Best Solar Charge Controller Reviews For The Money – 2019
If you want your solar panels to last a lifetime, then you’ll surely want the best solar charge controller to keep their batteries working.
The whole purpose is to maintain the right voltage within the solar panels and their batteries. It will regulate the current, so the batteries work neatly for a lifetime.
But sadly, not all controllers will work this way.
That’s why we’re going over the best ones so you can pick the ideal option for your solar panels.
Care to learn more about solar charge controllers and how to pick the right one? Then come further and find out!
How It Works?
Before we go into our MPPT charge controller reviews, it is essential to talk about the work a charge controller or regulator does.
In short, you could say they prevent the battery of the solar panel from overcharging. But how do they do that?
Well, simple – they regulate the voltage and the current that come directly from the solar panels.
Why does this happen?
Because most solar panels work at 16 up to 20 volts, but batteries don’t accept more than 12 volts.
If the battery doesn’t have this regulator, then it will overcharge and probably die or just perform poorly. And for sure, you don’t want any of that.
So, keeping a solar charge controller on your solar panels can always prevent those things from happening.
Most of the time, though, there’s no need to use one of these.
But one can still extend the lifespan of solar panels’ batteries exponentially and improve their performance with one. Only for that, you should get a solar charge controller.
10 Best Solar Charge Controller Reviews
After learning about their work and how they do it – you’re probably interested in getting one. We don’t blame you for that. In fact, we actually want to help you pick the best choice possible. Here are some of my recommendations:
1. ALLPOWERS 20A Solar Charger Controller
If you’re expecting to get a reliable controller that doesn’t empty out your wallet – then you want something like the AllPowers at 20A.
It provides everything you need from a solar charge controller, including a 4-Stage PWM charge control with 3-Stage capacity so you can expect it to work wonders at all times.
You’ll be able to adjust the power at any moment too, making it more versatile by supporting 12V to 24V without problems. In fact, the current adjusts itself with an automatic feature, so you get a product that doesn’t disappoint.
Apart from that, the device comes with dual USB ports and a USB Output Voltage, ideal for those who want more and better results.
It doesn’t leave functionality behind either, as it comes with an STM-8 microprocessor that controls the discharge process like no other.
This gets even better with the multiple electric protection features that include an over-current and short-circuit shield, a low-voltage and overcharge guard, and an inverse connection defense.
Alongside this protection, the device dissipates heat effectively, preventing common issues with high temperatures. This happens thanks to the Dual Mosfet reverse current protection and its low-heat production.
But above all, this controller is straightforward to use. You can change between modes in a matter of seconds. It offers parameter set-ups without problems, and still, offer the chance to use in industrial or residential places without issues.
2. Renogy Wanderer 30A A Solar Charge Controller
This won’t be an MPPT charge controller review, but it will still surprise you with its exceptional features as a PWM controller.
In fact, the Wanderer model from Renogy is one of the go-to options for many engineers nowadays. And it happens because it comes with everything that makes a reliable and very efficient device.
It features a 4-Stage PWM charging design with leading features such as Equalization, Float, Boost, and Bulk. You can quickly expect it to last a lifetime and increase the lifespan of all your batteries without problems.
This gets even truer when you add the overcharging, short-circuit, reverse polarity, and overload protection that many models on this price range tend to overlook.
Even more impressive is the negative ground design of this controller. This ensures hugely reliable performance while still making it easy to set-up and configure according to your needs. It’s effortless to use as well when you add the LED indicators.
You’ll also enjoy the magnificent temperature compensation that keeps it working cool. And with its automatic charging and discharging parameter protection, it will increase the lifespan of the battery even more.
And you can make it work with nearly any kind of battery, including Sealed, Flooded and Gel. It also fits with most solar panels easily. Whatever you expect, this high-quality PWM controller has it all.
3. GHB 20A Solar Charge Controller
Once you decide to go more into the high-end of PWM and WPC models, you find the GHB 20A controller.
The first thing you will spot from this device is the LCD screen. Here, you can see every piece of data, including all configurations and indicators. But what really sets this screen apart is the backlight build, ideal for more visibility even in the sunniest places.
Despite its high-quality LCD, it still manages to offer superb efficiency. It will keep the charging ideal in the battery, so you can expect it to work wonders every day. And it all shows with the microcontroller with digital accuracy, indicating when it’s full, discharged or charging.
