Best Solar Charge Controllers: MPPT & PWM Solar Power Battery charge Controller

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Every solar-powered system requires regulation to prevent battery damage, which is why we’ve collected a list of the very best solar charge controllers for a variety of uses. From eco-conscious homeowners to self-taught underground bunker builders, anyone using a solar panel larger than small trickle systems needs some sort of battery regulation, which is where solar charge controllers come in.

Most solar charge controllers require quite a hefty upfront investment, sometimes in excess of $600. The price of the controller, combined with the price of the panels and batteries, means solar system users may be intimidated by the wide range of models available on the market. But there’s good news: it’s relatively easy to figure out what voltage you’ll need to properly service your solar system, whether it be for an RV, trailer, barn, workshop or household.

With a little bit of math, a touch of research, finding and buying the best solar charge controller for your system can actually be quite simple. There are, of course, several important considerations to keep in mind, like safety features, reputation of quality and price point.

Top 6 Solar Charge Controllers

RankingNameType Battery VoltageMax Input VoltageMax Current OutputReviewPrice
#1epever mppt charge controllerEPEVER MPPT Charge ControllerMPPT12-24V 100V30ARead ReviewSee Price on Amazon
#2outback flexmax 80 fm80 mppt 80 amp solar charge controllerOutback Flexmax 80 FM80 MPPT 80 AMP Solar Charge ControllerMPPT12-60V 150V 80ARead ReviewSee Price on Amazon
#3midnite solar classic 150 charge controllerMidNite Solar Classic 150 Charge ControllerMPPT12-72V150V 96ARead ReviewSee Price on Amazon
#4victron smartsolar mppt 100 50 solar charge controllerVictron SmartSolar MPPT 100/50 Solar Charge ControllerMPPT12-48V150V 100ARead ReviewSee Price on Amazon
#5renogy wandererRenogy WandererPWM12V25V30ARead ReviewSee Price on Amazon
#6mohoo 20a charge controllerMOHOO 20A Charge ControllerPWM12-24V24V20ARead ReviewSee Price on Amazon

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How to select a solar charge controller

To select a solar charge controller, you need to know what type of system you’ll be using it with; whether it be a 12, 24, 48-volt or 110-volt/220-volt AC systems. You also need to know how many batteries in total your system has, as well as their amp hour capacities. Finally, determine if you do not want any kind of blocking diodes inside your controller, depending on what kind of batteries

Purchasing a high-quality solar charge controller is an investment, especially for a top-of-the-line MPPT models. That’s why it’s vitally important to consider your specific use case before deciding on a charge controller.

There are several different factors to take a look at, beyond the actual math of figuring out the amps/watts/volts of your solar array and batteries. Each user will also need to take into consideration what type of device they want to charge, whether that be a large household with an off-the-grid system, or an RV with deep-cycle batteries.

What type of weather will your panels be exposed to?

Ironically, solar panel kits work best under cold and cloudy conditions with full sun. This is because temperature affects the efficiency of a solar panel; a 100-watt panel at room temperature will be become an 83-watt panel in 110 degrees.

That being said, if your solar panels are regularly exposed to rainy or cold weather, then a PWM controller’s input voltage ratings will be pulled down as the temperature drops. And at very high temperatures, the voltage input may drop to below the point that’s needed to fully charge the battery.

In these cases, an MPPT controller is the best option because it regulates temperature and compensates for the change in voltage. In fact, you can experience a 10-15% power gain in summer and a 20-45% gain in winter with an MPPT charge controller, although this may vary depending on a variety of different factors.

Some solar controllers offer battery temperature sensors which will enhance the battery capacity. This is a great option for those looking to place their panels in varied environments with strong weather patterns.

What is the voltage of your solar panels and battery?

Depending on the voltage of your solar panel, you might not even need a charge controller. When it comes to small panels that put out 2 watts or less for every 50 battery amp-hours, solar charge controllers are unnecessary. However, you should equip every solar panel and battery that puts out more than this general standard with a charge controller. That will regulate the output and efficiency of your system.

Most battery bank voltages’ fall within the 12-48VDC range, which the charge controller will need to match in output. However, the most important part is the capacity of the controller to handle the current from your solar panel array. In order to figure out how many amps you need, you’ll need to do a bit of math.

Here are two different equations you can use to calculate the amps requirement:

  • Solar panel wattage/battery bank voltage = amps requirement
  • Short circuit current of the solar array X 1.56 = amps requirement

On the other hand, if you’re working with a high voltage system with grid-tie solar panels, it’s best to use an MPPT controller. These can take up to 150 volts DC input and can convert the amps to max power so you’ll lose minimal power during the process.

