What Is A Charge Controller?
A solar charge controller is a voltage and/or current regulator that keeps the batteries in a solar panel-battery-inverter system from overcharging. A charge controller may be a stand-alone device which has to be bought and installed separately or it may be a control circuitry integrated within a battery pack, a battery-powered device or a charger. When bought as a standalone device, which is the case in most installations, it is often installed between the panels and batteries. A very important part of the system, they prevent the overcharging of batteries by limiting the amount and rate of charge of electricity from the solar panels to the batteries. They also prevent battery drainage by shutting down the system if stored power falls below the specified depth of discharge, mostly 50%.
Though there are other considerations beside brand, for instance, cost and size of the system, however, if every other thing is accounted for, we always try to convince our clients to invest in the best brands not only of charge controllers but also of panels and batteries.
Our most successful brands of solar charge controllers, those that we always recommend for our clients include the following: (They are not given in any order.)
The makers of Victron brands of charge controllers, the Victron BlueSolar and the Victron SmartSolar, also the makers of Victron inverters, Victron Energy, is a Dutch company. Victron has a stellar global reputation as the manufacturer of high-performance power conversion products.
Victron offers two range of solar chargers: BlueSolar and Smart Solar. They both incorporate a battery management system, remote management portal and though they lack a battery monitoring system, they are compatible with battery monitors. The difference in the two is that the SmartSolar controllers come with bluetooth connectivity while the BlueSolar controllers do not. The Victron SmartSolar offers built-in Bluetooth connectivity to any Bluetooth-enabled device, such as a smartphone. Also with internet connection, users can use the Victron Remote Management Portal to monitor the controllers anywhere at no charge. This makes them a great option for remote installations.