All this happens automatically. The GHB 20A controller comes with a regulator and output switch plus an intelligent control. This way, you’ll get a very straightforward design that you can use without much effort.
Setting it up will be a piece of cake as well, including checking it and making sure it works as it should.
Something that really stands out is the guard functions. Here you get protection from lightning, under-voltage, short-circuit, overload, over-charging, reverse polarity, and more. So, you can expect it to work through the most unexpected situations.
To increase its functionality, you receive two USB ports, a small port for temperature sensors, and two ports for DC 12v connection. You’ll only need to install it, turn it on, and enjoy its excellent performance.
4. PowMr 10A Solar Charge Controller
This is a smaller controller for those who don’t need much capacity, but instead, a tiny 10A model that PowMr offers at a magnificent price.
You get everything any other PWM controller offers, including Boost, Equalization, Float, and ABS. Apart from that, the model also comes with the superb STM-8 microprocessor, ideal for increasing the lifespan of your batteries exponentially.
The device is still pretty functional thanks to the dual USB port for charging. This goes well with the protection from power-off memory, the dual MOSFET, and the reverse-current and over-heating guards.
And to make it even better, you get under-voltage, short-circuit, open-circuit, overload and overcharging protection. You won’t have to worry about the controller failing over time. And you can use it in any place, either commercial or residential without issues.
The controller also comes with a backlight display that shows everything from PV to Battery LOAD, charge and discharge parameter, plus much more. You can also adjust LVD and LVR with a timer, so you can make it work according to your needs.
It is also versatile in terms of compatibility, as you can make it work with lead-acid batteries of any kind including AGM, Gel and Open Cell. And surely, the controller will protect them with the automatic shut-off once the voltage goes below 8v to prevent discharging.
5. Binen 20A Solar Charge Controller
For those who want the cheapest option available, then the Binen 20A will come like a perfect choice.
Thanks to its simplicity, you can expect this controller to be straightforward to use and install. It comes with everything you need and all types of data to make it work in a matter of minutes.
This gets better with the dual USB ports, ideal for charging devices from 12v to 24v according to your needs. You can also set-up different operating modes and loads depending on your demands, using the reliable 4-Stage PWM controller type.
You can make it work with any type of battery as well, including Open, AGM, and Gel. And it will stop working once the charge goes below 8v so you can expect it to protect your batteries.
But this is not the only type of protection it offers. You also get open-circuit, short-circuit, reverse polarity, and overload shields to keep your batteries working for a very long time.
And to make the whole device even more reliable, you get exceptional heat dissipation. It produces little to no heat and comes with dual MOSFET, so it prevents reverse current issues that increase temperature.
Put all this together, and you’re getting a device that goes a step beyond what others are willing to provide a reliable experience for a very affordable cost.
6. MOHOO 30A Solar Charge Controller
Accessible controllers are always something to look out for if you aren’t expecting magnificent results. And the Mohoo is easily among the best you’ll find for a very reasonable price.
It works at 30A and with 12V or 24V without problems using automatic identification. The installation and setting-up is a piece of cake, and it works with all kinds of lead-acid batteries smoothly. It will charge exceedingly well and never drop current that ensures outstanding results over time.
This device is also heat-resistant. It’s ideal for making it work in well-ventilated areas with no sun exposure, but it can still prevent common heat issues that other less reliable models produce.
This one comes with PV, BAT, and LOAD measurements. You also get a timer, and much more. All of it comes within the LCD screen, ideal for easy operation and set-up at any moment. And it gets even easier when you add its two-button design.
You can expect it to last a lifetime too, as it works with the PWM system alongside reverse discharge, under-voltage, over-voltage, low-voltage, and waterproof protection. It won’t let you down at any moment.
You get dual USB ports too, offering superb versatility in the process. And with its small but practical design, you can easily set it up anywhere you want without issues.
7. EPEVER 40A MPPT Charge Controller
Now’s the time to go with the highest-quality options of the MPPT controllers. And the first we’re talking about is easily the best MPPT charge controller for the money – the EPEVER 40A.
This is a negative ground controller that comes with the fantastic MPPT technology, ideal for keeping efficiency to the highest level while providing the highest amount of conversion. You’ll get any battery charged faster and with fewer issues than with any other model.
With this controller, you can also enjoy a Tracer AN’s charging process. It will keep your battery working for a very long time while increasing its performance. This gets better with the 4-stage charging method, using Bulk, Float, Equalization, and Boost.
