A solar controller – also known as a solar charge controller – serves as an important medium between solar panels and the battery bank. Solar controllers, like those available from RS Components, help regulate the current flowing from the panels to the battery, and in doing so help avoid the risk of the batteries overcharging. This is a crucial task that the controller performs, given solar panels can at times be subject to an energy surplus given the intensity of the sun, that in turn if unregulated could overload the battery. So let’s look now at why it’s important to choose the correct solar controller, and what factors influence which solar controller should be chosen.
How a Solar Controller is Used
Technically speaking, not every installation may require a solar controller. This said, usually it’s the case an installation will. The metric for whether a solar controller is needed often comes down to wattage. For any solar installation of 5 watts or higher it can be expected a solar controller will be required.
The Two Types of Solar Controller
There’s two main types of solar controllers. A Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) solar controller, and a Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPP) solar controller. A PWM serves to reduce heating and other undesired elements in the battery while its charging via energy received from the solar panels. Although they have the advantage of usually being more affordable than a MPP, they are not as efficient in the job that they do, with it held a PWM will work at approximately 70% efficiency in its task.
MPPs by contrast are usually more expensive, but will perform the task of energy transfer from panel to battery at a rate as high as 97%. For a small installation and/or one in an area of low annual sunshine, a PWM may be suitable. But otherwise – especially if the solar controller shall be used in a larger installation and/or in an installation with high annual sunshine – a MPP can be ideal.
Why the Right Choice of Solar Controller is So Important
When solar controllers are installed by someone who understands the tech, then solar is not only very safe but also very beneficial. But when solar technology is installed incorrectly or by someone who doesn’t properly understand it, the risks to general safety – and the installation itself! – rises. That’s why it’s always valuable to have a solid understanding of what solar controllers do when it comes time to consider an installation of solar panels, as well as professionals on-hand to install them.
A Question of Efficiency
Another problem surrounds the efficiency of the installation. It’s of course most important that a solar installation is installed correctly and is safe to operate. Getting the greatest efficiency out of a solar panel installation always begins with getting the right setup in place at the start. This applies to the installation from end-to-end, so when an incorrect solar controller is installed it’s a real issue.
Sunny Days Ahead
Choosing the right solar controller will minimise safety risks and maximise the efficiency of a solar installation. It can take a little more time at the start to weigh up which solar controller is ideal, but the long-term benefits from making the right selection are substantial. That’s why it’s always important to choose the correct solar controller any time a new solar installation is set to occur.