The best solar charge controller for RV is what you need to make sure that your devices are charging correctly. It is efficient and smart to help regulate the entire charging process.
This device also has the performance features that can ensure your devices are kept optimally charged. A good charge regulator also has the protection features against undercharging and overcharging.
The best ones also function to protect against short circuit and other potential damages. However, you might not be able to shop around for the right one if you’re unaware of what to look for.
It is for the same reason you need to compare your solar charge controller options in order to get an idea of what makes a quality one. Today, we’re reviewing the top charge regulators and highlighting their best functions.
In the same buying guide, we’re answering frequently asked questions along with the things to know or features when shopping around for a good solar charge controller.
- Best Solar Charge Controllers for RV
- 1. HQST 30A PWM Negative Ground Solar Charge Controller
- 2. Renogy Rover 20 Amp Charge Controller
- 3. Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT 100/30 Charge Controller
- 4. WindyNation P30L LCD 30A PWM Solar Panel Regulator
- 5. EPEVER 40A MPPT Solar Charge Controller
- 6. HQST 30 Amp 12V/24V PWM Solar Panel Charge Controller
- 7. MOHOO Controller Intelligent Regulator
- 8. Renogy Wanderer PWM Negative Ground Solar Charge Controller
- 9. EPEVER 30A Solar Charge Controller
- 10. AllPowers Dual USB 20A Solar Charge Controller
- 11. Outback Flexmax 80Amp FM80 Solar Charge Controller
- 12. Go Power! GP-PWM-30Amp Solar Regulator
- Why You Should Trust Us
- What Is An RV Solar Charge Controller/ How Does It Work
- Types Of RV Solar Charge Controllers
- Benefits Of Using A Solar Charge Controller For RV
- How We Picked
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Solar Charge Controllers for RV
1. HQST 30A PWM Negative Ground Solar Charge Controller
- Easy to read LCD display
- Charger output for devices
- Helps enhance battery life
- Smart safety protection
- Simple and straightforward operation buttons
- Issues with customer service
Considering the power systems and supplies in your camper, travel trailer or recreational vehicle, you might also have been looking for an RV solar regulator. But while the plentiful of choices could have made things easier, it turns out the opposite. When you’re clueless of what to get, you must consider one of those from the best brands like HQST.
A great offer from this brand is this 12V/24V regulator. It is a top of the line solar charge controller that has the features and performance that will not disappoint you. The 30A is a top-rated product you should not miss. Thousands of RV owners have already given their feedback about the reliable performance of the charge controller.
The negative ground control is an excellent product that can ensure compatibility with your negative ground system. And with it, a negative connection on the load, battery and solar module can be grounded without any worries. Now, you can make and maintain a safe and solid connection.
Another important function of a solar charge controller is its ability to increase battery life, although not all. It is why it is important to shop around for units like the HQST, which is designed with a smart PWM charging along with efficient temperature compensation. Both of these things are critical for extending battery life as well as improving system performance.
More so, I would like to note that this item is not just reliable to deliver what its manufacturer claims but also safe. It is with the safety protection features on which other models out there can fail short.
If you’re shopping around for a solar charge controller with protection functions on over current, battery short circuit and reverse polarity, you might want to look into the HQST. It also offers over temperature and load short circuit protection.
This model also has a backlit LCD that works to display error codes and system information. Both of which are important in diagnosing any issues or adjusting the settings.
Plus, the solar charge controller has a 5V 1A USB output. You and your loved ones can make use of it conveniently in terms of charging speakers, tablets, mobile phones and other devices.
It is also with multiple load working modes that can facilitate this item’s use for different applications requiring different load types.
2. Renogy Rover 20 Amp Charge Controller
- Auto parameter
- Easy to read LCD display
- Multiple LED indicators
- Efficient charging process
- Compatible for gel-sealed and lithium batteries
Renogy has been a staple name in terms of solar charge controllers, and there is no doubt why. It’s committed to delivering performance and durability to thousands of RV owners looking to own heavy-duty and quality products and supplies for the mobile home.
