Everything You Need to Know About the Solar Charge Controller

January 14 2021

Off-grid solar system with solar charge regulator

Choosing the right solar charge controller for your system is important. After all, you want every feature of your residential solar system to work towards optimizing efficiency.

If you have some questions about solar charge controllers, you’re in the right place. We’ll go over what they are, how they’re used, and each of the different types.

Greenlife Solar is here to help you save money on going green. Learn more about charge controllers here.

What is a Solar Charge Controller?

A solar charge controller, also known as a solar charge regulator, is responsible for regulating the flow of energy to the batteries. In other words, it prevents the deep-cycle batteries from being overcharged during the day. It also ensures that power doesn’t run backwards to the solar panels overnight.

Preventing overcharging is crucial to the functionality of your system. Overcharging can cause severe damage to your batteries and can reduce your system’s efficiency.

Most panels output more voltage than they’re rated for. For instance, a “12-volt” panel typically puts out anywhere from 16 to 20 volts. It does this to account for times when the panel is operating under imperfect conditions, which is often.

Because of this discrepancy between rated voltage and actual output however, it’s possible for batteries to be overcharged. That’s where a solar charge controller comes in.

Types of Solar Charge Regulators

There are two different types of solar charge regulators to consider. The first is the standard PWM solar charge controller. PWN stands for “pulse-width modulation”. These controllers send out short pulses to the battery. This technology is older and typically less efficient, which also makes it less expensive.

Use a PWM solar charge controller in places with consistent, strong solar radiation or for systems that are cost-sensitive.

The second type is the MPPT solar charge controller. This type is more common and advanced than the first. MPPT stands for “maximum power point tracking”. This technology essentially tracks and adjusts the voltage to generate the most power at any given time. In other words, the MPPT solar charge controller measures the voltage of the panel and down-converts the PV voltage to that of the battery.

This allows homeowners to use more of the available power from the panel. In fact, these controllers can increase an array’s effectiveness by 30%. This option is ideal for larger systems and is typically preferred over the previous type. However, a PWM solar charge controller is still a great money-saving choice for more basic systems.

Do I Need a Solar Controller?

If you’re investing in an off-grid system, you’ll need a solar charge controller to prevent overloading your battery. Systems connected to the utility grid, however, do not need one. That’s because once your battery is full, excess energy will automatically flow into the grid.

Of course, some homeowners that are connected to the grid don’t even utilize a solar battery, which is fine as well. Those homes do not need a solar charge regulator either. Find out if you need a solar battery here.

Blue and black PWM solar charge controller

Making the Right Choice

Whether you need an MPPT solar charge controller, PWM solar charge controller, or no controller at all, Greenlife Solar has you covered. Use our free online service to find professional solar installers near you.

A quality solar installation company will be able to set up your system so that is the most efficient and cost-effective. If you plan to use a solar battery off-grid, ask your service provider about solar panel charging.

Find the best system at the best price.

Compare Quotes From Solar Installation Companies Near You.