The temperature resistance is also excellent thanks to a die-cast aluminum design that dissipates heat like no other.
It will also stay protected from common electricity issues, including reverse polarity, overcharging, over-discharging, short-circuit, overload, and reverse current. You’ll receive a product that doesn’t leave anything to be desired.
Finally, you get PC support software with MT-50 for easy operation. But it all starts with a backlight LCD screen, making it easy to see everything on the device. You’ll get info about all the system data, but you can also configure easily with the two-button design.
What’s even better, it works with lead-acid batteries and Lithium as well, for even better results.
8. Renogy Rover 60A MPPT Solar Charge Controller
In the market of high-end controllers, few options are as reliable as the Renogy Rover 60A MPPT. It is so fantastic in many ways that we can say it is the best MPPT controller you’ll find.
The MPPT technology it offers is outstanding in terms of reliability and results. It will help batteries charge faster and without errors. And what’s even better, it works with Deep Cycle Sealed, Gel, Lithium and Flooded batteries without any issue.
It also works with a broad set of DC systems, from 12V to 48V including 24V and 36V. This way, you can expect it to be a magnificent device since the first time you use it.
And it all gets better when you add its LCD screen where it displays all the information needed for proper operation. The LED indicators make the usage of this device even more effortless. And with the customizable parameters, you can make it work however you prefer.
Despite all that, it doesn’t fall short with protection. It will keep your batteries guarded against overcharging, over-discharging, overload, reverse polarity, short-circuit and reverse current – so you can expect it to help increase the lifespan of all your components.
What really sets this one apart from the competition is the diverse load control and the capacity to charge over-discharged batteries without problems.
The device also comes with an RS232 port and Bluetooth, so you can make it work with a smartphone. And with its USB, you can hook it to a PC for even better results.
9. ZHCSolar 80A Solar Charge Controller
When it comes to high-quality PWM controllers, few models match the overall performance of the ZHCSolar at 80A.
Its large 80A capacity allows it to work with a wide array of solar panels and batteries. It still offers a 12V and 24V auto identification so you can let it work freely at all times. You can even use the USB output to charge your smartphones and other devices if needed without worrying.
Regarding protection, this controller overworks most competitors with a high-complex technology using short-circuit, overcharge, over-current, and reverse connection protection. You’ll never experience an unfortunate situation with this device.
It all gets even better when you consider its durable ABS shell design. Even if it falls or gets direct contact with the sun, it will stay safe and deliver exceptional heat resistance.
This thing even comes with an enhanced heatsink made of aluminum alloy, perfect for dissipating heat like no other.
When it comes to operation, you can use its LCD Screen and 4 buttons to set-up. Its platform is completely straightforward to use and offers several parameters and settings to get the most from.
Everything about this PWM controller will let you enjoy an excellent experience at all times. You won’t have to worry about virtually anything with this controller.
10. Morningstar SS SunSaver 20A Solar Charge Controller
For many, the Morningstar SS SunSaver is the best solar controller ever made. And for us, this is not a mistake.
This exceptional device offers what others do not – superb reliability, outstanding battery charging capacity, and a wide array of features that others PWM controllers fail to achieve.
The LOAD control or timed-lightning system helps the device to work with the smallest loads without problems. You can even use it to control loads in pumps, motors, inverters and practically anything that goes beyond its capacity if you get it working along with a relay.
It is among the safest out there, mainly because it’s the ideal option for most applications related to the Oil and Gas market. Most electrical devices like this usually are hazardous to use in places with flammable products, but the MorningStar SunSaver is the exception.
What really stands out is the PWM charging capacity that works almost like any MPPT system. This increases its overall worth, making it more valuable in the long term without reducing the lifespan of your batteries.
You even get a temperature sensor that keeps it working safely at all times. The anodized case makes it durable in its entirety. And with its LED indicators, you will never fail to recognize how it is doing.
What Makes the Perfect Solar Charge Controller?
After reading our solar charge controller reviews, you’re probably wondering which one you should go for. Well, don’t worry.
Here we go over all the factors to think about if you want to pick the perfect charge controller. Want to know more? Then read:
Charge Control Type
There are several types of controllers to consider, and each one delivers its own set of benefits. Here we explain to them:
1 or 2-Stage Controls
These are what many people know as shunt transistors. This relays the electricity, so it doesn’t go to the battery when it’s already full. Instead, it shuts down the electricity current completely to prevent overcharging.