For a charge controller, I would like to recommend their 20amp model, which is packed with the performance features and functions that we’re looking for. The Renogy Rover 20
The Renogy Rover 20 Amp has many features, but one of those I liked personally is the battery protection it can deliver. This item doesn’t only optimize charging but also protects the battery from overcharging or over-discharging. Why do these matters? We’re investing on our battery and not wanting to replace it soon due to overcharging. We can protect it from overcharging by the solar modules as well as being discharged by a load.
I would also like to mention that it has an optimal charging process that can extend the life of our battery. With that said, we can be certain that we can also improve its overall performance because it does can prevent damage, keeping it working optimally.
I would also like to recommend it for its four-stage battery charging algorithm, which results to efficient, safe and rapid charging. There is nothing quite like peace of mind when buying equipment like a solar charge controller. You will not have a hard time to decide on whether or not this product is for you if you would look into its protection features.
I’d also like to note that it has an LCD screen that allows for programmable charging parameters. It does also feature a charging data that has storage for up to a year. This item also works efficiently when it comes to detecting DC voltages automatically.
More so, it is compatible with different deep cycle battery options, including lithium, flooded, gel or sealed batteries. It only means you’re not going to run out of options if you would opt for it.
Another thing to appreciate about it is its MPPT technology that possesses top monitoring efficiency up to 99 percent along with a peak conversion efficiency of 98%. The Renogy solar charge controller also offers a diverse load control that also makes it suitable to charge an over discharged lithium battery.
3. Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT 100/30 Charge Controller
- Comes with a built-in Bluetooth
- Can be remotely controlled
- Easy to use and install
- Durable and heavy-duty
- Protection features
Victron MPPT charge controller is another top of the line product that I would like to include on this list if you’re shopping around for a dependable and easy to use solar charge controller.
The SmatSolar MPPT Charge Controller with the size of 100V and 30A is one of the top choices among RV owners because it is easy to use and control. It has the solid performance features, which make it valuable and functional, among other products in the same category.
This particular product is highly advanced, and one of the top-ranking charge controllers on the market. It is innovative that makes it unique and standout in the category.
The very first thing to note is that this model is designed with Bluetooth connective function, allowing us to monitor and control it using our device like a Smartphone or tablet. So from a remote location, you can control your device conveniently and easily. We can operate the solar charge controller from anywhere we are.
I would also like to note it is an MPPT type of controller. It’s technology that can ensure that we’re optimizing power and not waste any available power out our panels. It is one of the things to look for when shopping around for a new solar charge controller.
The MPPT technology also ensures that we can store and not waste excess energy versus the PWM models out there. So if you would read in reviews, you will be able to maximize the use of the solar power charge controller better with the MPPT technology.
This Victron unit is also packed with smart functions that can also enhance the life of your battery. With it, you can be sure of protecting your valuable investment, and protect it from any damage.
This SmartSolar model also optimizes the charging process, making sure it does ensure that your system recharges correctly daily. With such a smart function, you can also have peace of mind you can keep your RV battery on top condition.
4. WindyNation P30L LCD 30A PWM Solar Panel Regulator
- Easy to set up
- Easy to read display
- Straightforward use
- Protection features
- Some longevity concerns
- Not waterproof
The WindyNation P30L PWM is another recommended product in the category for the reason that it is packed with the great performance features we would need in a product like it.
The solar charge controller can offer us with plenty of benefits that include protection from overcharging or undercharging, and that is thanks to the included temperature sensor in the design. Such element in the design can ensure that your battery life can be extended.
This sensor works to accomplish such function because it can adjust the set point according to the temperature of our battery. One of the things it can also do well is preventing problems that include water loss and plate sulfation. These two problems when not attended to will cause problems.
This product is also with an LCD digital display that makes it more valuable. The display is able to control the charging process. It is important because it can make sure that we can check all the things we need to know like load control, voltage, amperage and temperature.
That we do not just monitor vital information when charging, but also get protection for its multiple layers of protection against overload, reverse polarity and short-circuiting. On its LCD display, you can check its system settings quickly and use buttons include the up and down and other settings functions.
I would also like to note that the WindyNation P30L is very easy to use. It is one of the things to look for when shopping around for a product like it. You can easily learn how to maneuver and change the settings easily.
The 30A Charge Controller is compatible for either 12V or 24V batteries. You can also set it up to work for lead acid, AGM and gel. Such versatility gives us more value for our money. It also adds function to our solar charge controller, translating to more applications.
