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Compare prices and reviews of solar providers near you online. Solar panel regulator 12v

Compare prices and reviews of solar providers near you online. Solar panel regulator 12v

    What are Solar Regulators / Solar Charge Controllers?

    Solar electric power systems are essentially very simple. You have a device which converts sunlight into electrical energy (a photovoltaic panel or ‘solar panel’) and this is used to charge up a battery. The battery allows you to collect energy when the sun is shining and store it until needed.

    This simple picture is complicated by the limitations of the battery. If you leave the photovoltaic panel connected to a battery, the battery will slowly charge up. If you are putting in more energy than you are taking out, then the battery will eventually become fully charged. If this continues, the battery will become overcharged and be damaged by corrosion of it’s plates and loss of electrolyte. To avoid this, some sort of charge regulator / solar regulator is used to stop the charging when the battery is full.

    Some charge controllers / solar regulators have additional features, such as a low voltage disconnect (LVD), a separate circuit which powers down the load when the batteries become overly discharged (some battery chemistries are such that over-discharge can ruin the battery).Some charge controllers may also monitor battery temperature to prevent overheating. Some charge controller systems also display data, transmit data to remote displays, and data logging to track electric flow over time.

    Pulse width modulation (PWM) and maximum power point tracker (MPPT) technologies are more electronically sophisticated, adjusting charging rates depending on the battery’s level, to allow charging closer to its maximum capacity.

    PWM vs MPPT

    The MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) vs PWM (Pulse width Modulation) question is not always straight forward as it very much depends on the conditions under which charging is taking place.

    Under SPECIFIC conditions, an MPPT can have more efficiency % gains than a PWM regulator can. However when charging a 12v battery from a 12v solar panel, these gains are not present so an MPPT regulator in this scenario is unnecessary.

    MPPT is good if you need to run cables from an array over a long distance as it allows you to string the panels together in series to make higher voltage panel strings (therefore lower power loss due to cable resistance, because of lower currents).

    Other than that, MPPT is useful if you don’t want to (or can’t) match the panel specifications to the battery (e.g. on a motorhome you may want to use some uncommon, high output panels since the roof space is limited).

    Be aware that the % gains claimed for MPPT (other than the above couple of examples) are not likely to be ‘real world’ (e.g. How many hours during the day do your panels work at 25°C or less ?!). The hotter the panels become –the maximum power point voltage decreases and gets close to a typical battery voltage, therefore wiping out most (if not all) the gain an MPPT unit will give.

    The other issues with MPPT (particularly for boats at sea) is that it’s not always easy to bypass the regulator should a fault occur (e.g. due to lightning) since the panels and battery are not matched (e.g. high voltage panels and lower voltage battery). With a series regulated system (like the Plasmatronics regulators), the system can be kept running by connecting the panels directly to the battery and manually regulating.

    Victron SmartSolar MPPT 75/15 | 100/20

    The Victron MPPT VE.Can SmartSolar charger uses the latest and fastest technology to convert energy from a solar array into energy that optimally charges a battery banks.

    The SmartSolar charge controller will even recharge a severely depleted battery. It can operate with a battery voltage as low as 0 Volts, provided the cells are not permanently sulphated or otherwise damaged

    Ultra-fast Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) Especially in case of a clouded sky, when light intensity is changing continuously, an ultra-fast MPPT controller will improve energy harvest by up to 30% compared to PWM charge controllers and by up to 10% compared to slower MPPT controllers.

    Advanced Maximum Power Point Detection in case of partial shading conditions If partial shading occurs, two or more maximum power points (MPP) may be present on the power-voltage curve. Conventional MPPTs tend to lock to a local MPP, which may not be the optimum MPP. The innovative SmartSolar algorithm will always maximize energy harvest by locking to the optimum MPP.

    Outstanding conversion efficiency No cooling fan. Maximum efficiency exceeds 98%.

    Flexible charge algorithm Fully programmable charge algorithm, and eight pre-programmed algorithms, selectable with a rotary switch (see manual for details).

    Extensive electronic protection Over-temperature protection and power derating when temperature is high. PV short circuit and PV reverse polarity protection. PV reverse current protection.

    Bluetooth Smart built-in The wireless solution to set-up, monitor, update and synchronise SmartSolar Charge Controllers.

    Internal temperature sensor Compensates absorption and float charge voltage for temperature.

    Optional external battery voltage and temperature sensing via Bluetooth A Smart Battery Sense or a BMV-712 Smart Battery Monitor can be used to communicate battery voltage and temperature to one or more SmartSolar Charge Controllers.

    Fully discharged battery recovery function Will initiate charging even if the battery has been discharged to zero volts. Will reconnect to a fully discharged Li-ion battery with integrated disconnect function.

    VE.Can: the multiple controller solution Up to 25 units can be synchronised with VE.Can

    VE.Direct or VE.Can For a wired data connection to a Color Control GX, other GX products, PC or other devices

    Remote on-off To connect for example to a VE.BUS BMS.

    Programmable relay Can be programmed to trip on an alarm, or other events.

    1a) If more PV power is connected, the controller will limit input power. 1b) The PV voltage must exceed Vbat 5V for the controller to start. Thereafter the minimum PV voltage is Vbat 1V. 2) A PV array with a higher short circuit current may damage the controller.

    Victron SmartSolar MPPT Regulators
    RVSSMPPT75/15
    RVSSMPPT100/20

    Victron SmartSolar MPPT 100/30 | 100/50

    The Victron MPPT VE.Can SmartSolar charger uses the latest and fastest technology to convert energy from a solar array into energy that optimally charges a battery banks.

    The SmartSolar charge controller will even recharge a severely depleted battery. It can operate with a battery voltage as low as 0 Volts, provided the cells are not permanently sulphated or otherwise damaged

    Ultra-fast Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) Especially in case of a clouded sky, when light intensity is changing continuously, an ultra-fast MPPT controller will improve energy harvest by up to 30% compared to PWM charge controllers and by up to 10% compared to slower MPPT controllers.

    Advanced Maximum Power Point Detection in case of partial shading conditions If partial shading occurs, two or more maximum power points (MPP) may be present on the power-voltage curve. Conventional MPPTs tend to lock to a local MPP, which may not be the optimum MPP. The innovative SmartSolar algorithm will always maximize energy harvest by locking to the optimum MPP.

    Outstanding conversion efficiency No cooling fan. Maximum efficiency exceeds 98%.

    Flexible charge algorithm Fully programmable charge algorithm, and eight pre-programmed algorithms, selectable with a rotary switch (see manual for details).

    Extensive electronic protection Over-temperature protection and power derating when temperature is high. PV short circuit and PV reverse polarity protection. PV reverse current protection.

    Bluetooth Smart built-in The wireless solution to set-up, monitor, update and synchronise SmartSolar Charge Controllers.

    Internal temperature sensor Compensates absorption and float charge voltage for temperature.

    Optional external battery voltage and temperature sensing via Bluetooth A Smart Battery Sense or a BMV-712 Smart Battery Monitor can be used to communicate battery voltage and temperature to one or more SmartSolar Charge Controllers.

    Fully discharged battery recovery function Will initiate charging even if the battery has been discharged to zero volts. Will reconnect to a fully discharged Li-ion battery with integrated disconnect function.

    VE.Can: the multiple controller solution Up to 25 units can be synchronised with VE.Can

    VE.Direct or VE.Can For a wired data connection to a Color Control GX, other GX products, PC or other devices

    Remote on-off To connect for example to a VE.BUS BMS.

    Programmable relay Can be programmed to trip on an alarm, or other events.

    1a) If more PV power is connected, the controller will limit input power. 1b) The PV voltage must exceed Vbat 5V for the controller to start. Thereafter the minimum PV voltage is Vbat 1V. 2) A PV array with a higher short circuit current may damage the controller.

    Victron SmartSolar MPPT Regulators
    RVSSMPPT100/30
    RVSSMPPT100/50

    Victron SmartSolar MPPT 150/35 150/70

    The Victron MPPT VE.Can SmartSolar charger uses the latest and fastest technology to convert energy from a solar array into energy that optimally charges a battery banks.

    The SmartSolar charge controller will even recharge a severely depleted battery. It can operate with a battery voltage as low as 0 Volts, provided the cells are not permanently sulphated or otherwise damaged

    Ultra-fast Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) Especially in case of a clouded sky, when light intensity is changing continuously, an ultra-fast MPPT controller will improve energy harvest by up to 30% compared to PWM charge controllers and by up to 10% compared to slower MPPT controllers.

    Advanced Maximum Power Point Detection in case of partial shading conditions If partial shading occurs, two or more maximum power points (MPP) may be present on the power-voltage curve. Conventional MPPTs tend to lock to a local MPP, which may not be the optimum MPP. The innovative SmartSolar algorithm will always maximize energy harvest by locking to the optimum MPP.

