Best Solar Charge Controllers Reviews (MPPT & PWM)

You’ve done your homework; selected the best solar power system for your home, acquired the materials, installed every bit of technology properly, but what good is it all without the essential solar charge controller? It’s vitally important to care for and monitor your new solar investment, so that it continues to increase financial savings for you year-over-year.A solar charge controller will help you keep your solar powered system operating at its best.

The main purpose of a charge controller is to prevent damage to the rechargeable batteries that are part of your complete solar power system.  This is accomplished by a critical feature that typically comes with solar charge controllers, which is a technology that prevents overcharge and discharge of your batteries.  Additionally, controllers regulate the charging current from your PV panels to your batteries. Most units also feature a display screen to make monitoring of your solar resources incredibly easy.

With all the proactive research and work you’ve put into your off-grid power solution, isn’t it worthwhile to ensure your system lasts for years and runs efficiently the entire time?  If you don’t have one yet, or if you’re hoping to upgrade, take a look at our reviews of the most popular products available. Plus, you’ll find our consumer’s guide to selecting the best solar charge controller for your system.

OneSolar 60-Amp MPPT Charge Controller

ZHCSolar 80-Amp PWM Solar Charge Controller

Renogy 30-Amp PWM Solar Charge Controller

Best Solar Charge Controllers – Top Reviews of 2019

There are many different models to select from when examining the best charge controller for your solar power system.  The biggest difference you’ll face is whether to select a more traditional PWM model or a newer MPPT model. Both models have their advantages and disadvantages, but with 2019’s top reviews below, you’ll get a look at the specifics of both.  Plus, keep reading until the end for our helpful breakdown of PWM vs MPPT and our tips for buyers, to help you make the best decision. And while you’re at it, grab a solar power meter as well!

ZHCSolar 80-Amp PWM Solar Charge Controller

Most Popular

This solar charge controller from ZHCSolar is a popular option which has been often described as a durable and long-lasting unit that’s very easy to use.  It’s also among the least expensive options, but still offers 80 amps and handles high power input up to 1920 watts.

This controller is industrial grade and features the STM 8 microprocessor to manage the charge and overcharge to protect your solar power system.  It includes a rated working voltage of 12V/24V DC, and a max PV array input voltage/watts (battery voltage) of 24V/960W(12V), 48V/1920W(24V) . This PWM unit boasts high-efficiency and low-consumption, multiple load control modes, and is versatile enough to work well across multiple industries.

This unit is encased in industrial duty, superior-quality, ABS materials and it’s a compact and lightweight piece to mount at about 2lbs, and a dimension of about 7×8 inches. It features short-circuit protection and discharge/overcharge protection.  This unit can be mounted to any wall with four screws and it also has a USB output onboard for a charging station for electrical devices like phones, tablets, and MP3s.

PROS:

  • The manufacturer provides a helpful site and support team
  • The manual is always easily available for download online
  • Easy to install
  • Easy to use
  • Easy connection to large gauge wires
  • Display provides the comprehensive status of system specifics
  • No Load Loss: <13mA
  • Features a full-money-back guarantee

CONS:

  • Although instructions are available online, they are difficult to follow
  • Voltage readings have been inaccurate on some units

Renogy 30-Amp PWM Solar Charge Controller

Best Value

The Renogy controller is a perfect option for anyone using a portable solar system for the RV, boat, tent, cabin, or camper.  This unit is all about ease and flexibility because it’s made for people on the move. The Adventurer PWM solar charge controller offers 30 amps and it’s compatible with 12-volt and 24-volt systems and works with deep cycle, sealed, gel, flooded, and lithium batteries.

This controller features smart, 4-stage PWM charging; bulk, boost, float, and equalization modes.  Plus, this unit includes temperature compensation so it offers a longer battery lifetime and more efficient overall system performance.

As you might suspect, the Adventurer controller is lightweight and highly durable.  It can be easily mounted inside a camper or boat with four screws. But the best part is that the face of this unit is detachable, so you’re free to walk around with the controller while you inspect your solar system.

PROS:

  • Excellent option for smaller systems that require portability
  • Affordable, reliable option
  • Renogy is one of the most popular manufacturers of solar controllers
  • Compatible with lithium, 12V, 24V,deep cycle, sealed, gel, flooded batteries
  • Bluetooth compatibility
  • Detachable face so you can walk around with the controller

CONS:

  • May have efficiency and full charge issues with some gel batteries
  • May have issues with reliable Bluetooth compatibility

Renogy 20-Amp MPPT Solar Charge Controller

Another popular option from Renogy is the MPPT control unit that automatically detects 12V or 24V DC system voltages. It’s compatible with 12-volt and 24-volt systems and works with deep cycle, sealed, gel, flooded, and lithium batteries.

This MPPT controller is an intelligent positive ground controller capable of self-diagnosing in the event of an error. It’s built with protections against reverse polarity, short-circuiting, and overheating.

The die-cast aluminum casing will keep your unit safe, plus it features a heat-dissipation case design for best cooling. This controller, like most from Renogy, includes Bluetooth compatibility.

