The 7 Best Solar Charge Controllers – [2020 Reviews]

Without a good-quality solar charge controller, your solar power system will operate inefficiently, and your solar batteries may be damaged. You may even need to swap out your batteries for new ones long before they reach the end of their expected lifespan.

Unfortunately, there are lots of mysterious numbers, acronyms, and technical specifications associated with charge controllers. Do you know your PWM from your MPPT?

If you’re confused, don’t worry. The following in-depth reviews and the following buying guide will help you to choose the best charge controller for a solar power system.

Best Solar Charge Controllers

 EPever MPPT SolarEpic Charge ControllerOnesolar MPPT Solar Charge ControllerZHCSolar PWM Solar Charge Controller
editors choice
Compatibility:AGM, Gel, & floodedAGM, Gel, flooded & L-ionAGM, Gel, & flooded
Type:MPPTMPPTPWM
Output:40A60A80A
Max Input:150V150V85V

For more of my off-grid power recommendations, have a look through these popular Outside Pursuits guide links: Home Wind Turbines, Solar Batteries, Solar Panels.

Quick Answer: The 7 Best Rated Solar Charge Controllers

  1. EPever 4215BN MPPT SolarEpic Charge Controller
  2. Top One Power 60A MPPT Solar Charge Controller
  3. ZHCSolar PWM Solar Charge Controller
  4. Renogy Rover MPPT Common Solar Charge Controller
  5. EPever MPPT 3210AN Solar Charge Controller
  6. OOYCYOO MPPT Solar Charge Controller
  7. Beleeb MPPT Solar Charge Controller

Our reviews of the top rated solar charge controllers with our comparison table and buyers guide will help you choose the right one for your home.


Solar Charge Controller Reviews

EPever is a reputable manufacturer based in Beijing, and this is one of their Tracer BN series of affordable MPPT solar charge controllers.

The EPever 4215BN is a high-performance MPPT charge controller with a tracking efficiency exceeding 99.5%.

The large input terminals are designed to connect with cables up to 50mm2. This controller can accept a wide range of voltages up to a maximum of 150V.

Expand To See More

It can operate with a solar array up to 520W to charge a 12V battery bank or 1040W for a 24V battery bank.

This MPPT charge controller is compatible with any 12V or 24V lead-acid battery. However, it cannot be used with lithium-ion batteries. The EPever 4215BN comes with a remote meter with an MT50 display, settings, and load control.

However, the EPever does not have a built-in display, so you can only access information through the remote meter.

The 4215BN features a large heatsink that allows a broad operating temperature range. Its integral temperature sensor prevents battery overheating and prolongs battery lifespan.

The EPever SolarEpic Charge Controller is an affordable solar power controller that protects your solar batteries from overcharging and overheating.

EPever 4215BN MPPT SolarEpic Charge Controller Specs & Features:

  • Compatibility: 12V or 24V lead-acid batteries (AGM, Gel, & flooded)
  • Type: MPPT
  • Output: 40A
  • Max Input: 150V
  • Other: Remote meter, temperature sensor, and PC monitoring cable

The Top One Power MPPT Solar Charge Controller is a very versatile controller. It can be connected to any type of solar battery and used in 12V, 24V, 36V, or 48V solar power systems.

This wide range of voltages means it can be connected to a solar panel array that ranges between 900W when running on 12V right up to 3400W on a 48V system.

This is a high-performance MPPT charge controller with a tracking efficiency exceeding 99% and a conversion rate of over 98%.

Expand To See More

The LCD display is convenient to monitor the operation of your solar power system. It provides a menu of operations, functions, and system statistics.

The complex electronics of this MPPT solar power controller protect your batteries against overcharging, over-discharging, short circuit, overheating, reverse polarity, and under-voltage.

Because it is an especially versatile controller with lots of safety features, the Top One Power MPPT Solar Charge Controller is arguably the best MPPT solar charge controller reviewed here.

