Buying guide for solar charge controllers

Buying the right charge controller is such an important decision – it is the heart of the solar system – keeping your batteries efficiently charged and protected from damage.  You have to get it right if you want a reliable solar system!

Here are my top 4 tips for getting the right charge controller for your solar system.

# 1.  Allow for additional capacity when sizing and buying a charge controller

Whenever possible, get a slightly larger capacity controller than you think so that should you need to add more solar panels later, you can use the same change controller.

Charge controllers come in standard sizes such as 10A, 20A, 30A, 40A so you can pick the next standard size.

At the time of this post a Victron MPPT controller 100/15 costs $137 while the 100/20 is $157, a 14% difference, yet when you have to upgrade to the 100/20 later, you will need to invest another $157!

# 2. Invest in a good quality charge controller
Avoid compromising on a cheaper untested controller because you want to save some money. Poor quality 
controllers tend fail prematurely and can destroy your expensive batteries too.

When you invest in a good quality controller you get both a reliable solar system and get to protect your batteries which usually account for about 30% of the total cost of the the system.

# 3. Confirm that the controller can charge your system battery type
Modern charge controllers can ably charge Flooded lead-acid, AGM, GEL and Lithium battery types.

Some charge controllers may not be able to charge lithium battery type or even have the option to manually specify the battery charge settings.

Therefore, go for one that can charge as many battery types or check that the particular battery type you have can be ably charged by the charge controller you plan to buy.

# 4. Buy an MPPT controller if possible.
Whenever possible go for a MPPT controller type if budget allows. These help your solar system to harvest more energy compared to PWM controllers.

If it is too pricey, then go for a good quality PWM controller.

Hope this helps – good luck with your next charge controller purchase !

Related Topics

How many watts can a 40A charge controller handle?
How to size a charge controller