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Top 5: Best MPPT Charge Controllers for Solar Power

Top 5: Best MPPT Charge Controllers for Solar Power

As a solar enthusiast, you are aware that adding an MPPT Charge Controller to your system is an efficient way to protect your battery and also boost the power produced by your surveillance trailer or other off grid system.

Of course, any MPPT Controller you get will be fine as long as it meets the basic technical standards. However, you don’t want to get stuck with an MPPT Charge Controller that doesn’t fit your needs because they are not cheap.

Knowing the exact MPPT Charge Controller that suits your needs can be very confusing. While some boast of their technologically advanced features, others are known for their simplicity or their great power capacity.

The Best MPPT Charge Controllers are:

  1. Victron SmartSolar
  2. EPever AN Series
  3. Morningstar Prostar MPPT
  4. EPever – The Outback BN series
  5. Renogy

This article will review these 5 MPPT Solar Charger Controllers which are well-known and commonly used in the small-scale solar power system of up to 2kW. Overall, these charge controllers feature lower voltage (100-150V) thus less expensive.

You can use them comfortably with 12V, 24V, and 48V batteries. Furthermore, many are also compatible with LiFePO4 Lithium batteries. Most of the charge controllers reviewed in this article have built-in load control terminals which is can be used for simple DC lighting.

A smaller MPPT solar charge comes with a current rating of 20A-40A. Therefore, they can be used for a variety of applications, for instance, in surveillance trailers, boats, RVs, and off-grid homes.

There are a variety of mid-range charge controllers with MPPT, however, we’re concentrating on the top-quality controllers only from the most trusted manufacturers.

 

1.     Victron SmartSolar

In power electronics, Vitron Energy is a global leader. It has an excellent record when it comes to the manufacture of stand-alone equipment such as batteries, inverters, and of course charge controllers. Quality and reliability are the selling points for this Dutch company.

Overall, Victron MPPT solar charge controllers are known to have one of the most advanced monitoring systems which include an integrated Bluetooth connection that allows the user to conduct simple programming and configuration.

Additional options and features include a remote firmware update. Some of the stand-out features of the charge controller include speedy and accurate MPPT tracking, a V.E intelligent networking option, and high build quality.

Pros

  • Fast MPP Tracking– With the MPPT technology, every drop of power rinsed out from your panels is harvested and stored. An MPPT SmartSolar charger connected to a PV array of 150 or 250 Volt Voc is expected to automatically detect and charge 48, 24, 12 V batteries with currents from 70 to 100A depending on the battery’s model. Speaking of batteries, Victron SmartSolar MPPT chargers have charge settings that are fully programmable and can be set to suit the needs of different battery chemistries such as the lead-acid and the popular LiFePO4 Lithium batteries.
  • Advanced monitoring app– With an in-built Bluetooth, you can pair the Charger with your smartphone or any other device through VictronConnect. Also, you can connect through the Victron Remote Management Portal (VRM) if your installation is connected to the internet via a GX device. Even with no internet, you are still able to monitor your MPPT just by connecting the GlobalLink 520. This will allow you to access essential information such as battery voltage, current, historical data and also perform easy remote firmware updates.
  • Adaptive three-step charging– Victron SmartSolar charge is configured for three-step charging; the bulk, absorption, and float. During the bulk phase, the MPPT controller rapidly recharges the battery by delivering as much charge as possible. During the absorption phase, the controller switches to a constant voltage mode or shallow discharges. Here, the absorption time is kept short to prevent the battery from overcharging. The absorption time is automatically increased again following a deep discharge to make sure that the battery is fully recharged. The absorption period ends once the charge decreases to less than 2A. Lastly, the float phase is applied to maintain the battery in its fully charged state. A new cycle will be triggered when the battery voltage drops below float voltage.
  • In-built temperature sensor– With in-built temperature sensors SmartSolar MPPT charger can operate on a wide range of temperatures of up to 60degrees Celcius.
  • Safety-Other than over-temperature protection, Victron SmartSolar charge also derates power when the temperature is high. It also protects the battery from PV short circuit and PV reverse polarity and reverses current.
  • Warranty: The charger comes with a decent warranty of up to 5 years.
  • Price: $343 for 60Amp and $784 for 100A batteries.

