RV Dual Battery Solar Charger
This RV Solar Battery Charger Controller is Special Design for RV Marine Vehicle Boat Solar Systems like Camper Van Trailer and Golf Carts equipped with a solar system—this Controller Support Dual Battery Charging (1 Main Battery 1 RV Starting Battery).
The 15 Amp Model can handle PV Array Input up to 165W, and the 25 Amp Model can take a Maximum of 350W PV Solar Power Input, Capable of Handle Standard 20 amp Current and a Maximum of 25 amp Current.
Why RV Solar Power System
Living a mobile lifestyle is becoming increasingly popular. and more people choose to deploy a solar power system to their RV because the gas or diesel generator is loud, inefficient, and not very green.
But choose a silent, efficient, and green Solar energy to charge the battery that only requires sunlight.
Also, Sun power is the future, but fortunately, you don’t have to wait until the end to get the battery charged. Once you get a solar system, you’ll enjoy unlimited free and clean fuel to power up your RV Batteries.
Besides AC Power, a renewable car battery charger can offer an affordable, automatic solution for various situations.
A solar charger on your RV can keep your batteries charged so basic functions like your water pump, 12-volt lights and other devices continue to run even when there are no other power sources.
While solar panel charging is not the most powerful choice, it is the quietest and most rewarding.
When compared to running a generator, Solar is superior because it works without requiring any fuel except sunlight.
Dual Battery RV Solar Battery Charger Set up Wiring Diagram
Dual Battery Solar Charge Controller for RV Wiring Diagram
Dual Battery Solar Panel Charge Controller Features
MPPT Technology with high tracking efficiency of up to 99%. 4 Stage Charging with Over-Charge Protection, Support Lead-Acid.AGM, GEL and LifePo4 Batteries, Battery Type switchable by Toggle.
Unattended Charging: Standard protection against overload, overheating, reverse battery and rear discharge of the battery (in case of insufficient solar power, such as twilight, at night etc.)
Overcharge Protection: Reduction of the charging current of the battery in case of excessive solar power and full battery, immediate recharging in case of power consumption to ensure always the best possible charging state of the battery
There is no dc output port, as we designed 2 Battery charge ports. We give 2 Years Warranty, Lifetime Technical Support, and This controller also has an optional Monitor and temp sensor.
This MPPT RV Solar Charge Controller is Specially designed for RVs Solar Systems and supports Dual Battery Charging with 2 Batteries Terminals on Controller. This controller supports various kinds of the battery such as Lead-Acid, AGM2, GEL, Lithium-ion, and LiFePO4 Battery. Maximum Input Power reaches 350W.
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Best Solar Charge Controller for RV
the Dual Battery Solar Charge Controller is the Best 12-volt solar-powered battery charger for RVs available on the market
The unit can widely apply to the following occasions:
5). other systems which are supplied by solar energy
Features you may like:
Charging 2 Battery at the same time
Industry Grade Component, Safety Charging
MPPT 4 Stage Charging: is designed to charge batteries at different voltages slowing plate sulfating and extending battery life
Durable Aluminum Alloy Housing
Automatic Temperature Compensation Function
Optional Extra Monitor, Temperature Sensor
Multiple Protection systems
Battery Negative Ground Design: Negative ground design ensures safe grounding and compatibility with any negative ground system
Smart Solar charge controllers offer easy programming of charging profiles to match all battery types
they can realize wireless monitoring and parameter setting and view the solar power supply system through a mobile APP. Real-time data on solar panels, batteries and loads
Overcurrent protection ensures that your system operates safely and efficiently.
25A Model Standard Charge Current: 20A Maximum Charging Current: 25A
Battery: 1 Main Battery 1 Starting Battery
Display: LED indicators, Extra Monitor(optional)
We have also included a buyer’s guide where you’ll find everything you need to know about choosing the best RV solar battery charger.
Advanced MPPT charge controller delivers approximately 20% more energy than PWM Controller, this Rv Solar Charge controller is highly recommended when you are seeking a proper RV solar charge controller.
Bluetooth APP Operation Guide
RV solar panels: are they right for you?
Solar panel systems aren’t just for houses or commercial properties – they can be a great resource for on the go electricity users as well, especially compared to older and less efficient sources like propane. In this article, learn about how solar panels for RVs and campers work, if they’re right for you, and what some of the top options available are.
Best solar panels for RVs
There are many options when it comes to buying solar panels for your RV. Below are some products that are specifically designed for RV power setups, but there are several other companies and products you can use.
RV solar panel options
|Renogy flexible solar panel
|WindyNation solar panel
|Charge controller, connectors, mounting brackets
|Renogy solar panel
|Newpowa solar panel
Renogy flexible solar panel
This offering from Renogy is able to fit onto unusual roof styles for all types of RVs. It has 100W of power which makes it a good fit for small devices like charging cell phones, Wi-Fi routers and laptops.
