The ABCs of Solar Charge Controllers
When it comes to solar power systems, PV panels are the most crucial component; however, there are several other elements that are equally important, such as a solar charge controller. As the name implies, a solar charge controller (also commonly known as a charge regulator) is an electrical device that controls or regulates the charge and discharge levels of a solar battery.
Solar charge controllers are a key part of solar energy systems, especially off-grid and hybrid solar PV systems, as they help improve the battery’s performance, efficiency, and service life. Are you wondering how? Well, then make sure you keep reading as we’re going to cover everything from a solar charge controller’s function to its various types available in the Indian market.
The Functions of a Solar Charge Controller
As we discussed, a solar charge controller is designed to manage a solar battery’s charge and discharge levels, but here’s how it works:
- The solar charge controller prevents the battery from being overcharged during the day, which is when power production is at its highest.
- A solar charge controller ensures that excess power stored in the solar battery does not travel back to the solar photovoltaic (PV) panels as this can lead to battery drainage.
- The device manages the amount of electricity that is utilized by connected appliances and then disconnects the load to avoid over-discharge.
While these are the 3 main functions of a solar charge controller, the device has some additional capabilities, such as reverse current protection, multi-stage charging, and low-voltage disconnect (LVD). Plus, it also comes with a display panel (or screen) for easy monitoring.
Now that we know the basics of solar charge controllers, let’s discuss their various types.
Types of Solar Charge Controllers
In India, solar charge controllers are available in the following two types:
- Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) Solar Charge Controllers
Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) solar charge controllers work through a direct connection between the solar battery and PV panels. Instead of steady output, the device sends a series of pulses to the battery bank, making them more suitable for small-sized solar energy systems.
Additionally, PWM solar charge controllers have been in use for decades and they are quite pocket-friendly. However, PWM technology is slightly less efficient than MPPT technology as the latter is fairly new and advanced.
- Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) Solar Charge Controllers
Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) solar charge controllers are designed to create the most efficient combination of current and voltage, which prevents loss of power. Better yet, MPPT solar charge controllers are compatible with all types and sizes of solar PV systems, especially large-sized ones.
Moreover, as discussed earlier, MPPT solar charge controllers have higher efficiency than PWM technology, making them the preferred choice for many. However, this also makes MPPT charge regulators more expensive.
So, that covers the difference between PWM and MPPT solar charge controllers. But in case you’re wondering which of the two is the better choice, it depends on several factors. These include the size (and type) of the solar PV system, your daily power consumption, and also your budget.
Plus, you would also need to evaluate the features available with the solar charge controller. And if you’re not sure where to buy a solar charge controller from, you should check out Luminous’ range on their website. Luminous is one of India’s leading brands that offer an extensive collection of solar products and related services.
Better yet, if you buy from Luminous, you will get high-quality, high-performance, and efficient products that are completely worth your investment. Visit their website today!