Also known as solar regulators, solar charge controllers are undoubtedly an integral aspect of any standalone home solar system.
They work by controlling voltage to a safe level where batteries can charge and run appliances safely, thus lengthening their lifespan. If you’ve decided to install one of these products, finding the best solar charge controller should be your goal.
Nonetheless, consider important features like voltage options, type, safety and features such as LED lighting, USB ports and the LCD display (Source).
To many, this presents as a daunting task, especially with little knowledge on what to look for when shopping for a controller.
Best Solar Charge Controllers 2018
Table of Contents
- 1 Best Solar Charge Controllers 2018
- 2 1. ALLPOWERS – Most Functional & User Friendly
- 3 2. Docooler Solar Charge Controller – Best for a Small Solar System
- 4 3. Mohoo Solar Charge Regulator – Best Reliable & Practical Controller
- 5 4. Renogy Wanderer – Most Reasonably Priced Controller
- 6 5. Renogy Rover – Most Durable Charge Controller
- 7 Things to Consider Before Buying a Solar Charge Controller
- 8 Our Final Review
|ALLPOWERS Solar Charge Controller|
|Docooler Solar Charge Controller|
|Mohoo solar charge regulator|
|Renogy Wanderer Solar Charge Controller|
|Renogy Rover Solar Charge Controller|
1. ALLPOWERS – Most Functional & User FriendlyThe ALLPOWERS Solar Charge Controller is a perfect feature-packed, compact and multifunctional solution for solar charging instabilities. It is a high-quality charge controller with an output current of 20A.
The high discharge current value makes this model extra versatile and perfect for myriads of electrical protections as well as a reliable battery to charge and discharge period. It is highly recommended to be used for lead-acid batteries.
Like other expensive models in the market, the ALLPOWERS Solar Charge Controller is compatible with 12V and 24V batteries. As a standard feature, this device features a charge regulator that automatically defines the charge voltage value ultimately preventing battery failure.
The ALLPOWERS Solar Charge Controller uses a highly efficient PMW algorithm technology with four stages namely, EQU, Bilk, ABS, and Float. This ensures expert functionality of the charge controller as well as longer battery life.
This solar charge controller is perfect for small to medium size off-grid solar systems, used in domestic and industrial applications. Its comprehensive protection against overheating, overcharging, low voltage, short circuit, lightning strike and inverse connection ascertains the maximum overall safety of both the equipment and connected battery.
This unit combines LED indicators projected on a large screen that displays vital operation readings of the charge regulator and battery. You will certainly appreciate its convenience and usability as well as its compact nature. It also allows for two USB port connections for mobile devices.
2. Docooler Solar Charge Controller – Best for a Small Solar SystemThe Docooler Solar Charge Controller is a perfect charge controller for small solar systems, significant for its performance in preventing overloading. Besides, it helps in preventing circuit protection and reverse polarity as well as reverse discharging.
This system keeps your battery in good shape by automatically managing overcharging problems and prevents the common reverse battery discharging that happens during the night. It also provides an automatic overcurrent protection as well.
The Docooler Solar Charge Controller is easy to set up and use. It works well with solar panels of 12V and 24V normal voltage. For 12V normal system, the battery voltage is 12V, and the recommended input voltage from the solar panel should range between 16V and 22V.
On the other hand, for the 24V system, the battery voltage remains at 24V, and the recommended input voltage from the solar panel should stabilize between 32V-44V. The controller is damaged if the actual input voltage surpasses 50V.
This device offers a protection system from lightning strikes as well as prolongs the overall battery life. Those who have tried it rave about its ability to control loads, thanks to the circuit board that provides the much-needed insulation from external weather conditions.
3. Mohoo Solar Charge Regulator – Best Reliable & Practical ControllerThe Mohoo solar charge regulator is a PWM controller type specifically designed to meet the needs of rural electrification. Among other functions, it expertly handles voltage overshoot and discharge functionalities.
Additionally, it stops power output when there is too low voltage as well as restores voltage when necessary. Manufacturers recommend that this model be used with medium power solar PV modules.
Ascertaining its reliable and practical nature is the fact that the Mohoo solar charge regulator is compatible with 500W solar arrays with voltage ratings of 12V and 1000W with a voltage of 24V.
Perhaps the highlight of this device’s features is its ability to detect the voltage levels automatically. The controller patented and optimized PWM algorithm efficiently and precisely controls the amount of power being transferred to the battery. This provides a longer battery life as well as improved system performance.
The automatic temperature compensation system enables this regulator to dynamically adjust its output according to changes in the battery’s temperature. This guarantees a safe and optimal recharging process.
Additionally, the night disconnect function disconnects the solar panel automatically at night to prevent reverse current leakage from the battery. The special sense wires also ensure accurate charging by eliminating voltage drops.
Despite being perfect for medium applications, the Mohoo solar charge regulator can be used for both domestic and professional environments. As a way of ascertaining quality, manufacturers cover this product with a 5-year warranty.
