Solar Charge Controller for RV (Find Out the Key to Choosing)

Do you have an off-grid cabin, an RV, or a boat? If the answer is yes, you must need a solar panel to charge your appliances – TV, laptop, Smartphone and so on. An essential part of a solar panel on your RV is a solar charge controller that saves your batteries from overcharging and never leaves undercharging.

To enjoy a steadier control over your off-grid electric supply, you must set a charge controller or charge regulator between the panel and the battery. A solar charge regulator will ensure the maximum energy output from the panel whether it is a sunny, shady or a rainy day.

best solar charge controller for rv

But there are some critical considerations to make before you reach for a right solar charge controller. Chances are high that you might go baffled as there are numerous products of identical features in the market. So it is urgent for you to be well-informed before the purchase.

This short guide consisting of five reviews on the best products of solar charge regulators will surely take you to the one suitable for you. Along with best recommendations, you can know how a solar charge controller works and how to narrow down your choices to come out with the regulator as per your requirement.

Find Out the Key to Choosing a Solar Charge Controller for an RV

A few variables will decide which RV solar charge controller is great for an RV. What’s more, this section will eventually talk about them to guarantee that you will drop the standard item.

Amp Rating

The primary thing you’ll need to consider is the amp rating. This estimation lets you know the most elevated amperage of the item can result in a battery. For example, on the off chance that you have a solar charge controller of a 10 amp rating, it wouldn’t be ideal for two 100 watt solar panels with a force of 6 amps.

You see your boards would consolidate to make 12 amps complete and the regulator can yield 10 amps. Therefore, 2 amps would wind up not being used, and that is not the thing anybody needs. All things being equal, you need to pick a solar charge controller of a rating that is 25% higher than your solar-based charger’s pinnacle power.

All things considered, many times solar-powered chargers will outperform their result ratings. Pads provided by an additional 25% will guarantee that those conditions can be met. It’s equally basic that you expect to add any extra solar panels later.

Battery Temperature Sensor

Any top-level solar-powered charge controller will have some type of battery temperature sensor. You can see that this component will guarantee that the batteries will not be low or cheated, which can be a real problem.

This element can give this remarkable capacity by changing the charging setpoint in view of the temperature of the batteries. Subsequently, it’ll forestall plate sulfation and abundance of water misfortune, which are both difficult for the batteries.

It’s one more element that will safeguard the batteries from experiencing any superfluous harm. In addition, it will guarantee that these batteries will be as productive as possible by placing them at the ideal charge level as opposed to the charges below or above it.

Dry Camp/Shore Power Switch

You ought to likewise search for a solar charge controller of a dry camp/shore power switch. This element will give you the capacity to change the battery’s charge setpoint between the most extreme power and reserve mode.

The ultimate strength will be the best decision when you are away from the campsite. All in all, excluding the power on the shore. However, assuming you are connected to power onshore, reserve mode would be the best choice.

Which Is Solar Charge Regulator You Are After?

Given myriads of selections in the product-studded electronics store, it obviously will pose too tough a confusion to come out with the right one. To clear out that jetlag, you have found answers to several questions very crucial to narrow down a huge gathering and reach for the regulator that suits you. One goes, “What do you need a solar charge regulator for?”

An answer to that question will help you find another reply to “what the type of controller you should go for – PWM or MPPT? And you must know that MPPT charge controllers are for heavier power supply and power comes in exchange of money. 

Charge controller depends on the size of the solar systems you are using. If you have a heavy solar panel or array of solar panels, you should go for the MPPT charge controller. This may cost manyfold that a PWM charge controller charges. In case of moderate power demand, you will certainly use a mid or small size solar system that will be pretty covered by a PWM regulator.

In this guide, you have two PWM controllers – Mohoo 20A Intelligent & Renogy Wanderer 30A to answer your moderate or low power need. And when you are to control a massive solar panel, you can go for one of the MPPT specifications reviewed – Outback Flexmax FM80, Victron SmartSolar Bluetooth, and Blue Sky 30A.

