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What Is A Charge Controller?

Discover why you need a charge controller to improve Off-Grid solar PV and battery systems.

Read time: 3 minutes

 

Introduction to Charge Controllers

Charge controllers are vital for managing Off-Grid solar PV and battery setups such as those in a caravan, motorhome, cabin that do not have any form of complex Battery Management System (BMS). If you already have an Off-Grid renewable energy system and you’re curious about what a charge controller can do for you, or if you have yet to purchase a solar array and battery system and you’re just looking for more information, then we’re here to help you figure it out.

What Does a Charge Controller Do?

The BPE Charge Controller serves two main functions:

  1. To act as the controller for PV panels by optimising the MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) – this optimises the power production from each panel
  2. To protect lead acid batteries from overcharging and other dangers 

BPE Charge Controllers are only used for charging batteries in basic Off-Grid systems that do not have a smart BMS. They are most often used for Lead Acid batteries such as the ones you find in your car. When used in a solar PV system, these batteries have no way to communicate with the solar PV panels to tell them they are fully charged which can lead to a whole range of issues such as those listed below.

Without charge controllers, batteries can suffer from:

  1. Overcharging: this could cause off gassing of the electrolytes inside which could become explosive
  2. The lead plates inside the batteries may get exposed to air and become corroded which doesn’t allow them to charge properly
  3. Overheating which could lead to fires

In summary, charge controllers are necessary to preserve battery health, increase the overall safety of solar PV systems and they use MPPT to maximise solar PV output in Off-Grid scenarios.

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When Do I Need a Charge Controller?

Charge controllers are ONLY suitable for Off-Grid solar PV systems. This incorporates a range of environments such as a caravan, motorhome, boat, cabin, campervan, etc. If you own a structure that is not tied to the National Grid and operates remotely (Off-Grid), then the BPE Charge Controller is right for you.

Conclusion

The BPE Charge Controller is designed exclusively for Off-Grid solar PV and battery systems such as those found in caravans, motorhomes, boats and cabins. This is because these systems often do not have a BMS and so the battery runs the risk of overcharging and overheating, which could severely damage the battery and potentially cause fires. As well as protecting batteries, charge controllers also optimise the MPPT in solar panels, which ensures the best performance is achieved from your solar PV panels. If you’re looking to upgrade your Off-Grid solar PV system and protect the health of your batteries, then be sure to read more about the BPE Charge Controller here.

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