What size of device are you planning to power?

For those looking to power smaller loads, like lights and small appliances, a LOAD or LVD output is a good option. The load terminal has a low voltage disconnect and will turn off a connected device to keep the battery from being expired.

This option is used for non-critical loads and can sometimes be used as a lighting controller that will automatically turn the device on at dusk. However, this system is only used for very small inverters and cannot be used with anything higher than 60 amps as it may cause it to malfunction.

If you’re looking to power a remote system, like ones in an RV or a solar lantern, then a LOAD/LVD output is great. A PWM controller is also ideal for these types of devices as it’s a low-cost option and can only handle small loads as it is.

On the other hand, large devices, like grid solar panel systems, require an MPPT controller. These technologically advanced and expensive controllers are much more suitable for large loads.

Where will the solar panels be placed in relation to the battery?

If your solar panels are placed a fair distance from your batteries, you’ll experience significant power loss and voltage drop unless you’re using a large wire. This can be quite cumbersome for those who don’t have the room or the budget to use big wires across large distances, especially those with grid systems.

However, an MPPT solar charge controller can allow you to use a much smaller wire as it will convert the voltage. In this case, an MPPT is the best choice compared to a PMW charge controller.

Selection Criteria: How We Ranked the Best Solar Charge Controllers


The type of the solar charge controller refers to whether it’s an MPPT or PMW model. MPPT controllers are widely accepted as being the best of the best, so they inherently top our list. However, we’ve also included in our rankings a few PWM controllers as high-quality options are sometimes more suitable for those looking to devise simple systems to power solar lanterns in a garden or a mobile device.

Battery Voltage

Most battery charging units fall within the 12-48VDC range. However, some may need a capacity of 60V or 72V. The base standard is 12VDC, but for those running very large systems, like compounds or entire households, a higher voltage capacity is necessary. It’s important that the battery voltage capacity meets your individual needs, but we also consider the ability to scale your system up if you so desire.

Max Input Voltage

While it may appear that a 12-volt panel would be compatible with a 12-volt battery bank, it’s simply not true. Most panels don’t actually run at their rated voltage because the power generated by the sun can vary depending on different factors, such as how bright the sun is that day.

Not only that, but some homeowners or business owners may want to connect multiple panels together to create a grid tie system. This would require an even higher max input voltage for the controller in order to compensate for the extra power.

The best solar charge controllers are those with a higher max input voltage, so users can scale their systems depending on their use and interests. A higher max input will also account for varying weather patterns as well.

Max Current Output

The number of amps that your controller will feed to your devices from the battery bank is important because it determines what type and size of devices you can actually charge with your solar panels. Those that are only compatible with 20-30A have a smaller capacity than those rated at 80A or higher. While higher does not necessarily better, it’s a key factor to consider when determining what model you’d like to purchase.

Extra Features

Most solar charge controllers come equipped with a variety of extra features. These features allow for the utmost customization, meaning users can design the perfect system to service their solar array and batteries. Probably the most important extra features are those related to safety, as they prevent dangerous mishaps from occurring- a very real problem when working with high voltage electric systems.

Here are the best solar charge controller features to keep an eye out for:

  • LED screens
  • Data logging
  • Remote-control management systems
  • Safety features that prevent overcharging, overload, short-circuits, reverse polarity and electric arcs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How does a solar charge controller work?

In the simplest of terms, a solar charge controller regulates the power that is transferring from a solar panel to a battery. It’s important to use a charge controller as it improves the efficiency of a solar-powered system by up to 50%, can prevent the batteries from being overcharged, and will extend the battery’s life when used correctly. If there is no regulation, the batteries can be easily damaged, which will cost you money and time to fix.

There are two main types of solar charge controllers: Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) and Pulse Width Modulation (PWM). Each type serves its own purpose, but ultimately the MPPT controllers are more commonly used.

What is a MPPT charge controller?

The primary difference between the two is that the MPPT controller allows for up to 30% more power than the PWM controller and can be used for higher voltages. While the MPPT controllers are more power-efficient (up to 98%), they are significantly more expensive compared to the PWM controllers.

The MPPT controllers are capable of handling inclement weather as they will preserve the battery output and compensate for low power. It will also convert voltage for input and output sources, resulting in very little loss of power. Depending on the model, the controller should be able to handle a solar array of up to 150VDC.

What is a PMW charge controller?