You can consider and compare the costing of the controllers by the type. When you need an MPPT version you cannot opt for a PWM version for lower cost and vice versa. There is no go-between-the-road in this regard. Better to read and re-read the features in the reviewed products after you have determined the type you need. And then compare the price and ponder over the price gap and benefits. Thus how you can make the best purchase.

What Is the Voltage of Solar Panels and Battery?

Contingent upon the voltage of the solar panel, you probably won’t actually need a charge controller. For small boards playing 2 watts or less for every 50 battery amp-hours, sun-based charge controllers make no sense.

Most battery bank voltages fall within the 12 to 48VDC territory, which corresponds to the yield of the charge controller.

However, the main part is the limit of the controller to deal with the current from your solar-powered charger cluster. To pick the number of amps you need, you need a touch of math.

The following two unique conditions are amps can be used to calculate the necessity:

Solar-powered charger watt/battery bank voltage = amps necessity.

Solar-powered cluster X 1.56 = amps pre-cut off.

Here is a sample of the solar panel battery voltage chart.

Battery charge status%Seal/flood lead-acid battery voltageAGM battery voltageGel battery voltage
10012.70+12.788+12.85+
7512.4012.60 12.65 
5012.2012.3012.35
2512.0012.0012.00
011.8011.8011.80

View Top 6 Solar Charge Controller for RV

1. Outback Flexmax FM80 MPPT Charge Controller

Outback Flexmax FM80 MPPT Charge Controller

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Outback FM80 solar charge regulator has already earned the tag of a classical product of its kind. It has done so by virtue of its quality and performance. The max handling of Outback Flexmax is 150 Volts DC resulted from the solar panel or array that can boost the battery with current from 12 VDC to 60 VDC.

You can charge your appliances ranging from a tiny mobile to a TV. The display makes it stand out that presents the current status of charging with 80 characters. You can also witness a data log of last 128 days in the display.

This solar regulator makes a distinction between the advanced functions and configurations it can be manipulated by. If you select Outback Flexmax MPPT for your off-grid cabin, you can connect an additional MATE system display and controller that will let you enjoy the most updated functions and optional configuration to make jobs easier for you.

For example, the MATE3 controller is compatible only with Outback brand inverters. And this MATE3 can handle a combination of the FM80 and the inverter via a HUB communication manager.

Being an MPPT solar charge controller Outback provides you with a ceaseless supply of electricity and the compatibility facility comes as a bonus. Judging by the mechanical facility, quality, and performance, it should be costlier one of its type. But you can get it at an affordable cost comparing with the MPPT charge controller market rate.

What we liked

  • 128 days data log record;
  • MATE3 controller;
  • Can handle 12V DC to 60V DC.

What we didn’t like

  • No noticeable cons.

2. Victron SmartSolar MPPT Bluetooth Charge Controller

Victron SmartSolar MPPT Bluetooth Charge Controller

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Victron SmartSolar offers a wide range of versions to suit your requirements in terms of features and size. The intelligent engineering and designs equipped with latest and fastest technology, SmartSolar provides you with the utmost energy output. You can get your electronics fully charged in the most rapid possible time. Victron stands out for the latest and smartest facility it has come with. With the Bluetooth mode enabled, now you can maneuver the charge controller form a long distance.

That will get rid of the fatigue of reaching the setup every time you want to customize it for the variety of needs. This smart feature lets you charge your Bluetooth-enabled devices from away. Moreover, you can reap this benefit to the fullest if and when your installation is connected to the internet. 

To enjoy more control over and quality service form the charge controller, you should go for the Victron battery monitor BMV-700 series. With that by the side of the charge regulator, monitoring live status information such as solar watts, battery voltage, the current output from the panel, and charge current will be super fun.

