It is important to consider solar charge controller type, maximum output voltage, maximum input voltage, maximum charge current, and maximum input wattage when buying solar charge controllers. But what ultimately separates the best from the rest is peak conversion efficiency.

Best Solar Charge Controllers at a Glance

  1. EPEVER MPPT Solar Charge ControllerOverall Best Solar Charge Controller
  2. Renogy Rover 20 Amp 12V/24V DC Input MPPT Charge ControllerSecond-Best Solar Charge Controller
  3. Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT
  4. Binen 30A Solar Charge ControllerBest PWM Solar Charge Controller
  5. Binen 20A Solar Charge Controller
  6. Renogy Wanderer 10 Amp Solar Charge Controller

A good solar charge controller is typified by high peak conversion efficiency. This is one of the reasons MPPTs are favored over PWMs in most cases.

The peak conversion efficiency of a solar charge controller basically indicates the proportion of the input power from the solar panel array the controller uses in charging the battery. With a high peak conversion efficiency, the charging process of a solar charge controller is more effective.

Depending on how they work, solar charge controllers can either be Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) or Pulse Width Modulation (PWM). MPPT solar charge controllers are the more efficient options since they typically draw power out of the solar panels at maximum wattage. The PMW types are less efficient, and they are typically reserved for low systems with a low-capacity solar array.

When choosing a solar charge controller, the controller’s output voltage must match the battery’s voltage. If you opt for a controller with an output voltage lower than the battery voltage, charging would not be efficient. Conversely, if you opt for an output voltage higher than the maximum battery voltage, you may damage the battery.

Apart from matching the maximum battery voltage with the output voltage of the charge controller, you should consider the maximum charge current of the charge controller. With a higher charge current, the charge controller will charge the battery faster and more efficiently.

Solar panel wattage and voltage must be less than or equal to the charge controller’s maximum input wattage and voltage. If the solar panel wattage/voltage exceeds the charge controller’s maximum input wattage/voltage, the controller may not handle the power the solar panels produce.

Our Best Solar Charge Controller Review

1. EPEVER MPPT Solar Charge Controller

Best Solar Charge Controller

About the Product

The EPEVER Charge Controller takes the top spot in our review not only because it is an MPPT solar charge controller. But also because, amongst the MPPT charge controllers in our review, it has the highest peak conversion efficiency, maximum input wattage, input voltage, and charge current, and the display is user-friendly.

Our Review

The rated peak conversion efficiency of the EPEVER Charge Controller (98%) is the same as that of the Renogy Rover. However, its rated tracking efficiency (99.5%) is slightly higher than that of the Renogy Rover (99%).

Maximum Input Voltage

The maximum input voltage the EPEVER Charge Controller can take from the solar panels is 100 volts – the highest of any of our best solar charge controllers. With the ability to handle an input voltage as high as 100 volts, the charge controller will seamlessly slot into solar panel systems with high voltage output.

Maximum Input Wattage

Like most solar charge controllers, the EPEVER Solar Charge Controller is suited for a 12v and 24v battery bank. And of every MPPT solar charge controller we reviewed, the input wattages of the EPEVER Charge Controller are the highest. When connected to a 12v solar system, it can handle a maximum input wattage of 390 W. For a 24v system, the maximum input wattage is 780W.

Being able to support voltage and power inputs as high as those above, it is not surprising that the EPEVER Charge Controller offers efficient charging. Then again, with such performance, it is unsurprising that it works with various types of batteries, including deep-charging batteries like lithium, sealed, flooded, and gel. Plus, you can program it for each of these battery types.

To program this MPPT controller for the battery types, you need either a PC or a smartphone with the Solar Charge Regulator software or app. But it does not stop at that.

To use a PC with this charge controller, you need to get an RS485 cable separately. Then to use a smartphone with it, you need an Ebox-Blue or Ebox Wi-Fi. Alternatively, you may get the remote meter to monitor and control the charge controller.

Maximum Charge Current

Besides its impressive input voltage and power capacity, the EPEVER Charge Controller offers a charge current of 30A – only the Binen 30A, a PWM charge controller, matches this. The other MPPT charge controllers have relatively lower charge currents.

Besides the features that make it the best MPPT charge controller in our review, the EPEVER Charge Controller offers sufficient protection against circuit damages. It features a load control that prevents overcharging, overload, over-discharging, reverses current and short circuits. So, you can rest assured that your battery bank is unlikely to go bad with the EPEVER Charge Controller in place.

The EPEVER Charge Controller comes with an LCD screen, and it features two control buttons. So, overall, the user interface is uncomplicated.

