One of the key components of a home solar power system is the charge controller. All the Photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roof will be connected to the charge controller via copper cables.
With so many different types of charge controller available in the market, how to we choose the right one for our residential solar power system?
When you are shopping for a new charge controller, consider the following 10 features.
1) Current backflow protection – During the day, the solar panel will generate electric current. However, during night time, the PV panels will become an electric load and draws power from the battery bank.
A current backflow protection prevents current flowing from the battery into the solar panels.
2) Battery low-voltage disconnect (LVD) – When the battery bank has been discharged to a very low level, this feature will automatically stop any further power discharge.
3) Monitoring system – System readings with either digital or analog display.
4) Protection from overcurrent – For whatever reason if there is a current spike, the fuses in the charge controller should break the circuit.
5) Flexible mounting option – Make sure the unit comes with multiple mounting option. You may want to flush mount or wall mount the charge controller.
6) Total system control – The charge controller can actually control other system such as backup generator, secondary battery bank, secondary charge system etc.
7) Secondary load controller – With special timer and controller, the unit can be used to control secondary loads such as water pump, lights, switches etc.
8) Temperature compensation – The deep cycle batteries keep in different temperature will require different voltage level to fully charge the system.
The temperature compensation feature will automatically change the voltage limit to maximize battery charging.
9) Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) – This is a method used to maintain the battery maximum state of charge. It also reduces the chances for sulfate build up on the battery plates. This can be done by a charge controller by pulsing the battery voltage at a high frequency.
10) Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) – This feature charges the battery by extracting the most power possible from the Photovoltaic panels by changing its operating voltage for maximum efficiency.
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