Choosing the Right Solar Charge Controller

Choosing the Right Solar Charge Controller

The difference in MPPT, PWM, and basic solar charge controllers

Jeff from Missouri Wind and Solar explains the differences and benefits to using various solar charge controllers.  There are so many products on the market that it may be difficult to understand what you need to get the most out of your solar panels, or solar panel array.

What does the charge controller do?

A charge controller prevents the incoming power source from over-charging the batteries.  Once the charge controller senses that the batteries are full (based on the battery voltage) it will either disconnect or divert the power source.  A typical 12 volt battery is “full” at 14.4 volts.


What types of solar charge controllers are available?

Basic Solar Charge Controller

  • Inexpensive
  • Short lifespan
  • Easy to use
  • Great for novice use
  • Function: Simply disconnects incoming voltage when batteries are full

PWM Solar Charge Controller

  • Moderate price range
  • Medium lifespan
  • Easy to use
  • May create interference in radios and TV’s
  • Great for intermediate solar knowledge
  • Special Feature: Pulse Width Modulation – the charge sends pulses to the batteries to constantly check the state of the battery voltage and will determine how fast to send pulses, and how long (wide) the pulses will be.  In a battery that is not fully charged, the pulses would be long and almost continuous while a fuller battery will have shorter pulses.

MPPT Solar Charge Controller

  • Most expensive
  • Increases solar panel efficiency
  • Longest life expectancy
  • Best for advanced solar users
  • Special Feature: Multiple Power Point Tracking – increases the output from solar panels by up to 30%, reducing the need for more solar panels.  Input is up to 530 volts, but emits 12/24 volts.  Best for battery charging, prolongs battery life.
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12 Responses to Choosing the Right Solar Charge Controller

  1. Hi how to connect a 12v turbine 500w 3 phase and a 120v solar together (wire diagram)to the correct controller with dump load and make it 24volt system to the series 24v battery bank.The clear wire diagram is my very big PROBLEM.Appreciate if you can help.I olso want to buy an MW 300GTI grit tie inverter from you so i can use 300w solar and plug in GFI outlet to the house and instractions THANKS A LOT

  2. Mike Kitz says:

    Interested in solar and wind energy.

  3. Mohammed Ashraf says:

    Hi. I would like to buy the
    2000 Watt 9 Blade Missouri General™ Freedom II Wind Turbine to India. Please suggest us the best charge controller i should buy for it.

  4. Pingback: Grid Tied Solar Grid Direct Panels PV System - Missouri Wind and Solar

  5. Rick says:

    Looking to do some kind of Solar & wind System On grid tie with a battery Back up…. Would like some thoughts on how to do this…. I am up near Green Bay, Wisconsin…. Out in the country, Have a site in mind for Ground Mount Solar, Probably with a tracker for sun travel…. Winds are on the average 5-7 mph but sometimes higher, so a low wind start turbine is what I think I would need!…. Watched many of your Vids…. Good info!!!! Had a Company say you cant hook up solar and wind together??? So any help would be great!….. Thanks…. Rick

    • crystal says:

      Hi Rick,

      Of course you can hook up wind and solar together, you just need the right equipment. We prefer hybrid systems so you’re not just relying on one power source. I’ll get your info over to our sales techs and get some recommendations out to you. Thanks for contacting us!

  6. Mike Wills says:

    Looking for back up power package for my ham radio. It required 13.8 volts dc to operate and uses 21 amps when transmitting

  7. Alex says:

    Solar panels come with MC4 , how do i wire to the relay. Cân you send me diagram and details. As i noticed Solenoid just flips between the two main imputs. Does it cut all? Can i put mppt instead of regular charge controler in hybrid wind 750 and solar 2×260 12v?

  8. Colin Radford says:

    I am living in Madagascar. My solar/wind hybrid system is on top of our school, about 80 feet away from the house, where we have no hot water. Given it is probably not cost-effective to bring 24V dc wires from the school to the house to connect to a 24v water heating element as a DUMP LOAD, As an alternative, would it be possible to connect a PSW inverter to the DC DUMP LOAD outlet on the charge controller, then buy and connect it to a water heating element that runs on 220v like the rest of our house? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

  9. Chad Cole says:

    I have a 11.6 kw SolarEdge SE10000 inverter system installed on my home in FL. I have tried to get a quote from installer to add battery backup but 3 months later they sent a quote to add a generator interconnect hookup. Advice on what I would need & if this is something I can do on my own. Pretty good DYI with mechanical & computer experience.

  10. Sid Torres says:

    I have a 12 volt inverter and batteries, I am looking for a 60 amp charge controller. I know I am limited with a 12 volt system, (for emergencies). A 60 amp charge controller I was looking at says 800 watts of solar panels. Do you have to be at that number and below or can you go a little over. Sometimes its hard to get it exact. 265 x 3 is ok but 280 x 3 is 40 watts over. Is being 40 over a problem? Or will the mppt charge controller just let in 800 watts.

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