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 (Source).
To many, this is a daunting task, especially with little knowledge on what to look for when shopping for a controller.
Comparing The Best Solar Charge Controllers
1. ALLPOWERS – Most Functional & User Friendly
The 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. Notably, 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.
It is highly recommended for lead-acid batteries.
- It is highly recommended for lead-acid batteries.
- It is compatible with both 12V and 24V batteries.
- It features a charge regulator that automatically defines the charge voltage value.
- It prevents battery failure.
- It uses a highly efficient PMW algorithm technology with four stages: EQU, Bilk, ABS, and Float.
- It ensures expert functionality of the charge controller as well as longer battery life.
Overall, this solar charge controller is perfect for small to medium size off-grid solar systems.
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, too.
Lastly, this unit combines LED indicators projected on a large screen that displays vital operation readings of the charge regulator and battery.
It is convenient, compact, and allows for two USB port connections for mobile devices.
Pros & Cons
- Multiple electric protection
- Easy to set up and use
- USB port connection
- STM microprocessor helps control the charger
- Extra safe
- LED display isn’t much impressive
- Suitable for small solar energy system
2. Docooler Solar Charge Controller – Best for a Small Solar System
The Docooler Solar Charge Controller is a perfect charge controller for small solar systems.
Its most notable feature is how it prevents overloads, reverse polarity, and reverse discharging.
- It provides automatic overcurrent protection.
- It offers a protection system from lightning strikes and prolongs overall battery life.
- Its circuit board provides insulation from external weather conditions.
Alongside that, it works well with solar panels of 12V and 24V normal voltage as well.
For the 12V standard system, the battery voltage is 12V, and the recommended input voltage from the solar panel should range between 16V and 22V.
Meanwhile, 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.
Pros & Cons
- Easy to use
- Indicator lights display the load
- Built-in short circuit protection and reverse polarity
- Issues with indicator lights after lengthy use
3. Mohoo Solar Charge Regulator – Best Reliable & Practical Controller
Among other functions, it expertly handles voltage overshoot and discharge functionalities.
- It stops power output when the energy is too low.
- It restores voltage when necessary.
- It automatically detects the voltage levels.
- It is recommended for medium power solar PV modules.
- It is compatible with 500W solar arrays with voltage ratings of 12V and 1000W with a voltage of 24V.
- It features special sense wires that ensure accurate charging by eliminating voltage drops.
- It boasts an automatic temperature compensation system which allows output adjustment according to the battery’s temperature.
- It has a night disconnect function to prevent reverse current leakage from the battery.
Moreover, its controller-patented and optimized PWM algorithm efficiently and precisely controls the amount of power transferred to the battery.
This provides a longer battery life and an improved system performance.
Alongside that, as a way of ascertaining quality, manufacturers cover this product with a five-year warranty.
Pros & Cons
- Easy to set up and use
- LCD is clear and readable
- Solid and sturdy
- Easy to control
- Five-year warranty
- Automatic temperature regulation
- LCD display doesn’t show the wattage
4. Renogy Wanderer – Most Reasonably Priced Controller
The Renogy Wanderer Solar Charge Controller meets all the standards of being the best solar charger controller at an affordable price tag.
The negative ground controller functions effectively with any negative ground system.
Notably, this product 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.
Alongside that, it also boasts overcharging and over-discharging prevention properties that ascertain maximum protection against overload, short-circuit, reverse polarity, and overload.
Furthermore, an advanced protection features of this solar charge controller.
Also include the special remote sensor that provides accurate temperature compensation and temperature monitors which automatically adjusts target voltages as temperature changes.
Pros & Cons
- Four-stage PWM charging algorithm
- Automatic temperature control
- Compatible with seal, gel and flooded batteries
- LED indicators indicate charging status
- LED indicators may flicker at times
5. Renogy Rover – Most Durable Charge Controller
Being 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.
Pros & Cons
- Aluminum design for maximum heat dissipation
- Compatible with multiple battery types
- Self-diagnostic feature detects error codes
- Insufficient display information on current/voltage
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 how to select 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 the 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.
Solar Charge Controller Sizing
This is measuring and ensuring that your charge controller would be strong enough to accommodate your solar energy system.
This involves determining the current of the solar panel in use. Solar charge controller of 12V is the most popular, but there are also various options available that would fit your needs.
Additionally, charge controllers with a rating voltage ranging between 12V and 24V typically feature a charging current of 10A.
Dual Battery 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 time-controlled load work which makes 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, LCDs 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 the timer on and off easily.
Any solar charge controller with LCD 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
Other Things to Consider
The factors mentioned above are just but a few of the 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.
Additionally, safety features like LED lighting, automatic temperature compensation, manual voltage control, and USB ports are some more factors to look out for.
Ready To Buy?
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 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 above will make it easy to find a suitable product. Which of the products mentioned above have you tried or is your favorite? Please share with us below! Also, check out the top pure sine wave inverters we have listed and reviewed for you!