 

Top One Power 60A MPPT Solar Charge Controller Specs & Features:

  • Compatibility: 12V, 24V, 36V, or 48V lead-acid batteries (AGM, Gel, & flooded) and lithium-ion
  • Type: MPPT
  • Output: 60A
  • Max Input: 150V
  • Other: LCD display, protection against overheating, reverse polarity, short circuit, under-voltage, over-discharge, and overcharging

The huge 80A capacity of this high-quality PWM charge controller enables it to operate with larger solar panel arrays of up to 1920W when operating at 24V.

However, it is less than half the price of the more expensive MPPT charge controllers reviewed.

The ZHCSolar PWM Solar Charge Controller’s durable shell design makes it especially practical for camping, boating, and RV use.

Expand To See More

Its aluminum alloy heat sink efficiently dissipates heat, protecting your system against overheating.

The backlit LCD display is clear and simple to operate with its 4-button set-up. However, on the negative side, the durability and features of this charge controller result in it being relatively heavy and more challenging to install than some other charge controllers.

The ZHCSolar PWM Solar Charge Controller comes with an impressive 2-year warranty and a lifetime of technical support.

Combined with its durability and design, this provides confidence this charge controller is the best MPPT charge controller for installation in your RV’s or boat’s solar power system.

 

ZHCSolar PWM Solar Charge Controller Specs & Features:

  • Compatibility: 12V, 24V lead-acid batteries (AGM, Gel, & flooded)
  • Type: PWM
  • Output: 80A
  • Max Input: 85V
  • Other: USB output for electronic devices, durable anti-fall casing, battery monitor, enhanced heat sink, and 2-year warranty

The Renogy Rover MPPT Common Positive Solar Charge Controller boasts a unique design that enables it to automatically detect the voltage of your solar power system and configure itself appropriately.

Not only that, but this MPPT power controller is compatible with batteries of all types and voltages, from 12V to 48V. This makes it simple to integrate this charge controller into any existing solar power system.

This MPPT charge controller also features a 99% tracking efficiency and 98% energy conversion efficiency.

Expand To See More

A backlit LED display keeps you informed about the flow of energy from your solar panels and the charging status of your battery bank. As well as this display, you can pair this solar charge controller with your smartphone to remotely access information.

The Renogy Rover MPPT Common Positive Solar Charge Controller offers a wide range of protection features, such as reverse polarity protection, overvoltage, over-discharge, overload, short circuit, and reverse current. It features a durable shell and an aluminum heat sink to dissipate excess heat.

This MPPT charge controller can be used in a wide variety of solar power systems, from 800W solar arrays in a 12V system to 3200W solar arrays in a 48V system.

This makes the Renogy Rover MPPT Common Positive Solar Charge Controller one of the best solar controllers you can buy.

 

Renogy Rover MPPT Common Solar Charge Controller Specs & Features:

  • Compatibility: 12V, 24V, 36V, or 48V lead-acid batteries (AGM, Gel, & flooded) and lithium-ion
  • Type: MPPT
  • Output: 60A
  • Max Input: 150V
  • Other: LED display, smartphone pairing, automatic voltage detection

The EPever 3210AN is the older brother of the 4215BN reviewed above. The first-generation Tracer AN series is still a popular choice for many solar power systems around the world.

Unlike the newer models, the 3210AN does have a backlit built-in display as well as a remote MT50 display.

However, some people find the simple built-in display more difficult to use than the more detailed LCD screen on the MT50.

Expand To See More

The 3210AN provides reliable MPP tracking with an efficiency of 99.5%. However, the maximum 100V input is a little restricting, and the in-built display does not show the wattage.

Although the EPever 3210AN Solar Charge Converter has been surpassed by the 4215BN for added bells and whistles, it is a more popular charge converter for smaller solar power systems in RVs and boats.

It is suitable for use with a 390W solar panel array in a 12V system and a 780W array in a 24V system.

