A solar charge controller is an essential component of any solar power system. It accomplishes the task of regulating the current and voltage from solar panels to the battery or system loads. Also, it helps manage the overcharging of the battery to make your system safe from the continuous flow of solar power.
If you are looking at setting up a DIY off-grid solar system in your vehicle or cabin, a charge controller is, of course, a must-have component. Roughly speaking, all solar power systems over 5 watts require charge controllers. Here, we take a look at the best solar charger controllers you can find on the market.
As you know, we mainly have two types of solar charge controllers; PWM and MPPT. The first (Pulse Width Modulation) controller is a basic and inexpensive one, which is good for smaller solar systems, while the second (Maximum Power Point Tracking) inverter is more advanced with increased efficiency.
Wind power systems also require charge controllers. The market also has some models that can combine both the wind and solar sources so that you can easily set up hybrid power systems for off-grid power.
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Best Solar Charge Controllers
If you are looking to buy a charge controller, you are indeed in the right place. We go with a list of the best charge controllers of all sorts here. Including PWM, MPPT, and hybrid controllers, we have compiled a list of the best-sellers. So, it will be easy for you to find a model that matches your needs and budget perfectly.
Based on the capacity and size of your power systems, you need to have specific controllers. Most of the top solar power brands sell their own variants of charge controllers for a variety of off-grid power systems. Stay tuned to have a look at the best of the best so you can find your favorite model at an amazing price.
1. Renogy Wanderer 30A PWM Charge Controller
We would like to start the list with Renogy’s popular Wanderer 30Amp PWM solar charge controller. As you see, it is a basic PWM charge controller with a handful of essential features only. You can use it to set up small solar power in your RVs, campers, and boats.
The Wanderer works quite well with a negative ground system as Renogy has made it ideal for all types of off-grid applications in RVs, boats, and other vehicles. It is compatible with a range of batteries, including gel and flooded ones. You can easily mount it anywhere by screwing through its four holes.
Its 4-stage PWM charging helps safeguard battery packs from overcharge, over-discharge, and more. Also, it gives protection for your system against overload, reverse polarity, short-circuits, and more.
However, a key shortfall is that it doesn’t sport a screen. Instead, it equips LED indicators to let you monitor the current flow. It has a size of 5.5 x 3.7 x 1 in and a weight of one lb. Coming to customer feedback, it is indeed one of the best charge controllers with a lot of takers, who mostly have shared positive notes.
Why Should You Buy
- Basic 30A PWM Solar Charge Controller.
- 4-Stage PWM Negative Ground Charge Controller.
- LED Indicators to Monitor Charge Status.
- Compatible With Sealed, Gel, and Flooded Batteries.
- 10Amp Positive Ground Variant Available.
2. Renogy 60A Commander MPPT Charge Controller
If you are looking for an MPPT charge controller, the Renogy Commander line is an amazing option. Here, we have the 60A variant of Commander, which is certainly one of the best MPPT solar charge controllers on the market. As per Renogy, it can offer you 30% more efficiency than a regular PWM controller.
It is compatible with both 12V and 24V battery systems and is able to auto-detect the voltage, making it a rather nice option for you to set up an off-grid power system. It works on the advanced MPPT technology to ensure high tracking efficiency of up to 99% and to guarantee a peak conversion rate of up to 98%.
Improved efficiency with fewer ripples is a key advantage of an off-grid power system. This controller is crafted perfectly to meet your requirements in the right refinement of the charging current. Furthermore, like all similar products, it can ideally protect your system from all kinds of voltage variation issues.
By the way, as you see in the image, it is equipped with a cast aluminum radiator shell, which helps the power inverter very much in dissipating heat faster by allowing abundant natural cooling. As you know, Renogy avails this MPPT controller in a few more power variants, including 20A and 40A.
Why Should You Buy
- 60Amp Powerful MPPT Solar Charge Controller.
- Ultimate Protection for Your Backup Systems.
- Multiphase Synchronous Rectification Technology.
- Cast Aluminum Radiator Shell for Heat Dissipation.
- Available in Multiple Low-Power Options.
3. Outback FlexMax 80Amp Charge Controller
Different from the above charge controllers, here comes a high-performance and powerful model for your advanced power systems. Outback FlexMax is actually an 80A MPPT controller that is programmable to support 12V to 60V backup systems. Of course, it is made to work with heavy-duty solar solutions.
