product can convert solar energy into usable electric energy and how this affects the overall performance of off-grid solar systems and RVers.
The Renogy Rego Rover MPPT series stand out due to their superior conversion efficiency of 98%.
That means more solar energy is converted into usable electric energy, producing higher output power for an off-grid solar system or RVer.
Only the Rover series offers a load terminal feature.
It comes with a 20A load terminal so you can plug a USB device directly into the controller, enabling it to charge straight from solar power instead of relying on the battery.
However, for RVers who spend most of their time traveling, this feature may not be as essential as it seems.
We never found ourselves using this feature in our five years of full-time travel.
Most RVers have access to other charging options, making the direct solar charging option less of a priority.
While the load terminal feature of the Renogy Rover is an exciting addition, it may not be crucial for RVers as we usually have more convenient charging points.
Max Input From Solar Panels
Each of Renogy’s MPPT charge controllers has a maximum amount of solar panels it can handle measured in watts.
We’ve listed the maximum watts the largest model in each series can handle.
The Renogy Elite is designed for smaller solar systems, supporting up to 520 watts at 12 volts. This makes it suitable for smaller setups or those with limited space for solar panels.
The Renogy Rover 100A can handle a considerably larger wattage, supporting up to 1300 watts at 12 volts.
That makes it ideal for more extensive solar systems or those looking to expand their solar capabilities in the future.
Lastly, the Renogy Rego offers a middle ground between the two, supporting up to 800 watts at 12 volts. This option caters to users who require a moderate solar system size that balances power generation and space requirements.
Regardless of which series you choose, ensure you read the model’s specifications to ensure it has the proper wattage input for your solar system.
Max Input Volts From Solar Panels
When comparing the max input volts from solar panels supported by the Renogy Rover, Renogy Elite, and Renogy Rego MPPT charge controllers, it’s essential to understand how this feature relates to your solar panel wiring configuration.
The way you wire your solar panels, either in series or parallel, will directly impact the voltage entering the charge controller.
The Renogy Rover 100A supports a maximum input voltage of 150V, making it suitable for most series solar panel configurations with up to about 6 or 7 panels.
The Renogy Elite 40A, on the other hand, supports a lower maximum input voltage of 100V. However, as it can only handle up to 520w of power, 100V is more than enough.
The Renogy Rego supports a maximum input voltage of 100V too. You must be careful here if you’re wiring your panels in series.
If you have 8 x 100w solar panels, their input voltage is around 20V each. So while the Rego could support 800w, it can’t support 8 x 20V (160V) input voltage. In this case, you’d need to install 4 x 200w panels which will likely result in less than 100v.
Check your solar panel specifications carefully.
There’s some difference between the series’ operating temperatures.
Both Rover and Elite series can handle temperatures as cold as.35°C /.31°F while the Rego needs to be a relatively toasty.25°C /.13°F.
At the other end of the scale, both Rego and Elite series’ can cope at 65℃ / 149°F while the Rover operates up to about 45℃ / 113°F.
All that said, it’s unlikely that the operating conditions will ever be that cold inside your camper (at least if you’re in there with it).
And there are many ways to keep your RV cool in summer, so neither you nor your charge controller cook.
Battery Charging Parameters
The Renogy Rover MPPT charge controller offers a unique feature that allows users to select a battery with custom parameters instead of being limited to regular lithium or lead-acid batteries.
By enabling custom parameters, the Renogy Rover ensures that the charge controller can efficiently and safely manage the charging process for various battery types, optimizing performance and extending battery life.
This feature is essential for any RVer utilizing a non-standard battery, as it ensures compatibility between the charge controller and the battery, preventing potential damage or inefficiencies caused by using incompatible components.
Battery Voltage Sensor
The Renogy Elite is compatible with the battery voltage sensor.
It’s a small cable that more accurately detects the battery’s voltage to improve the charging from the controller.
The Rego nor the Rover are compatible. However, charging profiles are probably superior to the Elite, and they don’t need it.
One notable feature that the Renogy Rego 60A MPPT charge controller lacks is an LCD, which could be considered a downside for some.
The absence of an integrated display may make it more challenging to monitor system performance and access essential information quickly.