A PWM controller is a switch that connects a solar array to a battery. It often leads to low power output when the outside temperature is very high or low. It also forces the output voltage of a solar array to be decreased to that of the battery.

As you increase the array of your solar panels, you’ll need more large wiring to compensate for the size of the area. This will be very expensive, although the actual controller itself is the cheapest option on the market.

Ultimately, the PMW is more outdated in terms of technology, and doesn’t have as many benefits as the MPPT charge controller when it comes to battery regulation.

Is the MPPT charge controller always better?

The short answer: not necessarily.

Only those looking to power small devices and appliances should opt for the PWM charge controllers. They are more budget-friendly and can handle the low voltage.

However, those seeking to install solar panels on their roofs, or power large systems, should go with the MPPT charge controllers. They can help to keep the amperage low and wire size small. They do that while connecting a series of higher voltage panels.

Rankings & Reviews

Based on our established criteria of controller type, battery bank voltage (V), max input voltage (V), max current output (A) and extra features, we’ve selected the best 6 solar charge controllers for you to choose from.

Our rankings take into consideration a variety of uses and purposes. It isn’t limited to just MPPT controllers. As such, safety and quality standards are a big factor in our rankings.

Our #1 Pick: EPEVER MPPT Charge Controller

epever mppt charge controller

  • Type: MPPT
  • Battery voltage: 12-24V
  • Max input voltage: 100V
  • Max current output: 30A
  • Extra features: Four stage battery charging, temperature compensation, LCD screen, PC software, supports remote meter and multiple load control methods.
  • The high points: A cheap MPPT controller compared to other top-tier models with great safety protections.
  • The low points: Doesn’t offer as high of a max input voltage or max current output as other MPPT models.

When it comes to MPPT controllers, they reign king in terms of battery regulation. There are MPPT models out there that come with more bells and whistles.

However, the Epever solar charge controller tops the list for how cost-effective it is. It has a price point that’s close to half that of other high-quality models. But this charge controller puts in a lot of bang for your buck.

Overall, the Epever solar charge controller has an advertised high tracking efficiency rating of no less than 99.5%. The brand has other models with current outputs from 20A to 40A. However, the 30A version is a good middle ground for average buyers who aren’t looking to create huge solar arrays.

It’s also a great choice for those looking to create off-grid solar panel systems to power a home or bunker. With free system design and technical support from the company, Epever makes it super simple to harvest energy efficient and eco-friendly solar power.

What do reviewers say?

Buyers rave about the stellar price point of a high quality MPPT solar charge controller. They have used the device to regulate solar panels placed on travel trailers, houses, ponds, and more. They claim that it’s easy to install and use because of the remote display.

Some users have had failed controllers. But they report that the manufacturer’s customer service was fast and friendly. Reviewers also appreciate the plethora of functions. Those include load output for lighting and battery use control.

Features & Considerations

The Epever MPPT solar charge controller has an automatic system voltage recognition of 12 to 24V, and an auto-saving function to remember settings. The unit also comes equipped with a multi-function LCD display system to display information and can also be connected to PC software or an MT50 tracker for constant monitoring.

The charge controller works with gel, sealed and flooded lithium battery types, and has multiple load control modes, including manual, lighting, and light timer. Not only that, but the controller comes packed full of safety protections, including battery overvoltage, load overload, PV short circuit or reverse polarity and more.

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The Next Best: Outback Flexmax 80 FM80 MPPT 80 AMP Solar Charge Controller

outback flexmax 80 fm80 mppt 80 amp solar charge controller

  • Type: MPPT
  • Battery voltage: 12-60V
  • Max input voltage: 150V
  • Max current output: 80A
  • Extra features: Programmable, backlit display, logged system performance data, temperature control, and network integration capable.
  • The high points: Can handle high amounts of DC volts and convert them to 12VDC to 60VDC for battery banks.
  • The low points: Very high price point for system and customizable additions.

The Outback Flexmax FM80 is one of the best solar controllers on the market as it supports a wide variety of system designs and battery types. With a huge max input voltage capacity, the Outback controller is perfect for off-grid systems that people installed on roofs or rural areas.

One of the key selling points for this device is its capacity for streamlined management and programming. The manufacturer also allows for more advanced configurations when connected to the MATE system display and controller, or a branded inverter and a HUB communications manager.

Beyond its ease of use, the manufacturer designed the Outback solar charge controller with a discreet black case and green screen. This unit is a great addition to any solar panel system design for advanced and beginner solar aficionados.

What do reviewers say?

Product users are overall very happy with the Outback brand. This model is no exception.