It works on a sophisticated MPPT technology, which increases solar array output by up to 30% compared to regular controllers. That is why it comes out to be a reliable option for a range of off-grid systems. It has got a solid and rugged design, by the way. Check out its latest price on the link below at Amazon.
As you see, the Outback charge controller incorporates a backlit 80-character display so that you can easily monitor the operational data and performance information. This system is capable of storing the logged performance data for around four months and you can get the data on a press of a button.
Overall, you get a really brilliant MPPT charge controller from Outback. It gives more amp hours of power from the solar array to back up your power stations faster every day. It is made to work in temperature as high as 104F, thanks to its built-in smart and intelligent thermal management cooling system.
Why Should You Buy
- Highly Powerful 80Amp Solar Charge Controller.
- Programmable to Charge Batteries From 12V to 60V.
- Decently Large 80-Character Backlit Display.
- Highly Durable and Rugged for All-Weather Use.
- Intelligent Thermal Management Cooling System.
4. Renogy Rover 30A MPPT Solar Charge Controller
Rover is another well-known series of solar charge controllers from Renogy along with Wanderer as well as Commander. This is a 30Amp MPPT solar charge controller with a host of safety features. Of course, it can perfectly safeguard your batteries from overcharging, discharging, short circuits, and more.
Well, thanks to its highly reliable 4-stage algorithm, the Rover can offer your batteries quick charging from the connected solar array. The charge controller is compatible with 12V and 24V systems and suitable for charging a variety of batteries, including sealed, flooded, gel, lithium, and more.
It sports an LCD screen and multiple LEDs to show operation data, error codes, programmable parameters, and more. The built-in aluminum heatsink guarantees you highly efficient temperature dissipation. Coming to design, it has a very compact and durable profile and so you can use it rough outdoor conditions.
Renogy offers the Rover charge controller in other power options like 20A, 40A, and 60A options. They are all high-quality MPPT solar charge controllers to meet your requirements for off-grid power systems in RVs, campers, trailers, boats, and more.
Why Should You Buy
- Powerful 60Amp Solar Charge Controller.
- LCD Screen With Programmable Parameters.
- Compact and Highly Durable Design.
- Large Built-in Heatsink for Heat Dissipation.
- Available in Multiple Power Options.
5. SolarEpic MPPT 40A Solar Charge Controller
The next model on our list of the best solar charge controllers is from a brand called SolarEpic. As you see in the title, it is an advanced 40Amp MPPT solar charge controller, called SolarEpic EPever. The negative grounded charge controller can guarantee you a maximum of 150V solar input.
With a lot of exciting features and safety measures, the solar charge controller can seamlessly protect your power systems and battery packs from overcharging, discharging, overheating, short circuits, and a lot more. Check out the link below for the latest price of the SolarEpic charge controller.
Of course, as you can see in the image, this is a highly durable and strong solar charge controller that is a great choice for various outdoor applications. You can mount it easily anywhere in your RV, camper, trailer, and boat and make the off-grid power system rather reliable, efficient, and smarter.
What’s more, the SolarEpic controller features a low voltage disconnect function (LVD) to offer extra safety to your system. The included large heatsink ensures more reliable heat dissipation. It has a size of 11.9 x 2.5 x 7.2 in and a weight of around 6 lbs, and you get it in many other power options from the brand.
Why Should You Buy
- 40Amp Powerful Solar Charge Controller.
- Negative Grounded, Max 150V Solar Input.
- Highly Durable and Solid for Rough Outdoor Uses.
- Large Heatsink for Reliable Heat Dissipation.
- Available in Multiple Power Options.
6. Eco-Worthy 20Amp Solar Charge Controller
We have the next pick on our list of the best solar charge controllers from the famous brand, Eco-Worthy, a famous vendor of portable solar power systems. This is a high-speed 20Amp PWM solar charge controller with a higher conversion efficiency of 96 percent.
Of course, its enhanced electric protection capabilities make it one of the best solar charge regulators out there. It can perfectly protect your system from overcharging, discharging, overloads, and short circuits. You get the controller with dual USB ports and a cute LCD display for you to watch out the system info.
It is a very compact, lightweight, and easy-to-mount charge controller, by the way. Thanks to its built-in screwing holes, you can quickly fix it to your power system in your RV, campers, trailer, boat, cabin, and more. Clearly speaking, it has a size of 5.9 x 3.1 x 1.38 in and a weight of just 0.5 pounds.
