If you have a solar energy system installed in your RV, having the best solar charge controller for RV becomes a must purchase. I mean, these devices ensure your panels are working at their peak performance.
But there’s one little issue that haunts anybody looking for one of these devices; there are an insane amount of options to choose from as a potential customer. Honestly, trying to finding the perfect charge controller becomes such a frustrating experience.
This issue has made it clear that a buying guide was needed to help alleviate some of the stress. With this in mind, this article will try to make this experience as simple as possible by breaking it all down into its necessary parts.
We’ll even provide you with reviews of the 10 RV solar charge controllers we consider the best on the market. All this information will hopefully make this entire process more manageable and get you back to the fun things in your RVing experience.
So please, keep reading, and we’ll help you find the perfect RV solar charge controller for your solar energy system. I promise you won’t regret it!
|Dimensions||7 x 13.5 x 2.5 inches|
|Electric Current Options||30/60/100A|
|Dimensions||7.4 x 1.89 x 3.54 inches|
|Electric Current Options||20/30A|
|Dimensions||8.27 x 5.91 x 1.97 inches|
|Electric Current Options||15A|
Table of Contents
- 10 Best RV Solar Charge Controllers Reviews 2023
- 1. EEEkit 30A Solar Charge Controller
- 2. WindyNation P30L PWM RV Solar Regulator Charge Controller
- 3. Victron MPPT SmartSolar Charge Controller
- 4. HQST PWM Solar Charge Controller
- 5. ALLPOWERS 20A Solar Charge Controller
- 6. EPEVER MPPT Charge Controller
- 7. Go Power! GP-PWM-30A Solar Regulator
- 8. Renogy 30A Wanderer Solar Charge Controller
- 9. MidNite Solar CLASSIC 150 Charge Controller
- What to Look for When Buying a Solar Charge Controller for RV
- Other Important Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
10 Best RV Solar Charge Controllers Reviews 2023
1. EEEkit 30A Solar Charge Controller
The EEEKit 30A Solar Charge Controller is a decent system for managing energy flow from solar panels to batteries. It is a simple device with enough features, making it a reliable platform for guaranteeing sufficient solar energy for off-grid and RV use.
I like this charge controller’s user interface because cycling through the different menu settings and functionalities is a breeze. Labels mark the control buttons, ensuring a hassle-free operation. Connecting the solar batteries and solar panels to this charge controller is a breeze because of its thoughtful user interface layout.
Beyond the device’s aesthetics is an intelligent micro-controller that manages every device parameter. I can program it according to my solar power requirements and sleep better knowing this charge controller will not lose my data.
The protective features are noteworthy. They safeguard the solar charge controller against short circuits, overcurrent, overcharging, overloading, over-voltage, and under-voltage.
I also appreciate this device’s dual USB ports, delivering three amps to five-volt USB-ported gadgets, such as smartphones and tablets. This charge controller can accommodate 12V and 24V lead-acid batteries, such as gel and AGM.
Although this product’s performance is on point, it’s not an MPPT system like my Rich Solar charge controller. Moreover, I wish the device had a color display. The grayscale screen can be challenging for some people.
It might not be the top solar charge controller for modern families, but this product builds its case on dependable performance, ease of installation, and noteworthy protective features. It remains a viable choice for budget-conscious families relying on clean, renewable energy.
- Advanced micro-controller for more efficient management
- Intuitive user interface with labeled buttons for hassle-free device management
- Two USB ports for extra functionality
- Compatible with different battery types, like gel and AGM
- Six protective technologies for device and system safety
- Not an MPPT solar charge controller
- Grayscale display
2. WindyNation P30L PWM RV Solar Regulator Charge Controller
Our first product is the WindyNation P30L LCD 30A PWM RV Solar Regulator Charge Controller has a lot of qualities any person will a solar energy system could benefit from having. For one, it has a battery temperature sensor that’ll ensure your RV battery won’t become overcharged or undercharged.
This battery temperature sensor accomplishes this ability by adjusting the charging setpoint based on your batteries’ temperature. In doing so, it prevents two pressing issues, plate sulfation, and excess water loss, from causing damage as well.
I also found the LCD digital display wildly appealing as it ensures you can monitor the entire charging process. It gives you all the information you could ever need voltage, amperage, load control, temperature, etc.
As a result, you’ll never be uninformed about what’s going on during the charging process. You can take comfort in this product having multiple layers of protection as well. It has preventative measures against short-circuiting, overloads, and reverse polarity.