With sturdy construction and high-quality design, reviewers have few complaints. Those who do face issues claim that that the manufacturer’s customer service is prompt and effective. They report that they solve problems quickly.

One buyer was not happy that it did not come with a data cable. That is necessary to connect the Outback controller to the HUB communications manager.

Because the package doesn’t include a cable, buyers must purchase one separately. That is, if they want to centralize their data logging and system management.

Features & Considerations

The Outback Flexmax advertises an increase of PV array output by up to 30%, which is higher than most other models on the market. The input PV voltage can handle up to 150VDC open circuit for charging batteries from 12 to 60VDC. With such a large voltage capacity, the Outback controller is great for grid tie solar panel systems.

The specific FM80 model also comes with a built-in 80-character display that shows data logs from the past 128 days. This data logging can be easily centralized using other advanced Outback tools, like an inverter, MATE3 controller and HUB communications manager.

With automatic temperature control, the device can use intelligent thermal management systems to cool the system to an ambient temperature. You can also supplement this with an optional remote temperature sensor that you buy separately.

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Our Next Favorite: MidNite Solar Classic 150 Charge Controller

midnite solar classic 150 charge controller

  • Type: MPPT
  • Battery voltage: 12-72V
  • Max input voltage: 150V
  • Max current output: 96A
  • Extra features: Built-in DC-GFP and arc fault, solar, wind energy and hydro MPPT modes, and extension of VOC limit.
  • The high points: Very safe to use as it’s equipped with an automatic arc fault detection that trips a circuit when it detects dangerous electric arcs.
  • The low points: The built-in software has a few coding bugs that make difficult to navigate.

The Midnite Solar Classic MPPT charge controller is one of the safest devices on the market. Its auto arc fault detection helps to protect against dangerous electrical currents. Not only that, but all controllers are made in America, guaranteeing high quality on behalf of the manufacturer.

Along with its high max input voltage and current output, the Midnite Solar Classic is perfect for large solar systems that power things such as warehouses and bunkers. The MPPT charge controller also comes with an extended warranty that allows purchasers to send their device back to the manufacturer for a general tune-up for a fee.

Afterwards, they will extend the warranty for an extra 2 years. This added layer of protection for buyers makes the costly upfront investment not as intimidating for first-time solar users.

What do reviewers say?

Most reviewers are very happy with the large power range of the Midnite Solar Classic. With a 48-72 volt capacity, it’s one of the most powerful on the market.

Buyers also claim to feel safer due to all the extra safety features and protections. In terms of value, it’s worth the money. Those without much roof space can suck every last watt out of their panels.

The tracking capabilities are also worth noting. It logs 4 months of data that easy to review and analyze.

However, some users have complained that the firmware is poorly coded and difficult to use. That leads them to question the legitimacy of the company.

Features & Considerations

One of the best features included in the Midnite Solar Classic controller is the ability to remotely access the power system via the Midnite Solar Local Application. The app allows you to easily monitor your system from afar via the internet, and you can access the system to troubleshoot problems should they arise.

This feature is perfect for those setting up solar systems in remote locations, far from where they live, like underground bunkers, hunting cabins, summer homes or agricultural facilities.

The charge controller also can handle a variety of DC sources, like approved PV, hydro and wind turbines. You can also purchase several classic controllers and wire them in a parallel series for use with large systems. This greatly increases the power capacity of the system, effectively creating a giant, singular hub for regulating your solar panels.

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4. Victron SmartSolar MPPT 100/50 Solar Charge Controller

victron smartsolar mppt 100 50 solar charge controller

  • Type: MPPT
  • Battery voltage: 12-48V
  • Max input voltage: 150V
  • Max current output: 100A
  • Extra features: Bluetooth connection, remote management portal, battery monitor compatible.
  • The high points: The advanced technology and intelligent management system makes it perfect for RVs.
  • The low points: Requires an additional purchase for full battery monitoring.

With an intelligent and lightning quick system, the Victron SmartSolar MPPT charge controller is a great choice for those unfamiliar or new to solar system installation. The digital features included with this MPPT controller, such as the wireless Bluetooth management system, puts this device on the top of the list.

Victron energy is well-known for being a high-quality manufacturer of power conversion equipment, and this model is no exception. Based in the Netherlands, Victron has been producing battery inverters and chargers since 1975, primarily for the auto and boat market.

What do reviewers say?

Buyers rave about Victron’s reputation for battery components, especially when it comes to solar panels placed on vehicles like RVs and boats. Of course, the most notable function is the Bluetooth option that connects with users’ smartphones. This is apparently particularly helpful when on the road.