5. EPEVER 40A MPPT Solar Charge Controller
- Battery temperature sensor
- Compatible with lead acid, flooded and sealed AGM
- Available multiple load mode
- USB to RS485 Converter Adapter
- Offers natural heat dissipation
The 40A 150V MT50 RV solar controller is another recommended product on this list for its high quality and durability. You should not miss this product if you’re looking for a feature and performance rich solar charge controller.
I would like to note that the product can offer us with a high efficiency tracking versus other products in the same category are. In addition, this product has 150V Max PV Input, allowing it to handle or accommodate more wiring of solar panels in series reducing PV current.
It will also be good to note that it is also applicable to do a 5 by 12V Solar Panel series connection with this solar charge controller. It is also one of the best controllers in terms of working with different body types. This unit can work with sealed AGM gel, lead acid or flooded batteries.
With more functionalities, you can also have peace of mind that you can make use of the charge controller for the battery type you have. It is one of the most features to look for when shopping around for a solar charge controller.
This unit also has its great mode to allow us to change the settings based on our charging needs for lithium batteries. In addition, you the solar panel charger can also work compatibly on 1200W on 24V Battery or 12V Battery System.
More so, the charge controller lets us use multiple load modes for setting load on or off based on the situation. It is another feature that you should not miss when shopping around for a good solar charge controller. If you’re using an RV power inverter, you can make use of the solid-state relay.
And when shopping around for a new charge controller, we must also find one that can protect our device from discharging, overcharging, overheating, reverse polarity and overloading. All these are on the EPEVER MPPT Solar Charge Controller.
This product also has the Standard MODBUS interface and RS-485 communication bus interface for meeting our different requirements. It also features PC monitoring cable and temperature sensor and can offer natural heat dissipation for its metal case.
6. HQST 30 Amp 12V/24V PWM Solar Panel Charge Controller
- LCD display screen
- Battery temperature sensor
- Wide range of applications
- Light control
- Can take a little time to become familiar with it
The HQST 30 Amp 12V/24V PWM Solar Panel Charge Controller is another recommended product for those trying to find a reliable and heavy-duty product. It is one of the top products in the category. It is highly recommended by thousands of camper and travel trailer owners because it has the safety features and versatile functions that anyone of us would want.
The popularity of the HQST 30 Amp is unquestionable. It is one of those with the quality features that translate to long-term use. It is made with heavy-duty materials, ensuring it will last long and serve you in the years to come. There is no doubt about it because it is by a reputable brand known on the market for its commitment to delivering quality charge controllers.
I would like to note that it is with a USB port, making it useful for charging various mobile devices. That said you could do more with this product other than being a charge regulator. The 5V 1A USB output can give us peace of mind that we can charge our tablets, phones and laptops even while camping or on the road.
There is another cool feature you need to know. It has the light control function, ensuring our batteries get charged even without any daylight. It works by turning on the source of the light even without the sun, delivering our batteries the energy they need.
Another I would like to add is that this model has a bright and clear LCD display, allowing us to use and read it without any hassles to find what we need to know. More so, the display ensures we could also make the entire charging process easier. Choosing this device, you don’t need to have any experience in using a charge controller.
Cool to know that the source of the light will also turn off on its own when the sun comes back out, and the panels are doing their job.
More so, I would like to note that it is with numerous protection layers versus over discharging, overcharging, reverse connection, overloading and short circuit. These protection features can make sure that your devices will not be damaged in the process.
It is also great that the manufacturer has included a battery temperature sensor that prevents overcharging and undercharging. For this function and more, you can be certain that it can get the job done.
7. MOHOO Controller Intelligent Regulator
- With maximum voltage capacity of 12V/24V
- Excellent protective functions for reverse discharge and over voltage
- With a wide LCD monitoring display screen
- With dual USB 5V 3A output
- Sturdy and Attractive outer box design
- May not be compatible with various types of batteries
If you are looking for a high-powered capacity and heavy-duty solar charge controller to support your solar panel, it is highly recommended to take a look of this MOHOO Solar Charge Controller.
With a battery voltage capacity of 12V to 24V, it can facilitate a solar system to function excellently. Usually, this item is a great choice for small system or household energy generation system because of its efficiency and protective features.
