If you plan to install solar panels on either side of your house or office, you should consider buying a solar charge controller. A solar charge controller is crucial when you invest in solar panels. At this point, you might be wondering about two things: “What is a solar charge controller” and “How do I find the best solar charge controller.” Don’t worry; in this article, we will give a brief explanation of what is a solar charge controller and share the list of the best solar chargers you can buy.
What Is a Solar Charge Controller?
A solar charge controller or a current regulator is a device that controls the electricity supply from the solar panel to its batteries. These charge controllers streamline the flow of electricity and prevent solar batteries from overheating by acting as an intermediary between the solar panel and its batteries. Generally, solar charge controllers aren’t necessary, but its best to have them installed if you have an expensive solar panel setup at your office or in your home.
What to Look For in The Best Solar Charge Controllers?
Finding the best solar charge controller is not easy unless you know its basics. The key factors that determine if a solar charge controller is worth buying depend on:
Maximum Current: With different solar charge controllers, you will get different current ratings. Most solar charge controllers can handle up to 20 amps of current; the latest models can provide current up to 40 amps.
Voltage Rating: There are two types of solar charge controllers, 12 volts and 24 volts. Since these electricity controllers act as an intermediary between the solar panel and its batteries, you need to find a solar charge controller with the same volt as your batteries.
Warranty: Checking the warranty before buying anything is very important, especially in solar charge controllers, because solar panels have a long life. Thankfully, most solar charge controllers come with a one-year warranty, but some brands offer their services for more extended periods.
4 Best Solar Charge Controllers
There are plenty of solar charge controllers in the market, but Renogy Wanderer is the best budget-oriented device we came across. This device supports both 12 and 24 volts and comes with a Bluetooth feature. The Renogy Wanderer has a USB port that can charge any device, including your cell phone. However, its maximum current rating is relatively low, standing at 10 amps. Moreover, the Renogy Wanderer doesn’t come with a manufacturer’s warranty. Yet the features it offers at a staggeringly low price make up for places where this device falls short.
- Budget solar panel
- It supports both 12 and 24 volts
- It comes with a USB charging port
- Capable of charging over-discharged lithium batteries
The Victron Energy SmartSolar charger is a premium device with justified price tags thanks to its various features. The Victron Energy solar charge controller comes equipped with Bluetooth connectivity and a maximum current rating of 30 amps. Moreover, it has a charge supporting both 12 and 24 volts and comes with a 3-year warranty. Finally, the MPPT 100V comes with a sturdy body that can survive a few hits and rough days.
- Strong build quality
- It supports both 12 and 24 volts
- Current rating of 30 amp
- Bluetooth connectivity
MorningStar is a well-established brand of solar charge controllers that have been in the market for 25 years. Their devices are made with top of the line material, and you can’t expect anything less from the ProStar 30A solar charge controller. The ProStar has a robust MPP tracking system that can perform a full voltage sweep in less than a second. Moreover, it supports both 12 and 24 volts with a 30amp current rating. Finally, the MorningStar – ProStar has an excellent build quality, and you won’t have to worry about it for a long time because the brand offers a whopping 5-year warranty.
- Robust MPP tracking
- Premium build quality
- 5-year warranty
- Has the lowest hardware failure rate
Epever was established in 2007 in China, and it has become one of the fastest-growing solar charger companies in the world. Thanks to its low cost, consumers have access to some of the best solar charger technologies. This solar charge controller supports both 12 and 24-volt current and a whopping 80amp current rating. Moreover, it has 4 battery charging support, but it lacks the remote functionality of controlling via Bluetooth. Finally, the Epever MPPT Solar charge controller has an RS-485 communication bus and Modbus technology that can meet various communication requirements in different situations. All in all, the Epever might be last on our list, but its certainly not the least. At a staggeringly low price tag, you get premium build quality and conversion efficiency of ≤98.7%.
- Conversion efficient of ≤98.7%
- Robust communication technology
- 80amp current rating
- Excellent MPP tracking
- Optional MT50 display
Our Final Thoughts
A solar charge controller is crucial for an expensive solar panel set-up. All of the solar chargers mentioned above are top of the line, and we have tested their durability, electricity supply and their effects on solar batteries. While most solar chargers lose their efficiency in one year, the one’s we mentioned above functioned perfectly even after their warranty had passed.