The fact that most customers found it easy to use was another aspect I found intriguing. You see its system settings are easily adjustable with the up, mode, and down buttons on the LCD display.
As someone that isn’t the greatest with electrical things, a simple using process like this one is always a welcomed addition. After all, a product can have all the features in the world; but if you can’t figure out how to use it, it’s not useful.
Thankfully, an issue like this one won’t be a problem thanks to this device’s simple using process. And all these amazing features come at an affordable price. There isn’t much else you could ask for from a product like this one.
I do wish it was a waterproof though as this quality could be a potential issue depending on your particular RVing circumstances. I’m always going to ensure the charge controller I get is waterproof just in case something does end up happening.
- Battery temperature sensor
- LCD digital display
- Affordable price
- Easy to use
- Multiple levels of protection
- Usable with various battery types
- Doesn’t have waterproof capabilities
3. Victron MPPT SmartSolar Charge Controller
One of the most technologically advanced models on this entire list is the Victron SmartSolar Charge Controller. And with its high-quality tech, it shouldn’t be shocking to learn it has some features that make it stand out from the rest of the pack.
The first thing that completely separates this model from most is its use of Bluetooth, which allows you to control and monitor this controller with your smartphone or similar devices; therefore, you can operate this product from wherever.
Along the same lines, this product also offers access to the Victron Remote Management Portal when the installation uses internet connection. In doing so, it also provides you with full power to this device regardless of the time or place.
Both these features make sure you never miss the opportunity of charging up your RV’s battery on a sunny day. I also like that this model is our first MPPT type charge controller on this list. This type of technology makes sure you don’t waste any available power out your panels.
You see the three PWM models before this device only charge until your battery’s hit your voltage requirement, which means any energy produced past that point is wasted. An MPPT device instead stores this excess energy for later use.
This Victron product also excels with its intelligent load output function, which prevents damage that might be caused by flat batteries. It’s another aspect that’ll ensure your batteries lifespan last as long as possible.
The BatteryLife feature isn’t something you should overlook either. You see this feature makes sure the SmartSolar attempts to do a 100% recharge every day. In the event it can’t, it’ll disconnect voltage, daily, until your battery’s fully charged. This process is essential as it’ll extend your battery’s lifespan and keep it in pristine health.
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Victron Remote Management Portal
- Intelligent load output function
- BatteryLife feature
- Uses MPPT technology
- 5-year warranty
4. HQST PWM Solar Charge Controller
Another product anyone looking for a high-quality solar charge controller should seriously consider is the HQST PWM Solar Charge Controller. It seems other customers agree with this assessment as it’s one of the most popular products bought in this marketplace.
Its rise in popularity shouldn’t be entirely shocking with features such as its ability to charge various electronics with its 5V 1A USB output. This output means you can charge things like your phone, laptop, tablets, and other devices with this product.
Pretty cool, right? Well, the impressive features don’t stop there. This model also has an LCD screen, which is easy to use and read. This display would make this entire process much simpler that even someone as electronically challenged as myself could figure it out without help.
The light control feature was another aspect this device had that I found rather useful. This feature will help make sure your batteries charge even when there’s no daylight. In other words, it’ll turn on the light source when there’s no sun, which will provide your RV’s batteries with the energy they need.
And when the sun does come back out, this light source will automatically turn off, while the solar panels do the job. It’s also helpful that it has numerous layers of protection against things like overcharge, over-discharge, reverse connection, short circuit, and overloads.
The inclusion of the battery temperature sensor is a nice touch as well for reasons already explained in the other reviews. And I didn’t even get to mention that this product’s affordable as well. Overall, it’s undoubtedly a charge controller that’ll get the job done.
- Multiple layers of protection
- Battery temperature sensor
- LCD display screen
- Light control feature
- Variety of uses
- Customer service issues
5. ALLPOWERS 20A Solar Charge Controller
The ALLPOWERS 20A Solar Charge Controller is one of the most affordable options on this list and should pique the interest of all you bargain buyers out there. After all, its performance qualities aren’t too bad either.
For instance, this model comes with two USB ports, which make it incredibly useful as it can help charge a variety of products. A feature like this one will ensure you feel like you get your money’s worth out of this device.
I also love this charge controller’s LCD design display, which allows for an easy using process. You can clearly see all the information this display provides and the buttons on it let you cycle through modes quickly.