However, some purchasers have claimed that technical support is not always readily available. That is concerning considering their main selling point is advanced technology. One buyer also claims that this controller damaged his batteries after it flooding it with power and overcharging.

Features & Considerations

The Victron SmartController offers built-in Bluetooth connectivity to any Bluetooth enabled device, such as a smartphone. Through an internet connection, users can use the Victron Remote Management Portal the MPPT controller anywhere for free. This is great for setting up, updating and monitoring remote systems like those installed in an RV.

You can also upgrade the controller with the additional purchase of the Victron battery monitor BMV-700 series. This add-on will monitor the battery bank. It provides live status information, like voltage, current, solar watts and more.

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5. Renogy Wanderer

renogy wanderer

  • Type: PWM
  • Battery voltage: 12V
  • Max input voltage: 25V
  • Max current output: 30A
  • Extra features: Four stage charging, temperature compensation, LED indicators and protection against overcharging, overload, short-circuit and reverse polarity.
  • The high points: Offers different ways of determining when the load is powered.
  • The low points: The device is only equipped with an LED indicator light and doesn’t have an LCD display for important diagnostic data.

With a clean and sleek black design, the Renogy Wander is an attractive choice for a home-based solar system. As a part of the large Renogy family of charge controller models, the Wanderer is one of the best based on its low price point and protective functions.

The device is a PWM type, rather than an MPPT, which significantly limits the capabilities of the unit. Although the technology isn’t as advanced, this model is still a great option for those looking to power small systems.

What do reviewers say?

While some consider the device to be “bare bonesâ€, it’s effective and reliable, according to reviewers. It’s a perfect option for lighting in gardens or on the sides of barns, but it won’t work for large household grid tie arrays.

Some users have had issues with the controllers not working after a few months. One has reported difficulty using the connectors at the bottom of the unit. Overall, people consider the Wanderer to be a basic solar charge controller that can meet non-complex and small-scale needs.

Features & Considerations

The four-phased PWM charging, including bulk, boost, float and equalization helps to stop the connected battery from overcharging or over-discharging. It is also negatively grounded, which is fairly standard.

The Wander can compensate for temperature changes. It will automatically correct the parameters for optimal performance.

It’s compatible with a remote temperature sensor. That will collect data on temperature compensation. You need to buy that device separately. The 3 green LED lights situated on the front of the unit display basic data.

With the ability to connect to sealed, gel and flooded batteries, the PWM controller is pretty versatile. It also has safety protections. That helps to safeguard against overcharging, overloading, short-circuits and reverse polarity.

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6. MOHOO 20A Charge Controller

mohoo 20a charge controller

  • Type: PWM
  • Battery voltage: 12-24V
  • Max input voltage: 24V
  • Max current output: 20A
  • Extra features: Auto shut-off, safety protections, moisture coating, LCD screen display, USB ports.
  • The high points: Can use it with both 12V and 24V systems, including charging phones directly.
  • The low points: Cannot connect it to more than 20A of load with the terminals.

As the cheapest option on our list, the MOHOO PWM charge controller is a great no-fuss option for those with small solar systems. It’s ideal for charging things such as lighting and small digital devices, like cellphones. However, its limited power capacity means that you can’t use it for anything above 20A.

The MOHOO is one of the better PWM charge controller type models. However, it still doesn’t have nearly the same capacity as an MPPT controller.

Regardless, this model can provide bulk charging of up to 80% of capacity. It also provides float charging of the final 20% of capacity and an equalization charge.

What do reviewers say?

For the most part, reviewers are happy with the compact MOHOO model. Some complain that it’s not very efficient. But this is a downside that comes with all PWM charge controllers.

Others really like the extra USB ports for charging cellphones. But they warn that it will drain the phone at night time you haven’t plugged it in.

Many users have purchased them for work trailers. They claim that they are easy to install and use. The incredibly low price point is also a big selling point.

Features & Considerations

The large LCD screen can display important information on the specifications of the unit, and it also support lighting controls. The intelligent system will perform an auto shut-off when the battery drops below 8V, rendering the display empty.

The controller is only compatible with lead-acid batteries, and will not work with ones made of lithium, nickel metal hydride or other elements. But the moisture coating will protect the unit from damage caused by humidity or nesting insects, which is a plus side for those installing them in garages or barns.

The MOHOO charge controller is also equipped with two DC outputs and 2 USB ports for easy charging. The USB ports can provide a 5V 1A output, which is suitable for small digital devices.

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