However, the Renogy Rego compensates for this with Bluetooth connectivity, so you can access real-time data and system settings via your mobile device.
That makes the lack of an LCD arguably less critical.
When it comes to connecting cables, both the Renogy Elite and Renogy Rover use screw terminals, which can be a bit trickier to install compared to other types of connectors.
You might need pin crimps and extra care during installation to ensure everything is securely connected.
Remember that these screwed terminals could come loose over time because of vibrations or temperature changes, so you’ll want to check them now and then to keep your system running smoothly.
On the other hand, the Renogy Rego has these neat Anderson connectors that make installation a breeze.
They’re designed for fast and secure connections, so you won’t have to worry about them coming loose as much.
But there’s one thing to remember – you’ll need to buy compatible Anderson connector cables separately, which means an extra cost compared to the other models.
The price of these cables can vary based on their length and quality, so remember to consider this when comparing the overall costs of different charge controllers.
The Renogy Elite is the smallest and lightest among the three series, making it an excellent choice for those with limited space or prefer a more compact setup.
Its reduced size and weight can simplify the installation process and allow for easier integration into tight spaces, ensuring a seamless fit into your solar system without sacrificing performance.
The Renogy Rego, on the other hand, is almost a quarter smaller than the Rover 60A model, offering a more compact design while still maintaining its advanced features and capabilities.
This balanced approach between size and functionality makes the Rego attractive for those seeking versatility and space-saving benefits without compromising performance.
Lastly, the Renogy Rover 100A is the largest in the Renogy range, with its considerable size reflecting its higher capacity and more robust feature set.
While this massive solar charge controller may be suitable for larger solar systems, it’s essential to account for the additional space requirements when planning your installation to ensure a proper fit within your RV camper.
When comparing the costs of the Renogy Rover, Renogy Rego, and Renogy Elite solar charge controllers, it’s crucial to compare appropriate model sizes across the series to ensure a fair assessment.
The Renogy Elite series has two models priced similarly to their comparable models in the Renogy Rover series.
This similarity in price means you can FOCUS on the specific features and capabilities that best suit your solar system’s requirements, such as the smaller size of the Elite or the custom battery parameter support provided by the Rover.
When comparing the 60A models in the Renogy Rover and Renogy Rego series, the Rover 60A is typically around 100 cheaper than the Rego 60A.
This price difference may make the Rover 60A more appealing to those on a tighter budget or with smaller solar systems.
However, it’s essential to consider the additional features and capabilities of the Rego 60A, such as the ease of installation and extended warranty.
The Renogy Rego stands out with a generous 5-year warranty, providing extended peace of mind and protection for your investment.
This extended warranty coverage can be particularly appealing, as it ensures support and assistance from the manufacturer in case of any issues or defects within the warranty period.
In contrast, both the Renogy Rover and Renogy Elite solar charge controllers come with a standard 2-year warranty, offering a more limited duration of coverage compared to the Rego.
While this shorter warranty period may be sufficient, it is worth considering the potential benefits of the longer warranty offered by the Rego when making your decision.
Installing a Renogy MPPT solar charge controller in your RV or camper is relatively straightforward. Here’s a simplified step-by-step process:
- Determine the ideal location for the charge controller, ensuring it’s close to the battery bank and away from heat sources.
- Mount the charge controller to the wall using the provided mounting holes.
- Connect the battery cables to the charge controller’s battery terminals, taking care to match the positive and negative polarities.
- Connect the solar panel cables to the charge controller’s PV terminals, again paying attention to polarity.
- Connect the load cables to the charge controller’s load terminals if applicable.
- Turn on the charge controller and configure the settings using the LCD.
Always consult the user manual for detailed instructions, and consider hiring a professional if you need clarification on any part of the installation process.
Comparing The Most Popular Sizes
When choosing between the Elite, Rover, and Rego series, consider your vehicle’s size, solar power system requirements, and future expansion plans.
Here’s a quick comparison of the three:
- Elite: Ideal for smaller RVs and campers with modest power needs. Best suited for 12V/24V battery systems and solar arrays up to 520W with a max input voltage of 100V.
