Best Charge Controllers

A charge controller is an important part of the system that charges a battery and its purpose is to prevent damage to the battery due to overcharging. The most advanced units even prevent electrical overload and keep the battery from discharging completely. If you need one, it’s best to analyze some models before picking a particular one luckily for you, and we have gathered info on the most reliable units on the market.

Top 6 Charge Controllers Comparison

Photo Charge Controllers Price

1. SolarEpic MPPT 40A Solar

  • Rated charge current: 40A
  • Work voltage: 12VDC/ 24VDC Auto
  • 150V PV input
  • Over temperature, over charging, over current protection
  • No LCD display
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Renogy Tracer 4210 40 Amp MPPT Charge Controller

2. Renogy Tracer 4210 40 Amp MPPT

  • Rated charge current: 40A
  • Automatically detects 12V/24V DC system voltages
  • 400W (12V) PV input
  • Electronic protection, including over-charging, over-discharging, over-load, load short circuit and PV array short circuit
  • LCD screen with programmable parameters
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Morningstar TS-45 TriStar 45 Amp Charge Controller

3. Morningstar TS-45 TriStar 45 Amp

  • Rated to 60A at 48VDC
  • Work voltage:12-48V PWM
  • 400W (12V) PV input
  • Operational temperature range: -40ºC, +60ºC
  • It features full function tri-color LED system status display
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The Renogy Wanderer — 30A PWM Charge Controller

4. The Renogy Wanderer — 30A PWM

  • Rated charge current: 30A PWM
  • Nominal system voltage: 12V DC
  • It can be used with a 12V battery or battery bank
  • It features over-charging, over-load, short-circuit and reverse polarity protection
  • LED indicators (It doesn’t feature an LCD Display)
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XCSOURCE® Intelligent 30A PWM Solar Panel Charge Controller

5. XCSOURCE Intelligent 30A PWM Solar Panel

  • Rated charge current: 30A
  • Work voltage: 12V/24V Auto
  • 12V PV input
  • It includes over-charge, over-discharge and over-load protection
  • LED screen
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GHB 20A 12V 24V Solar Charge Controller

6. GHB 20A 12V 24V Solar

  • Rated Charge/Discharge Current: 20A
  • Voltage of Battery: 12V / 24V Automatic
  • Input Voltage: 12V
  • Overload and short circuit protection
  • LCD screen display
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Reviews of the Top Charge Controllers of 2017


These units operate by using advanced technologies that enable them to monitor and control the electrical current that charges your battery. Their performance relies on a series of features and technical specifications that help them operate properly and prevent any type of malfunctions. Keep reading to learn more about the performance of the top products.

SolarEpic MPPT 40A Solar

If you are thinking about buying an intelligent charge controller that can provide performance and durability, then you should opt for the SolarEpic MPPT 40A Solar. This is designed for off-grind solar system and has the ability to control the charging and discharging of the battery. It features a smart tracking algorithm which maximizes the energy from the solar PV module and charges the battery. Plus, its LVD (low voltage disconnect function) can prevent the battery from over-discharging. It comes with various protections, including over temperature, overcharging, PV and load short, over current and PV (battery) revered protection. The electric protection function and the comprehensive self-diagnostics will prevent damage from installation issues or system faults.

PROS

CONS

Easy to use You have to buy a MT-50 remote meter separately
Durable
2-year warranty

Renogy Tracer 4210 40 Amp MPPT

By using the 40 Amp MPPT, you will be able to increase the system efficiency by up to 30% by maximizing the solar panel output to the battery bank. In short words, it can reduce the number of solar panels needed by up to 30%. In fact, it’s important to know that it features an advanced maximum power point tracking technology, which will optimize the use of the PV system. Moreover, it comes with some electronic protections, such as PV array short circuit, overcharging, over discharging, overload and load short circuit protection. Plus, it also features a reverse protection, including PV reverse polarity and battery reverse polarity protection. It has the ability to correct the charging and discharging parameters automatically, in order to improve battery life. Additionally, in you are thinking about purchasing this model, you need to know that the MPPT circuit controllers are more elaborate than PWM controllers.

PROS

CONS

Efficient
Safe
Reliable
Flexible

Morningstar TS-45 TriStar 45 Amp

The Morningstar TS-45 TriStar 45 controller is a device that offers reliable solar battery charging and load control regulation. It can operate in only one of these modes, but there can be used more than two controllers to provide multiple functions. It features a full function tri-color LED system status display and an advanced technology which will provide new features at a competitive cost. If you are looking to buy this model, it’s good to know that it is designed for both industrial applications and solar home systems. Additionally, it comes with an RS-232 communication port which will customize the controller set points or data logging. It also provides an extra bending room for large wires and an optional on-board meter and remote meter.

PROS

CONS

Optional on-board meter and remote meter
It provides extra bending room for large wires
Built for mechanical fit on Xantrex power panel or Outback PSDC
Highest reliability
Easy to reset
5-year warranty

The Renogy Wanderer — 30A PWM

The Renogy Wanderer — 30A PWM is an advanced negative-ground charge controller, which is built for off-grind solar applications and it can be used with a 12V battery. Its main purpose is to increase battery life and improve system performance. It comes equipped with electronic protection functions, including overcharging, overload, short-circuit and reverse polarity protection. In fact, it has 4 Stage PWM charging, such as Bulk, Boost, Float, and Equalization that will prevent the batteries from overcharging and over-discharging. Plus, it also features a fully comprehensive self-diagnostics which will prevent damage from system faults. The LED indicators will inform you about the status and the remote temperature sensor will measure the battery’s temperature. Moreover, the remote is using this data for accurate temperature compensation. Remember that Renogy Wanderer — 30A PWM is compatible with Gel, Sealed and Flooded batteries.