 

Cons

  • Not all come with a SmartSolar Control Display except the SmartSolar MPPT 150/70 UP TO 250/100 VE.
  • Not all come with load control, therefore, the risk of damaging your batteries by running “flat” is high.
  • It is expensive.

 

2.     EPever AN Series

The EPever AN Series MPPT Solar Charge Controller, also known as EPsolar, is normally used for large currents of up to 100A.

EPsolar does not only have an advanced MPPT control, but also a multiphase synchronous rectification technology (MSRT).

With a dual-core processor architecture, the EPever AN Series boasts of its speed and reliability and as well as high industry standards.

The MPPT tracer series was released in 2016 and became a popular choice among solar enthusiasts around the world due to its good MPPT tracking, simple installation, and above all its low cost.

Pros

  • Fast-tracking- The charger comes with an advanced MPPT technology whose efficiency is not less than 99.5%. With an ultra-fast tracking speed, tracking efficiency is guaranteed. The charger also has a wide MPPT operating voltage due to the advanced MPPT control algorithm that minimizes the maximum power point loss rate and time. With multiple load modes, the EPever AN Series is compatible with lead-acid and the popular LiFePO4 Lithium batteries. Since the input voltage of a battery depends on the load and temperature, the voltage of a solar panel will change depending on the weather. With the MPPT technology, the charge controller will ensure that it adjusts these changing voltages automatically making the energy being transferred from the solar panel to the battery efficient. In other words, you can obtain up to 30% more power from solar panels when using the EPever AN Series MPPT Solar Charge Controller.
  • Advanced monitoring app– The EPever AN Series is fitted with a real-time energy statistics function that allows the user to monitor and set parameters through a mobile phone App. The EPever AN Series MPPT Solar Charge Controller also comes with 2 adjustable timers that allow you light in the evening. Or, you have the option of making this an automatic process that allows the charging device to recognize twilight via the connected solar panels and provide light.
  • In-built temperature sensor (optional)­- This allows the charger to perform prevent overheating temperature compensation during low temperatures.
  • Protection- The EPever AN Series MPPT Solar Charge Controller has several features that will help you protect your battery such as overcharging, deep discharge, as well as battery discharge through solar panels which is common during the night. Also, The EPever AN Series MPPT Solar Charge Controller offers protection against short-circuiting, polarity switching, overload, and high voltage on the solar panel. With an intelligent charging process, the EPever AN Series MPPT Solar Charge Controller can maintain your battery in top condition. The charge controller comes with an internal microprocessor that controls the off and on switching, thereby, keeping the charging current accurate and the temperature stable.
  • Price (low cost)– Tracer6415AN will cost $395

Cons

  • EPever AN Series can be connected to a maximum of 100V Voc.
  • It comes only with an optional MT50 display in which there is no Watts (W) displayed.
  • Screw terminals can be easily removed therefore, it is prone to vandalism.

3.     Morningstar Prostar MPPT

Do you need a mid-range solar charge controller with a maximum power point tracking (MPPT) technology? Well, do not look further than the Morningstar Prostar MPPT series.

The Morningstar Prostar MPPT series offers value for money since it has all the features that you may wish to have in a high-performance controller. With this controller, you are guaranteed that your off-grid system will deliver all the available energy to your batteries due to the patented TrakStar technology that maximizes your solar yield.

The 40A Morningstar Prostar MPPT Charge Controllers come with a Meter Display. This new meter design features a graphic LCD with large fonts, a bright backlit display, various display status screens, and easy and intuitive backlight navigation with arrow buttons.

The arrow buttons used in navigation provide a field adjustable and configurable setting for load and lighting control.