- Rego: A versatile option for mid-sized vehicles with larger solar arrays. Compatible with 12V battery systems and solar arrays up to 800W with a max input voltage of 100V.
- Rover: Perfect for large RVs and campers with extensive power requirements. It can handle 12V/24V/36V/48V battery systems and solar arrays up to 1300W with a max input voltage of 150V.
Final Verdict and Noteworthy Takeaways
The Renogy MPPT solar charge controller range is:
The best model for you will depend on your specific needs and system requirements:
- Choose the Elite series for smaller vehicles and modest power needs.
- Opt for the Rego series if you have a mid-sized vehicle with larger solar arrays.
- Go for the Rover series if you own a large RV or camper with extensive power requirements.
No matter which series you choose, always FOCUS on safety during installation and consult the user manual for detailed guidance.
Hey there! We’re Angela Graham. We live travel full-time in our DIY Sprinter van conversion, Baloo. We’re using our little corner of the internet to help you convert your own camper and inspire a few adventures too. We’d love for you to join us!
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Reviews and information on the best Solar panels, inverters and batteries from SMA, Fronius, SunPower, SolaX, Q Cells, Trina, Jinko, Selectronic, Tesla Powerwall, ABB. Plus hybrid inverters, battery sizing, Lithium-ion and lead-acid batteries, off-grid and on-grid power systems.
January 7, 2022 Jason Svarc
Best mid-range MPPT solar charge controllers up to 40A
In this article, we review six of the most popular, mid-level MPPT solar charge controllers commonly used for small scale solar power systems up to 2kW. These are more affordable, lower voltage (100-150V) units, which are generally designed for 12V or 24V battery systems, although several can be used on 48V batteries. A number of these charge controllers also feature inbuilt load control terminals for basic DC lighting and other loads.
In this review, we don’t list simple PWM controllers used for DC lighting and basic systems since there are many sites already covering these entry-level PWM controllers. For high-performance MPPT solar charge controllers with higher input voltages up to 300V and current ratings from 60A to 100A, see our high-power MPPT solar charge controllers review.
What is a solar charge controller?
A solar charge controller, also known as a solar regulator, is a battery charge regulator connected between the solar array and battery. Its job is to regulate the solar output to ensure the battery is charged correctly and not overcharged. DC coupled solar charge controllers been around for decades and are used in most small scale off-grid solar power systems.
Top 6 Solar Charge Controllers
Mid-level solar controllers up to 40A
Smaller capacity MPPT solar charge controllers with a current rating from 20A to 40A are used for many different applications including off-grid cabins and homes, RV’s, boats, caravans, telecommunications and remote site backup. These mid-range MPPT solar charge controllers are available from many different manufacturers, but this review will FOCUS on the most popular and best quality charge controllers from the most reputable manufacturers which have been on the market for several years.
|Victron SmartSolar MPPT
|12V 24V 36V 48V
|350 to 480
|EPever TRIRON Series
|150 to 250
|Morningstar ProStar MPPT
|460 to 540
|EPever XTRA Series
|12V 24V 36V 48V
|130 to 190
|150 to 190
|EPever BN Series
|170 to 250
In this review, we rank the various charge controllers according to a number of important criteria including build quality, MPPT tracking speed, battery voltage range, operating temperature range (heat dissipation), monitoring, real-world performance and price. In our reviews, we generally rank performance and quality over affordability, so in this case, we rate the unit price lower than other criteria. This may come across as bias towards the more expensive models, but based on real-world results, testing and performance monitoring, the higher-end controllers have proven to out-perform the cheaper models.
Read more about selecting and correct sizing a solar charge controller in the MPPT solar charge controllers explained article.
Victron Energy is considered a world leader in power electronics and specialise in manufacturing equipment required for off-grid and stand-alone power systems including, inverters, batteries, chargers, monitors and of course, solar charge controllers. Based in the Netherlands, Victron manufacture many products in India and have become well known for producing quality, reliable off-grid battery inverter/chargers and a wide range of quality MPPT solar charge controllers.
Victron offer a huge range of solar charge controllers, from small 10A PWM models, to high-performance 100A MPPT varieties with high voltage inputs up to 250V. The MPPT 150V models appear very simple in design, and may not have a display or load control terminals like many others, however, where Victron out performs the competition is in MPPT tracking performance, communications and monitoring.