WindyNation solar panel
This offering from WindyNation includes a complete kit for mounting and charging the panel. It is also 100W and is able to be placed wherever is most convenient on an RV.
Renogy 100 watt solar panel
This offering from Renogy is more powerful and efficient than its flexible counterpart. It can be used for both on-grid and off-grid applications.
Newpowa solar panel
This offering from Newpowa is the most inexpensive that we’ve listed and is smaller than most panels, giving it a different set of options for placement while still offering high efficiency and performance.
RV Solar panel costs
Generally, a complete RV solar panel system will cost between 600-2000 including the solar panel itself, installation and any custom electrical work that needs to be done in order for the panel to work properly. Costs vary widely depending on the type of use for your RV from weekend outings to extended multi-day trips.
The basics of an RV solar panel setup
Solar panels for RVing and motorhomes work in the same way a residential solar installation operates: solar panels capture sunlight and convert it into electricity, and you can use that solar electricity to power appliances. You can buy specialized portable solar panels designed for easy set up and take down for RVs, as well as small or flexible panels that are designed to be mounted on an RV roof.
If you spend time camping and traveling in an RV, a solar panel setup can be a cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and convenient way to use electricity on the go. Solar panel systems generally require little to no maintenance and provide a dependable source of electricity when the sun is shining. For RVers who mostly stick to campgrounds with electrical hookups, however, RV solar panels likely won’t provide enough of an extra benefit to rationalize spending money on them.
Determining factors: what to consider when buying an RV solar panel system
One important difference between residential panels and RV panels is the size of the system: RV solar panel setups are usually designed to provide enough power to recharge either small devices or a few larger kitchen appliances, while a home solar system is typically sized to cover most or all of your property’s electricity needs. You can always add more panels to your RV solar setup, but given the small amount of roof space and energy storage capacity requirements, RV solar panel systems are generally on the smaller side compared to residential rooftop installations. Many solar panels are made from monocrystalline cells which are more efficient than polycrystalline cells. Below we have laid out some groundwork for you to determine how big of a system you need.
How many solar panels do you need to run an RV?
Most solar panels for RVs are between 100 and 400 watts of power, and an RV needs about 120 watts of energy on average. This means that an RV will need three 400, ten 200 solar panels, or any other combination of power outputs to meet it’s typical energy demand of 120 watts. What can you actually power with that kind of solar panel setup for your RV? For the following examples, we’ll assume that your RV solar panel setup is sized at 800 watts and you have an appropriate storage setup to take full advantage of the energy your panels produce.
How many solar panels do you need for common appliances?
What do these numbers actually mean? Looking at column four, you can see an example of how much energy in watt-hours (Wh) running each appliance for a normal amount of time in a day might use. If you have an 800 W RV solar panel system that is in direct sunlight for 5 hours a day, you’ll produce approximately 4,000 Wh of energy each day (5 x 800 = 4,000). According to our calculations in the table above, that’s more than enough to power small devices like lights and TVs, but you won’t be able to run a refrigerator for an entire day.
An important takeaway from this analysis is that while solar panel systems for RVs will be able to power most of your small electronics and keep the lights on, don’t expect to be able to run an unlimited amount of appliances. RV solar panels are a great way to keep the essentials up and running, but likely can’t power energy-hungry devices for too long.
Each RV owner has different reasons for going solar which can affect the system set up they choose to implement. A roof-mounted RV solar system is an option if you don’t want to set up portable solar panels every time you use your RV, making it the more convenient option for someone who uses their RV often. Another option is to use portable solar panels; this option is less expensive, but requires more repeated setup and breakdown. With portable solar panels, you also don’t have to worry about always having to park in direct sun for your energy production. All you need is a battery and open space.
How do solar panels work for campers, RVs, and motorhomes?
In order to generate and use solar power for your RV or camper, you’ll need a setup complete with the following components:
In order to generate and use solar power for your RV or travel trailer. you’ll need a setup complete with the following components:
- Solar panels
- A charge controller to prevent overcharging your storage system
- Solar batteries to store energy (common options are lead acid or lithium-ion)
- An inverter to convert direct current (DC) electricity to alternating current (AC) electricity (Occasionally pre-built into the solar battery) and possibly a battery monitor
You can buy all of these components separately, but there are some motorhome solar panel kits available to purchase that include most components. For example, WindyNation makes a 100 watt (W) RV solar panel kit that comes with a solar panel, solar charge controller, cables, battery chargers, fuses and mounting hardware. You’ll need to purchase a battery separately for this specific kit.
