About Solar Charge Controller
What is Solar Charge Controller?
Solar Charge controllers are current or voltage regulating devices that help prevent battery damage by monitoring the battery's charging and discharging.
Why your Solar Power System does needs a Charge Controller?
Solar power systems convert solar energy into electrical energy. In the process, the electricity generated by the solar panels goes through a series of events viz:
- Conversion of photons into DC voltage
- DC current storage in the battery
- Conversion of DC into AC voltage by an inverter. (to feed the load)
In general, any battery will lose some of the current produced by the solar panel(s) in the form of heat energy. Albeit, following repeated cycles of charging and recharging, the battery tends to damage. The damage caused may (or not) include decreased battery capacity, lowered charge acceptance, drifting battery cells, and (at worst times) complete battery failure due to gassing and overheating.
Using a Solar Charge Controller helps check the above mentioned issues to keep the battery in a healthy and functional state.
Consider a solar panel that rates at 12v. Although rated as a 12v panel, this panel will have a potential to put out 17v. This is because of the fact that the condition of a 12v panel putting out exact 12v is possible under only standard test conditions. On a regular day, solar panels may not receive the standard conditions. Hence, they come with a margin 5v which helps generate a steady output, at all times.
How do Charge Controller Work?
The principle behind the working of a solar charge controller is to monitor the electrical output of the solar panels in comparison with battery capacity and battery charge levels. Matter of fact is that, the process of voltage regulation depends on the type of solar controller you deploy with your solar power system.
However, the process varies from dumping the extra current into shunt loads (shunt charge controllers), to manipulating the output of the solar panels (MPPT charge controller), and pulsating current output to stimulate a lower current level (PWM charge controller). In between, there are a few other processes too.
What is MPPT & PWM?
The MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) solar controller is the shining star of today's solar systems. These controllers actually detect the optimum operating voltage and amperage of the solar panel array and match that with the battery bank.
A PWM (Pulse Width Modulated) solar panel controller is the traditional style. They are robust, inexpensive and widely used in solar panel applications. PWM shunt controllers are used less often and mostly in applications where electrical interference is an issue.
What are the best types of Controller to use with Solar Power Systems?
So far, the pulse width modulator (PWM) and Maximum power point tracking (MPPT) type solar charge controllers are known to deliver optimum results in terms of checking the battery damage. Both types work on different principles to meet a singular purpose: saving the battery from damage.
How do you decide which type of Solar Charge Controller to use?
Settling on a charge controller will be easier once you are aware of the following:
- Solar panel output voltage
- Number of cells in the solar panel
- Battery voltage
- Climatic conditions of the location of installation
- Number of panels/ strings wired in series
In general, solar panels putting out low voltage will use PWM Charge controller and the ones generating larger voltage will use the MPPT charge controller.
Will monitoring a solar battery’s charging and discharging save the environment?
Of course! In the process of saving the battery can save the environment too. Managing the charging and discharging cycles by maintaining the optimal battery levels at all times will allow the battery to perform better. This way, it will last for an expected time or even more.