How to Choose the Right Solar Charge Controller?

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Published: 22nd October 2012
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A new trend among builders and buyers is to build a house which is not only architecturally sound but also eco-friendly. People are now understanding and adapting ways through which they can utilize the renewable resources. One of the most emerging ways is solar power system installation; through this they can store the solar energy and use it as an alternative to their standard electricity connection.

There are several benefits of having solar system installed in your house. Like this, you are paying less on your utility bill as well as constantly contributing your share towards mother Earth. However, just mounting a solar system is not sufficient, you need to make sure that the energy is properly consumed and stored safely. Solar batteries are an integral part of a solar power system. You cannot totally rely on sunny days or generators; you need a solar battery to store the solar energy to use it whenever required even on a cloudy day.

Solar battery can certainly be considered as the energy tank or storage house of a solar power system. It is explicitly designed with a chemical composition making them perfect for a solar powered system. But solar batteries too require proper maintenance or they can fail prematurely or shut the complete system down. Continuous over charging of batteries can affect them adversely. Here comes the role of a charge controller which protects batteries from being overcharged.

Are charge controllers really necessary?

A charge controller is an important part of almost all power systems that charge batteries, whether the energy source is solar, hydro, wind, fuel, etc. Its purpose is to keep the batteries appropriately charged and safe.
Solar charge controllers regulate the voltage and current flowing from the solar panels to the solar batteries. The battery life will certainly be compromised, if a non-self-regulating solar range is attached to lead acid batteries with no overcharge safeguard.
Simple charge controllers consist of a transistor that shunt the PV charging circuit, closing the charge at a pre-set high voltage and, once a pre-set reconnect position is touched, opens the shunt, allowing charging to resume. A sophisticated controller uses the PWM (pulse width modulation) or MPPT (maximum power point tracking) in order to ensure that the battery is totally charged. The first 70%-80% of the battery capacity is simply switched, but the last 20%-30% is more complication and therefore needs more attention.

How do Solar Charge Controllers Work?

A solar charge controller maintains the solar energy system batteries by preventing them from being over or under charged hence ensuring maximum battery life. High quality and reliable charge controllers are manufactured by many top brands like Morningstar, Blue Sky, Outback, Xantrex, etc.

The solar charge controller controls the 16-20 volt output of a 12 volt solar panel by lowering it to minimum possible voltage essential to keep the battery at maximum operating level. This voltage will normally range from 10.5 to 14.6 volts, subject to the battery type, battery temperature and battery's charge state at any certain point.

There are various types of charge controllers coming in all shapes and sizes; ranging from 4.5 amp units to 60 amp programmable units with computer interface. A simple LED or digital display is supported in most of the charge controllers. However, some latest charge controllers come up with an inbuilt computer interface to display and control.

Solar Electric Supply carries solar charge controllers from name brand manufacturers like Morningstar, Blue Sky, Outback, Xantrex etc. You can visit us for a complete list of wholesale solar panels and charge controllers.

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