The 5 Best Charge Controllers For The Money
An RV is composed of different parts. And each one, may it be big or small, play a vital role in ensuring a smooth, safe, and exciting RV trip. You may not know the intricate process that comes with putting together all these parts, but in this article, we will dwell on a tiny part that plays a significant role in the RV’s operation; the solar charge controller. Choosing the best charge controller for the money
might be a back-breaker, especially if the technology is a bit new to you. Worry not, in this article; we have gathered the top five best charge controllers for the money available in the market today.
Understanding your solar charge controller
Solar power is an excellent source of renewable energy. Especially for RVing and other mobile activities, solar energy can be both convenient and practical. However, solar energy is inconsistent. Sometimes, solar panels absorb less energy, which is not enough to power your battery. Other times, too much sunlight causes solar panels to put up too much voltage that can toast any equipment you have in a blink. That’s where the solar charge controllers come in. They regulate the flow of energy so that your battery can work properly. It also prevents overcharging and electrical overload, which can cause significant damage to your RV if neglected.
Types of solar charge controllers
It is important to understand the different types of solar charge controllers first before you pick one. RVs can differ, and so do charge controllers. You have to make sure that the controller of your choice fits the need of your RV. So before that final decision, let’s first understand the different types of solar charge controllers.
There are two types of charge controllers: the PWM and the MPPT.
Pulse Width Modulation (PWM)
The most basic charge controllers are the PWM. They are cheaper and had been available in the market for a long time. So, the durability and performance of these controllers are undeniable. PWM controls the voltage that goes into the battery from the solar panel. When the voltage requirement is met, the controller automatically disconnects the battery from the panel to avoid overcharging.
Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT)
The MPPT, however, is the newest technology in the market. It was developed to go beyond the performance of the PWM. In cases where the solar panels generate more voltage, the MPPT solar charge controllers can convert the excess power into the extra current. This current is then used when your panels produce a lower voltage. That means you can continually enjoy the full potential of your RV solar panels to charge your battery.
MPPT is also efficient to solar panels and batteries with higher voltages. In case your solar power voltage is different from your battery voltage, this controller is the best way to go. However, it is not surprising that this type of controller is much more expensive compared to its PWM counterparts.
Detailed Reviews on the Best Charge Controller For The Money
After considering what type of solar controller is best for your RV, it's time to take your pick. We have gathered the top five charge controller for the money. Let's take a better look at each one of them.
Renogy Wanderer – 30A Advanced PWM Negative-Ground Solar Charge Controller
If you’re looking for a solar charge controller that can give you top-notch performance without having to spend more, then this controller is perfect for you. The LED system design shows the status of your battery and the type of battery you have set up your controller for.
It can provide up to 400 watts of solar power handling capability with its powerful 30A rating and a peak rate of 7 amps. The Renology Wanderer can support higher voltages compared to its market counterparts. With its extra charging phase, you won’t have to deal with an over-charged battery. It also ensures consistent voltage for the final 20% of the charging cycle. The durability of this solar charge panel is also undeniable. It’s built to withstand different weather conditions.
The Renology Wanderer is the best PWN controller in the market today. It can increase battery life and improve your RV’s total system performance. It’s compact, and the best part is, this controller is compatible with Sealed, Gel, and Flooded batteries. It offers support for a wider range of battery systems.
Since it automatically regulates the battery temperature, you can be assured of the controller’s safety features. It uses the appropriate charge depending on external temperatures. Plus, the fact that it has full comprehensive diagnostics, your RV’s battery is surely in good hands. With tons of special features and value for your money, this solar charge controller is truly recommended.
This controller can only be used for small solar power needs. However, it is adequate for regular up to big RVs. You also have to take note that the float voltage can’t be adjusted for this device.
EPEVER Upgraded 30A MPPT Solar Charge Controller
As mentioned earlier, MPPT controllers offer a new technology that helps you get the maximum power for your battery needs. With 99.5% efficiency at a rated charge current of 30A, you’ll never go wrong with this one. And the EPEVER Upgraded 30A MPPT does just like that. Complete with a remote monitor, this charge controller’s built-in LCD displays everything you need to know. This gives you full control of your device.