In part, this popularity may be its exceptionally low price. It is priced more like a PWM charge controller than an MPPT.

Also, the fact that it is compatible with lithium-ion batteries is significant. For a small-scale power system, it is the best solar charge controller.

 

EPever MPPT 3210AN Solar Charge Controller Specs & Features:

  • Compatibility: 12V or 24V lead-acid batteries (AGM, Gel, & flooded) and lithium-ion batteries
  • Type: MPPT
  • Output: 30A
  • Max Input: 100V
  • Other: Remote meter, smartphone pairing, temperature sensor, and PC monitoring cable

The OOYCYOO MPPT Solar Charge Controller is a very affordable charge controller given its features and capabilities.

Its swift tracking technology is designed to increase the efficiency of your solar power system by between 30% and 40% when compared with a similar-sized PWM charge controller.

Because it can handle a current up to 60A, it is ideal for medium-sized solar power systems. It effectively protects batteries from short circuits and overloading.

Expand To See More

The back-lit LCD display provides real-time data on a reasonably sized display. It shows battery voltage, the current from the solar array, and the status of the external load.

The OOYCYOO Solar Charge Controller can handle a 720W solar panel array in a 12V system or a 1440W array in a 24V system, which is more than the similarly priced EPever 3210AN.

However, unlike the EPever 3210AN, this charge controller is not compatible with lithium-ion batteries.

This charge controller is contained inside a durable ABS casing and features an efficient aluminum heat sink to ensure continuous high performance and a long lifespan.

 

OOYCYOO MPPT Solar Charge Controller Specs & Features:

  • Compatibility: 12V or 24V lead-acid batteries (AGM, Gel, & flooded)
  • Type: MPPT
  • Output: 60A
  • Max Input: 100V
  • Other: convenient LCD display and 360-day warranty

The Beleeb MPPT Solar Charge Controller is the most affordable controller in this review. It utilizes MPPT technology to achieve a tracking accuracy of 99.5% and a conversion efficiency of 98%.

It features a user-friendly LCD screen with a dynamic display of status and operating data.

This MPPT charge controller protects your batteries from short circuits, overloads, overvoltage, over-discharging, overcharging, and reverse connection.

Expand To See More

However, it has a lower maximum input than the other MPPT charge controllers reviewed at only 75V. It does automatically detect the system voltage.

In a 12V system, this controller can be connected to a 390W solar panel array and in a 24V system to a 780W array.

A big selling point for this MPPT charge controller is its jaw-dropping 5-year warranty. This cannot help but give you faith in the durability and quality of this product.

 

Beleeb MPPT Solar Charge Controller Specs & Features:

  • Compatibility: 12V or 24V lead-acid batteries (AGM, Gel, & flooded) and lithium-ion batteries
  • Type: MPPT
  • Output: 30A
  • Max Input: 75V
  • Other: 5-year warranty

Solar Charge Controller Comparison Table

  CompatibilityTypeOutputMax InputRating
EPever SolarEpic Charge ControllerAGM, Gel, & floodedMPPT40A150V4.6 / 5.0
Top One Power Solar Charge ControllerAGM, Gel, flooded & L-ionMPPT60A150V4.4 / 5.0
ZHCSolar Solar Charge ControllerAGM, Gel, & floodedPWM80A85V4.1 / 5.0
Renogy Rover Solar Charge ControllerAGM, Gel, flooded & L-ionMPPT60A150V4.4 / 5.0
EPever Solar Charge ControllerAGM, Gel, flooded & L-ionMPPT30A100V4.0 / 5.0
OOYCYOO Solar Charge ControllerAGM, Gel, & floodedMPPT60A100V4.0 / 5.0
Beleeb Solar Charge ControllerAGM, Gel, flooded & L-ionMPPT30A75V4.8 / 5.0

How to Choose the Best Solar Charge Controller For You

best mppt charge controller

Now that you’ve read about the best solar chargers on Amazon, you probably have a good idea which one is best for your off-grid solar power system. However, if you’re still uncertain, this buying guide can help you to better understand all the concepts and terms used in the reviews.