    Outstanding conversion efficiency No cooling fan. Maximum efficiency exceeds 98%.

    Flexible charge algorithm Fully programmable charge algorithm, and eight pre-programmed algorithms, selectable with a rotary switch (see manual for details).

    Extensive electronic protection Over-temperature protection and power derating when temperature is high. PV short circuit and PV reverse polarity protection. PV reverse current protection.

    Bluetooth Smart built-in The wireless solution to set-up, monitor, update and synchronise SmartSolar Charge Controllers.

    Internal temperature sensor Compensates absorption and float charge voltage for temperature.

    Optional external battery voltage and temperature sensing via Bluetooth A Smart Battery Sense or a BMV-712 Smart Battery Monitor can be used to communicate battery voltage and temperature to one or more SmartSolar Charge Controllers.

    Fully discharged battery recovery function Will initiate charging even if the battery has been discharged to zero volts. Will reconnect to a fully discharged Li-ion battery with integrated disconnect function.

    VE.Can: the multiple controller solution Up to 25 units can be synchronised with VE.Can

    VE.Direct or VE.Can For a wired data connection to a Color Control GX, other GX products, PC or other devices

    Remote on-off To connect for example to a VE.BUS BMS.

    Programmable relay Can be programmed to trip on an alarm, or other events.

    Default setting: 14.4v / 28.8v / 43.2v / 57.6v (adjustable: rotary switch, display, VE.Direct or Bluetooth)

    Default setting: 13.8v / 27.6v / 41.4v / 55.2v (adjustable: rotary switch, display, VE.Direct or Bluetooth )

    Default setting: 16.2v / 32.4v / 48.2v / 64.8v (adjustable: rotary switch, display, VE.Direct or Bluetooth)

    1a) If more PV power is connected, the controller will limit input power. 1b) The PV voltage must exceed Vbat 5V for the controller to start. Thereafter the minimum PV voltage is Vbat 1V. 2) A PV array with a higher short circuit current may damage the controller.

    Victron SmartSolar MPPT Regulators
    RVSSMPPT150/35
    RVSSMPPT150/70

    Victron Smart Solar MPPT Solar Controllers 150/85 150/100

    The Victron MPPT VE.Can SmartSolar charger uses the latest and fastest technology to convert energy from a solar array into energy that optimally charges a battery banks.

    The SmartSolar charge controller will even recharge a severely depleted battery. It can operate with a battery voltage as low as 0 Volts, provided the cells are not permanently sulphated or otherwise damaged

    Ultra-fast Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) Especially in case of a clouded sky, when light intensity is changing continuously, an ultra-fast MPPT controller will improve energy harvest by up to 30% compared to PWM charge controllers and by up to 10% compared to slower MPPT controllers.

    Advanced Maximum Power Point Detection in case of partial shading conditions If partial shading occurs, two or more maximum power points (MPP) may be present on the power-voltage curve. Conventional MPPTs tend to lock to a local MPP, which may not be the optimum MPP. The innovative SmartSolar algorithm will always maximize energy harvest by locking to the optimum MPP.

    Outstanding conversion efficiency No cooling fan. Maximum efficiency exceeds 98%.

    Flexible charge algorithm Fully programmable charge algorithm, and eight pre-programmed algorithms, selectable with a rotary switch (see manual for details).

    Extensive electronic protection Over-temperature protection and power derating when temperature is high. PV short circuit and PV reverse polarity protection. PV reverse current protection.

    Bluetooth Smart built-in The wireless solution to set-up, monitor, update and synchronise SmartSolar Charge Controllers.

    Internal temperature sensor Compensates absorption and float charge voltage for temperature.

    Optional external battery voltage and temperature sensing via Bluetooth A Smart Battery Sense or a BMV-712 Smart Battery Monitor can be used to communicate battery voltage and temperature to one or more SmartSolar Charge Controllers.

    Fully discharged battery recovery function Will initiate charging even if the battery has been discharged to zero volts. Will reconnect to a fully discharged Li-ion battery with integrated disconnect function.

    VE.Can: the multiple controller solution Up to 25 units can be synchronised with VE.Can

    VE.Direct or VE.Can For a wired data connection to a Color Control GX, other GX products, PC or other devices

    Remote on-off To connect for example to a VE.BUS BMS.

    Programmable relay Can be programmed to trip on an alarm, or other events.

    1a) If more PV power is connected, the controller will limit input power. 1b) The PV voltage must exceed Vbat 5V for the controller to start. Thereafter the minimum PV voltage is Vbat 1V. 2) A PV array with a higher short circuit current may damage the controller. 3) MC4 models: several splitter pairs may be needed to parallel the strings of solar panels Maximum current per MC4 connector: 30A (the MC4 connectors are parallel connected to one MPPT tracker)

    Victron SmartSolar MPPT Regulators
    RVSSMPPT150/85
    RVSSMPPT150/100

    Victron Smart Solar MPPT Solar Controllers 150/85 250/100

    The Victron MPPT VE.Can SmartSolar charger uses the latest and fastest technology to convert energy from a solar array into energy that optimally charges a battery banks.

    The SmartSolar charge controller will even recharge a severely depleted battery. It can operate with a battery voltage as low as 0 Volts, provided the cells are not permanently sulphated or otherwise damaged

    Ultra-fast Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) Especially in case of a clouded sky, when light intensity is changing continuously, an ultra-fast MPPT controller will improve energy harvest by up to 30% compared to PWM charge controllers and by up to 10% compared to slower MPPT controllers.

    Advanced Maximum Power Point Detection in case of partial shading conditions If partial shading occurs, two or more maximum power points (MPP) may be present on the power-voltage curve. Conventional MPPTs tend to lock to a local MPP, which may not be the optimum MPP. The innovative SmartSolar algorithm will always maximize energy harvest by locking to the optimum MPP.

    Outstanding conversion efficiency No cooling fan. Maximum efficiency exceeds 98%.

    Flexible charge algorithm Fully programmable charge algorithm, and eight pre-programmed algorithms, selectable with a rotary switch (see manual for details).

    Extensive electronic protection Over-temperature protection and power derating when temperature is high. PV short circuit and PV reverse polarity protection. PV reverse current protection.

    Bluetooth Smart built-in The wireless solution to set-up, monitor, update and synchronise SmartSolar Charge Controllers.

    Internal temperature sensor Compensates absorption and float charge voltage for temperature.

    Optional external battery voltage and temperature sensing via Bluetooth A Smart Battery Sense or a BMV-712 Smart Battery Monitor can be used to communicate battery voltage and temperature to one or more SmartSolar Charge Controllers.

    Fully discharged battery recovery function Will initiate charging even if the battery has been discharged to zero volts. Will reconnect to a fully discharged Li-ion battery with integrated disconnect function.

    VE.Can: the multiple controller solution Up to 25 units can be synchronised with VE.Can

    VE.Direct or VE.Can For a wired data connection to a Color Control GX, other GX products, PC or other devices

    Remote on-off To connect for example to a VE.BUS BMS.

    Programmable relay Can be programmed to trip on an alarm, or other events.

    Default setting: 14.4v / 28.8v / 43.2v / 57.6v (adjustable: rotary switch, display, VE.Direct or Bluetooth

    Default setting: 13.8v / 27.6v / 41.4v / 55.2v (adjustable: rotary switch, display, VE.Direct or Bluetooth

    Default setting: 16.2v / 32.4v / 48.2v / 64.8v (adjustable: rotary switch, display, VE.Direct or Bluetoot)

    1a) If more PV power is connected, the controller will limit input power. 1b) The PV voltage must exceed Vbat 5V for the controller to start. Thereafter the minimum PV voltage is Vbat 1V. 2) A PV array with a higher short circuit current may damage the controller. 3) MC4 models: several splitter pairs may be needed to parallel the strings of solar panels Maximum current per MC4 connector: 30A (the MC4 connectors are parallel connected to one MPPT tracker)

    Victron SmartSolar MPPT Regulators
    RVSSMPPT150/85-48
    Victron SmartSolar MPPT250/100 1599.00

    Enerdrive MPPT Solar Controllers

    The Enerdrive MPPT Solar Controllers adopt the advanced MPPT control algorithm, it can minimize the maximum power point loss rate and loss time, quickly track the maximum power point (MPP) of the PV array and obtain the maximum energy from solar array under any conditions; and it can increase the ratio of energy utilization in the solar system by 20%-30% compared with PWM charging method.

    The Enerdrive MPPT Solar Controllers has self-adaptive three-stage charging mode based on digital control circuit, which can effectively prolong the lifespan of batteries and significantly improve the system performance. It also has comprehensive electronic protection for overcharge, over discharge, PV battery reverse polarity. This controller can be widely used for RV, Marine, remote off grid monitoring and many other applications.