If you are asking of how far it can work, this MOHOO model will not disappoint with its maximum current output capacity of 30A and dual USB 5V 3A output. Unlike the other solar charge controller, this MOHOO model has the ability to stop on functioning when it happens that the battery voltage goes the critical level to 8V.
At the same time, the LCD will allow you to navigate and check on the status. This feature is designed for the solar charge controller to protect it from destruction, and therefore, make its life span longer.
You can also be surprised that this model is effortless to set-up and use for daily operation. For easier way of assembling it initially, the manufacturer advised that the battery should be fully charged or at least has enough voltage to familiarize it with the usual battery charge.
It is also advisable to follow a sequence in setting it up for safety purposes. Connect the battery followed by the solar panel and lastly the load and you’re system is ready with your MOHOO controller.
As an additional protective feature, this model will not continue to charge when the battery voltage reaches the maximum level of 14.4V to 14.5V. This usually happens when the device is not able to go to the floating stage. The good thing is that it has a limit value in charging power.
I am also delighted that this device has an extra large LCD display so you can see the information related to the status of the system’s operation and performance brightly and easily.
Another is I find the outer packaging of the RV solar panel controller is quite attractive because of its sleek black color with bright green margin on the inside edges and along the display screen. It can save you from cleaning it regularly, as it won’t look dirty in time due to its dark shade.
8. Renogy Wanderer PWM Negative Ground Solar Charge Controller
- Powered by 4-stage Pulse Width Modulation or PWM charging system
- With battery voltage of 12 V and maximum current output of 25 V
- With built-in LED for monitoring of the charge controller performance
- Compatible to negative ground system and with gel, sealed and even flooded batteries
- Good protective functions against overcharging and over discharging
- No LCD display for instant tracking of data and status of the system’s condition
If your purpose is to find for a solar charge controller not for an ambitious and large solar panel system but for household power facility only, the perfect model for you is now found. It is called the Renogy Wanderer. This solar charge controller has maximum current output of 30A.
It is known to be a good choice for home-based system because of its high quality standard, efficiency and safety features, which comes to a lower price as compare to other charge regulator.
Although this model is powered by Pulse Width Modulation or PWM, unlike the other power controller that are built with advance technology of Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT), this detail doesn’t make it lesser. The Renogy Wanderer is still a practical choice because of its heavy-duty performance for household installed system and batteries.
It may not be using an advanced MPPT technology but it is still simply amazing because it can perform very well with a battery voltage of 12 V and can work up to the maximum current output of 30A.
With the support of PWM charging, the Renogy Wanderer adds to the lifespan of the solar panel system and batteries and also level-up their performance. Since this model is a negative ground controller, it is perfect paired to other negative powered system.
It is also quiet impressive that the Wanderer has a four stage charging capability for battery bank. Therefore, the yielded energy flows within the system by going to several phases called the bulk, boost, float and equalization properly and equally.
This characteristic provides protection to the panel system or battery from electrical malfunction such as short-circuit, reverse polarity, overcharging, overload, and over discharging.
Another is I like that its outer box is sturdy and shaded in sophisticated dark hue with neon green highlights only on the intended plug areas. It is beneficial in a way that you won’t expect it to look messy and exhausted in long-term use due to its dark color. Meanwhile, for monitoring purposes, though it has No LCD display, it has a LED indicator for checking of the system’s status and data logged.
9. EPEVER 30A Solar Charge Controller
- With 99.5% tracking efficiency due to Advanced MPPT feature
- Can handle multiple load and support various types of batteries
- With four-stage process for battery charging
- With LCD Display screen for easy monitoring of system condition
- Provision of two- year warranty
- Higher cost
EPEVER MPPT 30A 12V/24V Solar Panel Charge Controller is making a noise with its ultimate Solar Charge Controller model as it flaunts its claim-to-fame heavy duty and high quality standard features. Its top selling point is its whopping tracking efficiency of 99.5% with the maximum conversion capability of 98%.
This is made possible by the advance technology called Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT). It just means that it can boost the power coming from the solar panels into a maximum level to grace the whole solar panel system to which it will be incorporated.