4. Renogy Wanderer – Most Reasonably Priced ControllerThe Renogy Wanderer Solar Charge Controller meets all the standards of being the best solid charger controllers at an affordable price tag. The negative ground controller functions effectively with any negative ground system.
This charge controller features a four-stage PWM charging algorithm with LED indicators that indicate the controller’s status. The four stages include bulk, boost, float and equalization. It also features overcharging and over-discharging properties that ascertain maximum protection against overload, short-circuit, reverse polarity and overload.
Advanced protection features of the Renogy Wanderer Solar Charge Controller include the special remote sensor that provides accurate temperature compensation. With temperature monitors, the device automatically adjusts target voltages as temperature changes.
5. Renogy Rover – Most Durable Charge ControllerBeing an upgrade from its counterparts, the Renogy Rover Solar Charge Controller is feature-packed, compensating some of the features its predecessors lacked. Perhaps the highlight of its features being the smart tracking algorithm that maximizes energy from the solar to charge the batteries.
The reverse protection feature and sequential low voltage disconnection function prevent the battery from over-discharging. The controller’s MPPT technology and high trafficking efficiency of 99%, as well as the peak conversion efficiency of 97%, guarantee top-notch experience.
Other compensatory features of the Renogy Rover Solar Charge Controller include the comprehensive self-diagnostic and electronic protection functions that overly prevent damage caused by installation mistakes or overall system faults.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Solar Charge Controller
Perhaps the first and most important thing to understand when searching for a solar charge controller is its usage.
This typically involves knowing the value and overall importance of having the device in your circuit.
This will directly influence your choice and ultimately influence the delivery and lifespan of the entire solar system.
Apart from this, there are other factors and aspects to understand before buying a solar charge controller. They include:
Type of Solar Charge Controller
Coming second after understanding its usage is finding out the right type. There are two main types of solar charge regulators on the market currently. They are the PMW and MPPT. Their difference comes in the laying of charging method used.
PMW charge controllers are based on Pulse-Width-modulation technology whereas MPPT regulators use a Maximum Power Point Tracking system. PMW algorithm technology reduces the charging current proportional to the battery voltage.
This method maintains a high average capacity of battery resulting in an increased battery charge acceptance. On the other hand, MPPT regulators adjust voltage, and current applied to the battery to a certain level at which the solar arrays provide a maximum power output.
Compared to the PMW controllers, MPPT controllers offer the most effective and perfect for use in solar systems with high power capacity.
This is the other crucial aspect to consider when choosing the solar charge controller. This involves determining the current of the solar panel in use. To find the suitable product, always follow the instructions on the device regarding the required voltage.
Various solar charge-controller voltage options are available with the 12V charge controller being popular. Charge controllers with a rating voltage ranging between 12V and 24V typically feature a charging current of 10A, taking the power supply ranges from 11.8V to 23.6V.
Dual Battery Controllers
This is an additional advanced feature of modern solar charge controllers. The dual battery controllers, as the name suggests, can monitor or regulate up to two independent and electrically isolated batteries at the same time.
This is of immense importance for those looking to charge one leisure battery and engine battery simultaneously. There are two user options for charge controllers with dual battery feature.
Users can either charge both batteries connected at an equal rate or charge both at different power allocations, say 80% of the power goes to the engine battery and the remaining 20% to the leisure battery.
Waterproof solar charge controllers have proved to work well in wet environments. They are functionally perfect and completely identical to the 10A PMW controllers.
They have multiple settings for timed-controlled load work, making them ideal for use in street lighting as well as any person interested in setting up a solar charging kit on their boat.
Controllers with LCD Display
Often categorized as among the special features of a solar charge controller, LCD displays allow the user to customize the whole charging process with ease. Users can easily set the battery type. Capacity, choose voltage at each stage, set protection parameters and switch on and off the timer easily.
Any solar charge controller with LEC display makes the solar circuit more advanced and controllable. Some of the information displayed on the LCD screen include:
- The temperature
- The solar panel voltage/current
- The battery voltage/current
- The state of charge of battery
- The current charging stage
The factors mentioned above are just but a few, but not whole, crucial features to consider when searching for the best solar charge controller. Other protection and special features you can pay attention to include the type of electric protection including protection from overload, overheating, reverse polarity or short circuit.
These reliable protection features enhance the entire operation of the solar power system as well as prolong the life of your battery. Other safety features include LED lighting, automatic temperature compensation, manual voltage control and USB ports.
Our Final Review
The choice of whether to have or ignore having a solar charge controller solely lies on the type of solar panels you intend to install. Small solar modules say those of 10W can work well for trickle charging without solar charge regulators.
This is especially true if they are equipped with blocking diodes that prevent reverse current. However, solar panels with a power output of 20W or more necessitate the importance of having solar charge controllers.
When you are faced with this need, it is prudent that you find the right charge controller that meets your needs. Our solar charge controller review outlined above will make it easy to find the suitable product.
Besides, the buyer’s guide provides some slight insights on what you should know before beginning your search.
Which of the products mentioned above have you tried or is your favorite? Please share with us below!