Pros

  • It offers the joint-highest peak conversion efficiency of any of the solar charge controllers we reviewed.
  • Being an MPPT controller is the top benefit of this product. Even when the intensity of sunlight varies, this charge controller will get the most out of the solar panels.
  • Amongst the MPPT controllers, it can handle the highest input wattage.
  • It has the highest input voltage of all the products we reviewed.
  • The charge current is top amongst the MPPT controller. It comes with safety features against various potential circuit damages and promotes battery life. The uncomplicated user interface for easy navigation.
  • Remote temperature sensor to keep battery charging at optimal temperatures.

Cons

  • For remote monitoring, you need to get extra accessories besides your PC or smartphone.
  • The length of the remote temperature sensor could be longer.
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2. Renogy Rover 20 Amp 12V/24V DC Input MPPT Charge Controller

Renogy Rover 20 Amp 12V/24V DC Input MPPT Charge Controller

About the Product

The Renogy Rover takes the second spot amongst our best solar charge controllers. It is also an MPPT controller, and it has the same peak conversion efficiency and maximum input voltage as the EPEVER Charge Controller. However, its maximum input wattage, tracking efficiency, and charge current fall short of the EPEVER Charge Controllers.

Our Review

With a rated peak conversion efficiency of 98%, the Renogy Rover is on par with the EPEVER Charge Controller. However, when it comes to tracking efficiency, the EPEVER Charge Controller beats the Renogy Rover slightly (99.5% to 99%).

Maximum Input Voltage

The Renogy Rover can handle an input voltage of up to 100 volts from a solar array – the same as the EPEVER Charge Controler and the joint-highest on the list.

Maximum Input Wattage

Like the EPEVER Charge Controller, the Renogy Rover is suited for a 12v or 24v battery bank. It has the second-highest input wattages amongst the MPPT controllers on our list.

When the Renogy Rover is part of a 12v solar system, it can handle an input power of up to 260 watts. Then when it is connected to a 24v system, it handles up to 520 watts.

Maximum Charge Current

Apart from the impressive input wattage and voltage, the Renogy Rover boasts a charge current of 20 A. Amongst the MPPT controllers, only the EPEVER Charge Controller has a higher charge current.

The combination of high input wattage and high charge current contributes to the Renogy Rover’s efficiency.

The Renogy Rover, like the EPEVER Charge Controller, can charge various types of deep-charging batteries. It can charge lithium, sealed, gel, and flooded batteries. That aside, it can even charge a lithium battery that has discharged to 0%. The system comes with a sensor that detects over-discharging and fixes it.

The Renogy Rover, like the EPEVER Charge Controller, offers 4-stage charging: bulk, flood, boost, and equalization. This charging process promotes longer battery life while improving system performance.

This solar charge controller is not without its own circuit protection features. It features a load control to prevent overcharging, over-discharging, short circuit, and overload – just like the EPEVER Charge Controller. Then it comes with a battery temperature sensor, which improves battery life, battery performance, and reduces the need for maintenance.

Like the EPEVER Charge Controller, the Renogy Rover allows remote monitoring and control. However, you need to get the BT-1 Bluetooth Module to connect the solar charge controller with your smartphone or Tablet.

This product comes with an LCD and 4 navigation buttons, and it is generally uncomplicated to use.

Pros

  • Has the same peak conversion efficiency as the EPEVER Charge Controller – the joint-highest on the list.
  • Since it is an MPPT, changes in sunlight intensity do not markedly affect charging efficiency.
  • This product has the joint-highest input voltage amongst all the charge controllers on our list.
  • Offers the second-highest charge current amongst the MPPTs, only behind the EPEVER Charge Controller. It comes with a system that protects against overcharging, over-discharging, short circuits, overload, and other system faults. It also comes with a temperature sensor to ensure battery bank longevity through temperature compensation for charge voltage.
  • The user interface is pretty straightforward.

Cons

  • Like the EPEVER Charge Controller, you have to get an extra accessory (the BT-1 Bluetooth Module) if you intend to try out remote monitoring with your smartphone or tablet.
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3. Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT

Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT

About the Product

The Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT is the third MPPT in our review, and it offers the same peak conversion efficiency as the Renogy Rover and the EPEVER Controller.

However, it is just behind the Renogy Rover and the EPEVER Charge Controller because its charge current, input voltage, and input wattage are the lowest of the three. But this does not take anything away from the overall quality it offers.

Our Review

The rated peak conversion efficiency of the Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT is 98% – on par with the EPEVER Controller and the Renogy Rover.

The Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT can handle voltages of up to 75 volts from solar panels. This falls short of what the Renogy Rover and the EPEVER Charge Controller can handle. Yet, it still offers some flexibility when upgrading your solar array.

Maximum Input Wattage

As with the EPEVER Controller and the Renogy Rover, the Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT is suitable for a solar system with a battery voltage of 12v and 24v. When connected to a 12v system, it can take a maximum input wattage of up to 195 watts. Then with a 24v system, it can handle a maximum of 390 watts.

The maximum input wattages of the Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT might be lower than those of the EPEVER Controller and the Renogy Rover. However, since it pushes about 25% to 30% more current to the battery than a PWM would, we doubt the input wattages will be too much of an issue.

Maximum Charge Current

The Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT has a charge current of around 15 amps. This is less than what the Renogy Rover and the EPEVER Controller offer, but it is pretty decent all the same.

The Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT offers 8 battery settings, meaning you can use it with various battery types, including lithium, sealed, and flooded batteries. It would even work on a battery at 0%, as long as titis not damaged.

Apart from the above, the Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT is packed with multiple safety features against system faults such as short circuits. With the said features, your battery is unlikely to go bad from circuit malfunctions. But you should still ensure you install the charge controller correctly, or things may go bad.

Like the Renogy Rover and the EPEVER Controller, the Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT allows for remote monitoring. However, unlike those other two, you do not have to buy any extra accessories.

The Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT comes with an inbuilt Bluetooth that allows you to pair the charge controller to a smartphone through the VictronConnect app. Once connected, you can monitor and adjust the settings from your phone.

If you cannot work with the VictronConnect app, you can also monitor the charge controller through the internet using the Victron Remote Management Portal.

Unlike the Renogy Rover and the EPEVER Controller, the Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT does not have buttons or an LCD screen. So, you can only control it through the app or the portal.

Pros

  • Peak conversion efficiency is the joint-highest on the list – alongside the other two MPPT controllers.
  • MPPT system blocks reverse current flow and promote current flow to the battery, making the charging process more efficient.
  • Its input voltage is pretty high – second only to the Renogy Rover and the EPEVER Controller.
  • Remarkable charge current – but the Renogy Rover and the EPEVER Controller offer higher charge currents.
  • Comes with inbuilt Bluetooth. So, you never have to get an extra accessory to use the wireless Bluetooth management system.

Cons

  • It does not come with a screen or buttons. So, you can only control it through the app or the portal.
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4. Binen 30A Solar Charge Controller

Binen 30A Solar Charge Controller

About the Product

The Binen 30A is one of three PWM solar charge controllers in our review, and of the three, it offers the highest peak conversion efficiency, input voltage, input wattage, and charge current.

Of course, the MPPT charge controllers trump the PWM controllers. So, we will sparingly compare the PWM controllers to the MPPT solar charge controllers.

Our Review

The peak conversion efficiency of the Binen 30A is around 76%. Amongst the PWM controllers, only the Bienen 20A matches this level of efficiency. The Renogy Wanderer falls short slightly.

Maximum Input Voltage

The Binen 30A can handle a maximum input voltage of up to 50 volts. While the other two PWM charge controllers can handle the same maximum voltage from solar panels, we reviewed every MPPT solar charge controller wan handle higher voltages.

Maximum Input Wattage

As with every one of the MPPT controllers, the Binen 30A was made for use with a solar energy system with a battery voltage of 12v or 24v. When used with a 12v system, the maximum input wattage is 390 W. Then, with a 24v system, the maximum input wattage is 780W. These maximum input wattages are the highest of any of the PWM solar charge controllers.

While those maximum input wattages are higher than those of the Renogy Rover and the Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT, it may not make much difference. MPPTs seek out additional energy from solar panels and channel such energy to charging the battery. But PWMs do not.

So, the Renogy Rover and the Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT may just deliver better than the Binen 30A even when their input wattages are lower.

Maximum Charge Current

Of the 3 PWMs, the Binen 30A has the highest charge current – 30 A. It goes without saying, but with 30 amps, the Binen 30A will offer relatively faster charging than the other two PWMs.

Unlike the MPPTs, the Binen 30A is suitable only for lead-acid batteries such as OPEN, GEL, and AGM. It should not be used with lithium batteries, nickel hydride batteries, or other non-lead-acid batteries.

The Binen 30A comes with multiple safety features for electronic protection. It comes with reverse polarity protection, short circuit protection, overload protection, and open-circuit protection.

Besides the various protective features, the Binen 30A comes with value-added features such as dual USB ports. With these ports, you can charge mobile devices directly from the solar charge controller. You may consider choosing this as your RV solar charge controller if you love this feature.

