If you're using solar panels to power a battery bank, you might have noticed that not all of your batteries are being charged equally. As a result, the battery bank may become unbalanced, which will reduce the batteries lifespan. Thankfully, a maximum power point tracking (MPPT) solar charger can assist in balancing your batteries' charges.
In this blog post, we'll explore how MPPT solar chargers operate, the significance of battery equalization, and how to use an MPPT solar charge controller to achieve battery equalization.
A Closer Look: MPPT VS. PWM
There are two different technologies used in solar charge controllers to regulate the amount of power flowing between solar panels and batteries: MPPT and PWM.
Pulse Width Modulation, or PWM, is a simpler and less expensive technology than MPPT. The PWM charge controller maintains a steady voltage and current by switching the solar panel's output on and off rapidly. As the solar panel voltage is reduced to match the battery voltage, the solar panel's energy output is not maximized. This technology is suitable for smaller solar panel systems and is often used in simple off-grid applications.
The MPPT technology, on the other hand, stands for Maximum Power Point Tracking, which is a more advanced technology than PWM. In MPPT charge controllers, the maximum power point of the solar panel is continuously tracked, which is where the panel produces the most power. As the charge controller adjusts voltage and current output, it maximizes the solar panel's energy output. Although MPPT is more expensive than PWM, it is more efficient and suitable for systems with larger solar panels.
In summary, PWM and MPPT can be chosen based on the size of your solar panel system, battery capacity, and other specific needs. It's important to consult with a professional installer or batteries expert to help you select the appropriate charge controller for your specific application.
How does an MPPT Solar Charge Controller work?
MPPT solar chargers constantly track and adjust the voltage and current output of your solar panels to find their maximum power point (MPP). When a solar panel reaches its MPP, it produces more power and operates at its highest efficiency.
Upon finding the MPP, the MPPT solar charger adjusts the voltage and current output to meet the battery bank's charging requirements. Consequently, your batteries (including solar battery, AGM battery, AGM deep cycle battery, lithium battery and etc.) will be effectively charged by the charger when the DC power from your solar panels is converted into the right voltage and current.
The MPPT solar charger is particularly useful in Canada when the temperature or sunlight conditions are constantly changing. In spite of changing environmental conditions, MPPT solar chargers ensure that your batteries are charged as efficiently as possible by constantly tracking and adjusting to the MPP.
All in all the MPPT charge controllers helps your solar panel system charge faster, have longer battery life, and consume less energy overall.
Why Battery Equalization is important?
Battery equalization is important because it ensures that all batteries in your battery bank are charged and discharged equally. It is possible for batteries in a battery bank to become imbalanced over time, meaning that some batteries are more charged than others. There are several issues associated with this, including:
Reduction in overall battery capacity: If some batteries in your battery bank are more charged than others, they will reach their maximum capacity first. In this case, the more charged batteries will need to be disconnected from the system sooner, reducing the overall capacity of your battery bank.
Reduced battery lifespan: When batteries are imbalanced, some batteries will be overcharged while others are undercharged. When batteries are overcharged, they can be damaged and their lifespan can be shortened, while when they are undercharged, their capacity will be reduced and their lifespan will also be shortened.
Increased maintenance requirements: When your batteries are imbalanced, you will need to perform more maintenance on your battery bank. You can do this by manually disconnecting and reconnecting batteries to make sure they are all being charged and discharged in the same way.
You can prevent these problems and maintain the efficiency of your battery bank by implementing battery equalization. Equalizing your batteries will help you extend the lifespan and efficiency of your battery bank by ensuring that they are all being charged and discharged evenly.
How to Implement Battery Equalization using an MPPT charge Controller?
Implementing battery equalization using an MPPT solar charger involves adjusting the charging and discharging of your batteries to ensure that they are all being charged and discharged evenly.
Monitoring battery voltage is the first step in implementing battery equalization. An MPPT solar charger can be monitored using its monitoring system or a voltmeter. In the process of monitoring the battery voltage, you will be able to identify any imbalances. A battery bank's voltage can be compared with its average voltage to determine if there are any imbalances.
Charge and discharge your batteries evenly to equalize them. To ensure this is happening, charge them and discharge them in a manner that ensures they are all charged equally. To do this, you need to remove any fully charged batteries and connect them to another load, such as a light bulb or another small electric device. As a result, the other batteries will continue to charge until they reach the same voltage as the fully charged batteries.
When equalizing your batteries, it is important to monitor their progress to ensure they are charging and discharging evenly. During this process, you can monitor the voltage of each battery and make adjustments as needed. It may be necessary to repeat this process several times depending on the condition of your batteries and the amount of imbalance.
Which MPPT solar charge controller is recommended as the top-performer option?
With so many MPPT solar charge controller brands available such as Morningstar, Renogy, Schneider Electric, and Victron Energy, choosing the right one can be challenging. Our solar experts at Volts Energies strongly endorse Victron Energy's MPPT charge controllers as the best choice. In this section, we'll outline why Victron Energy MPPT charge controllers outshine their competitors and are deemed the most efficient option in renewable energy.
Victron Energy is a well-known brand in the solar energy industry, and their MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) charge controllers are widely considered among the best on the market. Here are some reasons why:
High Efficiency: Victron Energy's MPPT charge controllers are highly efficient, converting up to 98% of the energy into electricity. As a result, solar panels are capable of extracting more energy and the system can use it more effectively.
Flexibility: Victron Energy's MPPT charge controllers can be used with a variety of solar panel types and configurations, making them a versatile option for solar panel systems.
Advanced Features: Victron Energy's MPPT charge controllers offer a range of advanced features, including remote monitoring and control, battery temperature sensing, and programmable charging profiles. As a result of these features, the performance of the solar panel system can be enhanced and the battery's life can be extended.
Durability: Victron Energy's MPPT charge controllers are built to last, with high-quality components and robust construction. In other words, they are able to withstand harsh environmental conditions and provide reliable performance for a long time.
An important tip about Victron MPPTs from our solar and battery experts at Volts Energies
When using Victron SmartSolar and Blue Solar MPPT charge controllers, you should start at a higher voltage to improve the performance of your photovoltaic system. Your solar array should have an input voltage that is at least 5V higher than your battery voltage. By increasing the voltage, you can wire panels in series and reduce connections, which will increase the voltage and reduce the current.
Moreover, starting at a higher voltage means you can use smaller cables because there is less line loss. A higher starting voltage increases the time window for charging batteries, even in low-light conditions in the morning and late afternoon.
These small improvements in efficiency can add up quickly to improve the overall efficiency of your system. If you have any further questions about how to size your MPPT solar charge controller, how to size cable from your MPPT to the battery and etc. contact our expert at Volts Energies in Canada.