    IP33 Ingress protection and isolated RS485 design further improves the controllers reliability and meet the different application requirements.

    Enerdrive MPPT Solar Controller Features:

    • CE certification (LVD EN/IEC62109,EMC EN61000-6-1/3)
    • LCD display
    • Advanced MPPT technology ultra-fast tracking speed guarantees tracking efficiency up to 99.5%
    • Maximum DC/DC transfer efficiency is as high as 98.6%.
    • Advanced MPPT control algorithm to minimize the MPP lost rate and lost time
    • Accurate recognition and tracking of multi-peaks maximum power point
    • Wide MPP operating voltage range
    • Support lead-acid and lithium batteries
    • Real-time energy statistics function
    • Power reduction automatically over temperature value
    • Multiple load work modes
    • Comprehensive electronic protection
    • IP33 Ingress protection
    • Comms port included for future applications

    When lithium battery is used, the system voltage cant be identified automatically. 2. At minimum operating environment temperature. 3. At 25°C environment temperature. 4. When lithium battery is used, the temperature compensate coefficient must be 0 and cant be changed. 5. The controller can supply full load working in the environment temperature. When the internal temperature reaches 81°C, the reduced charging power mode is turned on.

    Enerdrive MPPT Solar Controllers
    RENMPPT10 Enerdrive MPPT 10A 169.00
    RENMPPT20 Enerdrive MPPT 20A 218.00
    RENMPPT30 Enerdrive MPPT 30A 250.00
    RENMPPT40 Enerdrive MPPT 40A 315.00

    Voltech MPPT Solar Controllers

    Voltech MPPT Solar Charge Controller 12/24V

    Available in 30A and 50A Models

    Suitable for Lead Acid and Lithium Batteries

    Voltech MPPT Solar Regulators
    RVMPPT30 Voltech 30A MPPT 262.00
    RVMPPT50 Voltech 50AMPPT 395.00

    Morningstar EcoBoost MPPT

    The NEW EcoBoost MPPT™ is a Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) solar charge controller within Morningstar’s Essential Series™. This controller was developed for residential and leisure consumer applications where an MPPT controller is desired to provide additional power and accommodations for modules that are not supported by other types of controllers. Metered and non-metered versions of this product are available at 20, 30, and 40 amp charge ratings for 12 and 24 volt battery systems.

    • Integrated USB Device Charging
    • High Reliability and Efficiency
    • Maximizes Energy Harvest
    • Ideal for Residential and Rural Applications

    The EcoBoost MPPTTM solar charge controller brings Morningstar’s proprietaryTrakStarTechnologyTM to our new line of Essentials controllers and accessories.The EcoBoost controllers automatically detect 12 or 24 V system con guration. They are highly ef cient and accurate controllers designed to ensure that batteries attain a complete state of charge.

    They are also sophisticated load controllers. Using this feature to manage DC power consumption protects the batteries from over discharge and helps ensure long term system reliability. Small DC loads can be powered directly from the EcoBoost by way of two USB charging ports.

    Morningstar EcoBoost controllers act as the central brain of PV powered DC electrical systems up to 1,120 watts and offer outstanding value, performance and dependability.

    Key Features and Benefits:

    • Rugged, Maintenance-free Design: Conformally coated circuit board and corrosion resistant terminals.
    • Maximizes Energy Harvest: UsingTrakStar MPPT technology to determine and adjust to the true maximum power point as solar insolation changes throughout the day.
    • High Ef ciency: At low, medium, and high power levels.
    • Optional Meter: Provides access to system operational information including current and historical performance data. All EcoBoost “M” controllers include the meter.
    • USB Charging: Two USB ports with 3 amps of shared charging capacity to charge today’s modern mobile devices.
    • Self Diagnostics: Continuous monitoring and reporting of any errors through its status LED’s, or its optional display.
    • Lighting Controller: Uses PV array to switch at dusk and dawn.
    • Load Controller: Connect DC loads directly to the controller. Programmable load disconnect to protect batteries.
    • PV Array Flexibility: Enables 2 modules in series to charge a 12V or 24V battery system.

    Exceeding Maximum PV Open Circuit Voltage may damage the controller.

    Input power can exceed Nominal Maximum Operating Power, but controller will limit and provide its rated continuous maximum output current into batteries. is will not harm the controller (reminder: do not exceed Voc).

    • Solar Input: overload, short-circuit, high voltage warning, reverse polarity, high temperature, nighttime reverse current
    • Load Output: overload, short-circuit, high temperature reverse polarity
    • Battery reverse polarity (no battery removal)
    • Low Voltage Disconnect, Low Voltage Reconnect Settings: 11.4V/12.6V or custom (x2 for 24 volt systems)
    • Lighting Settings: Dusk-Dawn
    • 4-stage charging: Bulk, Absorption, Float, Equalize
    • 7 standard battery settings and customization
    • Supports multiple battery technologies

    Micro USB data port for firmware updates and 30-day system datalog access (future feature)

    Morningstar SunSaver MPPT 15L

    Morningstar’s SunSaver MPPT solar controller with TrakStar Technology™ is an advanced maximum power point tracking (MPPT) battery for off-grid photovoltaic (PV) systems with PV array max power (Pmp) up to 520 watts.The controller features a Smart tracking algorithm that maximizes the energy harvest from the PV and also provides load control to prevent over discharge of the battery. Detailed battery programming options allow for advanced battery support for the latest Lithium, Nickel Cadmium, and Lead Acid battery types

    The SunSaver MPPT is well suited for both professional and consumer PV applications including automatic lighting control. Its charging process has been optimised for long battery life and improved system performance. This product is epoxy encapsulated for environmental protection, may be adjusted by the user via four settings switches or connection to a personal computer, and has an optional remote meter and battery temperature sensor.

    Key Features and Benefits:

    Coefficient :.5mV/°C / cell (25°C ref) Range :.40°C to 60°C Set points : Absorption, float, equalize

    • PV: Overload, Short Circuit, High Voltage
    • Load: Overload, Short Circuit
    • Reverse Polarity: Battery, PV and Load
    • Lightning andTransient Surges
    • High Temperature
    • Reverse Current at Night
    • Remote Meter
    • Remote Temperature Sensor
    • USB MeterBus Adapter (UMC-1)
    • PC MeterBus Adapter for RS-232
    • DIN Rail Mounting Clips
    • Ethernet MeterBus Converter for IP connectivity (including SNMP

    Morningstar ProStar MPPT 25 40

    The NEW ProStar MPPT™ is a mid-range MPPT solar charge controller with TrakStar Technology™ that provides maximum power point tracking (MPPT) battery charging for off-grid photovoltaic (PV) systems.

    Prostar MPPT™ solar charge controller is an advanced maximum power point tracking (MPPT) battery charger for off-grid photovoltaic (PV) systems up to 1100 watts. All versions include load control and TrakStar™ Technology to maximize PV efficiency and energy harvest.

    The ProStar design has been proven in over two decades of use in the world’s most demanding installations and ProStar today reflects Morningstar’s policy of continuous improvement through regular upgrades and enhancements. Because Morningstar’s employee-owned culture never “rests on success,” ProStar customers can own both a legend and the latest in a single product.

    Detailed battery programming options allow for advanced battery support for the latest Lithium, Nickel Cadmium, and Lead Acid battery types.

    Note: some battery types require a compatible battery management system.

    KEY FEATURES AND BENEFITS

    • Automatic recovery without fuses
    • Solar Input: overload, short-circuit, high voltage warning, reverse polarity, high temperature, nighttime reverse current
    • Load Output: overload, short-circuit, high temperature, reverse polarity
    • Battery: reverse polarity
    • Low temperature “foldback” (discontinues charging) in cold conditions to protect LI-ion and other batteries
    • 4-stage charging: Bulk, Absorption, Float, Equalize
    • 7 standard battery settings and customization
    • Temperature Compensation
    • Coefficient:.30mV / 12 volt / °C
    • Range:.30°C to 60°C /.22°F to 140°F
    • Setpoints: Absorption, Float, Equalize HVD and HVDR (solar)
    • Low Voltage Disconnect, Low Voltage Reconnect Settings: 11.4V/12.6V or custom (x2 for 24 volt systems)
    • Lighting Settings: Dusk-dawn or custo m

    Morningstar TriStar MPPT 30, 45 60

    Morningstar’sTriStar MPPT solar controller withTrakStarTechnology™ is an advanced maximum power point tracking (MPPT) battery charger for off-grid photovoltaic (PV) systems with PV array max power (Pmp) up to 4.2 kW. The controller provides the industry’s highest peak efficiency of 99% and significantly less power loss compared to other MPPT controllers. Detailed battery programming options allow for advanced battery support for the latest Lithium, Nickel Cadmium, and Lead Acid battery types

