Panels photovoltaic solar energy

Installation of thermal solar energy

Solar power plant

Charge Controller

Charge Controller

Charge controllers or regulators are equipment that controls the voltage and current of a solar panel or wind generator, delivered to the battery park. A charge regulator limits the speed at which electrical current is added or extracted from electric batteries. Avoid overload and can protect against overvoltage. Battery overload may reduce battery performance or life, and may pose a safety risk.

The charge controller can be supplied in the form of a separate device (for example, an electronic unit in a wind turbine or in a photovoltaic solar energy system) or in the form of a microcircuit for integration into a battery or charger.

Independent charge regulators

Charge controllers are sold to consumers as separate devices, often together with solar or wind power generators, for uses such as household battery storage systems. In solar applications, charge controllers can also be called solar regulators. Some charge controllers / solar regulators have additional features, such as a low-voltage disconnect (LVD), a separate circuit that turns off the charge when the batteries discharge excessively (some battery chemicals are such that excessive discharge can ruin the battery ).

A series charge regulator or a series regulator disables the flow of current to the batteries when they are full. A bypass charge controller or bypass regulator diverts excess electricity to an auxiliary or "bypass" load, such as an electric water heater, when the batteries are full.

Simple charge regulators stop charging a battery when they exceed a set high voltage level and re-enable charging when the battery voltage drops below that level. The pulse width modulation (PWM) and maximum power point tracker (MPPT) technologies are more sophisticated electronically, adjusting the charge rates according to the battery level, to allow charging closer to its maximum capacity.

Charge controllers can also control the temperature of the battery to prevent overheating. Some load regulation systems also display data, transmit data to remote displays and record data to track electrical flow over time.

Charge Controller Functions

The charge controller has the following functions:

  • Supply current greater than the self-discharge current (to compensate for the self-discharge but less than the maximum load current to prevent the destruction of the battery.
  • Implementation of an effective discharge / charge algorithm for a given type of battery (NiMH, Ni-Cd or Li-Ion) with a given chemical composition of the components.
  • Compensation for differences in energy flows when power is supplied to the consumer at the same time that the battery is charged (for example, charging the battery when the laptop is powered from the network).
  • Temperature measurement (using a temperature sensor) for emergency shutdown of the cold load or during overheating (to avoid damage to the battery).
  • Pressure measurement (using a pressure sensor) for emergency shutdown of the load in case of gas leakage (to avoid explosions and leaks)

However, not all controllers implement these functions.

The complexity of the download / upload algorithm depends on the cost of the charger. According to the algorithm, the main functions they perform are the following:

  • Time measurement from the beginning of the load.
  • Measurement of voltage and current at the battery input.
  • Change in current and charging voltage depending on the measured values.
  • Repeat charge / discharge cycles (to restore battery capacity).
  • Charge the battery up to 90% of the battery capacity (to increase the life of the battery).
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Last review: August 27, 2019