A MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) Solar Charge Controller is an advanced type of solar controller. They are designed to help solar panels charge one or more batteries at maximum efficiency, as well as protect the batteries from damage to ensure the longest possible service life.
What Are Solar Controllers?
Solar panels convert sunlight into electricity. That electricity is then stored in on or more batteries. The household (or vehicle, appliance, etc.) runs off of the batteries, rather than directly from the solar panels. This ensures that a solar power system can still provide a steady flow of electricity to the home during spells of cloudy weather, or even at night when the sun is no longer in the skies.
Batteries, however, can be damaged by being overcharged. At the very least, it can wear out the battery and reduce its operational lifespan. In a worst-case scenario, overcharging can even cause a battery to explode and start fires.
All solar controllers shut off the flow of electricity from the solar panels to the battery once the battery is fully charged. For basic, inexpensive solar controllers, this is their only function. More advanced solar controllers, however, can do much more. If a solar power system is hooked up to a bank of batteries, for example, can distribute the flow of electricity so that all the batteries and drained and recharged evenly.
What Does a MPPT Solar Charge Controller Do?
First, a MPPT solar controller is designed for maximum compatibility-it will work with almost all photovoltaic solar panels. Second, it helps the solar panels operate at peak efficiency by reducing the amount electricity lost in the transfer to the batteries. A typical MPPT charge controller generally transfers electricity at between 93 and 96 percent efficiency.
Third, a MPPT solar charge controller contains many safety features to prolong the life of a battery and prevent it from posing a fire hazard. Such precautions include...
* Deep Discharge Protection: Draining a battery 100% every time can drastically reduce its operational lifespan. A MPPT solar controller shuts off a battery when it is mostly discharged, but before it is completely expended.
* Reverse Polarity Protection: When a battery is incorrectly wired, it not only damages a battery, it can produce a fire hazard. A MPPT solar controller can detect reverse polarity-the positive wire is connected to the negative terminal and vice versa-in the wiring and shuts off flow of electricity to prevent fires and prevent damage to the battery.
* Short Circuit Protection: Any short circuit in an electrical system can damage equipment and risk starting fires. A MPPT solar charge controller can detect a short circuit and isolate the bad area from the rest of the system, protecting the equipment and reducing, if not eliminating, the potential fire hazard.
* Temperature Control: While discharging or recharging, a battery tends to heat up. Although it's rare, batteries have been known to heat up to the point of combustion. A MPPT solar controller monitors the temperature of the battery, and if the heat rises near dangerous levels, it can shut the battery off. High quality MPPT solar controllers can even continue to monitor the batteries temperature, and turn it back on once it has cooled back down to a safe degree.
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