    TheTriStar MPPT features a Smart tracking algorithm that maximizes the energy harvest from the PV by rapidly finding the solar array peak power point with extremely fast sweeping of the entire I-V curve.This product is the first PV controller to include on-board Ethernet for a fully web-enabled interface and includes up to 200 days of data logging

    Key Features and Benefits:

    • Maximizes Energy Harvest
    • Our TrakStar MPPT Technology features:
    • Better peak power point tracking than other MPPT controllers
    • Very fast sweeping of the entire I-V curve
    • Recognition of multiple power points during shading or mixed PV arrays
    • Excellent performance at sunrise and low solar insolation levels
  • Extremely High Reliability
  • Robust thermal design and no cooling fans
  • Parallel circuit design provides less stress and longer life for electronic components
  • No mechanical relays
  • Extensive electronic protections including PV short circuit protection
  • Epoxy encapsulated inductors and conformally coated printed circuit boards
  • Very High Efficiency
  • Peak efficiency of 99%
  • Proprietary tracking algorithm minimizes power losses
  • Low self-consumption
  • Continuous operation at full power to 45°C without need to de-rate
  • Selected electronic devices with higher ratings to minimize losses from heating
  • Extensive Networking and Communications Capabilities
  • Enables system monitoring, data logging and adjustability. Uses open standard MODBUS™ protocol and Morningstar’s MS View software.
  • Meterbus: communications between compatible Morningstar products
  • Serial RS-232: connection to a personal computer
  • EIA-485: communications between multiple devices on a bus
  • Ethernet: fully web-enabled interface to a local network or internet; view from a web browser or send email/text messages.
  • Metering and Data Logging
  • Optional TriStar meter and remote meter provides detailed operating data, alarms and faults
  • Three LED’s display system status
  • Up to 200 days of data logging via meters or communications ports
  • T he PV array power rating may exceed the controller’s Max Nominal Output Power specification.The controller will limit battery current and prevent damage. Array oversizing should be considered on a case by case basis. See our array string sizer tool and related tech documentation

    • Automatic recovery without fuses
    • Solar Input: overload, short-circuit, high voltage warning, reverse polarity, high temperature, nighttime reverse current
    • Load Output: overload, short-circuit, high temperature, reverse polarity
    • Battery: High Voltage
    • High Temperature
    • Lightning Transient Surges
    • Reverse Current at Night

    Victron BlueSolar PWM DUO-LCDUSB

    The BlueSolar PWM DUO 12V|24V|20A LCD-USB series uses Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) charge voltage control combined with a multistage charge control algorithm. This leads to superior charging and enhanced battery performance. The filtered PWM power control system uses highly efficient and reliable power MOSFET transistors.

    BlueSolar PWM DUO-LCDUSB

    • Liquid Crystal Display
    • Two 5 Volt USB outputs
    • Lighting control function, fully programmable
    • Three stage battery charging (bulk, absorption, float), fully programmable
    • Load output with low voltage and manual disconnect (programmable)
    • Load output protected against over load and short circuit
    • Protected against reverse polarity connection of the solar panels and/or battery
    • Charges two separate batteries
    • Programmable charge current ratio
    • External Temperature sensor
    • Liquid crystal display. For status monitoring and set-up
    • Exte rnal Temperature s en s or included
    • 2 Separate Battery outputs. Charges two separate batteries. For example, the starter battery and the service battery of a boat or mobile home.
    • Protections. Protected against reverse polarity connection of the solar panels and/or battery
    • Prog ram m able battery charge algorithm. Algorithms for AGM, GEL or Flooded lead-acid batteries and LiFePO4 batteries (with internal BMS).
    • Two 5 Volt USB outputs. Maximum current of the two outputs combined: 2A

    1) For 12V use 36 cell solar panels For 24V use 72 cell solar panel or 2x 36 cell in series 2) See manual for alternative voltage settings

    Victron BlueSolar PWM DUO-LCDUSB
    RVDUO

    Plasmatronics Solar Regulators

    Plasmatronics is an Australian company which specialises in the design and manufacture of electronic regulating and metering devices for solar power systems.

    Plasmatronics was established in 1985 and they proudly design and manufacture their product in Australia.

    As one of the earliest designers and builders of Solar Power Regulators in the world, Plasmatronics Pty Ltd is the preferred choice for Remote systems throughout Australia. They have also designed and built systems for use throughout the world. Examples of their major projects can be seen in the Philippines, Egypt, and Nepal. They had the worlds first Chinese language solar power regulator, which is in use in mainland China. Plasmatronics also have strong technological and commercial connections to Solar Regulator and BOS designers and manufacturers in Europe, India, China, and the USA.

    Plasmatronics Pty Ltd is committed to ongoing design and development of its product. Their products are constantly being updated and improved, and they are committed to innovation. Plasmatronics are committed also to quality improvement, and they have technical staff employed to liaise with customers, so that they have constant feedback on how to improve both the design and make of the product. They are proud of the fact that they support our product throughout its life, and not just through a warranty period. Plasmatronics Pty Ltd is a wholly Australian owned Company incorporated in Victoria.

    The Plasmatronics charge controllers are the industry standard, field proven way to take control of your battery based renewable energy system. With tens of thousands of units in service, in a huge variety of applications, the Plasmatronics Regulators has a well-earned reputation for versatility and reliability. The four stage charging algorithm incorporating true Pulse Width Modulated (PWM) constant voltage control gives you complete control over the whole charging cycle. All charging voltages and times are adjustable over generously wide ranges. This allows you to customise the charging regime to suit just about any custom requirements which you, your customer, or your battery manufacturer may have. Of course, in most cases you can choose from one of our four default programs, which cover most types of batteries and systems extremely well. Plasmatronics PL series controllers have plenty of other tricks up their sleeves as well. They can control generators, night lights, back-up battery charging, many timer applications, and heaps more.

    Plasmatronics PL20, PL40 PL80 Solar Controllers

    The PL series of charge controllers give you the freedom to operate your solar electric system the way you want to.

    They offer complete control over the charge cycle, plus an unprecedented amount of useful information about current and past performance.

    PL regulators help to protect the system with a built in low battery disconnect switch. In addition, the versatile event controller can switch power on or off according to criteria set by the user. This allows the PL to do extra tasks such as switching a light on at night or keeping a water tank full by operating a pump when needed.

    The user can select either Pulse Width Modulation or slow speed switching. Regulation can be done in both series and shunt modes. Other features include backup generator control and charging a second battery.

    The PL Series is designed for Caravan / Motor-home / Camping systems, as well as Commercial and industrial stand alone applications.

    Informative:

    A comprehensive LCD display gives battery voltage, charge current, Ah in and out, load current, battery temperature (with optional sensor) and more. System performance data is available for the last 30 days. The controller remembers what happened, even if the user might not.

    Well Connected:

    With the optional PLI interface and PLCOM software, the user can access all the functions from a remote computer. All data can be read, and all settings adjusted.

    Versatile:

    Because it can handle 12, 24, 32, 36, and 48V systems, and be set to deal with any battery requirements, you can use it in almost any battery charging job. It may be the only regulator you will ever need to stock. (Higher voltages available on special order).

    Features:

    NOTE: Due to high current in-rush on start up, Inverters are to be wired to the battery bank and not directly to the Load Terminal. Doing so could damage Regulator and void warranty.

    Plasmatronics Dingo 2020N Solar Controller

    The Dingo2020N is the next generation charge controller from Plasmatronics. It inherits many of the best features of the PL series of controllers. But, thanks to Plasmatronics extensive industry experience and a wealth of customer feedback, the Dingo2020N is in a class of its own.

    The Dingo Series controllers were designed to be used in Caravan / Camping / Marine applications as well as Stand Alone Commercial and Industrial ones. However, the main applications its designed for is vehicle systems, such as Campervan, Motor-home, Caravan, Cars, Trucks and boats. As Its easier to understand for people used to working on vehicle systems, due to the Negative grounding

    The Dingo series of solar controllers is exceptionally versatile. They give the user unparalleled capability to adjust the function of the controller and to monitor the performance of the energy system. To cater for non technical users, the Dingo has four preset programs which can be used without needing to understand the details of its operation. For those with a good understanding of solar regulation, there is another program, which allows all the settings to be adjusted if required. Once the program has been selected, it is possible to disable any further adjustment. This prevents unauthorised adjustment of settings. Although the Dingo is primarily a device to control the charging of batteries from solar electric (photovoltaic) panels, it can also be used with other energy sources such as wind, micro hydro and fuel driven generators. The Dingo supports a variety of regulation methods. It supports slow speed switching and fixed frequency pulse width modulation (PWM) control in series and shunt modes. Low battery voltage load disconnection is provided, as are an alarm, facility to control the charging of a second battery bank and control for a back up generator. The event controller can be used to control lights, pumping, waste energy use and other timer functions. A temperature sensor can be added to correct the regulation voltages for battery temperature. There is an input for measuring external voltages. A serial interface is provided for accessories including extra switch blocks, remote current sensors and communication with a computer/ modem. Using an external current shunt attached to a remote current sensor (DSA) allows the controller to see other current flows in the system. The Dingo can control larger systems by adding external switch blocks attached to the serial bus. The DUSB, D232 or DNET interfaces allows remote monitoring and adjustment. Custom settings can be stored on a computer and uploaded into the controller. Data from the controller can be downloaded into the computer and displayed easily.

