Want to power up your RV devices and equipment without coming short? Then you probably need the best solar charge controller for RV.
A solar charge controller will control the amount of energy you use on the RV while making the total charge last longer. Sure enough, this will keep your RV battery charged for enough time so you can get the most out of it before it drains.
But picking the ideal charge controller won’t be easy. There are many types to consider, and each one of them offers a different experience.
That’s why we want to help you out by reviewing some of the best models out there, walk you through a buying guide, and eventually teach you some other important factors to think about.
Are you ready to learn more about all this? Then don’t hesitate and take a peek below!
How Does the Solar Charge Controller Work for RV?
A charge controller works by connecting directly into the battery bank or similar energy system of the RV.
This controller harnesses the energy that comes from the solar panels so that the battery bank can be charged.
Let’s just say that a solar charge controller is what makes the solar energy in the panels manageable by the battery. Without a solar charge controller, this wouldn’t be possible.
In fact, a solar panel can quickly burn out a battery or damage it without a controller. However, in some cases, the solar panel won’t charge at all.
That’s why it is super important to get the right charge controller. Otherwise, you will fail to enjoy the solar energy system on the motorhome.
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Comparison Chat of Top 7 Solar Charge Controllers for RV
|Models||Renogy Wanderer||EPEVER Solar Charge Controller||HQST Common Positive Solar Charge Controller||ALLPOWERS Solar Charger Controller||Victron SmartSolar||WindyNation P30L||Outback Flexmax 80 FM80|
|Amperage||30 AMP||30 AMP||30 / 20 AMP||20 AMP||15 AMP||30 AMP||80 AMP|
|Stages||4 Stage||4 Stage||3 Stage||3 Stage||3 Stage||2 Stage||3 Stage|
|Temperature Sensor||Yes||Yes / Remote||Yes||No||Yes||Yes / BTS||Yes|
7 Best Solar Charge Controller for RV Reviews
Well, you’ll be happy to know there are top-notch models to consider. We focused on 7 of the best ones, so you could take a brief look into our reviews to learn everything they offer. Here’s what we found about them:
Renogyis one of the most quality-oriented brands in the market. And with the Wanderer PWM Solar Charge Controller, Renogy delivers the best solar charge controller for camper van and RV.
It is the combination of an affordable model with the capacity of a high-end one. You get the chance to enjoy a safe experience while ensuring excellent efficiency for several hours non-stop. When it comes to quality, few models match this one.
- Decent Amperage
The first thing you’ll notice is the 30 AMPs of capacity it offers. You get the chance to make it work with a wide array of batteries, ensuring excellent results and top-notch performance every time.
- Superb Compatibility
Something that sets the Wanderer apart is the negative-ground compatibility. You can make it work with any negative-ground system, so you get automatic grounding for a safer experience. It also works well with flooded, gel, and sealed batteries.
- Super-Safe Performance
The controller boasts a 4-stage PWM system. That means you get a Boost, Float, Bulk, and Equalization process that prevents over-discharging, over-charging, overload, short-circuit, reverse polarity, and more.
- Straightforward Operation
The semi-automatic system allows for effortless operation. You get an automatic discharging and charging parameters, a temperature sensor, and a LED indicator. Together, they make the controller a piece of cake to use.
On top of all that, the device can be a little complicated when it comes to setting it up. While it seems easy when looking at it – the device actually takes more time and effort to set up than you may expect. So be aware of that before choosing.
- The negative-ground system works well with batteries that require extra protection
- Using and tweaking the controller takes little to no time even for a beginner
- The 4-stage system ensures maximum efficiency and safety
- Delivers excellent amperage for the cost
- Takes some effort to install
If we’re making a list of solar charge controllers, we couldn’t leave the EPEVER MPPT solar charge controllerout.
You get the whole package, including the hardware, MPPT technology, superb safety features, and more. If you’re willing to go the extra mile with your RV and need a quality controller – then this one is the way to go.