The Binen 30A comes with an LCD screen and 3 buttons – a relatively simple interface and does not feature any remote monitoring function. However, it comes with an inbuilt microcontroller that regulates how the controller interacts with the solar panel and the battery in solar systems.

Pros

  • Offers the highest input wattages amongst the PWMs.
  • The peak conversion efficiency is pretty decent.
  • None of the other PWMs have a higher charge current than the Binen 30A.
  • It comes with multiple circuitry safety features.
  • Features two 5v USB ports for mobile charging.
  • Uncomplicated user interface.

Cons

  • Unlike Renogy Rover, EPXEVER controller, and Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT, it can only be used with lead-acid batteries.
  • It does not support remote monitoring, but the MPPT products allow you to monitor the controller remotely.
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5. Binen 20A Solar Charge Controller

Binen 20A Solar Charge Controller

About the Product

The Binen 20A is basically a lower version of the Binen 30A. It offers the same peak charging efficiency as the Binen 30A. However, its charge current, input voltage, and input wattage are lower.

Our Review

Like the Binen 30A, the Binen 20A has a peak conversion efficiency of around 76%. Only the Renogy Wanderer has a lower efficiency amongst the products on the list.

The Binen 20A can handle voltages of up to 50 volts from a solar array. Not as much as what the MPPTs can handle, but still good enough for a PWM controller.

Maximum Input Wattage

The Binen 20A is also suitable for a solar system with a battery voltage of 12v or 24v. And when used in a 12v system, it can handle a maximum input wattage of around 260 watts. But with a 24v system, it can handle up to 520 watts.

The maximum input wattages of the Binen 20A are less than what the Binen 30A handles. However, they are higher than what the Renogy Wanderer can handle.

Maximum Charge Current

The Binen 20A has a charge current of 20 amps – the second-highest amongst the PWMs, just behind the Binen 30A. So, besides the Binen 30A, the Binen 20A offers the next best charging efficiency and rate amongst the PWMs.

Like the Binen 30A, the Binen 20A is suited for only lead-acid batteries. Therefore, you can only connect it to AGM, GEL, or OPEN batteries to a battery bank. It is incompatible with lithium-ion batteries, nickel hydride, amongst others.

The Binen 20A comes with multiple circuit protection features just like the Binen 30A. It has reverse polarity protection, short circuit protection, overload protection, and open-circuit protection. With all these features, charging your battery is considerably safer.

Like the 30A model, the Binen 20A comes with two USB ports. You can charge 2 mobile phones directly from the controller -with these ports a handy feature for an RV solar system.

Like the Binen 30A, the Binen 20A also uses an LCD with 3 buttons and an inbuilt microcontroller for solar panel and battery regulation. However, it does not come with a feature that allows you to monitor the controller remotely.

Pros

  • It offers decent input wattages, only bettered by the Binen 30A amongst the PWMs.
  • Has a decent peak conversion efficiency – the same as the Binen 30A.
  • The charge current is also decent, and amongst the PWMs, only the Binen 30A offers more.
  • It uses multiple safety protection to keep the battery in good condition for a long time.
  • Features two 5v USB ports for mobile charging.
  • The user interface is pretty straightforward.

Cons

  • Unlike the MPPT solar charge controllers in our review, it works for only lead-acid batteries.
  • No feature to allow you to monitor the controller remotely.
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6. Renogy Wanderer 10 Amp Solar Charge Controller

Renogy Wanderer 10 Amp Solar Charge Controller

About the Product

The Renogy Wanderer is the last PWM solar charge controller on our best solar charge controllers list. While its peak conversion efficiency, charge current, rated voltage input, and input wattage are the lowest of every solar charge controller we reviewed, it still packs a punch.

Our Review

The Renogy Wanderer has a peak conversion efficiency of around 71%. It can also handle a maximum voltage input of up to 50 volts like the other PWM charge controllers in our review, and it works with solar systems with a battery voltage of 12v or 24v.

Maximum Input Wattage

When connected to a system with a battery voltage of 24v, the maximum input wattage it can support is 260 watts. But with a 12v system, it can only handle 130 watts. These input wattages are the lowest of any solar charge controller on our list. And while they could be better, they are fair enough.

Maximum Charge Current

The Renogy Wanderer offers a charge current of 10 amps – every other solar charge controller on our list offers higher currents. So, if you want faster and more efficient charging, you may consider any of the previous 5 charge controllers.

Unlike the two Binen controllers, the Renogy Wanderer can be used for other types of batteries besides lead-acid batteries. It is compatible with flooded, AGM, gel, and lithium batteries. Then again, it offers 4-stage charging (bulk, boost, equalization, and float) like the MPPTs we reviewed. With these charging stages, your battery will maintain top performance for longer.

