solar charge controller
Understanding the fundamentals of photovoltaic (PV) systems is the key to designing and installing high- quality systems that’ll perform beyond your expectations. That’s why we want to give you some of the foundation you need to move forward with designing and installing PV systems.
A charge controller is a piece of electronics that’s placed between the PV array and the battery bank. As you can probably guess, its primary function in life is to control the charge coming into the battery bank from the PV array. Charge controllers can vary from a small unit intended to connect a single PV module to a single battery all the way to a controller designed to connect a multiple-kilowatt PV array to a large battery bank.
Simply stated, in order to properly maintain a battery bank that’s being recharged by a PV array, you must include a charge controller in the system design.
Charge controllers regulate the voltage and current sent to the batteries during the charging process. Each charge controller has multiple stages for which it regulates different voltage and current levels. The voltage and current vary over time based on the charge set-points, which are the voltage levels that you want to charge the batteries to; each battery manufacturer publishes its own charge set-points that you should use if you want to maximize the batteries’ life span. (Note: During the installation process and before commissioning the system, you must adjust the charge set-points as necessary.)
Maximum Power Point Tracking Solar Charge Controllers (MPPT) are different than the traditional PWM solar charge controllers in that they are more efficient and in many cases more feature rich. MPPT solar charge controllers allow your solar panels to operate at their optimum power output voltage, improving their performance by as much as 30%. Traditional solar charge controllers reduce the efficiency of one part of your system in order to make it work with another.