Not just the built-in MPPT Controller increase the productivity of the solar power, it also serves as a protection for the system or battery. It helps by preventing the system from getting overcharge that may be caused by solar modules or over-discharged from the input of loads.
It also provides safety protection against reverse current and polarity and short circuit. You can also expect that this device easily cool due to the aluminum design that gives it a good temperature management.
Since EPEVER Solar Charge Controller is a type of negative ground controller, nothing is better to suit your negative ground batteries and solar panel than this device with its 30A-graded charge current.
I am delighted that the package comes with the major accessories that will give more ease in using it such as a one (1) Tracer 3210AN Solar Charge Controller, one (1) MT-50, one (1) Temp sensor and one (1) RS485 Cable, and two (2) user’s manual.
Further, the MPPT 30A controller is made with a charging process called Tracer AN’s. Through this mechanism, the performance of the system will be enhanced, and it can prolong the life of the battery.
It even includes a four-stage charging of battery, hence, the energy that flows within the system undergoes several processes from bulk to equalization and distributed it fairly in the system.
When it comes to compatibility considerations, I like that this device can handle multiple load and support various types of batteries but especially with those deep cycle, sealed, lithium, gel and flooded.
I appreciate too that you don’t have to guess the status of the panel system. For easy logging and tracking of the system’s data and performance, the MPPT charge controller has a built-in LCD display screen. EPEVER also offers a two-year warranty period for this model for set-up or return assistance.
10. AllPowers Dual USB 20A Solar Charge Controller
- With high-quality and functionality, STM 8 microprocessor
- With multiple safety/protection features
- Easy to set-up and operate
- Lightning strike-proof
- With display monitoring screen for status
- Limited compatibility
Every solar panel and power-saving batteries in a system can deliver the best performance if partnered with a solar charge controller. Nowadays, charge regulator brands come in different selling points for buyers’ considerations. But take a look at this one called ALLPowers Solar Charge Controller.
I think enthusiasts of energy-efficient solar panel will be satisfied with the 20A controller model that can boost a small solar power. Not just that it makes the panel system easier to operate but also prolong the life span of the entire system.
The solar charge controller contains an automatic voltage regulation capability of 12V up to 24V. It can handle current output voltage in a maximum of 5V/3A for battery banks. The power rate is even adjustable through the dual USB ports.
Further, it can facilitate easily the charge by undergoing tasks from the bulk, ABS and float or the three-stage charge management and contains a 4-Stage PWM charge management.
It is pretty good too that this model provides a maximum functionality with its STM 8 microprocessor industrial grade. It means that the controller can manage well the charge and discharge process of the solar panel system.
You can expect that your battery will work in a reliable manner, as the regulator device will guide it through the process. In fact, the device has an over discharge protection of 10.7V to 21.4V and over discharge recover of 12.6V to 25.2V.
This model also comes with a PWM LCD that conveniently display status and information regarding the solar system for regular monitoring. What I like is it even has an automatic parameter configuration and load timer that can be very useful in adjusting the solar controller and setting it for on and off duty.
When it comes to choosing a controller device, safety is a top consideration. Buyers will surely rave with the multiple safety features of the ALLPowers solar charge controller. It was designed with built-in electric protection for short-circuit, overloading, low voltage, inverse connection and overcharge incident.
I think it is impressive that the solar controller will stop on working once it detects that the battery voltage goes down below 8V to save your battery from destruction. You can also be relief that it is lightning strike-proof.
This AllPowers Solar Charge Controller is also equipped with a reverse dual gate MOSFETs. Hence, it has the capability to transfer heat that makes the controller low producing heat when being use. The device should still not be put in direct exposure under the sun though. The ideal operating temperature is from 35 to 60 degree Celsius.
11. Outback Flexmax 80Amp FM80 Solar Charge Controller
- Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) that generate 30% more PV Array Output
- Top performer with maximum current output of 80A
- Includes 80-character display screen for easy monitoring of system data and status
- With 12 to 60VDC charging capacity
- Good heat management system
- Needs to buy a separate cable
A solar panel system can serve better with a good charge controller that can support its function. If you’re looking for one, especially for a large-scale panel system, the Flexmax 80 FM80 MPPT Solar Charge Controller by Outback will not disappoint.