What is a Solar Charge Controller?

A solar charge controller is an electronic device used in a solar power system to monitor and control the amount of power flowing from a solar panel array into a battery bank. A charge controller is crucial to protect your batteries from damage and to maximize their lifespan.

The charge controller in your solar power system monitors the batteries’ voltage and reduces or halts the flow of current when the voltage nears the maximum point to prevent overcharging. Similarly, when the batteries’ voltage approaches its minimum, the charge controller will turn off the load.

Higher quality charge controllers also monitor your batteries’ temperature. When the temperature rises to a dangerous level, the charge controller kicks in and reduces the voltage input.

Because of the way current flows across a circuit, your battery bank can discharge itself at night when the solar panel array is not generating a current. The charge controller prevents this reverse charging.

Advanced charge controller designs maximize the speed and efficiency of battery charging. This is crucial in areas where the period of viable sunshine is low or the sky can get cloudy. An efficient charge controller will make hay when the sun still shines and ensure all that sunshine power gets stored in your batteries.

Types Solar Charge Controllers

There are 3 main types of solar charge controller: shunt controllers, pulse width moderation (PWM) controllers, and maximum power point tracking (MPPT) controllers. Shunt controllers were the first charge controllers designed for solar power systems, but they are basic and offer no advanced features. You will probably only find them in outdated solar power systems.

PWM Solar Charge Controllers

Pulse width modulation charge controllers pass the current from the solar panel array to the battery bank in a series of pulses. When the batteries’ voltage is low, the pulses become longer creating a near-continuous current.

When the batteries’ voltage is high, the pulses become shorter so that only a trickle of current flows into the batteries and they don’t overcharge.

PWM charge controllers are used in small solar power systems, such as in boats and RVs, where efficiency isn’t too important. They focus mainly on protecting the batteries but waste potential power in doing so. PWM charge controllers are the most affordable type of charge controller on the market.

MPPT Solar Charge Controllers

Maximum power point tracking charge controllers are the most sophisticated type of solar charge controller. They use an algorithm to monitor the maximum amount of power generated by the solar panels and adjust the voltage to maximize power capture in the battery bank.

MPPT solar charge controllers ensure that the batteries receive more of the potential power from your solar array and charge rapidly. They can potentially increase a solar power system’s efficiency by 30%. MPPT charge controllers are more expensive than PWM charge controllers.

Considerations For Choosing a Solar Charge Controller

Type of Charge Controller

This depends upon the size of the solar power system you are building. A small system in a shed, RV, or boat does not suffer so much from the efficiency problems or potential overheating that larger systems do. For these, an affordable PWM charge controller is sufficient to protect your battery from overcharging and prolonging its lifespan.

A larger home solar power system generates a lot more power. It is also more important to consider safety features to protect your home. For these systems, an MPPT solar charge controller is not only more efficient, but it is also safer.

Size / Output Solar charge Controller

Solar charge controllers are designed to handle up to a certain amount of current and voltage. The smallest charge controllers can only handle a current of 8A and a voltage of 12V. The best-designed MPPT charge controllers can handle a current as high as 80A and a voltage up to 150V.

Before you purchase a charge controller, you must know what range of current and voltage you need your system to handle so you can select an appropriate model. When choosing a solar charge controller, it is best to err on the side of safety. Solar panels often produce a higher current and voltage than expected. Add 25% to be safe.

When you are building a small solar power system, you may decide that you want to expand it to include more solar panels in your array and more batteries in your battery bank. If you buy a charge controller that is maxed out by your original setup, you’ll have to swap it out for a new one when you expand.

Compatibility with your Solar Battery Bank

Frequently, solar charge controllers are only compatible with specific types of solar batteries. The majority of PWM solar charge controllers can only be connected to lead-acid batteries, but most MPPT solar charge controllers can be connected to both lead-acid solar batteries and lithium-ion solar batteries.