The installation process seems like relatively breeze as well given the numerous customer review alluding to it’s much easier than other controllers they had tried in the past. Plus, it offers excellent heat dissipation to ensure the product’s running as efficiently as possible.
The multiple layers of protection should also prevent anything dangerous from happening with its use: over-current protection, inverse connection protection, short-circuit protection, low voltage and overcharge protection.
But as stated before, the best thing about this model is its low price. This model is easily one of the more cost-effective options on this entire list. But there was one concern I found myself coming across a couple of times when I was reading this RV solar controller reviews.
It seems this product has longevity concerns with it being less durable than the other customers expected. A complaint regarding durability isn’t a great sign, but I do need to mention, this issue was in a small number of reviews.
As a result, it could be an issue of human error based on how they installed or used the product. Either way, I’d consider this model worth the risk given the low price and the vast majority of possible experiences other customers had with it.
- Easy to install
- Multiple layers of protection
- Great heat dissipation
- USB ports
- LCD design display
- Longevity issues
6. EPEVER MPPT Charge Controller
The EPEVER MPPT Charge Controller is one of the most efficient options we’ve come across in this marketplace. You see this model offers efficiency up to 99.5% with its use of advanced MPPT technology, which is unheard of from these types of products.
This technology features a conversion rate of 98% as well, which means you can expect this model will maximize all the energy it gets from your solar panels to effectively charge your system. And considering the overwhelmingly positive nature of this MPPT charge controller reviews, I can confidently say it succeeds in this area.
Another unique feature this device offers is the ability to track the controller’s progress via your computer. It provides real-time data examining how effectively the device’s doing its job. It’s another way this model can help you keep track of your RV’s solar energy system efficiency.
Likewise, the LCD display design will also be helpful in this regard. It’ll show you the device’s operating data such as voltage, amperage, and other essential information conveying how well the product is working.
I also found the built-in protection against reverse polarity, overcharging, overload, over-discharging, reserve current, and short-circuiting to be appealing. I mean, there doesn’t seem to be anything this device isn’t ready for giving all the preventative measures.
But even with all the positives, there are two issues I have with this particular model. The first one has nothing to do with the overall quality, but it’s high price. It’s well outside my budget, and I expect most of you will have the same reaction.
The second issue has to do with the computer software as there were a couple of complaints about it not working among the customer reviews. Neither of these flaws is enormous deals, but they’re enough of a nuisance to worth mentioning.
- Uses MPPT technology
- Battery temperature sensor
- LCD display design
- Multiple layers of protection
- 2-year warranty
- Can monitor progress on a computer
- Some customer reported issues with the computer software
7. Go Power! GP-PWM-30A Solar Regulator
Our next model returns us to the PWM types of charge controllers. This particular one has a long list of impressive features that will make it a hard product to pass on as a potential customer. I mean, the built-in USB charge port alone is enough to get me excited.
This feature gives you the option of charging all sorts of electronics with this device: phones, laptops, tables, etc. As a result, it’ll make sure you get the most out of this model when/if you decide to buy it.
I also love that this product protects your batteries from overcharging with its 4-stage charging process, which features the crucial fourth stage of equalization. The equalizing step ensures every cell within the battery bank is charged at the same rate, which guarantees over or undercharging isn’t an issue.
The LCD device design that shows the voltage, amperage and the charge level is another nice touch. It’ll ensure you can effectively keep track of where your RV’s battery is during the charging process.
Honestly, any feature that gives me an idea of whether the device’s working properly is a win in my books. And this LCD display does precisely what I’m describing. I also take comfort in the fact this charge controller comes with a 5-year warranty.
This many years on a protection plan such as this one gives me confidence about the level of faith Valterra has in this product. Plus, I have a unique ability to break even the most durable things; therefore, a warranty is always my best friend.
- 4-stage charging process
- 5-year warranty
- Works on various types of batteries
- Protects against overcharging
- LCD device display showing amperage, charge level, and voltage
- Built-in USB charge port
- Durability issues
8. Renogy 30A Wanderer Solar Charge Controller
Renogy’s Wanderer Solar Charge Controller comes from one of my favorite manufacturers. This company has a stellar reputation for creating top-tier solar equipment, and this device is no different thanks to its set of features.
The LED indicators are an excellent example of them offering unique and useful features on these devices. You see there are three of these indicators: a green light (power-rise), red light (charging), and solar light (fully charged).