This type is equal to the league of other controllers with Maximum power point tracking (MPPT). It may cost you a little higher but it is worth it. The MPPT are among the top performing type of controllers on which you can save your money in time because the device can produce at least 10 up to 30% greater amount of power to your battery.
The Outback solar controller can accommodate a large panel system that are usually assembled on the RV roofs, household roofs or even for commercial use. This is possible with its huge input voltage capacity of a maximum of 150V.
It is pretty impressive as this device can manage high DC voltage by simply converting the power to its regular battery voltage capacity of 12V to 60V.
What I like more about the Outback Flexmax FM80 is its versatility. It can conform and give a total good performance for various brand and types of solar panel system and batteries unlike the other types.
Another good selling point of this solar controller is it can nail a boosting mechanism to the power output of your Photovoltaic array power or PV array into a 30% increase. This is beyond the typical capacity among other brands and models.
This Flexmax FM80 also has an easy performance-monitoring tracker. The package includes a display screen, which has an 80-character capacity. Here, the owner can instantly check the status or the information details of the solar panel for at least 128-days period. You can even connect it to HUB communication to centralize the data tracking.
When it comes to heat management, you don’t have to worry that this model will break down due to overheat because it was designed with reliable temperature control. This can still function well in a place with temperature of 104F (40C).
12. Go Power! GP-PWM-30Amp Solar Regulator
- 30 amp Pulse Width Modulation capability
- Five-year warranty
- Can manage a maximum of 510 watts of power
- With four-stage system technique for battery charging
- Display screen for tracking of the system’s performance
- Limited compatibility
A solar charge controller becomes a necessity when it comes to keeping the good health of a whole solar panel system and even the batteries. Valterra Powers Us, Llc is now offering a model called Go Power! GP- PWM-30, which contains features you’re going to adore.
The main purpose of installing an RV solar charge controller is to serve as a support for the system and protect the battery from destruction due to instances such as overcharging and short circuit. This Go Power charge regulator can deliver the said functions with its 30 amp Pulse Width Modulation or PWM capability.
The PWM capability of this model enables it to perform a power reducing technique that only means that this device can distribute well the yielded output from a single source of electrical signal equally to the other parts of the regulator. This way the energy flow within the battery bank is balance, hence less prone to malfunction.
What I find interesting is that this charge controller can manage solar charge for a maximum of 30 amps. Proper charging of batteries is important if you want an ever-ready battery with longer life span. Good thing is that this Go Power! GP- PWM-30 can regulate the charging with its four-stage system. Overall, this device can facilitate a maximum of 510 watts of power.
That simply implies that your panel and battery is highly protected by undergoing the four safety charging methods known as the bulk, absorb, float and equalization. Another good news is GP-PWM-30 can handle batteries that comes from any type but only limited when it comes to wet cell, AGM and gel batteries.
Said model also provides a display screen that serves as a tracking system in which you can check the status and data of your solar panel, specifically the amount of voltage charge and discharge and the amperage.
I further appreciate that Valterra Power Us, Llc has a five-year warranty for this model so you can return or replace a purchase if in case it doesn’t work right or malfunction. Below are the highlights and selling points for this model.
Why You Should Trust Us
SmartRVing.net is your trusted source of all things RVing and RV products reviews like a MPPT and PWM solar charge controller review. Choosing us, you can make a better choice because we’ve done the research for you!
Referring to the reviews, you will not have a hard time to narrow down your choices based on your budget, charge controller type and features you want your RV solar panel charge controller to have.
By reading our reviews, you will be able to compare the different products available on the market now, and prevent yourself from ending up with products that do not match your standards and requirements. In the reviews, we have selected only the trusted brands and products so that you can pick the right type based on what you’re looking for.
In addition, our team has made a systematic approach in creating the reviews. First, we discussed the most essential features to look for when comparing our choices.
Through the factors to consider, we have started the research, created the reviews, and compare the products’ pros and cons. At the end of the day, we’re able to make balanced and reliable reviews so that you can truly make a good decision.
Are you ready to buy your solar panel system charge controller? Refer to our reviews earlier.
What Is An RV Solar Charge Controller/ How Does It Work
This special RV device is important to have in a recreational vehicle, camper, travel trailer and motorhome, among other places where there is a solar panel. As they say, it is the solar system’s heart. With the charge controller, you can have peace of mind that your devices will work efficiently. It works simply by regulating or controlling the voltage and current coming from the solar panels.