You’ll also need proper wires and cables to hook all of your components together, as well as racking and mounting equipment for your panels – these parts will be included with your solar panel or battery system purchase. Remember that some equipment, such as pwm charge controllers, aren’t weather-resistant and need to be installed somewhere safe.
Do you need batteries for your RV solar panels?
A deep cycle battery for your RV solar system is essential for running appliances outside of daylight hours or when it is cloudy. Since RV solar panels are not grid-tied, your battery bank is your principle source of back up energy. RV batteries will store energy produced by your PV panels, allowing you to use it as needed, while a charge controller will regulate that energy and prolong battery life. The real question is:what kind of batteries are best for your RV system?
Unlike standard lead-acid batteries, gel batteries are sealed. These batteries do not need to be monitored and they don’t produce any type of gas, making them an excellent choice for installing and then more or less forgetting them. Another benefit of gel batteries unique to RV solar systems is that they can be installed in many positions and orientations, making them an attractive option if space is an issue. Gel batteries are even used in many motorized scooters and wheelchairs due to their versatility and safety.
The caveat with gel batteries — which applies less to RVs — is that they don’t have the same capacity as other rechargeable batteries. They simply can’t meet the energy demands of a household the same way other options can, but for an RV with lower energy demands, this may not be an issue.
While gel batteries provide more flexibility and a “set it and forget it” setup, lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are often the best choice, offering higher energy densities than any other type of battery charging currently available. Because lithium batteries have higher capacities, they can store and discharge greater amounts of energy than other types of batteries with more amp hours of energy. They’re also typically more efficient and last longer, often making them the best option for RV solar systems.
There is, however, a drawback that’s particularly applicable to those who use these batteries for their RV solar panels: Li-ion batteries (typically 12 volts) can overheat and become damaged at higher voltages. So, you’ll want to make sure you keep your Li-ion battery in a cool location out of direct sunlight. Li-ion batteries are also typically priced higher than alternative energy storage options, so you’ll want to ensure it’s protected.
Absorbed glass mat batteries
Absorbed glass mat (AGM) batteries are a relatively new battery available on the market, and they are a good choice as an RV solar battery. These deep cycle batteries are sealed, making them a maintenance-free choice for RV owners. Like gel batteries, AGM batteries would struggle to meet the energy demands of a household. But, the lower needs of an RV make them a good choice and compared to other battery options for RVs, the upfront cost is relatively low.
However, AGM batteries can be more expensive compared to lead-based batteries, making them a less attractive option in some cases. They can also be ruined by overcharging, and they aren’t as efficient as Li-ion battery options. With AGM batteries, RV owners need to ensure that their charge controller remains in good working order. MPPT controllers can also be used if you have a high enough amount of voltage.
Should you install solar panels on your RV?
If you’re the type of RV owner who plans on spending lots of time in remote locations and dry camps without power hookups (known as “boondocking”), solar energy may be a way to see how much power you can generate and some long-term savings when compared to a gas generator. Over time, the costs of continually starting up and running a gas generator will exceed the investment required for a solar panel system. You can expect your solar “payback period” to be under five years, but the actual time it takes to recoup your investment will depend on the equipment you purchase and the amount of sunlight that hits your solar panels.
However, RV solar panels won’t make financial or practical sense for every RV owner. If you spend the majority of your RV time at campgrounds, you’re probably better off hooking up to the local power system and paying the associated fee. Installing solar may end up saving you money in the end, but you may have to wait a long time to break even. Additionally, if you only take RV trips a few times per year, the upfront cost of an RV solar panel setup will likely not be worth the few times you can actually use the system. You should also check if the solar panel has a warranty available, just in case anything goes wrong with your system and it needs to be replaced.
RV solar panel setups are often do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. Check out our video on DIY solar to see if it’s right for you:
Frequently asked questions about RV solar panels
This depends on the wattage of the solar panel or panels that you have. For example, a 100-watt solar panel is enough to be a power source for smaller appliances and devices, such as lights or chargers, but you would likely need more than one panel for larger appliances or to power things full-time. You would probably need a higher watt solar panel or to install at least two depending on your energy needs.
Portable solar power systems or flexible solar panels are ideal for RVs. They are smaller, easier to install, sometimes foldable and cost-effective compared to ground-mount or rooftop solar panels.
This largely depends on what you get, but you should expect to pay between 300-400 for a solar panel system for an RV. It is best to shop around and compare solar systems online.
You can, but not with one 100-watt panel.
One question that RV owners frequently have is if an inverter is needed to convert DC power to AC electricity. Like with your home, the appliances inside an RV run on AC while the engine and battery of the RV use DC electricity. Solar panels run on a DC, meaning that just like a residential solar setup, your solar panel system for the RV needs to have an inverter to convert that energy to AC electricity.
