Solar Charge Controllers, what are they and how does it work?

Solar Charge Controllers or as you may call it Solar Regulator is an essential component we use in Solar Street lights. It prevents the batteries from overcharging and damage. In this post, you’ll learn all about Solar Charge controller basics covering what are they and how does it work.

Solar Charge Controller SES60-IR

Solar Charge Controller With IR Motion Sensor for ANETHIC’s LightGoGo series all-in-one lights

What is Solar Charge Controller?

Solar Charge Controller is a device that we use in our Solar products as a voltage and/or current regulator to prevent the solar batteries from overcharging. This device is nothing new. As a matter of fact, it has been here since the very existence of Solar Panels.

Why Do You Need Solar Charge Controller?

You may think, why do I need a solar charge controller.

Well here’s the thing: Without a solar charge controller, there is a high chance your solar batteries will overcharge themselves and consequently, their lifespan will shorten. On an average, the battery life is 5-10 years depending upon which battery you purchase. If there is no controlling mechanism to overlook the amount of charge going into the batteries, there is a risk of battery damage.

Solar Charge controller acts as a regulator that connects solar panels and the batteries. Once it checks the battery has full charge, it stops the charge flow and thus optimizes the charging process as well.

Standalone Solar Street Lights are most preferred by people due to their versatility of use. You can use them in parking lots, gardens and just about anywhere. The solar charge controller is one of the most important components that increase its utility and lifespan as well.

The Primary Objective of Solar Charge Controller:

  1. To optimize the charging process for solar power batteries.
  2. To prevent the batteries from overcharging and further damage.

Types of Solar Charge Controller

As you already know by now, Solar Charge Controller is nothing new and has been in the market for a long time. Although, with the technology advancing, there have been some major changes in the Solar charge controller.

The Solar Charge controller has three most common kinds which we’ll discuss below.

1. One or Two Stage Simple Solar Charge Controller

These are the earliest type of solar charge controllers that came into existence. The mechanism behind this solar regulator is a simple one or two stage process. When the battery reaches a certain voltage level, it disconnects the charge flow between the solar panel and the batteries.

This simple method works with this type of solar charge controller without much use of technology. Although they are hardly used in current solar panels, you can still get them online at dirt cheap prices.

The only advantage of these solar charge controllers is their simplicity and reliability with lesser no. of components used in its making.

2. PWM Solar Charge Controller

Solar Charge Controller with Microwave Sensor-SES60-WB

Solar Charge Controller With Microwave Sensor

Consider PWM or Pulse Width Modulator as a switch that is being turned on/off at different time intervals. This similar method works in the use of PWM Solar Charge Controllers.

How PWM Solar Charge Controller Works is pretty simple.

Once the solar panel is completely charged, this regulator will disconnect the batteries from overcharging. Furthermore, it keeps the solar panels charged at a standard voltage level at all times. PWM has been in the market for a long time and is quite durable.

Also, its price is one-third as compared to MPPT Solar charge Controller.

3. MPPT Solar Charge Controller

MPPT Solar Charge Controller-DM120-U

Intelligent Solar Charge Controller

Maximum Power Point Tracking or MPPT is the technology used behind MPPT Solar Charge Controller. The science behind this solar charge controller is easy to understand

It uses an electronic digital tracking device to compare the output level of solar panel and the battery voltage. Hence, it gives you an optimized voltage level to charge the batteries.

This is a new but trending technology used in Solar Charge controller that uses smart intelligent science as the backbone to optimize battery charging process. It is also more expensive but comes with a longer warranty period.

Coming to its size, they have a lot of components and are thus large in size. MPPT Solar Charge Controller is specially designed to support bigger solar panels in an effective manner.

Solar Charge Controller Modes

The Solar Charger Controller modes describe the various charging levels it adjusts to in different circumstances when solar panels charge the batteries.

1. Equalization Charging Voltage:

This is the charging level where the regulator aims to disulfate battery cells. The main reason behind this is to improve the battery cell’s health and its life span. This voltage level charging happens around every 20 days and the user can even adjust the level in some solar charge controllers.

2. Float Charging Voltage:

A float charge will reduce the voltage level and current to prevent the battery from overcharging when it is fully charged.

3. Low Voltage Connect/Disconnect:

In this type of charge level, the low voltage reconnects battery level is one where the load turns back on and vice-versa for the low voltage disconnect battery level.

4. Boost Charge:

This is the level that is in work when the battery is being charged. You can say it is the one level that does the majority of the work in solar panels. It may vary on the basis of the type of battery.

How Does Solar Charge Controller Work

How a solar charge controller works will, of course, vary as per the type of solar charge controller in use at the time. A general description of how it works is briefly explained here.

  1. The Solar Charge Controller will first check if the battery is fully charged or not.
  2. If it has the full charge, the controller will disconnect the solar panel automatically from the batteries. Else, it’ll keep charging until the battery shows full charge.
  3. The controller also keeps checking at certain intervals if the battery has a full charge at a certain level or not. Because the battery tends to drain itself, the controller will adjust the voltage levels in accordance with the output level of solar panel and battery vol