Pros

  • Fast-tracking– The TrakStar Technology is an advanced MPPT tracking charger for off-grid photovoltaic (PV) systems. The charger can support multiple modules in series especially from 12V up to 120V battery systems. With detailed battery programming options, the charger can support a wide range of the latest batteries such as Nickel Cadmium, Lithium, Lead Acid Battery, and LiFePO4 Lithium Batteries. Morningstar Prostar MPPT Charge Controllers are ideal for both industrial and residential applications. Additionally, the Morningstar Prostar MPPT Charge Controllers come with an optional Wire Box- a wiring compartment with knockouts for conduit and cable glands. This enables a clean and safer installation of the charge controller.
  • Monitoring systems– The changer comes with a monitoring system that allows self-diagnostics for continuous monitoring of all system and hardware issues.
  • Adaptive three-step charging– Just like the Victron SmartSolar charge, the Morningstar Prostar MPPT Charge Controller also features an adaptive three-step charging; the bulk, absorption, and float. During the bulk phase, the MPPT controller rapidly recharges the battery by delivering as much charge as possible. During the absorption phase, the controller switches to a constant voltage mode or shallow discharges. Here, the absorption time is kept short to prevent the battery from overcharging. The float phase is applied to maintain the battery in its fully charged state. A new cycle will be triggered when the battery voltage drops below float voltage.
  • In-built temperature sensor- The charger can operate in extreme temperatures due to its fanless design. It can operate efficiently on temperatures of up to 60°C
  • Safety– The charger is a Low Noise Design and it has a load control of up to 30A (optional) that serves as high voltage protection. Overall, it satisfies the U.S Federal Communication Commission Class B specifications.
  • Warranty– 5 years
  • Price- 25Amp charger will cost $335 while 40A charger will cost $443

Cons

  • There is no option for Bluetooth or W-Fi monitoring.
  • It is quite expensive compared to other MPPT chargers with similar features.

4.     EPever – Tracer BN Series

The EPever Tracer BN Series is a popular MPPT controller among solar enthusiasts all over the world due to its high-quality MPPT tracking, simple installation, and affordability.

The EPever Tracer BN Series MPPT Solar Charge Controller is based on an advanced MPPT control algorithm by EPsolar and a common negative design.

With the MPPT control algorithm, the Tracer BN Series will quickly and accurately track the Maximum Power Point (MPP) of the photovoltaic array, at any given situation, to obtain the maximum solar energy improving energy efficiency.

It is ideal for extended applications such as caravans, household, and surveillance trailers since it comes equipped with the ModBus communication protocol interface.

It is not only economical but also practical and long-lived since it comes with an all-around electronic fault self-test, as well as an enhanced electronic protection function that ensures the system components are not damaged due to system failures or errors due to installation.

Pros

  • Fast-tracking– The Tracer BN Series comes with an advanced MPPT technology that guarantees high tracking efficiency of up to 99%. It has a wide MPP voltage of up to 150V max Voc.
  • Monitoring systems– With an optional PC monitoring software and a remote meter, you can manage different parameters of the battery in real-time. The charger also comes with a display of MT50 that has settings and load controls.
  • In-built temperature sensor- The Tracer BN Series comes with an optional temperature sensor. It also has a large heat sink that allows it to operate in a wide range of temperatures. The MPPT charger comes with a die-cast aluminum design for heat dissipation.
  • Built quality- The charger comes with a die-cast aluminum housing which is excellent in heat dissipation. The charger also comes with field-upgradable firmware with screw terminals that have very large dimensions.
  • Safety– The Tracer BN Series charger has extensive electronic protection. It has a diversified load control of up to 20A. This load control can meet different needs. The EPever Tracer BN Series also comes with a MultiProtect Safety System which includes PV short circuit protection, PV reverse polarity protection, Battery over-discharge protection, and Battery overvoltage protection, Battery reverse polarity protection, PV overcurrent protection, and battery overheating protection.
  • Warranty- 1 year
  • Price (low cost)- Tracer 40A 4215BN is only about $175.

Cons

  • Despite the benefits, The Tracer BN series does not come with a built-in display.
  • Support pretty much only exists in China, so don’t count on getting any help.
  • The remote monitoring accessories are ridiculously difficult to configure and connect to the Chinese web portal.

5.     Renogy

Renogy was established in the U.S back in 2014. Over the years, it has been known to produce top-quality inverters, solar charge controllers, and DC converters at an affordable cost.

