A battery bank is one of the costliest components of a PV system, but it grants you independence from the grid and protects your house during power outages. Choosing the right solar charge controller can increase the lifespan of your storage system and decrease charging times. What follows is a ranking of the best solar controllers based on their reliability and efficiency.
A solar controller is a device that directs energy from solar panels to a battery bank. It regulates the incoming voltage and current to keep the batteries fully charged. Special algorithms make sure that no overcharging takes place while maximizing the efficiency of the process. An inadequate charge controller or its absence may easily lead to gassing or battery damage. Keep in mind that the system is only as reliable as its weakest component. A charge controller will represent around 10% of the total system costs, so it makes sense to buy one of the best devices. In the long run, it will save you much more by prolonging the lifespan of the much more expensive batteries.
This solar controller has a special learning mode – switch it on and the device will start the process of self-optimization to encounter the specific settings that make the charging process more efficient in your particular set of circumstances. As an additional advantage, the user has an option to manually adjust power curves.
The Conext 80 600 is probably one of the best solar charge controllers on the market in terms of versatility. It is an equally good device for both grid-tie and off-grid systems, as well as for setups with backup power. The Conext 80 600 is a building block – connect together as many as you want for systems up to 36 kW.
This TriStar solar charge controller from Morningstar is one of the very best in the industry in terms of efficiency. The peak efficiency of the device reaches an impressive 99%, and its power losses are lower compared to other solar controllers employing MPPT technology. The TriStar MPPT 60 is a good option for off-grid PV setups up to 3 kW. It maximizes solar harvest with a proprietary TrakStar algorithm which enables the controller to find the peak power point of the system more rapidly.
This model is full of innovative technologies but has been rigorously tested to guarantee reliability. Among other tests, FLEXmax 100 AFCI has successfully passed Highly Accelerated Life Testing (HALT). Rapid shutdown features together with arc and ground fault protection have been integrated into the device to enhance safety and ensure compliance with all the relevant standards. The model’s enclosure protects it from water and dust, meaning it can also be installed outside. Remote programming capabilities give the unit an additional advantage over the competitors.
Aside from the standard applications such as residential grid-tie and off-grid systems, the Morningstar ProStar PS-30M can also be employed as part of a mobile setup. The key feature of the device is its stability. This is enabled by constant monitoring and self-diagnostics. This solar charge controller is virtually immune to damage from overloading or short-circuiting. It also features reverse polarity protection that doesn’t require mechanical fuses.