These lights will ensure you know exactly what’s going on with your RV’s battery during the charging process. It also has the always essential battery temperature sensor, which will ensure your battery never becomes undercharged or overcharged by adjusting to your battery’s temperature.
This model also adds in a bit of versatility as it’s capable of working with various types of batteries: gel, sealed, and flooded batteries. The pre-drilled holes are another useful feature as it makes mounting this device rather simple.
And let’s be honest; there’s nothing worse than a product with a complicated installation process. The fact that this potential problem isn’t an issue with this device is undoubtedly a win. You can say the same about the various layers of protection as well.
It has protection against overcharging, overload, short-circuit, and reverse polarity to ensure nothing dangerous occurs when you’re using this charge controller. It seems like Renogy did a fantastic job accounting for every potential damaging issue when creating this device.
But the best part about this charge controller is its affordable cost. It should fall well in the parameters of your potential spending budget. Overall, this product certainly checks most of the boxes on my list.
- LED indicators
- Battery temperature sensor
- Usable with multiple battery types
- 4-stage charging system
- Various levels of protection
- Longevity concerns
9. MidNite Solar CLASSIC 150 Charge Controller
Our last product on this list is the MidNite Solar Classic 150 Charge Controller. And there a lot of things that make this model stand out from the rest of the devices in this article. For one, it comes with an arc fault detection feature.
This particular feature is quite useful as it can detect dangerous electric arcs that might cause hazardous situations such as a fire. Due to this quality, you can reasonably expect that using this controller is entirely safe.
Another feature I love is this charge controller’s ability to work with numerous DC input sources. You see this device is capable of regulating DC input from approved hydro turbines, wind turbines, and PV.
With capabilities such as this one, it’s quite apparent this particular product is something special in this marketplace. The fact that you can access its power system through an online app from anywhere in the world is another feature that puts this model over the top.
In other words, there’s no reason you won’t be able to adjust your RV’s solar energy system whenever see fit; therefore, this model gives you a level of control the other products on this list just don’t offer regarding their convenience.
But the fantastic features don’t stop there as this device also comes with an extended warranty. This feature allows you to send back any worn down parts six months before the warranty period ends and get them replaced.
Once you get the new parts, MidNite Solar will even extend the warranty two more years, which is fantastic from a customer’s perspective. It’s also an excellent comfort to know this product was made inside the USA as it means it had to pass rigorous regulations and tests.
All in all, this product is spectacular and would be the top choice on my list, but there’s one thing that makes it not buyable for me: its incredibly high price. This device is easily the most expensive on this entire list.
- Arc fault detection
- Can access remotely via online app
- Made in America
- Able to use numerous DC input sources
- Extended warranty
- Outrageously expensive
Sunix 20A Solar Charge Controller (Outdated)
There isn’t too much that’s remarkable about our next product the Sunix 20A 12V/24V Solar Charge Controller. It doesn’t have any special features that jump out off the page, but what it does provide is doing its job without creating any hassles or complications.
I mean, it has all those features that you’re tired of hearing about: easy using and install processes, LCD design display, USB ports, multiple layers of protection, etc. In other words, all the things you come to expect from a high-quality solar charge controller.
It even has the all-too-important battery temperature sensor that’ll ensure your RV’s battery doesn’t overcharge. In every aspect, this product does just enough to seem above-average, which is unique in its own right.
But since it doesn’t have any remarkable feature, there’s one aspect where it outpaces every other model on this list: its price. You see this model is easily the least expensive product mentioned in this entire article.
Given this information, every bargain buyer can expect this product to be near the top of their consideration list. After all, it has every feature and does all the things you expect from one of these products, but it just doesn’t provide a spectacular performance.
It’s imperative we also discuss that this model does have a significant flaw that we must address before you make a final decision on buying it. Several customers complained about the longevity of the product with them reporting it broke after a year of use.
But numerous other positive reviews refute these findings. As a result, you’ll have to decide whether you find it’s low price point intriguing enough for taking on this possible risk. I’d go for it personally.
- Lowest price on this list
- Easy to install and use
- Multiple layers of protection
- LCD design display
- Two USB ports
- Battery temperature sensor
- Longevity concerns
PowMr 40A Solar Charge Controller (Outdated)
Another product for all you bargain buyers is the PowMr 40A Solar Charge Controller. This particular device comes with a rather impressive array of features. For instance, it has both an easy using and installation processes that make this model incredibly convenient.