Victron SmartSolar is the best RV solar charge controller that is a perfect match with the big name Victron. This is one of the Victron exclusive products that stand above the average and is traceable among the crowd at sight.

What we liked

  • Bluetooth enabled;
  • Can be connected to internet;
  • Max energy output.

What we didn’t like

  • No noticeable cons.

3. Blue Sky 30A MPPT Solar Charge Controller

Blue Sky 30A MPPT Solar Charge Controller

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The Blue Sky SB3000i solar charge regulator is one of the best charge controllers for RVs equipped with the up-to-the-minute MPPT technology. This is a smart recommendation for small solar PV systems.

Blue Sky SB3000i, being the DC voltage charge manager, perfectly works both with the higher volts 60 cell unit and 36 cell unit of lesser volts. At top voltage unit, it supplies 22amp to the max and 30 amps at the minimum voltage unit. It comes with a low power display that exhibits battery voltage, voltage solar panel, and both input and output current.

That will enable you to notice the boosting up and down of the current as the gap between source current and charge therefrom will be displayed on the screen. An LED screen shows the active charge status and notifies when the battery charge is at the peak. It features three charge stages – bulk, absorption, and float.

The auxiliary output capable of controlling 20 amp LVD load or 2amp additional battery charger for a secondary charging source makes it stand out glaring. When you are on an RV, you very often may be in need of a secondary charging source. It is equipped with an IPN Network Mastering that can maneuver up to 7 remote charge controllers that are compatible with Blue Sky Energy IPN. The SB3000i digital display will show the coordinated activities whether the networked controllers are working as a single co-ordinate unit or not.

What we liked

  • Blue Sky Energy IPN;
  • Can coordinate 7 remote controllers;
  • Secondary charging source;
  • Three charge stages. 

What we didn’t like

  • No noticeable cons.

4. MOHOO Solar Charge Controller for RV

MOHOO Solar Charge Controller for RV

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You will go for Mohoo virtually for all the reasons – it is a budget charge manager and so affordable. Along with that Mohoo is a top-rated selection by virtue of its intelligent design, high capacity, and efficiency for a PWM solar charge controller. 

The most intelligent design and engineering Mohoo can boast of is its automatic turn-off feature when the battery goes below 12 volts. This feature contributes to the longevity of the regulator. Mohoo can manage the working of both the panel and the battery by default.

On top of all that, it is very handy to install and operate. It is designed to fight wet damage by a moisture-tight coating that will keep it safe from humidity and trapping insects. It is featured with a maximum 240W capacity but advisable would be to limit it to 200watts to avoid any unwarranted situations. You can use this controller with 12V and 24V systems either. Because being an efficient charge controller, it would function flawlessly with both higher and lower voltage with the least loss.

Mohoo 20A is certainly not the most efficient controller in the market but with 20amp this PWM charge manager is just more than efficient for the smaller systems. Solar charge controllers mean to be a savior when the battery is getting overcharged and discharged. But this one stands out as it saves your battery form undercharging by its automatic turn-off feature.

What we liked

  • An efficient charge controller; 
  • Exclusive auto turn-off feature;
  • Wet preventive coating.

What we didn’t like

  • Connection terminals are too close.

5. Renogy Adventurer 30A Solar Charge Controller

Renogy Adventurer 30A Solar Charge Controller

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Charge regulators are meant to be efficient and safe. But the one with an intelligent design and stylish & sleek look cast a spell upon you. The Renogy Adventurer as a brand is the manufacturers of high-quality solar equipment.

In line with the brand reputation, this Wanderer offers a simple and sophisticated design. Worth mentioning design is the setting of the LED indicators along the top border displaying three live colors. The green light signifies power-rise, red light stands for charging, and the solar light signals you that charge is full.

Renogy Adventurer has the capacity of 30A current that can handle 360 watts of power but for safety, you should operate at 300 watts. This PWM controller facilitates you by allowing you to handle both sealed and AGM battery with a bit higher voltage. This is the feature that drives it miles ahead of its rivals.