As with the Binen 20A and 30A, the Renogy Wanderer is packed with multiple circuit protection features. It comes with reverse polarity protection, short circuit protection, overcharging protection, and reverse current protection. Alongside the 4-stage charging, the circuit protection feature should help ensure your battery has a long lifespan.

The Renogy Wanderer also comes with two USB ports for mobile charging, just like the Binen controllers. But unlike those two, you can control it remotely from your smartphone using the Renogy DC Home app. Disappointingly, you need the BT-1 Bluetooth module to pair your phone with the controller. And that means extra expenses. Alternatively, you can control it using the buttons and LLCDthat comes with it.

Pros

  • Unlike the other two PWMs, it is compatible with lithium batteries.
  • The peak conversion efficiency of this product is pretty okay.
  • It can be Bluetooth enabled to allow you to monitor it remotely from your smartphone.
  • Comes with a simple user interface.
  • It has 2 USB ports for charging mobile devices.
  • Offers multiple circuit protection for your battery.

Cons

  • The maximum PV voltage input and input wattages can be higher.
  • You need an extra accessory to monitor remotely from your smartphone.
Check the price on Amazon

Buying Guide For The Best Solar Charge Controllers

How Do I Choose a Charge Controller for My Solar System?

Peak Conversion Efficiency

Not all the power getting to a solar charge controller from a solar panel array is used in charging batteries. Some of it is lost as heat. Consequently, the output power of a charge controller to the battery is always less than the input power it receives from the solar panels.

When a charge controller is working at full capacity, the ratio of its output power to its input power is the peak conversion efficiency. The higher this ratio is, the more solar power the charge controller channels into charging.

Solar Charge Controller Type (How It Works)

There are 2 main types of solar charge controllers: MPPT and PWM.

Which Is Better Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) or Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT)?

Generally, the Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) is better than Pulse Width Modulation (PWM).

How They Work

An MPPT solar charge controller works through solar panels seeking the best PV power output and voltage to charge the battery.

An MPPT charge controller continuously seeks out the best solar array power output to offer the best voltage to get maximum current to the battery. So, even when solar irradiance falls, they can still charge the battery efficiently.

On the other hand, a PWM charger will reduce the amount of PV power getting into your battery as it gets fuller. Then when the battery is full, a PWM charger will supply PV power in trickles to keep the battery full.

Battery Voltage

When using PWM chargers, the voltage of the battery and the solar array must be the same, and the charge controller must operate at that voltage.

But unlike a PWM solar charge controller, an MPPT charge controller can operate at voltages higher than the battery bank voltage. Due to this ability, MPPTs can provide a boost to charge your battery even when solar irradiance falls. This is why MPPTs offer up to 30% more charging efficiency than PWMs in cool conditions.

Solar System Size

MPPTs are better when used in high-power solar energy systems, especially those with more than one solar panel or panel voltage higher than 8 volts.

PWMs, on the other hand, is suited for small solar systems. You may use them when working on a project such as a DIY solar generator.

Cost

PWMs are generally cheaper than MPPTs.

Maximum Voltage Input

When choosing a solar charge controller, assessing the voltage coming from the PV into the charge controller

For PWMs, the voltage input of the PV must match the voltage of the battery. For MPPTs, the PV voltage input must not exceed the maximum the controller can handle.

Maximum Input Wattage/Power

Generally, solar charge controllers that can accept higher maximum power from the PV can channel more current towards the battery and charge them faster and more efficiently.

Also, a charge controller that accepts higher maximum power from the PV can make up for variations in solar irradiance better than those with lower maximum input power.

Charge Current

The charge current of the solar charge controller you opt for plays a part in determining charging speed and efficiency. Generally, an efficient solar charge controller will have a high charge current.

Output Voltage

The output voltage of a solar charge controller, whether PWM or MPPT, must match the battery voltage.

If you charge a battery at a voltage lower than its maximum, charging would not be efficient. Conversely, if you charge it at a voltage higher than its maximum, you may damage the battery.

The output voltage of a charge controller is typically 12v and 24v. But you may also find those that can offer an output of 48v or higher. Ultimately, what you opt for depends on your battery.

Conclusion

If you are working on a large solar panel system or live in an area with suboptimal solar irradiance, your best bet is an MPPT charge controller. But if your solar system is small and the solar irradiance in your area does not drop too low, you can work with a PWM controller.

Besides considering how the charge controller works, you should also verify the charge current, maximum PV voltage input, maximum PV power, and output voltage.

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