- Ultra-Safe Operation
Using MPPT technology, you can take this solar charge controller to a whole new level. It delivers superb protection against overload, reverse current, over-discharging, overcharging, and even short-circuiting. With its 30 AMPs of capacity, it works with nearly any solar-charging system.
- Top-Notch Performance
Another exciting part of this charge controller is the Tracer AN’s charging process. Alongside the 4-stage battery charging system, you can get extra battery life, temperature compensation, and overall performance improvements.
- Maximum Efficiency
If there’s something you shouldn’t miss, then that would be a negative-ground design. This increases overall efficiency and makes it possible to convert energy more effectively. It saves up energy and still delivers the quality you expect.
- Effortless to Use
Last but not least, you can expect this device to be a no-brainer. It boasts an APP and PC software so you can set it up however you prefer. This goes well with the compatibility with different battery types and an LCD screen with system display. Together, they make it one of the easiest-to-use models.
The software is not as practical as it seems at first, though. While it may help you tweak the controller as you need, the software is not easy to use and requires special installation. In some cases, the installation may not even go through.
- Superb 4-stage MPPT system charges batteries faster than you could expect
- Exceptional efficiency harnesses tons of energy from the panels
- The straightforward operation ensures a super straightforward operation
- Up to 30 AMPs of total amperage with different protective functions
- Software and apps are not as practical as expected
Available in a 20 AMP and a 30 AMP, the HQST is the best RV solar charge controller for those who need an affordable but still practical device.
It combines a small design with excellent amperage, several useful features for charging, and a top-notch safety system. If you’re looking to set up a controller without spending much while still getting exceptional results – this one is it.
- Excellent Amperage
The HQST Solar charge Controller is available in either 20 Amps or 30 AMPs. You can get the one that better matches your demands. It still works with 12-volt and 24-volt systems without any drawback.
- Ideal Safety Features
Apart from working at different voltages and amperages, you can also enjoy a temperature compensation, different charging parameters, and load ranges. This goes well with the overload, the over-discharge, reverse-connection, and short-circuit protection.
- Practical Use
No need to be an expert electrician to get the most out of this charge controller! You get an LCD screen with Matrix graphics, a human-machine interface, and several controlling parameters. There’s enough to use it without wasting any time.
- Superb Efficiency
There’s a super exciting feature that you won’t find in any other model: the light control system. Once the device receives some daylight, it will automatically turn the light source off. This helps save a lot more energy and makes the battery last longer.
Despite its exceptional features, the controller can be slightly painful to install. Some of the screws and its design can make it a bit complicated to put on to work. But it is nothing a few tweaks can’t fix.
- Exceptional safety features keep it working without any drawback
- Effortless to operate with LCD screen and several control parameters
- Available in both 20 and 30 AMPs so you can get precisely what you need
- The extremely efficient performance turns on when it detects daylight
- A little more challenging to install than expected
An affordable 3 stage solar charge controller may also come like an excellent choice if you’re looking for decent performance without overdoing it.
This 20 AMPs model with a PWM system makes it possible to achieve efficient and reliable charge on your batteries with little effort. And it still does the job safely and quickly.
- Effective Charging
The first thing you’ll notice is a 3-stage system with 4-stage PWM that you can get the most charge with. This ensures not only a quick charge to your battery but also a safe process. Neither the battery nor the charger will be affected in the process.
- Exceptional Safety
To set the standards in protection higher, you can also enjoy a multiple-protection system. Sure enough, you get an inverse connection system, an over-current and short-circuit protection, and even an overcharge or low-voltage system – everything prevents unwanted results with your controller.
- Never Overheats
You can enjoy a dual MOSFET system that prevents everything from overheating. In fact, the device produces so little heat that it is almost impossible to happen. Yet, the heat-dissipation system prevents any environmental heat from causing damage.