With the solar charge controller, you can rest assured that your battery will not overheat or overcharge. Without the solar charge controller, you might not be able to charge your battery correctly, and that should not happen. The battery must always charge correctly, or else it will be damaged.
As you know, it is not a cheap investment to make. The battery pack is expensive. If it becomes damaged, it will have a shorter lifespan, so you have to replace it sooner. But with the battery charge controller, it will not happen.
This device has the protection features that prevent damage to your battery. It works efficiently to regulate the charge your battery is getting. For this reason, RV owners do not attach their solar panel directly to the battery without using a charge regulator.
And just like them, you probably want to protect your investment, both solar panel and battery, so you should buy a solar charge controller. It is of course if you have a trickle charger solar panel that might not anymore require using a charge controller.
Types Of RV Solar Charge Controllers
While navigating your way to the world of solar charge controllers to choose the correct one for your needs, you should not miss knowing about their types. In this case, you will have a better idea on what each of them offers. Two types, the Pulse Width Modulation and the Maximum Power Point Tracking controllers are how they’re classified.
They’re the older types of solar charge controllers, so many of them have been produced on the market. Usually, they’re also more affordable than the other type of charge regulator. It works by regulating the voltage and the current coming from the solar panel to the RV battery.
With, the battery will receive sufficient current it needs based on its voltage size. If the correct voltage already reached your battery, it’s going to detach it from the solar panel to make sure that the battery is maintaining the correct voltage point.
The PWM solar charge controllers deliver sufficient energy to come to the voltage requirement of your battery. For this reason, there is energy loss happening once it meets the energy requirement. And so, the PWM is not very efficient.
MPPT solar charge controllers are more innovative than the first one is. It is also more energy efficient. They work to convert the excess voltage into more current especially during the summer or sunny days when our solar panels will be able to generate more voltage versus the requirement of the RV battery.
The MPPT charge controller will utilize the extra current at a lower amount of voltage. While doing so, it doesn’t lose any power. In this case, the panel’s max power can be used in charging the battery efficiently.
This type is better for higher voltage solar panels and batteries. It is also ideal for those who own a solar panel and battery that do not have a matching voltage.
But if you’re opting for this type, you should expect spending more than you would with a PWM type. One thing to help is to determine how much you are using your solar system as a power source. Also, you should consider your budget. If you don’t mind shelling out a bit more for a more energy-efficient charge controller, you might want to go for this type.
Benefits Of Using A Solar Charge Controller For RV
Having a solar charge controller for the RV is one of the most important investments to make if you have a solar panel system in your vehicle.
As while sun power is abundant and free, its reliability might not be available all the time when the sun is not up or during a bad weather. The power coming from the sun is also dependent on several factors like your location and the time of the day.
By saying all these things, you can imagine that solar power is not always available. And if it is, it can lead to a low discharge that can reduce the lifespan of the battery. On the other hand, too much power might lead to overheating, another thing to shorten its lifespan.
It is why you need a charge controller that will control the amount of energy your battery is getting. In this case, you can prevent overheating or having a low discharge rate of your RV battery. With the charge controller, you can be sure that your solar system be efficiently operational.
How We Picked
What do you need to check when shopping around for a charge controller, whether it’s PWM or MPPT? Now that you know the types of solar charge regulators and the benefits of having them, you must also learn how to choose one. In this case, you can make a better decision and end up buying a suitable model that fits your needs, budget and situation. Let’s start in the following factors to consider.
Before shopping around for a good solar charge controller, you must compare the prices available. As we’ve discussed earlier, solar charge controllers are of different types, also dictating varying prices.
The MPPT models are more expensive although also more efficient. On the other hand, the PWM models are basic but more affordable. Depending on how much you’re using the solar panel, how you want to save energy and how basic or advanced you want your charge controller to work, you can determine the price you would want to spend on the device.
By figuring out how much you want to spend for the solar charge controller, you can save so much effort and time, too, because you don’t need to browse on too many products that do not match your budget.