Along the same lines, the massive LCD design display this device has helps make the using process simple as humanly possible. It gives you the power to control the entire charging process of your RV’s battery while showing you the progress being made.
I also love the fact that this model is capable of work with numerous battery types in event you end up needing it for a different one down the line. It speaks to the overall versatility of this particular charge controller.
And like many other products on this list, it features numerous levels of protection to ensure everything stays safe when using this product. In this product’s case, it offers preventative measures with short-circuit protection, open-circuit protection, overload protection, and reverse protection.
We should mention it has a 2-month warranty as well. It may not be the longest protection policy you’ve ever see, but at least this company offered something. Given the price this product costs, it’s a borderline miracle they offered any at all.
Overall, this product from PowMr is a reliable, unspectacular option that’ll get the job done for a low price. But before you put it into your online shopping cart, there was a reoccurring issue among the customer reviews I must share.
You see multiple negative reviews commented on how contacting the customer service was an issue for them, which is never something you enjoy seeing when researching a product.
- 2-month warranty
- Affordable price
- LCD design display
- Fits various battery type
- Easy to use and install
- Multiple layers of protection
- Customer service issues
What to Look for When Buying a Solar Charge Controller for RV
As you would expect from any other product, some factors will determine, which RV solar panel controller is the best for your RV. And this section will discuss them at length to ensure you come away with the perfect product.
The first thing you’ll want to consider is the amp rating. This measurement tells you the highest amperage the product can output to the batteries. For instance, if you have a solar charge controller with a 10 amp rating, it wouldn’t be a good fit for two 100 watt solar panels with a power of 6 amps.
You see your panels would combine to create 12 amps total and the controller can only output 10 amps. As a result, two amps would end up not being utilized, and that’s not what anyone wants. Instead, you want to choose a solar charge controller with a rating that’s 25% higher than your solar panel’s peak power.
After all, there are times your solar panels will produce more than their output rating. The cushion provided by the extra 25% will ensure you can take advantage of those circumstances. It’s also essential that you factor in any additional solar panels you plan on adding later.
It might seem like such a simple feature, but some solar charge controllers don’t have an on/off switch. Sounds crazy, right? Well, these products do exist, and I’ve always avoided them because I like having the option of turning the product on and off.
This feature becomes incredibly useful when you consider it allows to shut the down the product without removing the fuse at the battery. In other words, it makes things much easier on the person using the device.
Given this information, do yourself a favor and make sure the model you get has an on/off switch. Trust me; it does offer a level convenience that you shouldn’t take for granted. The feeling of control is a nice touch as well.
Adjustable Charging Voltage Set Point
Another convenient feature you should look into your RV solar controller having is an adjustable charging voltage set point. This little feature will allow you to adjust the voltage during the charging process based on the type of battery: AGM, flooded lead-acid, or gel.
If you’re confused by what voltage is right for your battery, you can always contact the battery manufacturer to get the info you need. Overall, this feature makes everything about the charging process much more efficient.
Battery Temperature Sensor
Any best solar charge controller for RV will have some sort of battery temperature sensor. You see this feature will ensure the batteries don’t become under or overcharged, which can be a real hassle.
This feature can provide this outstanding ability by adjusting the charging setpoint based on the temperature of your batteries. As a result, it’ll prevent plate sulfation and excess water loss, which are both burdensome for your batteries.
It’s another feature that’ll protect your batteries from suffering any unneeded damage. Plus, it’ll ensure these batteries stay as efficient as possible by keeping them at the perfect charge level rather than under or over it.
Dry Camp/Shore Power Switch
You should also look for a solar charge controller with a dry camp/shore power switch. This feature will provide with you the ability to change the battery’s charge setpoint between maximum power and standby mode.
Maximum power would be the better choice when you’re RVing away from the campground. In other words, apart from shore power. But if you’re plugged into shore power, the standby mode would be the better option.
Standby mode is also useful when you have to store your RV as it’ll maintain your batteries; therefore, having a switch that makes switching between these modes incredibly easy is a useful thing to have on your solar charge controller.
These solar charge controllers can get surprisingly expensive, which means understanding your budget becomes imperative. You must outline what you want out of these products and equate that to an acceptable price range.
Honestly, this product isn’t something you need to break open your bank account for as there are plenty of cost-effective options out there. Setting up a budget also will help limit your choices, which is quite helpful in dealing with the overwhelming amount of options.