- Effortless Operation
You don’t need to be an electrical-savvy person to operate this solar charge controller. By having two USB connectors for easy hook-up and an LCD screen, you can check the entire configuration, and with buttons for easy settings, it becomes a go-to choice for sure.
While the installation is generally easy to do, you will experience a slight problem with the connectors. They’re too small. That can harm the installation process and make you waste some time.
- Exceptional over-heating protection with dual MOSFET heat-dissipation system
- Unique USB ports and LCD screen for easy operation
- Fantastic 3-stage and 4-stage performance for efficient and decently fast charging
- Prevents any type of electrical issues thanks to a well-made safety system
- Small connectors can be challenging to use
Do you like high-end products? Then you’ll find the Victron SmartSolar a perfect choice. As an MPPT solar charge controller, it can handle super-effective voltage changes for any of your demands.
The device is also one of the easiest to use and install. It delivers up to 20 AMPs of capacity and delivers a super-quick 3-stage charging process.
- Perfect Efficiency
Because it uses the MPPT interface for energy harvesting, you can expect this device to draw energy from the solar panels in the most efficient way possible. The whole process is also fast, so you get double the energy-harvesting capacity and the quickness.
- Remote Control and Monitoring
What sets this model apart from the competition? Easy – the VRM or Victron Management Portal that makes it a piece of cake to monitor. This system connects directly to the internet so you can watch it from far away. And it also works via Bluetooth for extra convenience.
- Super-Safe Load
Want to keep your batteries working for years? Then you need a load-protection system. That’s exactly what you get with the BatteryLife feature – a load control that disconnects from the battery once it is charged. This keeps it working healthily for long.
- Top-Notch Charging
The real benefit you get with the SmartSolar is the automatic battery voltage recognition. It detects the battery data so it can charge accordingly. Yet, it is the capacity to charge depleted batteries that truly sets it apart – so you can work with those batteries that no other controller seems to work with.
We can easily say this is one of the most convenient models in the market. Sadly, it is probably among the most expensive. But if you can afford it – the charge controller will surpass all your expectations.
- Ultra-efficient and quick charging thanks to the MPPT performance
- Unbeatable operation thanks to WiFi and Bluetooth system for controlling
- Convenient battery detection system ensures efficient and safe charging
- Prevents any type of over-loading which increases battery lifespans
- Much more expensive than the competition
We love high-end solar charge controllers. So we couldn’t leave the WindyNation P30L out of the list. As a PWM solar panel regulator, it takes charging performance to a whole new level.
It works at 30 AMPs, is compatible with a wide array of batteries, and still manages to be effortless to operate. If you’re a fan of quality in every way, then you’ll probably love this one.
- Superb Protection
You won’t have to worry a single second when using this controller. It boasts an electronic safety system that prevents reverse polarity, short-circuits, and even over-load from causing damage.
- Straightforward Usage
Boasting an LCD screen that displays everything from load control to voltage, you can always be aware of what’s happening with it. And with UP, DOWN, and MODE buttons – you can operate the controller with little effort. If you aren’t teach-savvy, then there’s nothing to worry about.
- Extra Durable
Alongside every other protection feature and its easy-to-use interface, you can also expect this controller to last a long time. And it all happens thanks to a BTS (Battery Temperature Sensor) that prevents any damage from overheating.
- Excellent Compatibility
One of the main advantages of this charge controller is the ability to work with virtually any battery you may have. From AGM to acid, gel, and many others – this solar controller works like a charm with all of them.
While it performs well in most situations, it is not a 3-stage or 4-stage model. Instead, it is just a 2-stage controller. This may come as a surprise for the cost. Sadly, a 2-stage system is not as safe as it may seem, as it may reduce the battery life exponentially.
- Works well with a wide array of batteries
- Quality construction with a temperature sensor keeps it working for long
- The protective system ensures little to no issue with usual problems
- Effortless operation with LCD screen and buttons in front
- Only available with a 2-stage system
For those who want a programmable solar charge controller, the Outback Flexmax will come like their perfect choice.