PROS

CONS

Safe
Easy to use
Compatible with Sealed, Gel, and Flooded batteries.
Great value

XCSOURCE Intelligent 30A PWM Solar

The XCSOURCE Intelligent 30A PWM is a very intelligent device based on a microprocessor. The usage of this microprocessor and other circuits will ensure a lot of benefits, including a more precise and reliable performance, more precise tracking of different battery charging states and more precise implementing of various protection mechanisms which are obligatory for every PWM controller, such as battery overcharging, discharging, reverse polarity protection and short-circuit protection. Moreover, it will provide improved charging efficiency and fewer voltage drops. Its LED screens will report the current operation state in real time and the battery life will be longer compared to the other PWM controllers.

PROS

CONS

Available in black color
User manual included
Easy to use
2-year warranty

GHB 20A 12V 24V Solar

This product is another excellent choice you could make, in terms of solar controllers. The LCD screen display is clearer, more beautiful, and more modern as well. The device is fully automatic. It has an output switch, intelligent control, and it is extremely easy to operate. You can easily use the PWM&WPC mode, in order to highly improve the system efficiency and prolong the lifespan of the battery. The GHB 20A 12V 24V comes with the following protection functions: Lightning protection, Over-charging protection, Under-voltage protection, Overload and Short circuit protection, and Reverse Polarity protection. It also has the following technical specifications: USB output voltage: 5V; rated discharge current: 20A; DC output voltage: 12V; Total USB output current: 3A.

PROS

CONS

Great protection functions
Output switch
Intelligent control
The PWM&WPC mode improves system efficiency and prolongs the life span of the batter

Why You Should Use a Controller when Charging a Battery

Increasingly more people opt for a charge controller these days, due to various reasons. Anytime you actually use a panel that is over 5 watts rated output, it is highly recommended to use a device like that. However, if you want to find out more about this subject, then here is why you should use a controller.

It prevents overcharge

Furthermore, it also may protect against overvoltage, which can considerably reduce battery performance or lifespan, and may pose a safety risk. It will calculate the voltage of a solar panel at certain times and then it will bring it down to a safety level.

It improves charge quality

These controllers come pre-programmed with adjustable setpoints that can easily be edited and adjusted according to the user’s needs. Take into account the fact that if you have to choose between a standard and an MPPT, then you should definitely go for a proper MPPT controller, in order to improve the charge quality.

It prevents battery discharge in low or no light conditions

These innovative units may also prevent completely draining a battery, or perform controlled discharges, depending on the technology of the battery, in order to highly protect the battery life. Voltage and Current are without a doubt inversely proportional to each other. Therefore, if the current increases, the voltage will surely drop and vice versa. What you can do is to lower the current by introducing some resistance in the path of the current. The MPPT charge controller will definitely boost up the voltage.

Useful Buying Guide


Before purchasing a solar charge controller, it is essential to understand the value and importance of these innovative units. They work as regulators. They help to control the amount of voltage or current that actually passes through the system. These devices regulate the amount of voltage and current that comes from the solar panels and which travels to the battery. Most solar panel batteries need 14 to 14.5 volts in order to b able to reach a fully charged state. Here are some important things you need to take into consideration before buying an item like this.

Key types to consider

These days, you will find on the market several types of solar units. They range in shape, size, and features as well. For example, the simplest unit is the 4.5-amp. However, you also have the option to choose an 80 amp MPPT programmable controller, which is considered the largest model. Simple 1- or 2-stage controllers are the simplest versions. They have relays or shunt transistors that control the voltage in just 2 easy steps. The controller disconnects the solar panel when a device actually reaches a specific level. Therefore, the flow will be stopped and the battery will be protected. This is a very basic and reliable solution.

There are also PWM or 3-stage charge controllers. This is actually the industry standard style. This style is common on most existing panels. MPPT units are also known as multiple power point tracking systems, and they are without a doubt the highest end units available. They are more expensive than the other models, but they surely worth every penny, due to the fact that they provide a great efficiency, more reliability, and they also allow for more programmable options, including those that are specifically designed to interact with computer interfaces. All in all, you must choose a model that is right for your needs.

Voltage considerations

Depending on what solar panels you use, it is essential to consider the voltage in order to choose the right solar charger controller. A 12V unit is definitely a common option. Lots of these units have a rated voltage of 12V or 24V and they tend to have a voltage of resume power supply of 11.8V or 23.6V and a rated charging current of 10A. In order to make the right choice, you must first take into consideration your need. It is strongly recommended to follow the instructions on the existing unit in order to determine the required voltage. Too little or too much voltage will surely provide an insufficient result.

How do They Work?


If you go shopping for a charge controller, you must know several things. First of all, it’s important to understand how do they work. The charge controllers are those units that charge your batteries. They work in a three-stage charge cycle (bulk, absorption and float). During the first cycle (bulk), the voltage rises to 14.4- 14.6 volts. Once it reaches the right voltage, the second stage (absorption) begins. On this level, the charge controller keeps the voltage constant for a period of time while the current reach the right level and the battery charges. Once it is charged, the third stage begins. As it was mentioned before, the float stage occurs when the voltage rises to around 13.4 to 13.7 volts.
There are so many models available on the market, that choosing a charge controller can be an exciting yet daunting task. Before making a purchase it’s important to know the amount of power, amps, and volts the battery needs to work. Since each battery has a different amount of power, you must use a charger that will control the battery correctly.


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