    What’s the same:

    • Reliable, easy to understand, one button interface and proven, easy to learn menu structure.
    • Symmetrical charge and load currents, both 20A.
    • Industry standard four stage charging regime.
    • 12,24,32,36 and 48V selectable. Only one controller to stock.
    • Unbeatable high temperature performance. Full charge and full load current, without interruption to operation, in a 50oC ambient. All day, every day.
    • Fast, reliable, affordable, Plasmatronics Service, long after the long warranty has expired.

    What’s new? Nearly everything else! Without any exaggeration, much too much to list here. Highlights include:

    • Negative Ground: This makes it much easier to use in vehicles and easier to understand for people used to working with vehicle systems. The Dingo works well everywhere, but shines in campervan’s, motor homes, caravans, cars, trucks and boats.
    • New Communications Bus: This rugged new bus uses the MODBUS protocol (industrial automation standard proven in noisy environments). Aside from accessories you would expect for a PL descendant like shunt adaptors and data interface units, it is also compatible with Modular System Components. This gives unprecedented flexibility in system design.
    • Data Storage: 512 days worth of data can be stored. That’s 16 Months worth of Charge and Load Ah, Battery voltage range, and daily State of Charge. Data for 99 days is accessible via the display so if you don’t have a computer, you’re not locked out.
    • Enhanced one button interface: Now includes Reverse gear for when you want to go backwards and Fast Forward for when you need to set a very large number (e.g. a large battery Ah capacity.)
    • LED backlighting: Makes the display readable in any light conditions.
    • Hidden Wiring: All the wires are covered. Wiring to the unit can be kept out of sight inside the wall or behind the mounting panel. This makes for a clean installation. The user gets the access they want without making their living space into a distribution board. Especially valuable in mobile applications.
    • terminals: A terminal for every wire. Wiring is simpler and quicker. External electrical commoning points or bus bars are not needed and it is easy to understand where the wires should go.
    • Generator Terminals: Voltage free contacts, as required by many generator start systems, are now included in the basic controller.
    • Accessories: The Accessories available so far include shunt adaptors (DSA) and two different data adaptors (DUSB and D232).
    • The DSA reads external charge or load currents: You can use up to 4 per system.
    • The DUSB provides a USB interface to a computer: This allows the user to download all the data from the controller and change settings if required.
    • The D232 provides an RS232 interface (DTE): Designed for remote computer access via a modem.

    What is a solar charge controller and why are they important?

    As the name suggests, a solar charge controller is a component of a solar panel system that controls the charging of a battery bank. Solar charge controllers ensure the batteries are charged at the proper rate and to the proper level. Without a charge controller, batteries can be damaged by incoming power, and could also leak power back to the solar panels when the sun isn’t shining.

    Solar charge controllers have a simple job, but it’s important to learn about the two main types, how they work, and how to pair them with solar panels and batteries. Armed with that knowledge, you’ll be one step closer to building an off-grid solar system!

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    Key takeaways

    • Solar charge controllers allow batteries to safely charge and discharge using the output of solar panels.
    • A charge controller is needed any time a battery will be connected to the direct current (DC) output of solar panels; most often in small off-grid systems.
    • The two kinds of charge controllers are pulse-width modulation (PWM) and maximum power point tracking (MPPT).
    • PWM charge controllers are less expensive, but less efficient, and are best suited for small off-grid systems with a few solar panels and batteries.
    • MPPT charge controllers are more expensive and more efficient, and are good for larger off-grid systems that can power a small home or cabin.
    • The top off-grid charge controllers are made by brands like Victron, EPEVER, and Renogy, but non-brand-name charge controllers can be just fine if you know what to look for.

    Who needs a solar charge controller?

    A charge controller is necessary any time a battery bank will be connected to the direct current (DC) output of solar panels. In most cases, this means a small off-grid setup like solar panels on an RV or cabin. If you’re looking for information on how to use solar and batteries off the grid, you’re in the right place!

    There are also charge controllers aimed at providing battery backup for an existing grid-tied solar system that is on the roof of a home or business. This application requires a high-voltage charge controller and usually involves rewiring the system to direct a portion of the solar output through the charge controller.

    How does a solar charge controller work?

    Fair warning before we get started: we’re about to discuss voltage, amperage, and wattage. If you need a refresher on how these things work together, check out our article on watts, kilowatts, and kilowatt-hours.

    A solar charge controller is connected between solar panels and batteries to ensure power from the panels reaches the battery safely and effectively. The battery feeds into an inverter that changes the DC power into AC to run appliances (aka loads).

    How a charge controller works within an off-grid solar system.

    The four main functions of a solar charge controller are:

    • Accept incoming power from solar panels
    • Control the amount of power sent to the battery
    • Monitor the voltage of the battery to prevent overcharging
    • Allow power to flow only from the solar panels to the batteries

    As a battery charges, its voltage increases, up to a limit. The battery can be damaged if an additional charge is applied past this limit. Therefore, the ability of a battery to provide or accept power can be measured by its voltage. For example, a typical 12-volt AGM lead-acid battery will show a voltage of 11.8 volts at 10% charged to 12.9 volts at 100% charge.

    The main function of a solar charge controller is to ensure the amount of power that is sent to the battery is enough to charge it, but not so much that it increases the battery voltage above a safe level. It does this by reading the voltage of the battery and calculating how much additional energy is required to fully charge the battery.

    Another important function of the charge controller is to prevent current from traveling back into the solar panels. When the sun isn’t shining, the solar panels aren’t producing any voltage. Because electricity flows from high voltage to low voltage, the power in the battery would flow into the solar panels if there was nothing in place to stop it. This could potentially cause damage. The charge controller has a diode that allows power to flow in one direction, preventing electricity from feeding back into the panels.

    How solar power gets from panels to batteries

    As we mentioned above, power flows from high voltage to low. So, to add energy to the battery, the output voltage of a solar panel must always be a little higher than the voltage of the battery it’s charging. Thankfully, solar panels are designed to put out more voltage than a battery needs at any given time.

    Here’s an example: Say you have a single 100-watt solar panel and a 12-volt battery. Remember from above that a 12-volt battery is actually able to charge up to about 12.9 volts. 12 volts is what is called its “nominal voltage,” while the actual voltage of the battery depends on how charged it is. It might sink to 11.8 volts at low charge, and 12.9 volts when full.

    The 100-watt solar panel can put out a maximum of 18 volts, which is a little too high for the battery to accept safely. Leaving it connected to the battery too long could result in a dangerous situation, eventually causing pressure to build up inside the battery and vent out the side as chemical steam.

    You need a charge controller in between the solar panel and the battery to limit the voltage available to the battery. But it’s not just about the voltage. it also has to withstand a certain amount of current (amperage) flowing through it. That’s where the amperage rating of the charge controller comes in.

    Charge controller amperage rating

    The number of amps of current a charge controller can handle is called its “rating.” Exceeding the amperage rating can cause damage to the wiring within the charge controller. Let’s consider a charge controller rated to handle 30 amps of current. The single 100- watt solar panel described above puts out 5.5 amps of current at 18 volts. That amperage is much lower than the charge controller’s maximum of 30 amps, so the charge controller can easily handle the output of the singular solar panel.

    In fact, it could handle the output of multiple solar panels wired in parallel (which increases current output). But there’s an important rule about charge controller ratings to consider: always make sure your charge controller is rated to handle 25% more amps than your solar panels are supposed to put out. That’s because solar panels can exceed their rated current output under especially bright sun, and you don’t want to fry your charge controller on the rare occasion when that happens.

    Keeping that rule in mind, the 30-amp charge controller in our example could accept a nominal output of up to 24 amps. You could wire as many as four of those 5.5-amp solar panels in parallel to create a solar array capable of putting out 22 amps, staying under the charge controller’s rating plus the 25% cushion. If you think you might expand the size of your solar array in the future, get a charge controller rated for 50% more amps than your immediate needs.

