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MPPT vs. PWM: Which One Is the Best for Your Solar System in 2018?

If you have a solar power system that is battery powered, you are going to need a solar charge controller. They are an essential piece of equipment responsible for regulating the power that flows from your rooftop solar panels to the batteries that power them. One of their main tasks is to make sure that the batteries charge to their maximum capacity, as well as preventing overcharging and overvoltage.

The solar energy market offers a wide range of solar charge controllers to suit a variety of different needs. At the very basic level, a solar charge controller is responsible for monitoring the battery voltage,and as soon as it reaches boost voltage level, the device regulates the charging current to maintain battery voltage at the boost voltage level.

Many new solar customers find themselves getting confused and overwhelmed with all of the technical lingo flying around in the world of solar energy. With such a huge variety of different products available it can be difficult to choose which product is going to be exactly right for you.

In this article, we are going to break down all of the technical stuff and explain the differences between MPPT and PWM solar charge controllers and look at their respective pros and cons to help you figure out which one if the best for your solar system.

MMT vs. PWM Controllers

Solar charge controllers are available in two different technologies, PWM and MPPT. While both have their benefits; an MPPT solar charge controller has been proven to be far more efficient than a PWM controller.

The Benefits of a PWM Solar Charge Controller:

 

A PWM solar charge controller offers a simple user experience, combined with a proven, time-tested design. It works through transmitting a series of short charging pulses to your battery,and the charge controller will continuously check the charging state of the battery and automatically adjusts the pulse signals to match it.

This type of solar charge controller is typically used for solar systems installed in RVs and motorhomes that use 12-volt solar panels. The benefits of choosing a PWM solar charge controller include:

  • Their design is proven to work
  • They are cost effective
  • They are designed to be durable

There are some critical cons though, including an inherent flaw in the design:

  • They are less efficient than MPPT controllers
  • They are less powerful
  • The pulse signals can cause interference with the radio or TV

Unless you are already familiar with PWM controllers, then you might want to consider the alternative, which is the MPPT solar charge controller.

The Benefits of an MPPT Solar Charge Controller

MPPT controllers feature the latest technology,and they are currently all the rage. And for a good reason! This type of solar charge controller offers users with an excellent combination of the most effective features of a PWM controller with even more functionality- kind of like a PWM controller on steroids if you want to think of it like that.

They are newer, better and more efficient with a whole host of benefits such as:

  • An exceptionally high-efficiency rate
  • They provide around 30% more power to the battery in colder weather
  • Compatible with a range of panels that have different voltages
  • checkThey offer more flexibility with regards to the type of solar panel you buy
  • checkProvide better flexibility with regards to system growth
  • checkProvide 4-stage battery charging for optimal safety

Nothing in life is perfect, however, and there are also some cons- only two to be precise:

  • They are much bigger and can be bulkier
  • They are more expensive

It is pretty obvious even to someone with zero experience in solar panels that the pros of an MPPT controller’s efficiency significantly outweigh the cons! If you are one of the lucky people who get to enjoy solar power year round and size or budget isn’t an issue for you, then definitely invest in an MPPT controller.

However, if you have a small system and only use it on weekend trips a handful of times, then you can save yourself a larger financial investment and opt for a PWM controller.

The great thing about solar energy is that it is the epitome of flexibility and you can start as fancy or simple as you like with regards to the equipment you buy when you are just starting out as a clean energy user.

Further Considerations

Now that you have gained a clearer insight into the differences between the two types of solar charge controllers, you can sit down and think about the make and model of controller you are going to choose.

When selecting a make, there really isn’t a right or wrong, but it’s always going to be a good idea to choose a brand that is recommended and that have genuine reviews online. The most reputable solar companies include:

With regards to selecting the right controller for your needs, make sure you choose one appropriate for the solar system you plan on installing.

Final Thoughts

 

If you don’t have a tight budget, then we recommend choosing an MPPT solar charge controller for convenience. The fact that they incorporate much newer technologies into their operating system means that they are designed to keep up with an ever-evolving solar energy market.

Another important factor to consider before making a decision is efficiency. MPPT controllers have been proven to be more efficient, although they are not as simple to deploy as PWM controllers. Whatever your decision will be, with a booming online marketplace for solar power equipment and accessories, you will definitely find an option that suits your lifestyle as well as your budget.

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