The best feature of this controller is its automatic system voltage recognition. This means it has the capacity to distribute the volts/amps appropriately to your battery for optimum performance. It also offers a variety of electronic protections such as:
- PV short circuit protection
- PV reverse polarity protection
- Battery over-voltage protection
- Battery over-discharge protection
- Battery reverse polarity protection
- Load overload protection
Truly one of the most powerful solar charge controllers available today.
If you have limited space, storage might be a problem for you. So before you purchase this device, make sure you find a slot in your storeroom for it.
Camco RhinoFLEX 15ft RV Sewer Hose Kit
The SolarEpic 40A MMPT Solar Charge Controller comes with a rated charge current of 40A, input power of 260W, and max PV open circuit voltage of 150V/ 138V. It provides the durability and efficiency you’re looking for in a charge controller. The ability to control the charging and discharging of the battery is one of its flagship features. Its smart tracking algorithm ensures the maximum energy from your solar panels. You need not worry about overheating nor overcharging since this device is equipped with various electric protection functions.
What we like about this device is its Low Voltage Disconnect (LVD) function. When the battery’s voltage reaches its minimum threshold, this function automatically cuts off the load. This prevents over-discharging of your battery. Its heatsink design is also perfect for hot conditions. So going on an RV trip in the summer is no biggie.
The lack of display in the SolarEpic 40A MMPT Solar Charge Controller is a considerable drawback. However, you can opt to connect the controller to a PC monitoring software, thanks to its RJ45 communication interface. The most common one is the MT-50 remote meter, which is used for the remote tracking and parameter adjustments.
GHB 20A 12V 24V Solar
If you’re looking for a sleek, and easy to use solar charge controller, the GHB 20A 12V 24V Solar is the right controller for you. Its clear LCD screen display and modern exterior is surely hard to pass by. The GHB 20A controller was developed to provide easy navigation and intelligent control. The PWM&WPC mode on this charger controller improves the system efficiency of your battery.
GHB 20A solar charge controller offers both affordability and high-quality performance. It also comes with protection functions such as lightning, over-charging, under-voltage, overload, circuit, and reverse polarity protection. With so many features to offer, this controller is truly a good value for your money.
This solar charge controller is not suitable for lithium batteries and Ni-HM battery. So you might want to consider your purchase if you’re using a lithium battery in your RV.
HQST PWM Controller
The HQST PWM Controller is gaining popularity due to its user-friendly LCD screen. It also comes with a 5V 1A USB outlet, so there’s room for your favorite devices to charge on. The dot-matrix graphic LCD screen makes navigation and control hassle-free. Just like the other controllers discussed in the list, the HQST PWM also comes with various protection functions like overcharge, over-discharge, overload protection, reverse connection protection as well as short circuit protection.
One feature I commend about this device is its light control function. Once the daylight breaks in, the light source will be turned off, and your battery will start charging. On the other hand, by nightfall, the light source will turn on automatically. This charger definitely targets those who would want an all-in-one device.
The HQST PWN is pretty simple to use with all of the necessary features you would like in a solar charge controller. However, some customers complained that the instruction manual that came with the device was very hard to comprehend. So, you might need online references to install it.
Other things to consider
Before you finally decide on what's the best charge controller for the money, there are still other details you’ll need to consider. Here are a few of the things you need to remember before you buy the charge controller of your preference.
Importance of controllers
You may be wondering why there is a need for controllers. Can we not use the voltage coming from the solar panel directly to our battery? The answer is a big NO. Here’s why:
Controllers prevent overcharge
Overcharging can greatly reduce your battery performance. Controllers are programmed to adjust the voltage depending on the current need. So not having one can probably toast your battery.
Controllers improve charge quality
Having total control of your solar power improves your charge quality. Controllers usually come with adjustable set points, which can easily be tweaked depending on what you need.
Controllers prevent battery discharge
Controllers prevent the battery from draining completely. A drained battery is a recipe for disaster. If the battery deteriorates easily, you might need to change it often. Which, in return, can cost a lot of money in the long run.
A solar charge controller is a good investment and a necessity for every RVer. Although it seems that the options are endless, at the end of the day, you have to choose the controller that can cater to your needs. Hoping you'll find the best charge controller for the money. Good luck!