A solar charge controller is a very small but essential part of your solar power generation system. It ensures that you don’t overcharge or damage your energy storage system. It in a way acts as a gateway to your battery. It is a regulator for your solar battery that prevents it from overcharging. So, any kind of damage that is expected to harm your battery due to overheat, over charge, or over current is taken care of by this small component called a solar charge controller. The solar charging controller price is reasonable and affordable.
How do These Charge Controllers Work?
In these charge controllers, a charge current passes through a semiconductor that acts as a valve to control the current. Once the flow of energy to the battery reaches a specific voltage, then the charge controller prevents your battery from being overcharged. Since overcharging can damage your battery, it is assumed that a charge controller has a crucial role. Some of the important functions played by these charge controllers include-
- Overload Protection– as said earlier, Charge controllers provide the important function of overload protection. If the current that flows into your batteries is higher than what the circuit can handle, then your system may overload. This can further lead to overheating or in extreme cases can also cause fires. Charge controllers prevent the occurrence of these overloads. For larger systems, double safety protection with circuit breakers or fuses is recommended.
- Block Reverse Current- In general solar panel pumps current in one direction but it may naturally pass some of that current in the reverse direction during nighttime. This can further cause a slight discharge from the battery. The role of a charge controller comes here. It can prevent this reverse flow of current by acting as a valve.
- Low Voltage Disconnects– In the case when the voltage falls below a defined threshold, the charge controller acts as a valve and can an automatic disconnect of non-critical loads from the battery. It will also reconnect o the battery when it is being charged. This will again prevent an over-discharge.
Since a charge controller has so many small but important roles to play, the solar charging controller price never seems too much. Every penny paid for this device is worth it as it saves the battery from getting damaged.
Types of Solar Charge Controllers
There are two main types of solar charge controllers-
- Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) Solar Charge Controllers
These are the standard type of charge controllers that are simple and less expensive as compared to the other type. The work by slowly reducing the amount of power that goes into your battery.
- Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) Solar Charge Controllers
These are more complex and expensive as compared to PWM. They help in reducing the amount of power that goes into the battery as its approaches its capacity. MPPT charge controllers can also pair non-matching voltages from panels and batteries, unlike PWM controllers. Hence they are more efficient and also utilize the full power of your solar panels.
Do You Always Need a Solar Charge Controller?
A simple and straight answer to this question is a yes. But in case you have a small panel, say 1 to 5 watts, then you don’t need a charge controller. You also don’t need a controller in case your panel puts out 2 watts or less for each 50 battery amp hour. Other factors that might affect your decision-making of selecting a charge controller are-
- Your budget
- Size, number, and type of batteries you’re using in your system
- The lifespan of the technology
- Number of solar panels you have
- How high your energy needs are?
- Climatic condition- It is seen that some charge controllers work better in a colder climate
A charge controller is an essential part of all power systems that are used to charge batteries, no matter what is the source of power. Be it wind, hydro, solar panels, fuel, or utility grid, a charge controller is very important. The main purpose of this device is to keep your deep cycle batteries properly fed and safe for a long period of time. In Indian markets, solar charging controller price is somewhat around INR 700 to around INR 2000 depending upon the brand, type, and quality of the product.