Victron have by far the most advanced system monitoring with inbuilt Bluetooth connection offering easy programming and configuration, plus remote firmware updates which add extra features and options. The display-less design may not please all users, but the fast, accurate MPPT tracking, high build quality, and V.E. Smart networking options are stand-out features.
Smartsolar MPPT 150V 35A
- Fast MPP Tracking
- 150V max Voc
- 12V, 24V or 48V batteries
- Compatible with LiFePO4 Lithium batteries
- Very advanced monitoring app
- Wide operating temperature up to 60°C
- Inbuilt temp sensor
- Optional wireless battery sensor
- Easy remote firmware updates
- 5 Year warranty
See the detailed Victron Energy Review
EPever TRIRON Series
EPever was founded in 2007 and has grown rapidly to become one of the largest Chinese manufacturers of cost-effective power products including a wide range of MPPT solar charge controllers. The Triron series is the next evolution to the well-known Tracer series of MPPT’s.
The TRIRON series from EPever is a much more advanced and user-friendly version of the original AN series of charge controllers. The TRIRON controllers have a unique swappable display module as well as a swappable interface module with an RS485 communication option that can be used for a number of different applications. Note, maximum PV voltage is either 100V or 150V depending on the model. The 5 button display module is very easy to use and provide all the important information you need about the PV, battery and load. Wireless access is available via the eBox-BLE Bluetooth adapter or the Wi-Fi adapter is available for remote monitoring.
TRIRON Series MPPT 150V 40A
- Fast MPP Tracking
- 150V max Voltage Voc (TRIRON 3215N 4215N)
- Easy to use with a large clear display
- Compatible with Lead-acid and Lithium batteries
- 40A Load control
- Swappable display and interface modules
- RS485 Interface for communications and remote control
- USB Port and relay control options
- Optional Temp sensor
Morningstar Prostar MPPT
Morningstar are a well-established company based in the US with 25 years of experience in engineering and manufacturing high-performance solar charge controllers. Morningstar is widely recognized as developing some of the best quality products on the market with high levels of protection against extreme environments, lightning surges and high operating temperatures.
The Prostar range of MPPT charge controllers are available in 25A and 40A versions with a 120V input voltage limit. The extremely fast MPP tracking can perform a full voltage sweep in less than 1 second using the Trakstar technology. The device features good size terminals protected under a front cover, including load control output terminals rated up to 30A, plus a clear backlit LCD display and can easily programmed using the 4 large buttons. However, the very high price tag means the Prostar MPPT series is out of reach for many users.
Prostar MPPT 120V 40A
- Very fast MPP Tracking
- 120V max Voc
- Compatible with LiFePO4 Lithium batteries
- Wide operating temp up to 60°C
- 30A Load control
- High surge protection
- Optional Battery sensor
- 5 Year warranty
EPever XTRA Series
EPever, also known as EPsolar, was founded in 2007 in Beijing, China and has grown rapidly to become one of the largest manufacturers of cost-effective solar power products including a wide range of MPPT charge controllers. The XTRA series of MPPT’s released in early 2018, have only recently become more popular due to the low cost, easy setup, and lithium battery compatibility.
The XTRA series is available in 10 different options with 3 display types, current ratings from 10 to 40A, battery voltages from 12V to 48V, and input voltage limit up to 150V. In comparison to the older AN series which had a 100V input limit, the XTRA series features lithium battery compatibility and a higher input 150V voltage (Voc) on the 30 and 40A models, plus a modern look and concealed screw terminals. Note, the two-button version with LCD is basically the older AN series controller in a modern package.
XTRA Series MPPT 40A
- Good MPP Tracking
- Three display options with a clear simple LCD
- Compatible with most Lithium LiFePO4 batteries
- 40A Load control
- Optional MT50 display
- Optional Temp sensor
- Optional Wi-Fi and Bluetooth module
- Low cost
5. Renogy Rover
Renogy, founded in the US in 2014, recently became a very popular choice for solar enthusiasts across the world due to the low-cost, easy setup and good MPPT tracking. Renogy manufacture a wide range of affordable inverters, DC converters and solar charge controllers in China.