Other Important Factors to Consider
Understanding the factors mentioned above is only half the battle. There’s still various degrees of background knowledge that’ll help you through this entire process as well. In this section, we’ll go over this information to ensure you have everything at your disposal for making an informed decision.
What is a solar charge controller for RV?
A solar charge controller for RV is the heart of your RV’s solar system. These products will make sure everything functions efficiently and correctly. It does this essential function by regulating the current and voltage that comes from the solar panels.
This critical ability will ensure your battery doesn’t become overcharged. Without one, the batteries will not charge properly, and it might result in damage occurring to the battery pack. If it doesn’t result in damage, it’ll at least end up with shorter battery life.
With this in mind, it becomes quite apparent that you shouldn’t attach a solar panel directly to a battery pack without one of these products: unless the solar panel is small and categorized as a trickle charger.
As a result, finding a high-quality that meets all the needs of your particular circumstances becomes a must. It’ll make your life a lot easier during those days when your solar panels are getting too much or little sun.
How does it work?
A solar charge controller will typically have charging stages it goes through during its process of charging your RV’s batteries. There are three primary stages, which also known as a 3-stage charger:
- Bulk Charge: This stage uses 100% of your solar panels’ available power to charge your batteries until the absorption voltage is reached. In most cases, this voltage will be between 14.4 and 14.6 volts.
- Absorption Charge: After it reaches the set voltage, the device will switch to the absorption part of this process. During this stage, the battery will be close to 85% charged and the charge controller will maintain the absorption voltage for a set period. Both the voltage and length of time will depend on the manufacturer that built the controller.
- Float Charge: Once the absorption stage is done, your RV’s battery should be almost fully charged. The charge controller will switch to a lower voltage (13.2 to 13.7 volts depending on the manufacturer) and hold it for the rest of the solar day. This lesser charge makes sure the batteries don’t become overcharged and get damaged. It’ll also ensure that the battery acid doesn’t boil off. If there happens to be an excessive load on your batteries and the controller can’t maintain the charge level during this stage, it might switch back into bulk charge model to ensure the batteries reach the fully charged level.
These three charging stages are what every charge controller goes through to ensure your RV’s batteries get fully charged. However, you must also be aware that there’s a fourth mode called equalization.
This mode charges the batteries with a voltage between 14.8 and 15.5 volts (depending on the manufacturer), which will overcharge the batteries and gas the battery’s cells. This action results in all the battery bank’s cells having the same charge.
This process will occur every four weeks, but some devices will automatically switch to equalization when the battery bank voltage plummets below a specific level. This number is also manufacturer dependent; however, it’s typically somewhere between 10 and 12.1 volts.
We should also mention that only wet cell, flooded lead-acid batteries should go through this fourth mode of equalization. But there are some AGM and gel lead-acid battery manufacturers recommend doing with their products as well.
What are the different types of RV solar charge controllers?
As you sift through all the solar charge controllers on the market, you’ll probably keep coming across two acronyms: MPPT and PWM. These stand for Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) and Pulse Width Modulation(PWM).
These two acronyms are how we classify solar charge controllers into types. We’ll go over the critical details about each one below to ensure you know, which one is the right option for you.
Pulse Width Modulation (PWM)
These devices are the older models when it comes to solar charge controllers. It shouldn’t be a surprise they’re often cheaper as well. Understanding how these products work is rather simple: you see a PWM solar charge controller will regulate the current and voltage flowing from solar panel to your battery.
In doing so, it’ll provide enough current to the battery that it requires for its voltage size. After the right voltage has reached your battery, it’ll detach it from the panel and ensures the battery maintains the voltage point. Nothing too complicated, right?
We should also mention that while these devices are useful tools at preventing overcharging; it does have a significant disadvantage compared to an MPPT controller. You see these devices only supply enough energy to hit your battery’s voltage requirement.
Due to this, any energy produced after it meets this requirement is lost; therefore, these models aren’t the most efficient. Overall, these devices represent a good option when you’re in a bind and need something to get the job done at a low cost.
Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT)
MPPT solar charge controllers feature better technology than their PWM counterparts and work much more efficiently as a result. But it also means their operation is harder to explain as it’s a bit more complicated.
You see solar panels often generate more voltage during sunny days than your RV battery can handle, which is where an MPPT solar charge controller comes in handy. It can convert this extra voltage into more current.