Switches and buttons
The on and off switch is another important feature to consider when shopping around for a good charge controller. It is important that you can shut the device off conveniently. In addition, you should check for its buttons. Thus, when shopping around a charge controller, you must look into the ease of use and one thing to determine that is the buttons and on/off switch.
Speaking of switches, you must also check and find out if the solar charge controller has a shore power or dry camp switch. It will also help you alter the charge setpoint between the standby mode and the maximum power.
When reading RV solar controller reviews, you might have probably bumped into those discussing about the importance of amp rating. To shop around for the correct item, you should know the amp rating, which indicates the highest level of amperage that it send or output to the RV battery.
You might want to go for a controller that has a rating of 25 percent higher than the peak power of the solar panel. It is because there are instances when the solar panels are going to produce beyond their output rating. Also, you might want to consider whether you’re planning to add more solar panels later.
While there are so many charge controllers promising the same thing regarding convenience, you should beware, as not all of their products are easy to operate. One of the things to consider is checking into the adjustable charging voltage that lets us set the voltage while charging the device. It will be based on the battery type like gel, flooded lead-acid or AGM.
One of the most important things to check when shopping around for this product is it temperature sensor, which can ensure your batteries aren’t going to overcharge or undercharge.
With the temperature sensor, you will be able to set the charging voltage setpoint according to the battery’s temperature. For this reason, you can prevent water loss and sulfation. Without even saying, this function can protect your batteries from having any damage.
Consider these things when shopping around for a good charge controller and be able to pick one that matches your needs today!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are the most popular solar charge controller brands?
A: On the market are so many brands that somehow make things more confusing than helpful. For this reason, we’ve researched on reliable solar charge controller brands so that we can make reviews of their top products. A few of them include HQST, Renogy, Victron, WindyNation, EPEVER, MOHOO, ALLPOWERS, Outback and Valterra Power.
Q: PWM vs MPPT solar charge controllers: what’s the difference? Which one is better for RV?
A: You might want to go back and check them out in the “Types of solar charge controllers” section. When it comes to which one is better than the other is, I would like you to think about this:
Do you want a more innovative solar charge controller that won’t make you end up losing energy? If yes, you might want to opt for the MPPT charge controller. However, take note you also have to spend a bit more.
Or is a basic charge controller okay for you? If yes, you might want to opt for the PWM charge controller. It is also the more affordable choice than MPPT types are. However, do remember it is not as efficient as the other is.
Q: How to choose the right size?
A: Solar charge controllers are rated depending on the solar panel’s voltage and the solar array current or amps. Go for one that is large enough to accommodate the power and current from your solar system.
Q: Do I need a battery tender?
A: You might have bumped into this question reading a MPPT charge controller review. So do you have to use a battery tender or trickle charger? The answer is yes if you want your battery to be always charged when you store it.
As every battery will discharge, you’d need to recharge it occasionally, so you might need a battery tender or trickle charge to provide low voltage to your battery at an equal rate with the discharge rate of your battery.
Q: How to calculate solar charge controllers?
A: As mentioned earlier, these products are rated and sized based on array’s current and solar voltage of your system. Get a regulator enough to accommodate the amount of both produced by your solar system.
Q: How to install/use?
A: Refer to the user manual of the product you end up buying. Different models and types may also have different instructions’ set. Thus, you should read and follow the installation instructions closely based on the model and type you have.
Q: How to care and clean?
A: Modern ones usually don’t have moving parts and require less maintenance. Perhaps the very basic is to check your wire connections annually to ensure they’re secure and clean. Or else, a loose connection can lead to heat, which can be damaging to your solar panel’s performance.
Q: How to make a solar charge controller?
A: I wouldn’t personally recommend making a solar charge controller because the process can be challenging especially for people without electronics experience. After all, there are affordable charge regulators out there to consider.
But should you wish to proceed, I would like to recommend this guide here.
Q: Where to buy?
A: You can buy solar charge controllers in electronics supplies and shops in your place. But if you want a better deal and straight from the manufacturer products, you might want to head to Amazon or other online marketplaces as well as manufacturer websites.
We do hope you learned from this buying guide on the best solar charge controller for RV including on what to look for and highly rated products in the category. Start comparing by looking into those factors like adjustable settings, buttons and switches, prices and temperature sensor, to name some. Buy a solar power charge controller today!