    Matching voltages

    Another consideration when choosing a charge controller is the voltage of the battery bank you want to charge. Wiring batteries in series increases the voltage they can deliver and accept. For example, two 12-volt batteries wired in series will operate at 24 nominal volts. There are charge controllers on the market that can pair with battery banks of 12, 24, 36, and 48 volts. You need to make sure the charge controller you purchase can pair with the voltage of the battery bank.

    Battery charging stages

    There are three stages of charging a battery: bulk, absorption, and float. They correspond to how full the battery is.

    • Bulk: When a battery charge is low, the charge controller can safely push a lot of energy to it, and the battery fills up with charge very quickly.
    • Absorption: as the battery nears its full charge (around 90%), the charge controller reduces its current output, and the battery charges more slowly until it’s full.
    • Float: when the battery is full, the charge controller lowers its output voltage just a bit to maintain the full charge.

    Think of it like pouring water from a pitcher into a cup with a very slow leak: when the cup is empty, you start pouring and quickly increase the amount of water being poured until the cup is nearly full. Then you reduce the flow until the cup is full. In order to keep the cup full despite the leak, you pour just a trickle to keep it topped off.

    The bulk/absorption/float process was developed for lead-acid deep cycle batteries. Some newer lithium batteries allow for higher current up until they’re quite full, meaning a charge controller paired with a lithium battery can be set to shorten or eliminate the absorption stage.

    Types of charge controller

    There are two main ways to control the flow of power to a battery, and they correspond to the two types of charge controller: pulse-width modulation (PWM) and maximum power point tracking (MPPT).

    Pulse-width modulation (PWM)

    Pulse-width modulation is the simplest and cheapest automatic way to control the flow of power between solar panels and a battery. There are PWM charge controllers on the market for between about 15 to 40.

    A PWM charge controller ensures the battery never charges to more than its maximum voltage by switching the power flow on and off hundreds of times per second (i.e. sending “pulses” of power) to reduce the average voltage coming from the solar panels. The width of the pulses reduces the average output voltage.

    Here’s an image to illustrate how the pulses work:

    For example, if the charge controller accepts 18 volts from the solar panel, it might adjust the pulses so they’re on 82% of the time, and off 18% of the time. This would reduce the average voltage by 18%, down to about 14.8 volts, which can be used to charge a half-full AGM battery. As the battery gets close to a full charge, a PWM charge controller shortens the pulses even further, down to around 77% of the time, or 13.8 volts, to prevent the battery from overcharging.

    Unfortunately, the excess energy produced by solar panels is wasted to reduce the output voltage. In our example, the charge controller would average around 80% efficiency. This means it’s very important to make sure the output voltage of the solar panels is not too much higher than the voltage of your battery bank with a PWM charge controller to minimize wasted energy. If your solar array outputs a much higher voltage, the PWM charge controller will cut that voltage down to what the battery can accept, and waste the rest.

    Something like 80% efficiency is fine for small off-grid applications like a few solar panels hooked up to a couple of batteries, especially at the low cost of a PWM charge controller. For larger systems with much higher output, it is generally preferable to use the other kind of charge controller technology known as maximum power point tracking, or MPPT.

    Maximum power point tracking (MPPT)

    An MPPT solar charge controller operates by converting the incoming power from solar panels to match the theoretical highest-efficiency output at the right input voltage for the battery. The charge controller does this by calculating the point at which the maximum current can flow at a voltage the battery can accept, then converting the solar panel output to that mixture of voltage and current.

    The major advantages of MPPT charge controllers are greater efficiency and compatibility with higher voltage solar arrays. This means that you can charge a 12V battery bank with a larger solar array wired in series, as long as you stay within the limits of the controller’s amperage rating. You can calculate this limit by taking the total wattage of the solar array and dividing it by the voltage of the battery bank to get the maximum possible output in amps.

    Let’s use the same example numbers as before. The solar panel is putting out 100 watts, or about 5.5 amps into 18 volts. The MPPT charge controller converts the output to 14.8 volts but loses about 5% of the power in the conversion process. So the MPPT controller’s output current is about 6.4 amps, times the 14.8 volts, or 95 watts.

    Theoretically, in an hour of full sun, the MPPT charge controller will have delivered 95 amp-hours of energy to the batteries, compared to the PWM charge controller’s energy output of about 80 amp-hours. In practice, it isn’t quite that simple, as solar pro Will Prowse discovered in this video:

    Common features and settings on a charge controller

    The basic features of the simplest PWM charge controller include the ability to set the type of battery and battery bank voltage, and lights indicating the phase of charging (bulk, absorption, and float). advanced PWM and MPPT models come with a small LCD display for programming and data display, a heat sensor port to monitor battery temperature, and a communications port to connect the charge controller to an external display or computer. The most advanced charge controllers offer Bluetooth connectivity and an app for customizing settings.

    Recommended prodcuts

    There are tons of fine charge controllers available on the market. Search any solar supply or online marketplace like Amazon and you’re bound to turn up dozens of results.

    The cheapest PWM charge controllers can be had for around 15, and are often rebranded versions of the same design. These lack many features but are relatively reliable for how inexpensive they are. expensive PWM charge controllers built with better quality materials can be had for under 50, while full-featured MPPT charge controllers are priced anywhere from 100 to 200.

    Below are a few of our recommended charge controllers at different price points for a medium-sized off-grid setup.

    Renogy Wanderer 30A 12V PWM

    The Renogy Wanderer 30A PWM charge controller is a solid choice for a smaller off-grid setup. It can handle up to 30A of current at 12V, so it’s not meant for a large system.

    It doesn’t have a screen, but it does pair with the three main kinds of lead-acid batteries as well as lithium ones. It has a connector port for an optional temperature sensor and includes an RS232 port that can be used to program the charge controller or even to add Renogy’s BT-1 Bluetooth module for connecting to the Renogy app on your smartphone.

    The Wanderer can be had for about 40 from Amazon or Renogy direct.

    EPEVER Tracer BN 30A 12V/24V MPPT

    The EPEVER Tracer BN MPPT 30A charge controller is not the cheapest MPPT charge controller on the market, but it’s a very good one. With a die-cast aluminum body, sturdy connectors, and a DC output to power loads like DC appliances or LED lights, the Tracer BN is a robust piece of equipment perfect for handling solar charging of lead-acid batteries in 12- and 24-volt banks. It can accept an incoming power output of up to 2,340 watts of solar panels (that’s equal to three parallel strings of four 60-cell solar panels wired in series). The Tracer can be programmed to charge lithium batteries, but it doesn’t come with a preset charging profile for them.

    This EPEVER Tracer BN kit at Amazon includes a temperature sensor, mounting hardware, and a separate screen for programming and monitoring the health and state of charge of your battery system. Price at the time of publishing was 179.99.

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    Victron Energy SmartSolar 30A 100V MPPT

    Victron is one of the most trusted solar brands in the world, and its technology is now becoming more widely available in the United States. This 30A, 100V charge controller is known as one of the best on market. Just like the EPEVER controller, it works with 12- or 24-volt battery banks but allows for slightly lower voltage solar input. To stay under this charger’s rating, you could run as many as three parallel strings of three 60-cell solar panels in series to achieve an output of 90 volts at around 20 amps (1,800 watts of solar output).

    It’s made with quality components, calculates maximum power point quickly and with high efficiency, and is very easy to use. The SmartSolar line of charge controllers all come with Bluetooth connectivity on board and can connect to the VictronConnect app on Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows for easy programming. Perhaps most importantly, you get a 5-year limited warranty that protects you against defects in materials and workmanship.

    The SmartSolar 30A is the most expensive product on our list at around 225 on Amazon, but reading the reviews from its users, you can see why the expense might be worth it.

    Solar charge controllers: are they right for you?

    All the information above should give you a good basis of knowledge about how solar charge controllers work and how to pair them with solar panels and batteries, but there’s no substitute for practical, hands-on experience! If you have a few bucks to spend, you can set up a pretty simple off-grid solar “generator” using a single solar panel, a charge controller, a battery, and a cheap inverter. Choosing a charge controller that’s oversized for a small application gives you a chance to increase the size of the solar array and battery bank as you gain experience or find new ways to use the stored solar energy.

    Now go out there and start making solar and batteries work for you!

    What Is a Solar Charge Controller, and Do You Need It?

    Installing solar panels requires understanding the workings of many components: solar batteries, inverters wiring, conduit bending… If you’re going the DIY route, you could practically work as an electrician once you finish the installation!

    The charge controller is one component of a solar power system that confuses many people. A solar charge controller is necessary for most residential PV panel installations. Let’s explore what exactly a solar charge controller does and whether or not you’ll need one for your setup.

    What Is a Solar Charge Controller?

    A solar charge controller is a device that regulates the energy that travels from the solar panels into the battery. Solar generators convert and store power in a battery, with the electrical capacity recharged by the solar panels. A solar charge controller regulates the electrical current to prevent the battery from electrical surges that can damage it and reduce its lifespan.