It will then use this extra current at a lower voltage and does it without losing any power. With this ability, you can use your solar panel’s full power to charge your battery efficiently. And this useful quality isn’t the only one these devices offer.
MPPT solar charge controllers are also better suited for batteries and solar panels with higher voltages. Plus, you must understand that this type is the correct choice when your battery’s voltage and the solar panel’s voltage doesn’t match. In these circumstances, a PWM device will not work.
But it’s not all positives with these devices as these charge controllers are much more expensive than your standard PWM type. With this in mind, it’s essential you evaluate how frequently you’re going to rely on solar energy.
If you plan on using solar energy all the time, it’d be a wise move to spend the extra money on a high-quality MPPT model. But if you only plan on using your solar panels only during a summer trip, a PWM device would be the better option.
Why do you need a solar charge controller for RV?
Weather conditions aren’t something people can control. We like to think that we’re capable of predicting them correctly; but let’s face it, a lot of the time we’re wrong. And this means solar energy is somewhat unreliable as well.
You see solar energy might be an excellent renewable resource, but the power provided by the sun can vary tremendously based on several factors: location, time of day, season, etc. As a result, there will be periods when your solar panels can’t gather enough energy to charge your RV’s battery effectively.
And there will be other times where the sun’s bright, away from clouds, and capable of providing a surge of energy that makes your solar panels work at their peak performance. Both of these scenarios create an amount of energy that can cause damage to your RV’s battery.
For instance, a total lack of solar energy might lead to an extremely low discharge that reduces your battery’s lifespan. Meanwhile, an excessive amount of power could lead to your battery overheating, which could also reduce its lifespan.
These outcomes aren’t something anybody using solar panels wants. And it’s why you need a solar charge controller. This device will sit between your battery and solar panels to control the energy your battery receives.
Therefore, it’ll ensure your battery doesn’t overheat or have such a low discharge rate that it ends up causing damage. Overall, it’ll make sure your RV’s solar energy system runs efficiently for years to come.
And that’s all you need to know about why these devices are such an essential purchase for an RVer using solar panels. Given this information, you can see why getting one these devices should be near the top of the list for an RVer using solar panels.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
This FAQ section will try to answer any remaining questions you may have about solar charge controllers. It’ll go over all the things we might’ve missed in our previous sections and ensure your buying experience is a productive one.
What are good RV solar charge controller brands?
The good RV solar charge controller brands are the ones you see in our product review section. All of these manufacturers are routinely praised by their customers and have a pristine reputation among people using these products.
But even within this group of brands, two companies tend to rise above the rest: EPEVER and Renogy. These two manufacturers are always ahead of their peers when making these useful products.
And we thought providing background information about them could help you understand what makes these particular brands special.
As a somewhat new company in this marketplace, EPEVER has made quite a name for themselves over the last decade by providing high-quality products. This ability to manufacturer top-tier items comes from their intense focus on their customer’s needs and wants.
It also helps that they specialize in understanding all the ins and outs of these products manufacturing, their marketplace, and customer satisfaction. In the end, they’re doing everything they can to ensure a customer that buys their product has a positive experience.
This company works incredibly hard to ensure each product they sell meets that customer’s particular needs. They also put a massive focus on making sure their products are a reasonable price, which results in them offering some of the most cost-effective options on the market.
With valves like these, it’s not hard to see why Renogy has become such a well-respected company in this marketplace. It does seem like they’ll do anything to ensure their customers feel 100% satisfied with their purchase.
If you buy a solar charge controller from either, these two companies will provide you a buying experience that’ll be well worth the time and effort. I mean, everything you read about them conveys they genuinely care about their customers.
And as a potential customer myself, an assurance like that’s more than enough for me.
What size solar charge controller do i need?
Understanding what size you need isn’t as stressful as you might imagine. In fact, it’s quite simple. You see these charge controllers are rated based on the solar system’s voltage (push) and your solar array’s current (amps).
In other words, this process ends up being about getting a charge controller that’s big enough to handle the amount of current and power created by your RV’s solar energy system. And typically this need will manifest in three different volt ratings: 12, 24, and 48.
But you might see charge controllers with voltage ratings anywhere between 6 and 60 volts. Meanwhile, amperage ratings on these devices can vary between 1 and 60 amps. Sounds like a broad spectrum, right?