Installing solar panels on your property leads to savings
reading on EnergySage
Looking to go solar? Here’s everything you need to know in… Best solar panels in 2023: Top products compared Solar shingles: what you need to know in 2023 What are the most efficient solar panels? Top brands in 2023 Are solar panels worth it in 2023?
About Jacob Marsh
Jacob is an EnergySage writer with expertise in solar, electrification, and renewable energy. With over five years of experience researching and writing about the home energy industry (plus a degree in Geological Sciences from Tufts University), he brings a unique scientific approach to writing and investigating all things energy.
What Is an RV Solar Charge Controller?
Today’s post is all about the RV solar charge controller. “The what?”, you may ask. This essential component of an RV’s solar power system is seldom the FOCUS when people talk about solar. Solar panels and battery banks seem to get top billing. But the solar charge controller is a critical element of any RV solar system, and today we’ll tell you why.
Harnessing the awesome power of the sun for your electrical needs is an amazing privilege. Because we live and run businesses from our RV full-time… mostly while boondocking off the grid… our power needs are considerable. So we went all out in building our solar array and electrical system. But some RVers only need a portable solar panel and a battery or solar generator to top off their electronics. Others need a little more than that to power their RV and a few small appliances.
Regardless of the size of your solar array and your battery bank, all you’ve gotta do is connect a solar panel to a battery and you’ve got power, right? Not so fast! Today’s post focuses on what’s missing in that scenario – the RV solar charge controller.
Let’s talk about what it is, what it does, how it works, and why you absolutely need it. If you’re thinking of powering your rig (or anything that requires power) with solar, then this information is critical to your plan.
- 1) What Is an RV Solar Charge Controller?
- 2) What Does an RV Solar Charge Controller Do?
- 3) What Is a PWM Charge Controller?
- 4) What Is an MPPT Charge Controller?
- 5) Which Type of Charge Controller is Better – PWM or MPPT?
- 6) What Are Amp Ratings on a Solar Charge Controller?
- 7) What Amp Rating Do I Need For My RV’s Solar Charge Controller?
- 8) Can I Connect a Solar Panel to My RV Battery Without a Charge Controller?
- 9) Can I Use My Batteries While They’re Being Charged With Solar?
- 10) What to Look For When Choosing an RV Solar Charge Controller
- 10.1) Quality
- 10.2) Remote Monitoring Ability
- 10.3) Adjustable Voltage Setpoints
- 10.4) On/Off Switch
- 10.5) Ability to Easily Switch from Shore Power to Dry Camp Mode
- 11.1) Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT 100V/50 amp 12/24-Volt Solar Charge Controller (Bluetooth)
- 11.2) Renogy 30A Adventurer 12V/24V PWM Solar Charge Controller with LCD Display Flush Mount Design Negative Ground, Compatible with Sealed, Gel, Flooded, and Lithium Batteries
- 11.3) Xantrex 710-3024-01 Solar Charge Controller, MPPT, 30A
- 11.4) Renogy Wanderer Li 30A 12V PWM Negative Ground Solar Charge Controller Solar Panel Regulator w/ Temp Sensor Function Fit for Lithium, Sealed, Gel, and Flooded Batteries
- 11.5) Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT 75V 15 amp 12/24-Volt Solar Charge Controller (Bluetooth)
What Is an RV Solar Charge Controller?
With any solar power system, your energy source is the sun, and the component that harnesses that energy is your solar panel (or array of solar panels). Your battery bank is where the energy coming from your solar panels is stored.
Between the two – solar panel(s) and battery bank – you need a voltage regulator. Without it, your batteries could be damaged by excessive voltage and overcharging, and your solar panels won’t output their maximum power.
An RV solar charge controller is that voltage regulator. The rate of charge and the volume of energy going into your battery bank are regulated by your solar charge controller. Typically, it can be configured to provide the proper charging profile for your battery’s chemistry — typically flooded lead-acid, AGM (absorbed glass mat), or lithium. It’s an absolutely essential component of your RV’s solar system.
A solar charge controller sits between your solar panel(s) and your battery bank. It acts as a voltage regulator to prevent overcharging and stops the current from flowing back into the solar panels.
What Does an RV Solar Charge Controller Do?
In addition to protecting your battery bank from excessive voltage and overcharging, a solar charge controller stops the energy that’s stored in your batteries from flowing back out into the solar panel when the sun goes down.
So, it regulates the energy going into the battery bank, and it prevents the stored energy current from flowing in the other direction, (back to the solar panels), when darkness falls.
Your RV solar charge controller is the smallest, lightest component of your solar power system, but no less essential than solar panels and batteries.
What Is a PWM Charge Controller?
There are two types of solar charge controllers – PWM and MPPT. PWM stands for “Pulse Width Modulation.” In order to charge your battery bank, a PWM charge controller uses a series of short pulses (as opposed to a steady stream) of power.
