Energy prices are rising. Many people are fighting back by using solar power systems for their homes. If you are thinking of doing the same, you may need to know about charge controllers.
Solar panel systems are popular for homes. It is key, however, to understand systems can be defined in two ways, those with batteries and those without. If you go without batteries, you are feeding energy into the local utility grid and don’t need to read the rest of this article. If you are using batteries with or without the utility grid, read on…
A solar panel system is somewhat wild. By wild, I mean that it produces energy so long as it is sunny. This is, after all, the value of a solar system. Free energy every day for as long as the system functions. Most systems function for 20 to 30 years.
There is one draw back to this free energy. It just comes and comes. Why is this a problem? Well, your batteries can only handle so much. If you just keep pounding energy into the batteries, their useful life will be shortened or they may just fail outright.
To save your batteries, you need to have a charge controller. The controller has one function. It is to prevent your solar panels from overcharging the batteries. Batteries for solar panel systems are expensive, so the importance of the controller cannot be understated.
Traditionally, controllers have been pretty simple systems. At their outset, they literally just created a mechanical disconnect between panels and batteries. These days, they are much more sophisticated. They can analyze systems and even kick out data logs if you are so inclined to read them.
The key to buying a charge controller is voltage. You need to select a system that matches the voltage of your batteries. Fortunately, most controllers now can be adapted to different voltages, but make sure before you buy.
Most people are going on grid these days with solar systems. The financial incentives for being on grid are just to great with tax credits, rebates and such. If you go off grid, however, or use batteries with your on grid system, a charge controller should be used. It will save you a lot of money over time in battery replacement costs.
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