Furthermore, the Eco-Worthy product highlights a low failure rate. And it is designed to work longer as it features a moisture-proof layering, which helps reduce the damages caused by high humidity as well as nesting insects. You get the PWM controller in multiple variants from the brand.
Why Should You Buy
- 20Amp MPPT Solar Charge Controller.
- Compact and Durable Solar Charge Controller.
- Dual USB Sockets and an LCD Display.
- Waterproof and Moisture-Proof Coating.
- Available in Multi0ple Power Variants.
7. BougeRV MPPT 40A Solar Charge Controller
Here is another impressive MPPT solar charge controller. As you see, it is from a brand called BougeRV, a key supplier of all-in-one off-grid solar power systems. It is a 40A regulator with a separate LCD display. It remarkably features an advanced MPPT charging algorithm as well as a negative grounded profile, making it a highly reliable option for RV, trailer, and boat solar power systems.
The notable attraction is that the BougeRV charge controller can offer you a reduced maximum power point loss rate and time. Further, compared to the traditional PWM charging, it can efficiently track the maximum power point of the solar array. Check out more details of the product on the link below.
As said above, you get the controller with a detached LCD display. So, you can mount it in a comfortable monitoring position, enabling you to access the operational data and system information more easily.
By the way, like all similar controllers, the 12V/24V regulator can identify the power systems automatically and deliver the power at the desired rate. It is compatible with a variety of range battery packs like flooded, gel, lithium, and more. It measures 8.1 x 5.5 x 3.3 inches and has a weight of 2.95 pounds.
Why Should You Buy
- 40A Smart and Reliable MPPT Charge Controller.
- Detached LCD Display to Comfortably Monitor the Data.
- Advanced MPPT Algorithm with Negative Ground Profile.
- Ideal for RV, Camper, and Trailer Solar Power Systems.
- High-Quality Build and Compact and Light Profile.
8. EPever 40A MPPT Solar Charge Controller
Next, we have a model of EPever’s well-known Tracer A series of solar charge controllers. As you see in the title, it is a 40A variant that comes with an advanced MPPT control algorithm to ensure better and efficient performance. It can track the MPPT point rather accurately and faster in any condition.
Thus, you get higher energy efficiency and the maximum power from the solar array to recharge the backup systems in your RVs, campers, trailers, and more. Like most of the brands, EPever avails this in a few more variants, including a 20A and 30A ones. Check out the link below to buy a unit of the 40A EPever controller.
This EPever controller is compatible with 12V 520W and 24V 1040W power systems and it can ensure you a maximum input voltage of 100V. Of course, like all similar charge controllers, it can identify the system voltage automatically. Coming to the DC load support, it can run small DC devices like LEDs, fans, and etc.
Design-wise, it features a compact and durable profile so that you can use it in rough outdoor conditions with no worry. It has got an advanced LCD screen that lets you monitor the system information intuitively. Further, it packs up an MT50 remote meter with a backlight LCD display.
Why Should You Buy
- Powerful 40Amp MPPT Solar Charge Controller.
- Advanced Negative Ground Solar Charge Controller.
- Multi-Function Backlight LCD for System Information.
- MT50 Remote Meter With a Backlight LCD Display.
- Lightweight, Compact, and Ideal for Outdoor Use.
9. OneSolar 60A MPPT Solar Charge Controller
Here we have another incredible MPPT solar charge controller. It is a 60A high-efficiency charge controller from a brand called, OneSolar. It works pretty well with solar panel systems with a capacity of 900W at 12V, 1700W at 24V, and 3400W at 45V, and the maximum input voltage is 150-volt solar panels.
Fine, the OneSolar charge controller offers a maximum conversion rate of 98%. As you see in the image, it comes up with a decent LCD screen that will show you the system information and operational data in real-time. Check out the link below for its latest price on Amazon.com.
Like all charge controllers, the display shows the daily power production curve and the current curve as well. By the way, you can use the controller to comfortably and reliably power different types of batteries, including gel, sealed, flooded, and user-defined ones.
Of course, the OneSolar charge controller is made to offer ideal protection for your off-grid power systems, especially in RVs, trailers, boats, campers, cabins, and more. In short, it is one of the powerful MPPT solar charge controllers you can find on the market at an interesting price.
Why Should You Buy
- 60Amp Highly Advanced MPPT Charge Controller.
- Multi-Function LCD Screen to Monitor the Performance.
- Compact and Stylish Design with Strong Build.