A PWM charge controller is constantly checking the status of your batteries and uses that information to determine the timing and the size of the energy pulses it sends.
So, if your battery bank is significantly discharged, a PWM charge controller would send out long pulses of energy to your batteries continuously. But, if your battery bank was fully charged and there was no load on the system (i.e. you weren’t running anything requiring power), the PWM charge controller would send out only a very tiny pulse every few seconds.
As your battery bank becomes fully charged, a PWM solar charge controller will reduce the volume of power coming into the battery accordingly. Once your battery bank is fully charged, it will send out only a tiny trickle charge to keep your battery bank full. (This is often referred to as float charging.)
There are two types of solar charge controllers – MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) and PWM (Pulse Width Modulation).
What Is an MPPT Charge Controller?
MPPT stands for “Maximum Power Point Tracking”. An MPPT solar charge controller takes the high-voltage power output supplied by a solar panel and converts it to a lower, more acceptable voltage so that your battery bank charges safely and without damage, and your devices and appliances are charged efficiently.
So, an MPPT solar charge controller is an electronic DC-to-DC converter that takes the high-voltage DC output from your solar panel and converts it to the lower voltage required to charge your battery bank.
In addition, “maximum power point tracking” means that an MPPT solar charge controller is constantly analyzing your solar panels and determining the exact voltage required to maximize the panels’ power output to your batteries. This changes constantly depending on the amount of light going into the panels, the ambient temperature, and other variable factors.
This is why MPPT charge controllers allow more efficient solar panel performance (by up to 30%) than PWM charge controllers. They allow the panels to operate at their optimal (higher) voltage for the conditions… and convert that extra voltage into additional charging amps.
Which Type of Charge Controller is Better – PWM or MPPT?
The answer to this question depends largely on your needs.
If you have low power needs and thus a low-power solar system, then a PWM solar charge controller would be a less expensive option and perfectly suitable. This would require that you have solar panels equalling no more than around 150 Watts and your power needs aren’t significant.
A PWM charge controller is also best for trickle-charging a battery for maintenance when it’s not being used.
Perhaps the greatest feature of a PWM charge controller is its very low voltage loss, which means that if your devices and appliances are turned off, your battery power is not being consumed.
But if your solar system is greater than 150 Watts and you have high power needs and multiple solar panels as we do, an MPPT solar charge controller is what you need.
If your RV’s solar system is greater than 150W, then you’ll want an MPPT controller. A PWM controller may be sufficient for smaller systems.
First, MPPT controllers allow for multiple solar panels to be wired together in series (increasing the voltage output), creating a very significant solar array. They also give us greater control with a large solar system and can utilize the maximum output from our solar panels (which a PWM charge controller would not be able to do). For anyone with a larger solar system, MPPT solar charge controllers provide up to 30% more efficient than PWM controllers.
So, while MPPT solar charge controllers are more expensive, they’re also more efficient in an application like ours, and thus the greater cost balances out with the greater efficiency.
Depending on the degree of sunlight and ambient temps, a PWM charge controller may produce anywhere from 65% to 85% efficiency (they’re actually best in sunny, warm climates) while an MPPT controller will provide maximum efficiency coming from a generous solar array, even in climates where ambient temperatures are cool.
To summarize this PWM vs MPPT discussion, if you’ve got a 100-150 Watt solar panel you’re using to keep your RV’s house battery topped off and you generally travel in fairly warm, sunny climates, a PWM solar charge controller may be perfectly sufficient for you, and they’re a simpler (fewer parts) and less costly option.
But, if you’re looking to supply more than around 150 Watts from your solar panels to your battery bank, or if you’re looking to connect multiple solar panels in series, you’ll want an MPPT controller to do the job.
What Are Amp Ratings on a Solar Charge Controller?
An amp is a unit of electrical current, and all solar charge controllers have a maximum amp rating. The current/amp rating is the maximum charging current that the solar charge controller can output to the attached battery bank.
However, the power rating for solar panels is stated in Watts and is determined by both the output current and the output voltage (for most RVs, the battery charging voltage will be either 12V or 24V).
An equation to bear in mind when trying to determine the appropriate amp rating for your RV’s solar charge controller is amps x volts = watts (and its corollary equation of amps = watts ÷ volts).
So, for example, a 30-amp (30A) charge controller with a 12V output will be able to handle up to 360 Watts (30A x 12V).
That same charge controller (30A) charging a battery bank with a 24V output will be capable of charging up to 720 Watts (30A x 24V).
Our Xantrex inverter-charger control panel.
What Amp Rating Do I Need For My RV’s Solar Charge Controller?
The general rule of thumb used in determining the appropriate amp rating for an RV solar charge controller is to select a solar charge controller with an amp rating that is 25% higher than the total peak power amperage of your solar array.
