If you are planning on installing an off-grid solar energy system with an attached battery, you’ll be doing well with a solar charge controller (Solar Ladekontroller) installed. Charge controllers can be viewed as a gateway to your battery and they make sure the battery is not overcharged and damage your entire system.
Here, we have discussed what a solar charge controller is and the different types of it. We have also discussed how each type work. So, read on.
What is a Solar Charge Controller?
A solar array is connected with a battery bank from which the charge goes out to the appliances and is used there. A solar charge controllermanages the power coming from the solar array and going into the battery bank.
The controller makes sure the batteries do not get overcharged during the day. They also make sure that power does not flow backward from the batteries to the solar panel and drain the batteries. Thus controllers make sure the batteries are charged safely and do not get damaged from overload.
Generally, you would want to think of installing a solar charge controller if you are planning to install an off-grid solar energy system.
There are two different types of solar charge controllers; PWM and MPPT. The way they perform within the unit is very different from one another. MPPT controllers are often priced higher than PWM.
Let’s learn about the two different types of solar charge controllers and how they work.
PWM Solar Charge Controllers
PWM stands for pulse width modulation and these types of controllers are a standard type of charge controller available in the market. Their operation is simpler than MPPT controllers and is thus less expensive.
The way PWM controllers work is very simple. They slowly reduce the amount of power going into the battery as it approaches capacity. When the battery is full, these controllers maintain a state called ‘trickle.’ In this ‘trickle,’ the PWM controller continually supplies a tiny amount of power to the battery to keep it full.
If you are using a PWM controller, the solar panel system and the battery must have matching voltages. Larger solar panels, those which are designed to power your entire home, don’t generally have a matching panel and battery voltage. Thus, PWM controllers are only suited for small solar systems with a small battery and low voltage panels.
MPPT Solar Charge Controllers
MPPT (maximum power point tracking) controllers are more complex and the way they work varies from how PWM controllers work. Primarily, they work the same way a PWM works, i.e. they reduce the energy flow from the array to the battery as it approaches capacity.
However, MPPT solar chargers have the facility of pairing solar panels and batteries of different voltages. Adjusting the input, MPPT controllers bring in the maximum possible power from the solar array. They are also capable of varying their output power that matches the battery voltage. MPPT controllers are thus much more efficient than PWM controllers. They work in a manner that utilizes the full power of your solar panels and charges your home battery system in a more optimized manner.
Do You Need a Solar Charge Controller?
The majority of people using solar panels don’t need to worry about charge controllers. Generally, rooftop and ground-mount solar installations with a battery backup are linked to the electric grid, and when the battery fills up the excess solar energy will automatically reroute there.
However, if you are planning to install some small off-grid system with a battery backup, you might need to invest in a charge controller to make sure your battery charges safely.
That was all about Solar Ladekontroller and how they function. Among the two different types of controllers, MPPT is a better option because it can pair non-matching voltages of the solar panel and the battery. In addition, solar charge controllers are a good choice when you are planning to install an off-grid system.