However, there are a few PWM charge controllers compatible with lithium-ion batteries and a few MPPT charge controllers that are only compatible with lead-acid batteries.

Solar charge controllers are also only compatible with specific battery voltages. Typically, they are compatible with 12V or 24V batteries. However, some charge controllers can only be connected to a 12V battery while a few may charge any battery up to a maximum of 60V.

Temperature Control of Solar Charge Controller

If you live in a hot area, or your solar power system will be situated in a particularly hot building, you will benefit from a solar charge controller that features temperature compensation and incorporates an external temperature sensor.

Such solar charge controllers reduce voltage when the battery temperature rises to approach a maximum safe operating temperature. When a battery overheats, it can be damaged and its lifespan significantly reduced.

Load Control Charge Controllers

If your battery completely discharges, its lifespan is reduced. Good-quality charge controllers turn off the output load of your battery bank when the voltage on the batteries falls too low.

Some charge controllers feature manual load control so you can switch off the load anytime. Others may incorporate timers, so you can set to load to turn off at specified times.

Display of Solar Charge Controller

Solar charge controllers feature displays that let you know what is happening with your solar power system. The display lets you know how much power your solar array is generating, the charge status of your battery bank, and other useful data.

Sophisticated modern solar charge controllers can be monitored and controlled via an app on your smartphone enabling you to keep on top of your solar power system from a distance.

F.A.Q. About Charge Controllers

Q: What solar charge controller do I need?

A: Check the current and voltage generated by your solar panel array and then increase both figures by 12%. The solar charge controller you need will offer maximum voltage and current above these figures.

However, if you are planning to expand your solar power system in the future by adding more solar panels, buy a charge controller with more capacity to anticipate this growth.

Q: Which is better MPPT or PWM?

A: MPPT solar charge controllers are better because they are more efficient and offer more safety features. However, they are also more expensive and not necessary for smaller systems.

Generally, install a PWM charge controller in a small system in your RV or boat but install an MPPT charge controller in a larger home solar power system.

Q: Can I connect a solar panel directly to a battery?

A: No. Batteries have set input voltages and maximum voltages. You may have a 12V battery, but your solar panel might generate between 17V and 48V.

It is necessary to have a charge controller between the solar panel and the battery to step the voltage down to a manageable level. Otherwise, the voltage will be too high and your battery will be overcharged.

Q: What size solar panel do I need to charge a 12-volt battery?

A: You require a solar panel that generates at least 13.6V or over. Typically, any solar panel designed for an RV or home solar panel system will provide this level of voltage.

Q: Can I use a solar charge controller with a wind turbine?

A: No. Solar charge controllers are specifically designed for solar power systems. You will need a different variety of power controller for a wind turbine. In a hybrid system, you will need to install two power controllers.

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve read this guide, you must appreciate how crucial a good-quality charge controller is to keep your solar power system running efficiently and to minimize future maintenance and battery replacements.

The 7 solar charge converters reviewed are all high quality, but you must choose one that is exactly compatible with the size and specifications of your solar power system.

I hope that this guide helps you to locate the ideal solar charge controller for your system. Please, tell us about your personal experiences with solar power and solar power controllers in the comments below.

Notice:

OutsidePursuits.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program. OutsidePursuits.com earns fees from products sold through qualifying purchases by linking to Amazon.com. Amazon offers a commission on products sold through their affiliate links.

Robert Baker

I had the good fortune to be born in a first-world country at a time when fast international travel became possible for average people. Having shared meals with families in huts with no electricity and dirt floors, I appreciate the "little" things that my fellow Englishmen take for granted. Over the years I've worked in many different fields. I've been an archaeologist in the Scottish Hebrides, an accountant in London, and taught English in China. However,I've never enjoyed any other job as much as writing.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button