The reason for the additional 25% is that in certain conditions your solar panels may produce more than their rated output. Having room for 25% additional charging capacity will accommodate those conditions.
Remember that the amp rating is the maximum charging current (or maximum amperage output) to the batteries. Remember also that amps x watts = volts. This allows you to calculate the charging current of your solar panels in amps by using the equation watts ÷ volts = amps.
You can obtain the maximum rated power of a solar panel in watts by reading the back of the panel (or the spec sheet or manual that comes with the panel). You’ll also see the maximum power voltage expressed in volts.
You’ll want to calculate the current that will be produced by your solar panel whenever it’s generating its maximum power. You can calculate the current in amps by dividing watts by volts.
Now let’s say, for example, you have two 100 Watt solar panels with a peak power of 6 amps each. Wired in parallel with each other, 6 amps x 2 panels means that your two solar panels will produce 12 total amps. In this case, you’ll want a solar charge controller rated for 25% more, so you’d want a minimum of a 15A controller.
(Note that in this particular scenario, buying a 20A charge controller would allow you to add another solar panel in the future, should you desire to do so.)
To make this easier, many solar panel kits come with the appropriate solar charge controller as determined by the manufacturer.
Can I Connect a Solar Panel to My RV Battery Without a Charge Controller?
If you want to use a solar system to power your RV, you will absolutely need a charge controller. Without it, you’re very likely to damage your battery bank due to the overcharging that’s likely to occur because the panels alone are not capable of limiting or regulating the voltage going into your batteries.
It should be noted that in theory, you can connect a very small solar panel (no more than 5 Watts) directly to a battery for the purpose of trickle charging the battery for maintenance purposes while in storage.
Every RV solar system needs a solar charge controller. The only time you might be able to get away without a charge controller is when using a tiny solar panel to trickle charge a battery.
Can I Use My Batteries While They’re Being Charged With Solar?
You certainly can use your batteries while they’re being charged with your RV solar system.
You can use the power/electricity in your RV (taken from your battery bank) while the sun continues to send more energy to your solar panels, and your panels (through the solar charge controller!) continue to charge your battery bank.
What to Look For When Choosing an RV Solar Charge Controller
There are a number of features to look for when choosing an RV solar charge controller. We’ll take a look at those features, in brief, followed by five excellent choices of solar charge controllers on the market today.
The first thing you want to consider when shopping for an RV solar charge controller is quality. You want a charge controller made by a manufacturer recognized in the industry as a provider of quality solar components, with a good historical reputation for both product and customer service, and a warranty to back up the product.
Poorly made solar charge controllers can create electrical noise that interferes with the electronic frequencies of devices in your rig.
Be certain to only buy a charge controller that is UL-certified. UL (Underwriters Laboratory) is an independent non-profit organization that tests electrical components equipment for potential hazards. UL-certified solar charge controllers have been tested by UL and have met their requirements for safety.
Remote Monitoring Ability
The ability to monitor your system remotely is a feature that can be very important. Some solar charge controllers come with a Bluetooth feature that will allow you to download an app that gives you the ability to monitor the system from your smartphone, from as much as 30 feet away.
Many RV solar charge controllers offer remote monitoring via Bluetooth through the manufacturer’s smartphone app.
This means that you can be sitting in the comfort of your RV, or even outside your RV, and you’ll be able to actually see the current flowing through your controller to your battery bank, check the voltage regulation, and take a look at how much power your solar panels are generating.
Some charge controllers provide a monitor panel to be installed in your RV so that you can check the activity of the controller from there. Some monitors allow you to log in remotely to check on the functioning of your system.
Adjustable Voltage Setpoints
Adjustable voltage setpoints allow you to adjust the charging voltage to align with the type of battery/batteries you have, whether they’re lead-acid, AGM, gel, or lithium-ion batteries. In some controllers, you simply select the appropriate battery type and it has the correct charging parameters pre-programmed. Other controllers may allow you to manually configure custom charging voltages for each charging stage. Either works.
An on-off switch is extremely handy to have because it allows you to turn off the charge controller anytime you want to stop charging your batteries.
Without this feature, you’ll need to remove the fuse of the battery bank anytime you want to turn off your RV solar charge controller, or wire in your own on/off switch.
Ability to Easily Switch from Shore Power to Dry Camp Mode
This is an interesting feature that allows you to change the set point of the battery charge based on how you’re camping. If you’re boondocking, you’ll want to be charging to maximum capacity. But when you’re connected to shore power you can switch to standby mode. You can also use stand-by mode to help maintain your batteries when your rig is in storage.
What Are Some of the Best RV Solar Charge Controllers?
Let’s take a look at five excellent RV solar charge controllers in several budget ranges, and the features they offer.
Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT 100V/50 amp 12/24-Volt Solar Charge Controller (Bluetooth)
The Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT charge controllers are among the most popular RV solar charge controllers on the market. This particular model is a 100-volt, 50-amp charge controller for 12V and 24V battery banks, making it acceptable for up to 700 Watts of solar panels at 12V, or 1400 Watts of solar at 24V.
The SmartSolar feature allows your batteries to be charged to full capacity very quickly. (The manufacturer states that it can operate with a battery voltage as low as 0 volts, meaning that it could recharge a deeply discharged battery as long as the cells aren’t permanently sulfated or damaged in some other way.)
This charge controller has an internal sensor that gauges the ambient temperature and compensates accordingly.
It has built-in Bluetooth allowing you to configure and monitor the charge controller through the VictronConnect app on your smartphone or tablet.
Reviews for this Victron SmartSolar MPPT controller are stellar.
- Are you ready to take your solar energy game to the next level? Using a multi-stage, adaptive charging algorithm, the Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT.
- With the latest and fastest technology, this charge controller maximizes energy-harvest from your solar panels, intelligently driving it to achieve.
Renogy 30A Adventurer 12V/24V PWM Solar Charge Controller with LCD Display Flush Mount Design Negative Ground, Compatible with Sealed, Gel, Flooded, and Lithium Batteries
The Renogy 30A Adventurer automatically detects whether your system is a 12V or 24V DC system, and offers Smart 4-stage PWM charging while protecting against overcharging, reverse current, reverse polarity, and short-circuiting.
This unit flush mounts on your RV’s wall, and the easy-to-read LCD screen displays solar charging and battery operation information and more, offering customizable parameters.
This is a negative ground controller with adaptability for AGM, gel, flooded, and lithium-ion batteries.
- 【12V/24V Automatically Detect】Automatically detects 12V or 24V DC system voltages (for non-lithium batteries). The LCD screen and multiple LED.
- 【Smart 4-Stage PWM Charging】Smart 4-Stage PWM charging (Bulk, Boost, Float, and Equalization) increases battery life and improves system.
Xantrex 710-3024-01 Solar Charge Controller, MPPT, 30A
The Xantrex 710-3024-01 MPPT 30A solar charge controller offers an industry-leading 98% charging efficiency as well as dual-battery bank charging that allows you to simultaneously charge and maintain your house batteries and your rig’s starter battery.
A leader in the solar industry, Xantrex offers best-in-class protection for your batteries. This solar charge controller supports house batteries that are AGM, gel, flooded, or lithium-ion phosphate (LiFePO4).
- Advanced Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) technology increasing daily energy harvest by 20-30% compared to PWM technology
- Dual-battery bank charging to simultaneously charge house and starter batteries
Renogy Wanderer Li 30A 12V PWM Negative Ground Solar Charge Controller Solar Panel Regulator w/ Temp Sensor Function Fit for Lithium, Sealed, Gel, and Flooded Batteries
Renogy’s Wanderer automatically detects your 12V or 24V DC system voltage and offers Smart 4-stage PWM charging (Bulk, Boost, Float, and Equalization). Like the Adventurer, it offers intelligent protection against overcharging, reverse current, reverse polarity, and short-circuiting.
Its simple interface is easy to use and offers multiple LED indicators of charge status and battery information.
The Wanderer is adaptable to AGM, gel, flooded, and lithium-ion batteries.
- 【Optimized for 12V Batteries】Compatible with 12V battery banks on the market, including lithium batteries. The LED indicators allow you to set.
- 【Smart 4-Stage PWM Charging】Smart 4-Stage PWM charging (Bulk, Boost, Float, and Equalization) increases battery life and improves system.
Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT 75V 15 amp 12/24-Volt Solar Charge Controller (Bluetooth)
Victron’s SmartSolar MPPT 75V, 15A solar charge controller is another feature-rich Victron product that’s very similar to the Victron SmartSolar charge controller noted above, though this product is a 75-volt, 15-amp charge controller.
This charge controller also has built-in Bluetooth for remote configuration and monitoring via the VictronConnect app on a smartphone or tablet.
Victron uses a sophisticated 3-stage charging method that includes a float charge. This charge controller comes highly recommended by a full 93% of 4-and 5-star Amazon reviewers.
- SmartSolar MPPT 75-Volt 15 amp: A solar charger gathers energy from your solar panels, and stores it in your batteries, Using the latest, fastest.
- The Victron Energy SmartSolar charge controller will even recharge a severely depleted battery. It can operate with a battery voltage as low as 0.
Do I Need a Solar Charge Controller for My RV?
If you intend to harness the power of the sun using solar panels to store energy in your RV’s battery bank, then yes, you will need an RV solar charge controller that is consistent with your system.