    A solar charge controller is essential if your PV solar array feeds a battery bank. If you are on a grid-tied system, you probably don’t need a solar charge controller.

    How Does a Solar Charge Controller Work?

    A solar charge controller regulates the voltage transmitted from the solar panels to the batteries.

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    Solar panels for a 12V battery system are usually rated for 17V. It may seem counterintuitive, but there is a good reason for it.

    Solar panels rarely output their full power rating due to clouds, dirt on the panels, or other environmental factors. So, if they were only rated at 12V, they would always be putting out less power — which a 12V battery cannot accept.

    A 12V battery at rest is around 12.7V, and a charging battery is around 13.6 to 14.4V. So, a solar panel must generate at least this much electrical output.

    A solar charge controller takes the electricity from the solar panel — around 16 to 20V — and downregulates it to the voltage the battery currently needs. This amount can range from 10.5V to 14.6V depending on the battery’s current charge, the temperature, and the controller’s charging mode.

    Charge controllers ultimately protect against battery damage. Inconsistencies in the electrical output, power surges, and other external factors can overcharge and damage a solar battery.

    Types of Solar Charger Controllers

    There are two main types of charge controllers: PWM and MPPT. Neither is necessarily “better” than the other — each has advantages depending on climate, array size, and system components.

    While MPPT controllers typically cost more than PWM, the difference is negligible considering the total solar installation cost. Always choose a controller because it is the right tool for the job — not because it is cheaper.

    PWM Charge Controllers – PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) controllers are generally smaller and less expensive than MPPT controllers. PWM controllers often come standard with small solar systems, such as RV and small cabin setups.

    When using a PWM controller, the voltage from the array needs to match the battery voltage. Off-grid solar panels (those rated at 17-18V) are required when using PWM controllers, which sometimes cost more than grid-tied panels (often rated at 37V).

    PWM controllers work best in “ideal” conditions — warm, sunny weather. When the weather becomes colder, batteries operate at less efficient rates.

    A PWM controller is not able to adjust voltages. Instead, it shuts on and off as the voltage from your solar array inevitably varies — this auto shut-off also results in some loss of power.

    MPPT Charge Controllers – MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) controllers are more expensive than PWM, but they are significantly more efficient in many circumstances.

    MPPTs draw out the current at a rate based on the panel’s maximum voltage. They can utilize a higher-voltage array with lower-voltage batteries. You can use the mass-produced, lower-cost PV modules standard on residential homes.

    An MPPT controller can accept and modulate varying voltages. They harness excess power that a PWM would otherwise waste.

    Who Needs a Solar Charge Controller?

    All off-grid solar systems require a solar charge controller to regulate the energy moving to and from the batteries.

    You won’t usually need a solar charge controller for grid-connected renewable energy systems. The utility company gathers any excess energy produced and utilizes the electricity.

    When Should You Use a Solar Charge Controller?

    Almost all solar systems that utilize batteries will require a solar charge controller. Tiny solar setups are the only exception — 5-watt trickle chargers and similar devices will not need one.

    For example, many golf cart owners will keep their batteries charged over winter with a small panel. This setup does not need a charge controller between the panels and the golf cart batteries.

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    If you are hooking up a full array of 400W panels, you will need an adequate solar charge controller (likely of the MPPT variety).

    Some solar solutions already have a built-in charge controller, such as the EcoFlow Portable Power Stations. The controller, batteries, inverter, power outlets, and everything else are part of the power station — you just need to add the solar panels.

    How to Size Charge Controllers Correctly?

    Solar charge controllers come in various sizes for arrays of varying voltages and currents. Choosing the wrong one can lead to power loss and inefficiency.

    First, you’ll want to check the voltage rating on the charge controller. Most PWM controllers are rated for 12 or 24V, while MPPT controllers can handle 12, 24, 36, and 48V systems. Robust off-grid energy solutions like EcoFlow’s Power Kits come with an MPPT charge controller and 48V battery (or batteries) built-in.

    Most charge controllers have an “amps” rating. Smaller PWM controllers may be rated at 10, 20, or 30 amps. MPPT controllers are often rated at higher amps — 80 or 100 amps are common — to accommodate larger PV arrays.

    To determine the potential amps that a solar array can output, we need to make a simple calculation:

    Let’s say we have an 800-watt array running at 12 volts. We can plug these numbers into our equation:

    Amps = 800 watts / 12 volts = 66.67 amps

    The system could produce up to 66.67 amps. A charge controller rated below this amount can overload and malfunction. For this example, you would want a charge controller rated at 70 amps.

    You’ll also want to check that your batteries are compatible with the charge controller. Lithium-ion and lead-acid batteries utilize different technology. Most controllers are designed for one battery type or the other.

    Control Set Points vs. Battery Types

    Most charge controllers operate at different voltages depending on the current state of the battery. For instance, a PWM controller may charge the battery most of the way, then reduce the voltage for a final trickle charge. The level at which the controller changes voltage is called a control set point.

    Different battery types require varying methods of charging. Lithium-ion batteries utilize a three-stage charging system: precharge, constant current, and supplementary.

    The precharge stage uses a low current for batteries that are nearly dead. Then, the constant current stage provides a steady supply at full power. Finally, the supplementary stage keeps the lithium battery at maximum charge.

    Lead-acid batteries utilize three main charging stages: bulk, absorption, and float. The bulk stage sends maximum power to the batteries until they hit around 80-90% capacity. For the absorption stage, the current begins to drop. Finally, the float stage provides a trickle charge to keep the batteries topped off.

    Why Are Displays and Metering Important?

    Many solar charge controllers now feature an LCD. The display allows the user to monitor essential system vitals, such as battery charge percentage, current voltage, and time remaining on the battery at the current load. Some basic controllers for smaller systems will omit the LCD screen as the information may be unnecessary.

    Other systems like the EcoFlow DELTA 2 have intelligent monitoring and Smart app control. The in-built metering system lets you see the input and output levels of the battery and other critical information, including the battery’s vitals, charge time, and more, all on the smartphone app.

    Understanding Control Set Points vs. Temperature

    The temperature has a significant effect on battery charging. The energy in batteries flows with more ease while in warm temperatures. The battery has a harder time moving energy around as it gets colder.

    Most control set points are set for room temperature operation. Temperature compensation is featured in most charge controllers to adjust the voltage for various temperatures. Some controllers have built-in temperature sensors, while others utilize a remote sensor.

    Some charge controllers even allow for custom set points based on temperatures. Battery manufacturers each recommend a different adjustment based on the temperature, so this feature enables the homeowner to dial in their system.

    Common Features and Settings on a Charge Controller

    Charge controllers for residential applications will almost always have an LCD to convey essential information. Many controllers will allow custom set points to work well with your battery bank and climate.

    Most charge controllers have built-in protection against reverse polarity, overload, short-circuiting, and other standard electrical issues.

    Advanced technologies integrated into premium controllers will even allow remote monitoring on a smartphone and Bluetooth operation. Software like the EcoFlow Smart app enables you to manage these features from a smartphone.

    Conclusion

    Building your solar system can be challenging, as it requires you to understand the basics of electricity. However, putting the system together is manageable once you learn the essentials.

    A solar charge controller is at the center of your solar system. It bridges the gap between your PV array and your battery bank. Make sure you choose the correct controller to prevent any issues down the line.

    All-in-one solutions can be helpful if the electrical jargon is too much for you. The EcoFlow Solar Generators and Power Kits are a great way to switch to solar, with a built-in MPPT controller and Smart app to make metering and regulating your energy use even easier.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    You always need a solar charge controller if you are installing an off-grid solar system with batteries. Only the smallest panels — such as 1 or 5-watt trickle chargers — can operate without a controller. You do not need a solar charge controller for grid-tied residential systems. Instead, the utility grid regulates the electricity flow and absorbs the excess power.

    A 100W panel needs a solar charge controller if it is supplying a battery. Many small solar systems utilize just one 100-watt panel and a single battery. This system would require a charge controller to regulate the current that travels into the battery.

    A 7-watt solar panel does not require the use of a charge controller. These panels allow low-voltage trickle charging, which does not need regulation of the electrical flow.

    EcoFlow is a portable power and renewable energy solutions company. Since its founding in 2017, EcoFlow has provided peace-of-mind power to customers in over 85 markets through its DELTA and RIVER product lines of portable power stations and eco-friendly accessories.

    What Is a Solar Charge Controller, and Do You Need It?

    Installing solar panels requires understanding the workings of many components: solar batteries, inverters wiring, conduit bending… If you’re going the DIY route, you could practically work as an electrician once you finish the installation!

    The charge controller is one component of a solar power system that confuses many people. A solar charge controller is necessary for most residential PV panel installations. Let’s explore what exactly a solar charge controller does and whether or not you’ll need one for your setup.

