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What is a Solar Charge Controller?

What is a Solar Charge Controller

Short on Time? Here’s The Article Summary

A solar charge controller regulates the output of solar panels, wind generators, or hydroelectric generators to prevent overcharging of batteries. It's crucial to choose a controller with a higher amp rating than the solar modules to accommodate possible spikes in amperage.

Important features to consider when selecting a charge controller include built-in battery voltmeter and solar amp meter, user-adjustable battery voltage set points, and a battery temperature sensor to optimize battery performance and longevity.


What is a solar charge controller?

A solar charge controller is used to regulate the output of your solar panels (modules).  They are also used to regulate the output of wind generators and hydroelectric generators.  Essentially a charge controller is there to prevent the overcharging of your battery or battery bank.  When your battery or battery bank is completely charged, your charge controller will reduce or stop the solar charge so as not to damage the battery. 

It’s important to select a charge controller that will be able to handle more than the amperes of your solar modules.  What this means is that while most solar panels will not produce more than their rated amperes it is possible for them to do so for small amount of time under ideal conditions.  On a bring cold day its not unheard of for a solar module to momentarily produce 15% more than tis rated amperes.  It is recommended to leave a 25% margin on the controller you choose.  For example, a 47 amp solar array would should use a 60 amp charge controller rather than a 50 amp charge controller to account for the possible spike.

3 things to consider when choosing your solar charge controller

Battery voltmeter and solar amp meter

  • These are super important and needed in order to demonstrate that the battery is ACTUALLY getting charged.  Luckily these are almost always built in to any charge controller you’d buy.  It is our recommendation to get a charge controller with built-in amp meters and volt meters which will always be the case unless you get a cheap one from amazon or e-bay.

User-adjustable battery voltage set points:

  • This will allow you to set the voltage exactly for your battery type, temperature age etc.  It is a standard feature on most charge controllers.  

Battery Temperature Sensor:

  • This is super important because a battery’s temperature drastically affects its longevity and efficiency.  Some charge controllers have this built in, however you are also able to get battery temperature sensors by themselves and put them on yourself.

Hopefully these tips and tricks help with your solar charge controller selection or check our sizing guide of MPPT solar charge controllers

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