The Rover series from Renogy is a feature packed MPPT controller with a clear inbuilt display, plus a low-cost (optional) Bluetooth adapter which provides a great, easy to use interface with many configuration options. Load control terminals are built-in, although the output is limited to 20A. The overall build quality is quite good, however there are some area’s which could be improved, most notably the cable terminals which are far too small for a 40A controller.
Rover MPPT 100V 40A
- Good MPP Tracking
- Clear Simple display
- Compatible with Lithium (12.8V LiFePO4)
- 20A Load control
- Advanced Bluetooth app and user settings
- Temp sensor included
- Low cost
6. Outback BN series by EPever
The Outback Power Flexmax40 is made by EPever and is commonly known as the Tracer BN series which is a well known affordable MPPT controller.
EPever one of the leading manufacturers of cost-effective power products including a wide range of solar charge controllers. The well-known Tracer and TRIRON series of MPPT’s are a very popular choice for solar enthusiasts across the world due to the easy setup, good MPPT tracking, and low cost.
The first generation AN series is the best-known MPPT in the range, being a low-cost 100V unit with an inbuilt display. However, the BN series is the more expensive higher-performance version with many extra features including a 150V input voltage limit, heavy-duty robust design, large heatsink, and huge input terminals which can accept a cable size up to 50mm2 (1 AWG).
The obvious feature lacking from the BN series is the display. However, monitoring and configuration is available via the additional remote MT50 display which features a good clear LCD screen showing all the basic information required. Wireless access is also available via the eBox-BLE Bluetooth adapter.
Tracer BN Series MPPT 150V 40A
- Very large screw terminals
- Large heatsink and wide operating temperature range
- 12V, 24V batteries
- 150V max Voc
- Wide MPP voltage range
- 20A Load control
- Remote MT50 display with settings and load control
- Optional Temp sensor
Prevent the overcharging of batteries and maximize energy from the sun with these regulating solar devices.
By Jennifer Juniper | Published Sep 6, 2022 2:14 PM
We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.
When installing off-grid solar power, a solar charge controller (or solar regulator) will function as the brain of your solar system. This necessary device connects the solar panels to the batteries, so as energy is produced from sunlight, a controller regulates this flow to prevent the panels from overcharging the batteries.
By monitoring high and variable voltage, the charge controller also protects your batteries from damage and even fires. Whether you’re installing solar power in your tiny home, shed or off-grid cabin, or are using it to power backyard lighting and water-pumping applications. a solar controller is an integral piece of your renewable energy system. A high-quality controller will help to maximize the efficiency of your panels so less energy is wasted.
We’ve sorted through many types of controllers that are available from top-rated companies, and present the best solar charge controllers to meet your system’s needs and your budget.
- BEST OVERALL:DIY Solar For U Sól Buck Boost 20 Amp MPPT
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK:WindyNation TrakMax 40 Amp MPPT
- BEST WATERPROOF:Renogy Voyager 10 Amp PWM
- BEST 30 AMP:Victron Energy SmartSolar 30 Amp MPPT
- BEST 60 AMP:Renogy Rover 60 Amp MPPT
What to Look For When Choosing the Best Solar Charge Controller
Off-grid solar power systems have four major components : a solar panel for collecting energy. a charge controller for regulating it, a battery for storage, and an inverter for use. If a solar controller is the missing part of this equation to install your system, there are several things to consider before purchasing one.
The size of the solar charge controller will depend on how many watts you need to collect from the sun. To calculate the current capacity required, figure out how many amps your system normally produces and add 25 percent to account for temporary increases in current levels. When in doubt, it’s always better to go too big than too small. Using a solar charge controller with too few amps can negatively affect the system, but using a controller that’s larger than you need will not cause any issues.
The charge controller’s technology is available in two options: pulse width modulation ( PWM) and maximum power point tracker ( MPPT). A PWM controller works by establishing a direct connection between the solar panels and the battery. On the other hand, MPPT controllers measure the solar panel’s voltage which is then down-converted to match the battery’s voltage, helping to increase the current.