Boasting an 80 AMPs system and a superb programmable interface, you can harness the energy from several solar panels at once. And it does the job almost seamlessly.
- Fantastic Results
With a total amperage of 80 AMPs – you can harness the power of a massive solar panel with ease. And you can charge huge and long-lasting batteries as well. That makes it one of the most efficient options on the list.
- Superb Output
Another exceptional feature from the Outback Flexmax80 is the quick-charging system. Thanks to an MPPT build, you can charge the largest battery banks in seconds. It also increases charging speed by 30% when compared to lower-quality models.
- Programmable System
You can program the controller to work with batteries that go from 12 volts up to 60 volts according to your needs. At the same time, it collects 128 days of data that displays on an 80-character LCD. It shows you the current status of the piece as well as the previous days.
- Highly Protective
No over-charging, over-loading, reverse polarity, or anything of the like – this controller prevents it all. Similarly, you get a high-temperature build – you can make it work at up to 104-degree Fahrenheit without problems.
The only drawback of getting this solar charge controller would be the cost. You will have to spend thrice as much to get it. If you aren’t a fan of expensive products, then this may come like a wrong idea.
- The fantastic programmable system makes it safer and easier to use
- Prevents any type of issue thanks to a super-protective system
- Exceptional output works at up to 80 AMPs for several solar panels
- Top-notch energy delivery thanks to MPPT system for efficiency and speed
- Extremely expensive — makes it unaffordable for most users
What to Look Before Purchasing Solar Charge Controller for RV?
If you’re genuinely interested in the best solar charge controller for motorhome or RVs, then you’ll want to take an in-depth look into what they offer. Here’s a list of factors you need to think about for that:
AMP Rating / Amperage
Probably the first thing you’ll have to think about will be the amperage or AMP rating. This tells you how much power the charge controller can withstand.
For example, most solar charge controllers start at about 10 AMPs. This means you can pair it up with a solar panel of 100 watts that delivers less than 10 AMPs. But if you have two solar panels at 6 AMPs each with a 10 AMPs controller, then it won’t work.
That’s why it is often recommended to get a charge controller that offers no less than 20% more than the amperage needed for the system.
So if you have two solar panels at 200W consuming 10 AMPs each. Then you’ll need no less than 25 AMPs in the charge controller. Because 25 AMP controllers don’t exist, then you’ll have to go for a 30 AMP model instead.
On/Off Switch and Controls
An RV 30 charge controlleralso needs to be easy to use. And for that, there’s nothing more helpful to consider than a practical ON/OFF switch.
This feature helps you turn the controller on and off to your command. If you’d like to save as much energy as possible, then this feature will come like a charm.
But alongside an ON/OFF switch, you also want other controls for the system. Anything that helps operate the controller will come like an excellent feature to have.
Adjustable Charging Voltage Set Point
If you see a solar controller saying that it has multi-voltage functions, it means you have an adjustable charging voltage set point as well.
This refers to the specific voltage you can make the controller work at. And it differs depending on the type of battery (lead, AGM, acid, gel, etc.)
For those who want maximum compatibility and efficiency, nothing will be more useful than this feature.
This refers to how the charge controller can handle the electric charge coming from the solar panel. Usually, stages refer to how many processes the energy goes through before going out of the charger.
There are various processes to consider, such as Bulk, Float, and Absorption. There’s also Equalization.
Each process has a purpose, such as reaching the ideal voltage (Bulk), discharging the energy into the battery (Absorption), and then maintaining a specific charge before reaching more energy (Float). Lastly, there’s Equalization, which refers to an absorption stage where the voltage never lowers down.
Sure enough, we recommend models that come with at least 3 of these stages (Bulk, Absorption, and Float), but if you can go for a 4-stage model that also adds Equalization, then that’s even better.
