Functions and Benefits of Charge Regulators for Solar Panels|
Article - October 22, 2018 By LarsonElectronics.com
Functions and Benefits of Charge Regulators for Solar Panels
There are numerous working components that make up a fully functional solar-powered system. While most buyers focus on panels and batteries, other parts of the system, such as charge or power regulators, inverters and timers, are equally as important to ensure sustainable power is readily available.
Today’s post looks into a key component of robust solar-powered units: charge regulators.
What is a Power Regulator?
Solar regulators, which can be referred to as a charge controller or power regulator, are designed to preserve the system’s batteries. The unit’s main function is to prevent overcharging by closely monitoring the amount of current passing through the assembly. With this in mind, the component is found between the panel and the battery bank.
Another function of charge controllers is power allocation. Individuals interested in using harvested power may use a charge controller to bypass the battery. The solar regulator ensures the batteries are properly charged, while power is being allocated to connected equipment.
Things to Consider
Not all solar-powered systems need a charge controller. A fully off-grid unit that is not connected to a local utility is typically the type of system that can benefit from charge controllers. If your assembly is connected to the grid and doesn’t rely on external batteries for power storage, then a regulator most likely will not be needed – unless it is a hybrid system. Furthermore, trickle-charge and low-wattage units do not always need a charge controller.
For off-grid solar panel systems that require power controllers, there are a handful of things to factor in when purchasing a regulator. Two common types of chargers include the following: Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) and Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT). Briefly comparing the two options, MPPT units are considered to be more efficient and come with scalable advantages. This type of regulator is costlier, but features long-term benefits.