Charge Controllers

The main function of a charge controller is to regulate the charge and discharge of single batteries or battery banks. Besides this primary function, charge controllers often offer other features such as metering and data logging, low battery disconnect, maximum power point tracking. Charge controllers are available in nominal voltages of 12, 24, and 48 volts, with some units with the option to operate 60V systems.

The simpler and more inexpensive charge controllers stop the charge of the batteries when they are full and will resume charging when the batteries reach below a preset voltage. Pulse Width Modulated (PWM) charge controllers turn on and off very rapidly, holding the batteries charged and making better use of the available power.

Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) charge controllers find the point where the source can deliver electricity to the batteries most efficiently. MPPT charge controllers are better suited for medium and large PV arrays; they also accommodate modules with higher rated voltage. MPPT controllers cost more but can deliver up to 30% more charging capacity from the solar panels to the battery bank.

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