Besides the basic efficiency features like fast charging at the higher voltage and no charge loss at the lower voltage, it offers support for negative grounding. When the negative wire is tied to the vehicle chassis or put under the earth, the wiring cost is saved for longer runs.

This is a temperature sensitive charge controller that cools at low voltage and warms at high voltage. Thus this will make for the temperature gap. So long the safety measure is concerned; Renogy PWM regulator saves your battery not only from overcharging and discharging rather it ably protects the battery from short-circuiting.

What we liked

  • Advanced and applied technology;
  • Flawless battery charging with high reliability;
  • Functional on the boat.

What we didn’t like

  • LED can’t provide all the data.

6.  EPEVER 40 Amp MPPT Solar Charge Controller

EPEVER 40 Amp MPPT Solar Charge Controller

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This is an advanced 40A MPPT charge controller called Tracer. The Negative Ground Gadget gives you a limited commitment to 150V sun-powered data. With plenty of uplifting highlights, the solar charge controller can safely protect your power frameworks from fraud, overheating, shortcuts and other voltage issues.

Obviously, as should be evident in the picture, it is a particularly strong and powerful sun-based charge controller that is an incredible decision for various open-air applications. You can mount it effectively anywhere with your off-frame solar power frameworks. Use the connection above to purchase a unit of the SolarPick MPPT charge controller.

Also, it includes Low Voltage Detach Work (LVD) to give extra protection to your power packs from over-releasing. Additionally, the charge controller also benefits from 20 amp variants. Its size is only 11.9 x 2.5 x 7.2 in and weighs about 6 pounds.

What we liked

  • 40Amp Powerful Charge Controller;
  • 20Amp Lower-End Variant is Available;
  • Negative Ground, Max 150V PV Input;
  • Highly Durable and Solid for Rough Outdoor Uses.

What we didn’t like

  • No noticeable cons.

FAQs

What Do PWM and MPPT Refer to?

PWM stands for Multistage Pulse Width Modulation and MPPT for Maximum Power Point Tracking. Both the type is recommended for your RV solar charge controller. While the former will provide you with faster and max charging, the later will boost the charging power to your batteries. 

What Is the Battery Temperature Compensation?

It is a must-have charge regulator feature that adjusts charge control voltage based on the battery temperature. The solar charge regulator equipped with this feature raises the regulation voltage when the battery is cold and drops the regulation voltage when the battery is hot. It is crucial to prevent the battery from being overcharged. 

What Is the Additional Benefit of MPPT Solar Charge Controller?

Ans: MPPT solar charge regulator will draw 15-30% more power from the solar system than a PWM regulator. 

When Do I Need a Solar Charge Regulator?

This totally depends on the power of the solar panel you are going to install. Solar panel with the output power of 20w or higher requires charge controller. 

Final Verdict

You are reading this section means that you know everything you need to make an informed decision. This review guide has not only recommended you the five best solar charge controllers rather gone to the extent of helping you single out the right version for you.

In addition, by answering to several critical questions it has enabled you to develop an expert opinion on the basic features and benefits of a solar charge controller. The prices of the products range from budget to high cost but the benefits are all high end. There are seamy sides of every product that is covered in the cons below every product description but none of them are the deal breakers. 

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About This Writer

Liam Jaxon Author pic

Hi, I am responsible for the 'Homeowners Power Solutions' category. My name is Liam Jaxon and a licensed technician with 7 years of experience in vehicle batteries, electrical gadgets, and home appliances. My working experience in different residential & light commercial electrical sectors and the automobile industry helped to acquire vast knowledge in this industry.

Hi, I am responsible for the 'Homeowners Power Solutions' category. My name is Liam Jaxon and a licensed technician with 7 years of experience in vehicle batteries, electrical gadgets, and home appliances. My working experience in different residential & light commercial electrical sectors and the automobile industry helped to acquire vast knowledge in this industry.

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