    What Is a Solar Charge Controller?

    A solar charge controller is a device that regulates the energy that travels from the solar panels into the battery. Solar generators convert and store power in a battery, with the electrical capacity recharged by the solar panels. A solar charge controller regulates the electrical current to prevent the battery from electrical surges that can damage it and reduce its lifespan.

    A solar charge controller is essential if your PV solar array feeds a battery bank. If you are on a grid-tied system, you probably don’t need a solar charge controller.

    How Does a Solar Charge Controller Work?

    A solar charge controller regulates the voltage transmitted from the solar panels to the batteries.

    Solar panels for a 12V battery system are usually rated for 17V. It may seem counterintuitive, but there is a good reason for it.

    Solar panels rarely output their full power rating due to clouds, dirt on the panels, or other environmental factors. So, if they were only rated at 12V, they would always be putting out less power — which a 12V battery cannot accept.

    A 12V battery at rest is around 12.7V, and a charging battery is around 13.6 to 14.4V. So, a solar panel must generate at least this much electrical output.

    A solar charge controller takes the electricity from the solar panel — around 16 to 20V — and downregulates it to the voltage the battery currently needs. This amount can range from 10.5V to 14.6V depending on the battery’s current charge, the temperature, and the controller’s charging mode.

    Charge controllers ultimately protect against battery damage. Inconsistencies in the electrical output, power surges, and other external factors can overcharge and damage a solar battery.

    Types of Solar Charger Controllers

    There are two main types of charge controllers: PWM and MPPT. Neither is necessarily “better” than the other — each has advantages depending on climate, array size, and system components.

    While MPPT controllers typically cost more than PWM, the difference is negligible considering the total solar installation cost. Always choose a controller because it is the right tool for the job — not because it is cheaper.

    PWM Charge Controllers – PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) controllers are generally smaller and less expensive than MPPT controllers. PWM controllers often come standard with small solar systems, such as RV and small cabin setups.

    When using a PWM controller, the voltage from the array needs to match the battery voltage. Off-grid solar panels (those rated at 17-18V) are required when using PWM controllers, which sometimes cost more than grid-tied panels (often rated at 37V).

    PWM controllers work best in “ideal” conditions — warm, sunny weather. When the weather becomes colder, batteries operate at less efficient rates.

    A PWM controller is not able to adjust voltages. Instead, it shuts on and off as the voltage from your solar array inevitably varies — this auto shut-off also results in some loss of power.

    MPPT Charge Controllers – MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) controllers are more expensive than PWM, but they are significantly more efficient in many circumstances.

    MPPTs draw out the current at a rate based on the panel’s maximum voltage. They can utilize a higher-voltage array with lower-voltage batteries. You can use the mass-produced, lower-cost PV modules standard on residential homes.

    An MPPT controller can accept and modulate varying voltages. They harness excess power that a PWM would otherwise waste.

    Who Needs a Solar Charge Controller?

    All off-grid solar systems require a solar charge controller to regulate the energy moving to and from the batteries.

    You won’t usually need a solar charge controller for grid-connected renewable energy systems. The utility company gathers any excess energy produced and utilizes the electricity.

    When Should You Use a Solar Charge Controller?

    Almost all solar systems that utilize batteries will require a solar charge controller. Tiny solar setups are the only exception — 5-watt trickle chargers and similar devices will not need one.

    For example, many golf cart owners will keep their batteries charged over winter with a small panel. This setup does not need a charge controller between the panels and the golf cart batteries.

    If you are hooking up a full array of 400W panels, you will need an adequate solar charge controller (likely of the MPPT variety).

    Some solar solutions already have a built-in charge controller, such as the EcoFlow Portable Power Stations. The controller, batteries, inverter, power outlets, and everything else are part of the power station — you just need to add the solar panels.

    How to Size Charge Controllers Correctly?

    Solar charge controllers come in various sizes for arrays of varying voltages and currents. Choosing the wrong one can lead to power loss and inefficiency.

    First, you’ll want to check the voltage rating on the charge controller. Most PWM controllers are rated for 12 or 24V, while MPPT controllers can handle 12, 24, 36, and 48V systems. Robust off-grid energy solutions like EcoFlow’s Power Kits come with an MPPT charge controller and 48V battery (or batteries) built-in.

    Most charge controllers have an “amps” rating. Smaller PWM controllers may be rated at 10, 20, or 30 amps. MPPT controllers are often rated at higher amps — 80 or 100 amps are common — to accommodate larger PV arrays.

    To determine the potential amps that a solar array can output, we need to make a simple calculation:

    Let’s say we have an 800-watt array running at 12 volts. We can plug these numbers into our equation:

    Amps = 800 watts / 12 volts = 66.67 amps

    The system could produce up to 66.67 amps. A charge controller rated below this amount can overload and malfunction. For this example, you would want a charge controller rated at 70 amps.

    You’ll also want to check that your batteries are compatible with the charge controller. Lithium-ion and lead-acid batteries utilize different technology. Most controllers are designed for one battery type or the other.

    Control Set Points vs. Battery Types

    Most charge controllers operate at different voltages depending on the current state of the battery. For instance, a PWM controller may charge the battery most of the way, then reduce the voltage for a final trickle charge. The level at which the controller changes voltage is called a control set point.

    Different battery types require varying methods of charging. Lithium-ion batteries utilize a three-stage charging system: precharge, constant current, and supplementary.

    The precharge stage uses a low current for batteries that are nearly dead. Then, the constant current stage provides a steady supply at full power. Finally, the supplementary stage keeps the lithium battery at maximum charge.

    Lead-acid batteries utilize three main charging stages: bulk, absorption, and float. The bulk stage sends maximum power to the batteries until they hit around 80-90% capacity. For the absorption stage, the current begins to drop. Finally, the float stage provides a trickle charge to keep the batteries topped off.

    Why Are Displays and Metering Important?

    Many solar charge controllers now feature an LCD. The display allows the user to monitor essential system vitals, such as battery charge percentage, current voltage, and time remaining on the battery at the current load. Some basic controllers for smaller systems will omit the LCD screen as the information may be unnecessary.

    Other systems like the EcoFlow DELTA 2 have intelligent monitoring and Smart app control. The in-built metering system lets you see the input and output levels of the battery and other critical information, including the battery’s vitals, charge time, and more, all on the smartphone app.

    Understanding Control Set Points vs. Temperature

    The temperature has a significant effect on battery charging. The energy in batteries flows with more ease while in warm temperatures. The battery has a harder time moving energy around as it gets colder.

    Most control set points are set for room temperature operation. Temperature compensation is featured in most charge controllers to adjust the voltage for various temperatures. Some controllers have built-in temperature sensors, while others utilize a remote sensor.

    Some charge controllers even allow for custom set points based on temperatures. Battery manufacturers each recommend a different adjustment based on the temperature, so this feature enables the homeowner to dial in their system.

    Common Features and Settings on a Charge Controller

    Charge controllers for residential applications will almost always have an LCD to convey essential information. Many controllers will allow custom set points to work well with your battery bank and climate.

    Most charge controllers have built-in protection against reverse polarity, overload, short-circuiting, and other standard electrical issues.

    Advanced technologies integrated into premium controllers will even allow remote monitoring on a smartphone and Bluetooth operation. Software like the EcoFlow Smart app enables you to manage these features from a smartphone.

    Conclusion

    Building your solar system can be challenging, as it requires you to understand the basics of electricity. However, putting the system together is manageable once you learn the essentials.

    A solar charge controller is at the center of your solar system. It bridges the gap between your PV array and your battery bank. Make sure you choose the correct controller to prevent any issues down the line.

    All-in-one solutions can be helpful if the electrical jargon is too much for you. The EcoFlow Solar Generators and Power Kits are a great way to switch to solar, with a built-in MPPT controller and Smart app to make metering and regulating your energy use even easier.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    You always need a solar charge controller if you are installing an off-grid solar system with batteries. Only the smallest panels — such as 1 or 5-watt trickle chargers — can operate without a controller. You do not need a solar charge controller for grid-tied residential systems. Instead, the utility grid regulates the electricity flow and absorbs the excess power.

    A 100W panel needs a solar charge controller if it is supplying a battery. Many small solar systems utilize just one 100-watt panel and a single battery. This system would require a charge controller to regulate the current that travels into the battery.

    A 7-watt solar panel does not require the use of a charge controller. These panels allow low-voltage trickle charging, which does not need regulation of the electrical flow.

    EcoFlow is a portable power and renewable energy solutions company. Since its founding in 2017, EcoFlow has provided peace-of-mind power to customers in over 85 markets through its DELTA and RIVER product lines of portable power stations and eco-friendly accessories.

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