Now, these are the traditional models. They aren’t the most technologically advanced or the most useful out there. Luckily, they are pretty cheap and still reliable to use – mainly because they have fewer components than its newer alternatives.
Pulse Width Modulator (PWM)
This is the most popular nowadays. It focuses on a similar process with a shunt transistor, but instead of completely shutting the electricity down when the battery is full, it regulates the power slowly by sending charging pulses rapidly.
On the other hand, the more charge the battery has, the less current that passes through the PWM controller. They use electronic controls to do so, making them accurate and practical but still cheap.
Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT)
MPPT is easily the most advanced option out there. Not only they are hugely reliable, but they also provide outstanding efficiency, so your battery charges faster and more efficiently than with other types. And when it comes to shutting down the current, an MPPT does it correctly.
You can save lots of money with one of these, especially because you won’t have to get a large controller system for your solar panels.
And an MPPT still offers the chance to connect higher voltages, work with computers, and just program the desired performance using its features. But of course, they come at a way higher price than the other two.
Voltage and Current
Here’s what most people miss from their solar controllers, especially because it can be a little tricky to learn. Luckily for you, we want to make it easy to understand:
The whole purpose of the voltage is to get a product that meets your battery or system requirements.
Some controllers come with an automatic identification for the voltage. You simply connect them to the battery, and they will immediately know what to use.
And some of the cheapest ones will instead work with a pre-set amount of voltage, either 12V or 24V.
You should go for whatever meets those needs, as some batteries work with 12V, others work with 24V, and the less common ones work with 48V.
It is critical that the controller is compatible with your battery’s capacity.
Then, you should go for a controller that meets your needs in terms of AMPs. Yes, this is another essential factor to consider.
Apart from the voltage, you should make sure the current fit with what your battery is capable of holding.
Some solar panels only produce about 10 AMPs of power, while a large one can go up to 100 AMPs or even more.
If the controller offers the only 10A for a solar panel that provides 100A, then it won’t work. So, you’ll have to get something that meets with that.
You can always pick options with a larger current capacity than what you need, but we recommend going for the closest amount possible. If your solar panel/battery is 25 AMP, then you should go for a 30A controller and so on.
Most controllers come with several indicators to consider, from LEDs that show if the device is ON or OFF to LEDs that will tell you if there’s any problem with the current or system.
But the real advantage you should go for is an LCD Screen. This will you’ll have the chance to see everything that happens on your controller, from the voltage to the current and more.
Most controllers come with their operating system inside that you can use within the LCD screen. They may offer two, three, or four different controls so you can set them up according to your needs.
From a timer to voltage and current setups, having controls to make the controller work correctly is very useful.
You’ll have the chance to configure one of these on many different ways so you can get the most out of each device. But some of them may not offer this advantage, so be sure of what you’re getting.
Frequently Asked Questions
After reading our solar charge controllers reviews and our buying guide, you’re probably confident enough to go and pick one. But before you do so, we recommend taking a look at these common questions:
1. Does a solar charge controller need maintenance?
Not really, but it’s crucial to be constantly checking them to make sure they’re working correctly.
2. What is LVD or LOAD output?
This is a kind of protection on most controllers. It just helps the device to work with minimal voltages without turning off. You’ll mostly find it on the biggest controllers.
3. Is an MPPT controller better than a PWM controller?
In short, yes. An MPPT tends to be much more efficient than a PWM when it comes to managing charges. But sometimes, an MPPT may not be the right choice (e.g., the panels need a small controller), then you should instead go for a PWM.
4. What does equalization mean?
As the word says, equalization refers to making all the cells inside a battery to work at the same charge level (equalize them). This helps to achieve a better charging performance.
5. Can lightning affect my controller?
Yes, it’s totally possible – that’s why some models come with lightning overcharge protection to prevent nearby strikes from causing damage.
Now that you’re here in the bottom of the article, it means you’re really interested in what these solar charge controllers have to offer.
But most important than that, you’re really eager to know which one is the best solar charge controller to pick.
And there’s no doubt that the Morning Start SS SunSaver is easily the highest-quality option in the whole list despite its PWM technology.
But if you want a highly functional and still very reliable option, then the Renogy Rover 60A MPPT Solar Charge Controller will fit your needs.
But remember, it all comes to getting a controller that meets your system’s demands according to your buying guide. Follow our advice and recommendations, and you won’t be disappointed with your choice.