For off-grid (stand alone) solar power systems where the power generated is stored in batteries, they would require charge controllers. The charge controller will protect your batteries from being overcharged by your solar panels and it will block any reverse current as well. Solar charge controllers will actually protect every aspect of your solar power system from your batteries to your solar panels so their importance cannot be underscored enough. We carry a number of brands and types of solar charge controllers, all of which are well made and well suited to various situations and environments. Many of our charge controllers not only complete the basic functions of preventing overcharging and reverse current they also have additional features like control set points, low voltage disconnect, maximum power point tracking, overload protection and displays and metering. Call us and we can help you choose the right charge controller or even a power center for your solar power system.
MPPT Solar Charge Controllers
Maximum Power Point Tracking charge controllers or MPPT charge controllers are relatively new to the solar energy industry. These charge controllers are different than the traditional PWM charge controllers in that they are more efficient and in many cases more feature rich. MPPT charge controllers allow your solar panels to operate at their optimum voltage, improving their performance by as much as 30%. Traditional PWM charge controllers reduce the efficiency of one part of your system in order to make it work with another. Several MPPT charge controllers can accept high input voltages (up to 120+V DC) from your solar array and efficiently down convert the DC voltage to that of your system (e.g. 12, 24, 48VDC, etc) which means you aren't losing any generated power and you are able to use what you generate more efficiently. Additionally, using a much higher DC voltage on the input side allows you to use thinner wire, decreasing your wire cost and making installation easier.
PWM Type Solar Charge Controllers
Traditional Pulse Width Modulated (PWM) charge controllers have been around for several years and forces your solar panels to operate at the same voltage as your battery bank during charging. They tend to be less expensive than MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) charge controllers, but they're also less efficient than the MPPT type.
When choosing the right solar charge controller, you'll need to consider how many panels you are using, what your battery bank power storage capacity will be and how much load your solar power system will be creating. We have lower voltage charge controllers, both battery and PV. When you are looking at higher voltage systems, you'll want to consider that in today's market the Maximum Point Power Tracking (MPPT) solar charge controller is considered the more efficient as opposed to the Pulse Width Modulated (PWM) charge controllers that have been available in the market for several years. PWM charge controllers tend to be less expensive and you will probably find a wider selection but for the long haul the MPPT charge controller may be the better investment. Our charge controllers can meet any system need from hybrid, off grid to grid-tie and we can help you identify what will work best for your system. No matter what remember that your solar charge controller is an integral part of your solar power system.