Well, trust me; figuring this issue out isn’t difficult. For instance, if you have a solar system with a voltage of 12 and an amperage rating of 14, you need a controller with at least 14 amps. But there are some other factors to include as well: sporadic increased current levels occurring, light reflection, etc.
With this in mind, you should add in another 25%, which would bring our minimum amps for our charge controller up to 17.5 amps; therefore, you should purchase a 12v solar charge controller with 20 amp rating(you’ll need to round up from 17.5).
We should also mention that a charge controller with too high of an amperage rating won’t matter. Experts actually often recommend getting one with little extra amps to account for the possible addition of more panels in the future.
How many watts can a 30 amp charge controller handle?
The number of watts a 30 amp charge controller can handle is a function of the device’s electric current output rating and charging voltage output. Since the unit has 30 amps, the wattage load it can accommodate depends on how many volts connect to the system.
For example, a 30-amp charge controller connected to a 24-volt battery system for motorhome applications can manage 720 watts (24 volts x 30 amps = 720 watts).
However, solar charge controller type can also impact wattage capacity. For instance, an MPPT solar charge controller for RV is more effective than a PWM solar charge controller by 40 percent, wasting no energy as it automatically converts the excess voltage into current or amperes.
Hence, it is not uncommon for an MPPT solar charge controller to accommodate more watts.
For instance, a 30-amp PWM charge controller connected to a 12-volt battery can only handle 360 watts. On the other hand, a similar 30-amp MPPT device on a 12-volt battery can accommodate 550 watts, which is 34.5% better than the PWM capacity.
How to connect a controller to solar panels?
Connecting a controller to solar panels is a three-step process that RV owners can complete within minutes. It does not matter if it is a cheap solar charge controller or a high-end one because the procedures are similar.
- Connect the charge controller to the battery by linking the cables to their corresponding ports and terminals. Fasten the positive battery cable to the controller’s positive terminal and do the same for the negative battery cable on the device’s negative terminal.
Secure the other ends of the cables to their respective battery posts – negative to negative and positive to positive. Remember to connect the negative cable before the positive wire.
RV owners can observe the same procedure for lithium battery units, although they might have a different terminal. Users should see the charge controller turn on.
- Prepare the solar panels by linking the positive MC4 adapter cable (with inline fuse) to the solar panel’s positive line. Repeat the step with the negative connection.
- Fasten the solar panel’s negative cable to the charge controller’s negative terminal. Do the same with the positive solar wire and the device’s positive terminal. The charge controller should indicate if the connection is successful.
Do I need to use a trickle charger or battery tender?
When you intend on storing your RV for an extended period, it’s imperative to ensure your battery is fully charged at the time you put into storage. But the issue is every type of battery will end up discharging, which means recharging would be necessary from time to time.
This issue is where a trickle charger or battery tender comes in handy. You see a tricker charger will offer a low voltage to the battery continually at a rate that’s equivalent with your battery’s discharge rate.
In most cases, it’s imperative you remove a trickle charger after the battery becomes fully charged; however, there are some that operate more like battery maintainers or tenders, which offer you the ability to set a rate when the trickle charge would activate and turn off.
Given this information, it’s quite apparent a trickle charger or battery maintainer would be quite helpful in the event you intend on storing your RV. They’ll maintain your battery and prevent any discharge from occurring during these long periods of inactivity.
Can I use multiple RV solar charge controllers?
The answer to this question is simple, yes. You can use multiple RV solar charge controllers as they can all work on the same battery bank. More than one of these devices becomes necessary when one charge controller can’t handle the output of your sizeable solar array.
These controllers will connect through communication cables, which will help ensure there aren’t any issues. The wires would connect these charge controllers in a parallel fashion across the battery bank.
With all your new knowledge of these devices, finding the best solar charge controller for RV should be an easy process. All you need to do is apply the information you learned within this article and use during your search.
Once you do, it should become clear, which charge controller is the perfect product for your circumstances. And you never know, it might even be one from our product review section. After all, these models are the best on the market.
But regardless of the model you pick, please make sure it fulfills everything you want from one of these devices. I mean, there’s a lot of options, and there should be one that satisfies all the requirements on your feature list.
And finally, if you have any more questions, please free to leave them in the comment section below. We’d love to help in whatever way we can!
Hi, I am William Turner, a junior color consultant. My work is to create designs that make visual impacts as desired by clients. I am here to introduce you to the current color trends and combinations that create the right mood for your rooms.