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Zamp Solar. About The Company
Zamp Solar started selling solar kits on Ebay in 2010. In a year with hard work and high quality products, Zamp grew out of their startup garage set up and set up shop in a 2,500 square foot building. They recognized a need for solar in the RV community and built up a large network of RV dealers to sell solar in the RV market. Zamp specializes in easy to use and high quality solar panels and kits.
Zamp Solar. What Is It?
Zamp Solar is a USA company. A high quality American company where products, Zamp designs and handcrafts their panels in Bend, Oregon. Whenever possible, Zamp tries to use locally source materials from the aluminium to wire.
Zamp solar kits are the best kits for 12 Volt battery systems. The solar kits have everything you need to charge or maintain any traditional 12-volt battery bank or rechargeable lithium ion battery energy storage.
Zamp is a top supplier of US-made off-grid solar panels and accessories. They make high quality and easy to install and use Solar Kits. Their solar kits free you from need of electrical connections or loud gas generators.
Zamp Solar. Why Buy It?
Zamp makes the best solar panels on the market. Based in Oregon, Zamp Solar work to make the best solar products. They offer the most versatile and high quality solar products for 12 volt battery charging.
Made in the USA, Zamp Solar has their own production plant. This allows them to control quality and be consistently innovating by introducing new features, such as their Omni-Mount frame. Not only is the Zamp panels the best the market by they are the easy to install and use.
Zamp solar panel features and qualities:
Anti Reflective coated glass:
- Provides durable protection from harsh weather conditions
- Increases light transmission, allows for maximum light absorption
Anodized aluminum Omni-Mount Rail system:
- Let’s you pick a best mounting location for your needs
- Sturdier and more versatile than traditional frames.
Zamp Solar Deluxe Solar Kit:
- One connects panel to roof cap
- One connects roof cap to charge controller
Zamp solar kits comes in different sizes. If you need to figure out which size kit is best for your RV or number of batteries check out the Zamp Solar Sizing Chart Each kit is also expandable with a corresponding Solar Expansion Kit.
Zamp Solar Flexi Deluxe Kit
The Flexi Deluxe includes everything that is in the normal Deluxe Kit the main difference is that solar panel is a Flexi Panel. Only half and inch thick, the 100 watt Flexi Kit can be expanded up to 300 watts and like all Zamp solar panels can charge any kind of 12 volt battery, including lithium.
The panel does flex, it’s recommended you have minimal flexing to avoid micro-cracking.
- Generates 5.62 amps
- 30 Amp. 5 Stage dual battery PWM charge controller
- 3 port roof cap
- 100 Watt Zamp Solar Flexi Deluxe Expansion Kit
Zamp Solar Panels. What Size Do I Need?
10′. 14′ RV with (1) 12 volt Battery
15′. 20′ RV with (1-2) 12 volt Battery
21′. 30′ RV with (2) 12 volt Battery
31′. 40′ RV with (2-4) 12 volt Battery
40′ RV with (4-8) 12 volt Battery
- (2) 230 Watt Portable
- 170 Roof Mounted Deluxe Kit (2) 170 Watt Expansions. 510 Watt Total
- 680 Watt Roof Mounted Deluxe Kit Optional Expansions. 680. 1020 Total Watts
Zamp Solar Portable Solar Charging System
Set up in less than 5 minutes and power everything you need from light to fridges. Ranging in output of 45 watts to 230 watts, Zamp Portables can charge any kind of 12 volt battery, including lithium.
Is your RV Zamp Solar Ready?
Over 40% of RV come Zamp Solar Ready. Whether your RV has a Zamp Solar portable kit plugged into pre-installed sidewall port or the addition of a roof mounted panel. Zamp Solar Portable Charging system has a charge controller in the back so it can charge your battery directly with alligator clips, or can be plugged into your RV Zamp Solar Port (shown in picture below).
With the largest variety of panel sizes, you will find the perfect amount of power for whatever adventures you plan going on:
45 Watt Zamp Solar Portable Charging System (2.5 Amps) The smallest of the portable kit. This is ideal for small RVs like over-the-cab truck campers.
- Weight: 11 lbs
- Open Dimension: 21.6 x 19.9 x 1.5
- 8 Amp Solar Controller
- Weight: 27 lbs
- Open Dimension: 21.6 x 21.5 x 3.1
- 10 Amp Solar Controller
- Weight:32.75 lbs
- Open Dimension: 32.4 x 21.5 x 3.1
- 10 Amp Solar Controller
- Weight: 34 lbs
- Open Dimension: 39.5 x 21.5 x 3.1
- 15 Amp Solar Controller
- Weight: 47 lbs
- Open Dimension: 39.5 x 28 x 3.1
- 15 Amp Solar Controller
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