It’s important to consider what type of battery you’ll be charging. Whether it’s lead acid, sealed lead acid (AGM and Gel), or lithium-ion, you’ll want to ensure that the solar charge controller is compatible in order for the controller to function.
There are several additional features that can enhance a solar controller and add convenience for the user. For example, multi-voltage function-enabled controllers let you adjust the charging voltage set point so the device operates more effectively. Or, if you’re willing to pay a little extra, some controllers have remote access so you can control the device from any location.
Load control is another important feature to look for, and refers to the ability to turn off your battery’s output when the charge controller senses the battery bank is too low. Most charge controllers have this function, so it’s mostly a matter of whether you want a controller with automatic load control or if you prefer to do it manually.
Lastly, it’s essential to monitor your system’s charge, current, voltage (including open-circuit voltage), and temperature, so choose a controller with an easy-to-read display.
Our Top Picks
When shopping for a solar charge controller, keep an eye out for the amperage rating, durable construction, warranty, type (PWM or MPPT), added benefits like digital display screens, and if the company offers resources to guide you with installation.
Sól Buck Boost 20 Amp MPPT
DIY Solar For U is a small, mom-and-pop business that delivers high-quality products with features not found in other solar charge controllers. Case in point: the global MPPT tracking in the Sol Buck Boost 20 Amp MPPT controller. This added feature finds the global MPPT operating point and then ignores the false maximum that is often triggered by partially-shaded panels, resulting in overall gains in the charge current. While some solar-powered systems struggle in cloudy weather, Sól still manages to extract power from low-light conditions, utilizing all available energy.
For maximum efficiency, it can both lower (buck) and raise (boost) solar voltage to battery voltage, increasing daily total energy input by 29 percent. This unique buck-boost technology allows the controller to operate where buck-only converters aren’t able to.
DIY Solar For U uses automotive and/or military-grade materials wherever possible, and this controller is made in the U.S., (with all parts sourced in the U.S.) with a rugged cast aluminum enclosure. It’s shipped in recycled materials and includes a 5-year warranty.
- Type:20amp MPPT
- Dimensions: 5.8 by 3.7 by 1.6 inches
- Weight: 1 pound
- Warranty: 5-year limited
- Made in the USA
- Designed for a service life of 40 years
- Responsive customer service from knowledgeable people
- LCD display
- Small business
Get the Sól Buck Boost 20 Amp MPPT at DIY Solar For U.
WindyNation TrakMax 40 Amp MPPT
If you’re looking for an MPPT controller at a bargain rate, the WindyNation TrakMax40 Amp controller utilizes a software algorithm to maximize the energy production for your solar panels. Compatible with flooded lead acid, sealed lead acid (AGM), gel and lithium 12V or 24V batteries, this charge controller offers adjustable settings for fine-tuning to a specific battery manufacturer’s algorithms.
An LCD display provides all system information such as amps, volts, solar voltage, battery temperature and load control. The TrakMax is made with virgin PC and ABS plastic and features electronic protection against overvoltage, reverse polarity, overcurrent, excessive temperature and short circuits. This fast sweeping controller optimizes the maximum power point in a short time period, allowing for efficiency of up to 99.9 percent.
Other accessories can be added separately like an optional remote monitor that can be mounted up to 20 feet from the controller and can be especially useful if your solar system is located in a difficult place to reach. Or, there’s a wireless communication adapter (Bluetooth) that can sync with a smartphone or tablet by downloading the free app.
Headquartered in California, Windy Nation was founded in 2009 to offer DIY solutions to solar installation. The company manufactures the TrakMax controller in China with parts sourced globally, and it’s shipped using packaging and printing made from recycled materials. If you have any questions about installation or other solar-related questions, WindyNation has several helpful resource guides available online.
- Type:40 amp MPPT
- Dimensions: 9 by 6 by 4 inches
- Weight: 4.4 pounds
- Warranty: 1 year
- North American-based company
- Thorough, well-written product manual
- Fine-tuning to specific battery brand
- Uses recycled packaging materials
- Add-on module required for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
- Lower input 100v (voltage at open circuit)
- No end-of-life recycling or buyback options
Get the WindyNation TrakMax 40 Amp MPPT at Amazon.