Battery Temperature Sensor
Charge controllers can get hot. They’re always receiving and sending energy, so they’re likely to overheat from time to time.
That’s why most manufacturers add a temperature sensor. It prevents any overcharge that could cause unwanted overheating. Similarly, it tells you when it is working with way less energy than it should, so it could overheat as well.
What this feature does is prevent any of that from happening, which not only prevents any damage but also keeps the battery working super efficiently.
Want to know the voltage, current, charge, and other factors that let you know whether the device is doing its work or not? Then make sure it comes with an LCD screen.
A display will help you visualize everything happening with the charge controller. Whether you want to achieve maximum control or just be sure the controller is doing the work, this is a feature you want to have.
Ease of Installation
Last but not least, you want to consider the solar charge controller mounting options and ease. While most charge controllers are mounted the same way (with a backplate with screw holes), you may find some models that are easier than others.
Not only it comes to the design, but it may be a factor of considering the hardware and other parts, like connectors and ports. You should be sure the charge controller you pick comes with the right mounting, inputs, outputs, and so on.
Other Important Factors
We know you may know little to nothing about solar charge controllers. So we decided to take a deep dive into their most exciting factors. Here are two extra ones you may want to know about before making your final pick:
- What Does a Charge Controller Do for a Solar Panel?
The job of a solar panel is to capture energy from sunlight. Meanwhile, the battery receives this energy in the form of an electrical charge.
Sadly, the energy won’t go directly into the battery – as solar panels and batteries usually have different voltage systems. That’s why a solar charge controller is necessary.
Its sole purpose is to convert whatever the solar panel captures into usable energy for the battery to get charged. You could say a solar charge controller is what prevents damage to the battery while charging it efficiently.
- MPPT vs. PWM
Now, this is the nitty-gritty of the whole choosing process and something that could take years to figure out by yourself. But don’t worry – when it comes to comparing PWM to MPPT, we can explain it all in a few lines.
To make it simple, we can say that PWM brings the charge from the solar panel to as close as that of the battery it’s connected to.
In contrast, an MPPT model uses a newer technology, which means it harvests energy from solar panels much more efficiently. It does not only transform the current, but it also processes it and drives as much as possible from the panel.
Frequently Asked Questions
After reading our solar controller reviews, you may want to take a look at the most common questions users, and buyers make. Here are some of them with their respective answers:
1. Which is the best solar charge controller?
If we had to pick the best controller among all the models in our reviews, we would undoubtedly go for the Victron SmartSolar MPPT 75/15 Solar Charge Controller. The magnificent performance it offers plus the unbeatable control system via Bluetooth or WiFi set it apart from all its competitors.
2. How big of a solar charge controller do I need?
It is not easy to know how big of a solar charge controller you will need. However, we can give you a brief response to help you.
For the best experience, always go for a controller that offers at least 25% more amperage than the solar system and battery.
For example, if the solar panels and battery need about 15 AMPs to work, you will need no less than 20 AMPs on the charge controller. If they need at least 30 AMPs to work, you will need at least 40 AMPs in the controller.
3. Which is better PWM or MPPT?
As we explained before, MPPT is the newest and most efficient way to draw energy from a solar panel to a battery. They offer about 15% better charging capacity than a PWM, and they drain way more energy from the panel as well.
On top of that, MPPT can handle high-energy solar panels more effectively. So they save energy and help you harness the full power of a panel accordingly.
4. Are MPPT controllers worth it?
Yes, even though they are pricier than PWM controllers, they’re still worth considering. You can charge the battery faster, safer, and more efficiently with an MPPT than with a PWM. That’s enough to say they’re totally worth considering.
After reading our reviews and buying guide, you’re probably wondering which one is the best solar charge controller for RV to go for. Well, it all depends on your needs.
We can just say that you should go for whatever meets your demands. There’s a solar charge controller for every need and purpose on this list. So choose accordingly, and you won’t regret it.