The Renogy Rover series MPPT controllers have remained to be a popular choice among solar enthusiasts due to their top-notch MPPT tracking, ease to use, and of course, low-cost setup.

There are tons of features and options when we speak of the Renogy Rover series MPPT controllers. It comes with an optional Bluetooth adapter and an easy-to-read display that is equipped with a user-friendly interface that provides a wide range of configuration options.

Even though the output is only 20A, users can utilize its unique feature that allows them to connect two 100A Rover controllers in parallel to yield a total of 200A, for more power. Thanks to the plenty of built-in control terminals.  Overall, it can support up to 5200W on 48V.

The built quality of the charge controller is good. However, some areas might still need some improvement. For instance, the cable terminals are rather small and cannot fit into a 40A controller.

The Renogy’s Rover series MPPT controller is an off-grid controller designed specifically for large-scale projects. Also, it is compatible with various Deep Cycle battery options including the LiFePO4 Lithium batteries.

Pros

  • Good MPP Tracking- With an innovative MPPT technology the Renogy’s Rover series MPPT controller has a high tracking efficiency of up to 99% with a peak conversion efficiency of 98%.
  • Monitoring systems– The Renogy’s Rover series MPPT controller can self-diagnose in the event of an error. Also, the charger can be controlled remotely through the DC Home app that uses Bluetooth. This enables you to monitor the solar system through your phones. Also, with the help of a clear and simple display, you can check the parameters of your battery.
  • Adaptive four-step charging– Just like the Victron SmartSolar charge and the Morningstar Prostar MPPT Charge Controller, the Renogy Rover series MPPT controllers also feature an advanced adaptive charging, the four-step charging; the bulk, absorption, float, and equalization. The MPPT controller rapidly recharges the battery by delivering as much charge as possible in the bulk phase. The charge controller switches to a constant voltage mode or shallow discharges during the absorption phase. Here, the absorption time is kept short to prevent the battery from overcharging. The batter is maintained in its fully charged state in the float phase. The Renogy Rover series MPPT controllers come with an extra phase, equalization. Basically, this is a periodic boost required by certain batteries. It is characterized by the excitement and stirring of electrolytes in the battery while leveling out the cell voltage. The battery voltage can be raised above the Absorption setpoint until the electrolyte in the battery starts to gas.
  • In-built temperature sensor- With a temperature sensor the charger can work efficiently within a wide range of temperatures usually up to 60 degrees Celcius.
  • Built quality- The MPPT controller is built with a die-cast aluminum design that allows efficient heat dissipation.
  • Safety-It features diverse load control of up to 20A. This also serves as electronic protection against reverse overcharging, reverse current and polarity, short-circuiting and over-discharging.
  • Warranty- 1 year.
  • Price- 20Amp will cost $85 while 60Amp will cost $655.

Cons

  • The MPPT controller comes with a very small cable at it is only limited to 100V Voc.
  • Customer satisfaction may not be guaranteed since there is only a 1-year warranty.

 

Recap

Any solar enthusiast understands that solar charge controllers are the most cost-effective and efficient way to charge solar batteries. We believe that it would be easier for you to choose an appropriate solar charge controller for your system after explaining the top 5 MPPT charger controllers including their functionality.

There is no doubt that Victron Energy provides a wide range of solar products from tiny solar controllers to large batteries and inverters. However, it is its’ intelligent monitoring and control systems that make stand out from its rivals. You should also consider searching for the SP PRO manufactured Selectronic. It is arguably the most advanced battery charger designed for use in hybrid off-grid and off-grid systems. Remember, you will have to dig deeper into your pocket to get hold of this charge controller.

Since price is also a factor when choosing a charge controller for your solar system, I would recommend charge controllers from Renogy since they offer one of the least expensive charge controllers with cool features, thereby, giving you value for money.  You don’t have to worry about the quality because Renogy is a well-respected brand and offers great options for off-grid setup.

Now that we have discussed the necessary components for efficient and high-quality MPPT charge controllers, I guess it is time for you to decide what best suits your needs. Remember, we provide the best MPPT charge controllers for off-grid solar installations.

 

About the author

Lee Waters

I've built a business around off-grid surveillance and want to help you do the same.