Renogy Voyager 10 Amp PWM
If you have a smaller budget but are looking for a solar controller for a simple off-grid solar system (like a sailboat or powerboat) the Renogy 10A Voyager is a great option with a simple interface that’s easy for beginners to use. However, if you do need guidance on installation, Renogy has a number of resources on the website (but it’s worth noting that the company’s customer service is slow to respond to inquiries).
With a compact size, it can be installed almost anywhere, and to prevent damage from installation mistakes or system faults, the controller includes built-in, self-diagnostics and electronic protections.
Although PWM controllers are not as efficient as MPPT controllers, the Voyager does have a Smart four-stage charging system (bulk, boost, float, and equalization) and temperature compensation. These features can help to increase battery life, and enhance the overall system performance. However, if you have a larger, more complicated system, this 10amp, PWM controller wouldn’t be the best choice.
Like similar Renogy controllers, it also offers protection against reverse polarity, overcharging, short-circuit, and reverse current and can be used on many types of batteries (including lithium). However, the Voyager has the added advantage of being iP67 waterproof rated, so it can be installed outdoors.
Renogy is headquartered in California and manufactures the controllers in China. The company performs life cycle assessments on products to determine the overall environmental impact of production, however, no end-of-product life disposal services are available for consumers.
- Type:10amp PWM (20amp also available)
- Dimensions: 6.08 x 3.83 x 1.4 inches
- Weight:.55 pounds
- Warranty:2 years
- (PWM) controllers are not as efficient as (MPPT) controllers
- Limited to smaller solar energy systems
- No USB ports
Get the Renogy Voyager 10 Amp PWM at Amazon or Renogy.
Check for a used Renogy Voyager on Amazon.
Victron Energy SmartSolar 30 Amp MPPT
Headquartered in the Netherlands. Victron Energy is considered a world leader in power electronics and specializes in manufacturing equipment required for off-grid and stand-alone power systems. Victron has been building solar energy system components for 45 years and offers well-built quality devices using the latest technology.
The SmartSolar 30 Amp MPPT controller maximizes the energy harvested from the sun to quickly recharge a battery, while at the same time maintaining battery health and extending its life. The SmartSolar charge controller can also recharge depleted batteries with voltages as low as zero (as long as the cells aren’t damaged or permanently sulphated).
Victron has by far the most advanced system monitoring with an inbuilt Bluetooth connection offering easy programming and configuration, plus remote firmware updates which add extra features and options. The display-less controller design may not please all users, but the fast, accurate MPPT tracking, high build quality, and V.E. Smart networking options are stand-out features. In addition, the company offers online training courses about MPPT controllers and other information about solar installation (free signup required).
- Size:30amp MPPT
- Dimensions: 7.25 by 5 by 2.5 inches
- Weight: 2.82 pounds
- Warranty: 5 years
- Advanced monitoring app
- Built-in temperature sensor
- Super fast maximum power point tracking
- No display on unit, requires a Smart device or separate display unit
- No load control
Get the Victron Energy SmartSolar 30 Amp MPPT at Amazon.
Check for a refurbished Victron 30 AMP controller on Ebay.
Renogy Rover 60 Amp MPPT
Renogy is a leading manufacturer of solar panels, batteries, accessories and controllers and the 60 AMP Rover MPPT controller is a solid choice for larger off-grid systems. The versatile unit can be used with sealed lead acid batteries, Gel flooded and lithium batteries, and automatically detects 12V/24V/36V/48V DC systems, making it suitable for RVs, commercial vehicles, boats or other systems.
In the event of an error, this MPPT controller has self-diagnosing capabilities in place to safeguard your system. The Renogy 60A Rover is an intelligent negative ground controller. able to assess and protect against a number of potential problems such as battery overcharging (and over-discharging), reverse polarity, short-circuiting, overload, overheating and reverse current.
The device is made in China from a PC and ABS plastic shell and an aluminum alloy chassis with an integrated heat sink. It has an easy-to-use LCD screen display and multiple LED indicators for displaying system operation information, customizable parameters and error codes. Renogy also offers a Smart performance reader (sold separately) that can be used in conjunction with the controller, allowing you to monitor the system’s performance from your phone.