PROS:

  • Controller unit features a long lifetime
  • Uses MPPT solar charge control technology
  • Highly durable case with maximum self-cooling
  • Includes self-diagnosing control system

CONS:

  • LCD display is a bit dim and icons are too small
  • Instructions are difficult to follow

OneSolar 60-Amp MPPT Charge Controller

Editor's Pick

This MPPT solar charge control from OneSolar is an efficient and versatile option for anyone running a solar power series system on their property. The MPPT technology increases efficiency by up to 30% and it features ultra-fast tracking of about once per second.

This model is compatible with batteries sizes of 12V (900-watt), 24V (1700-watt), and 48V (3400-watt) and will provide up to 60-working amps of power for your home.  It’s a bit more expensive than other models, but your getting a highly durable case that can be easily mounted and the controller itself includes a wide array of information that can be set for monitoring regularly. This unit comes with multiple language options so the system can be set for the most familiar one.

PROS:

  • Works very well with lithium batteries
  • Very easy to program
  • Fast reaction time

CONS:

  • This unit is heavy, at almost 9lbs
  • Display screen is a bit dim
  • Some units have had firmware errors

Loli 60-Amp MPPT Solar Charge Controller

The Loli MPPT solar charge controller is like an efficient combination of the latter two reviews.  This model still has most of the functionality and dependability of the last two, slightly higher-priced, products, but the Loli comes in at a lower cost without sacrificing much.  This unit will automatically detect your battery system and the MPPT technology will adapt to offer nearly 50% more efficiency over PWM models.

This solar charge controller is compatible with sealed, Gel, Flooded Lead-acid batteries and it features three efficiency stages; constant current, constant voltage, and floating charge. The unit casing is made from ABS materials and features shock-resistance, heat-resistance, low-temperature-resistance, and comes transparent to help regulate heat. As with any good charge controller, this one has built-in intelligent protection against reverse polarity, reverse discharge, overload, short-circuiting, under-voltage and reverse current.

PROS:

  • Offers 60-amps
  • Uses highly efficient MPPT technology
  • 360-day, 100%-satisfaction guarantee
  • Excellent choice for entry-level solar enthusiasts
  • Easy to install and program
  • Fast charge time

CONS:

  • Manual is a bit difficult to follow

How to Choose the Best Solar Charge Controller

How to Choose the Best Solar Charge Controller

The capacity, functionality, compatibility and price can vary widely among charge controllers. Like with solar battery chargers, there isn’t a single charge controller that fits best for every situation. The best solar charge controller for your system is going to be very individual and depends greatly on how you’ve built your system and what you use it for.. To help you decide, consider a few different factors below so that you’ll better understand which solar controller is right for your particular needs. And if you’re looking for other ways to protect and maintain your batteries, check out these solar battery tenders as well.

PWM vs. MPPT Controllers:  Which is Right for Me?

One of the biggest differences between charge controllers is PWM versus MPPT.

PWM or Pulse Width Modulation charge controllers slowly lower the power applied to your battery as it reaches capacity. This allows the battery to charge fully, without stressing the battery and therefore extends it life.

PWM is somewhat more complex than MPPT, and is also a more common method of operation in modern charge controllers because it is more affordable. MPPT, or Maximum Power Point Tracking, is a different way of controlling the flow of your power. It helps to convert excess voltage into amperage. This keeps the solar panel from overloading the battery with too many volts of energy, while also lowering the time it takes to reach a full charge. MPPT charge controller reviews usually include the fact that they run on this system because it’s better and more efficient overall. It is, however, more expensive.

Compatibility

Both MPPT and PWM systems will work with most setups, however, when you’re choosing the best solar charge controller for you, pay close attention to the capacity of your system. Consider what voltage and amperage you need just as you would if you were buying a solar trickle charger.

If you are working with a large system, charge controllers with amperage up to 80 may be available. For smaller systems, 20-30A may be plenty.  A solar system for an RV for example, would likely run quite well with between 30 and 60 amps, but an entire household would probably be better off with 80amps.

Also note the voltage of your battery. Some charge controllers will work with both 12V and 24V batteries, but not all types. Generally speaking, an MPPT system often works very well with lithium batteries, but this is not always the case.

Solar Power Safety And Security

Before you make your decision, consider one more highly important feature: safety and security measures. For the utmost protection over your system and battery life, your unit should include overcharge protection, discharge protection, and short-circuits.  Even better, a unit that also features heat and low-temp protection will do you best. Much like in a solar generator, the more safety and protection the unit offers, the more the cost is likely to be, but the benefit of protection outweighs the cost.

Conclusion

At this point, you should feel confident in what you’re looking for as you compare PWM or MPPT units.  As you assess your solar power system and forecast your needs, keep in mind if your controller will last you for a while to come or if you think you might need a higher capacity unit in the near future.  If you need more help, scroll through our breakdown again for more insights and ideas. You’re sure to find the solar charge controller that will support and protect your system best.

4.5 rating
Based on 29 reviews

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