- Real-Time Energy Statistics Function.
10. SunnySky 60A MPPT Solar Charge Controller
The last pick on our list of the best solar charge controller is from a brand called, SunnySky. It is almost the same model of the above with a stylish and compact profile. The 60A controller can offer a maximum 150V solar input, and as a negative grounded unit, it comes out to be an ideal choice for RVs, campers, and etc.
Coming to the performance, it is a highly reliable controller as it can deliver a maximum conversation rate of 98% and a tracking rate of a maximum power of 99% as the above OneSolar one. The 12V and 24V solar charge controller works with all commonly used battery types like gel, flooded, sealed, and user-defined.
The product is made with premium components and materials. The brand offers it a life span is over 10 years and it will work pretty well at a high-temperature resistance of over 105℃. As you see, the controller incorporates a good LCD display to let you monitor the system information and operational data.
The compact and durable design certainly makes it one of the best solar charge controllers for outdoor, camping and RV uses. Moreover, the controller is available in a range of low-end options, including 30A, 40A, and 50A. They all feature the same design and quality build.
Why Should You Buy
- Powerful 60A Solar Charge Controller.
- Negative Ground, Max 150V PV Input.
- Safe and Reliable for Your Outdoor Needs.
- Compact and Durable Design with Display.
- Multiple Lower-End Variants Available.
1. What Are the Best Brands of Solar Charge Controllers?
A lot of brands offer reliable solar charge controllers for portable power systems.
Renogy, SolarEpic, Outback, EPever, Eco-Worthy, BougeRV, and OneSolar are a few to name. All the brands offer different variants of their products, and we have listed the best-rated models on our list above.
Renogy seems to be the top brand when it comes to solar charge controllers. The American vendor offers an awesome variety of controllers in different power options, sizes, and capacities.
2. Which Is Better PWM or MPPT?
PWM and MPPT are two types of charge controllers and are widely used in solar power systems across the world. Both are indeed good in their capacities to regulate solar current to the batteries. Hence, there is little sense in making a blanket judgment on which one is the best, and which not.
It all about identifying which one will work for your requirements and budget. Of course, PWM is a little bit old in technology, while MPPT is considered the latest technology. However, both are available abundantly on the market and they are certainly in use in various solar power applications across the world.
Coming to the differences, PWM regulates the flow of power to the batteries by steadily cutting down the current from the connected solar panels. Once the batteries are full, PWM will keep pumping a smaller amount of power for the purpose of battery maintenance.
On the other hand, MPPT controllers are rather efficient in making use of the full capacity of solar panels. They control overcharging by limiting the output to batteries. MPPTs are capable of monitoring and adjusting the input to match with the current of your power system.
They enhance the current and reduce the voltage in the process to ensure higher efficiency of up to 90%.
3. How Big of a Solar Charge Controller Do I Need?
Well, the capacity of a solar charge controller is dependent on the total amount of power your solar panels have. Charge controllers are normally available in 12V, 24V, and 48V options, and when it comes to the amperage rating, they fall in between one to 60Amps. That is, things depend upon the overall capacity of your solar power system.
Solar Charge Controller Buying Guide
A charge controller is indeed an essential part of an off-grid solar system. It is the component that secures up the power system and battery packs from overcharging, discharging, short circuits, and reverse polarity. For all solar systems other than the ones under 5 watts, a charge controller is a basic requirement.
How to find the best solar charge controller? Well, you should check out the two below steps for the best and reliable solar charge controller for your power solutions.
1. Voltage Selection
The solar charge controller must compliment the voltage of your solar power system. Typically, we have off-grid power systems in configurations of 12V, 24V, and 48V. That is, if you are setting up a 24V system, you need to include a charge controller that is rated at 24V.
Of course, there are many charge controllers with a specified voltage. But more advanced controllers are there with the auto-detect feature, letting it automatically identify the voltage of your power system.
2. Current Flow Capacity
A solar charge controller must be able to handle the maximum output current the solar array could deliver. In other words, your power system may have one or more solar arrays and so you should get the apt charge controller from the crowd on the market. We have included the best of the best on our list.
That has been our list of the best solar charge controllers. Of course, we have more wonderful solar charge controllers on the market. But for this list, we have picked up some of the cool items mainly based on their popularity. Hence, we are sure you can find a perfect controller from the list and set up an ideal solar power solution to power up your life in an emergency or off-grid living situation.
Main Image Credit: Kaspars Dambis