- Type:60amp MPPT
- Dimensions: 11.22 by 8.07 by 4 inches
- Weight: 9.53 pounds
- Warranty:2 years
- Self-diagnostic for safety
- Suitable for any off-grid system
- Video tutorials offer ease of setup
- Compatible with 12V–48V DC input
- Company routinely participates in charitable initiatives
- Customer support is slow to respond
- App to adjust parameters can glitch
- Misreads battery voltage at times.
- Not waterproof (IP32 rating)
Get the Renogy Rover 60 Amp MPPT at Amazon or Renogy.
Check for a refurbished Renogy Rover on eBay
The Sól Buck Boost 20 Amp MPPT is the perfect fit for a variety of solar energy system sizes and off-grid applications. It’s in a class all its own with buck-boost technology, top-notch customer service, and its rugged, built-to-last craftsmanship—and unlike most other charge controllers out there, it’s made in the USA. The only downside seems to be the price point, but with a service life expectancy of over 40 years, you should get your money’s worth. If your solar energy system (and budget) is smaller, the waterproof Renogy Voyager 10 Amp PWM is a great place to start and the company is based in the United States with lots of videos and diagrams to make installation easier.
How We Chose the Best Solar Charge Controllers
In determining the best solar charge controllers, we looked at more than 40 solar charge controllers from 20 different companies, factoring in customer reviews, efficiency, durable materials, and warranty repair programs from established brands.
Priority was given to North American-based companies offering accessible customer support and online resources, but we also paid particular attention to the quality of the build for longevity—better for your budget and the environment. We also searched for companies that offered buy-back or recycling programs to ensure a closed-loop production system, but couldn’t find any.
Most of our choices were MPPT controllers because they allow your solar panels to operate at an optimum power output voltage, improving their performance by as much as 30 percent (compared to PWM solar controllers).
The following section aims to answer any remaining questions you may have about the best solar charger controllers. Look for the answers to your questions below.
Q: How much do solar charge controllers cost?
Solar charge controllers range from 15 up to 800, depending upon the features, power rating (from 10 amps to 100 amps), and type—with PWM being cheaper than MPPT controllers.
Q: How do I choose the right sized solar charge controller?
In selecting a controller, you must first determine how much power your panels will be producing before evaluating the size of the controller needed. To do this, add up the watts produced by your solar panels (if you have more than one) and divide by the type of voltage your system is using (usually 12, 24, or 48 volts) to get the amperage. However, it is advisable to add a cushion of 25 percent to this number so that you purchase a controller with a slightly higher amperage than estimated. It’s crucial to select the right size controller for your system or it will not function to its full potential. If you need help determining your energy needs, Renogy has a handy solar calculator. and in-depth, step-by-step guidance about sizing a controller for your solar system.
Q: Which is better PWM or MPPT?
Determining what type of solar controller is better depends on the size of your system and your budget. MPPT charge controllers are highly recommended for most large solar power systems. PWM charge controllers are often used in portable applications such as RVs, sailboats, or even conversion vans, as well as smaller immobile structures like a shed, tiny home or an off-grid cottage. However, they’re relatively inexpensive—perfect for upfront savings.
MPPT charge controllers deliver superior performance, with the only real downside being the additional cost compared to more basic options. However, MPPT controllers may provide more savings over the long term, depending on how frequently you use your system.
Q: How do I connect the solar charge controller to the inverter?
You should never plug a power inverter directly into a solar charge controller because they need a battery for reference to control the solar panel’s input. Connecting the controller and inverter directly without a battery can cause severe damage to the components of your solar energy system. To install the controller, you’ll need to connect a battery to the charge controller first and then connect a power inverter to the battery. If you’re a visual learner, this installation video explains how to set up a solar-powered system that uses a controller and an inverter.
Q: What should I do with my old solar controller?
If you no longer have a need for your old solar charge controller, it’s important that it doesn’t end up in a landfill. If it’s still in good working condition, you can offer it for sale on Ebay or a local Yard Sale page. If it cannot be repaired and is no longer functional, some solar manufacturers can assist with the disposal of the units, or you can check with companies that specialize in recycling solar equipment and electronics, such as Zeep Technology.