Solar Charge Controller Review (Renogy MPPT And PWM)

Solar Charge Controller Review - Featured Image

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This review is aimed at providing information about Renogy solar charge controllers. When it comes to solar systems, charge controllers seem to be the last thing on the shopping list. 

It baffles me that the most important piece of equipment for protecting those very expensive batteries. Is left until last and there seems to be an attitude of the cheapest will do. Beware this could cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars replacing damaged batteries.

I am not trying to preach but you do want to protect your batteries don’t you? Because if you use an unreliable controller the results could be disastrous for your batteries health.

It doesn’t matter that you may not have heard of Renogys’ solar controllers before. There are other controllers that are just as good as Victron with a more appealing price tag.

Best Renogy Large MPPT ControllerBest Renogy Large MPPT ControllerRover 100A
Best Renogy Small MPPT ControllerBest Renogy Small MPPT ControllerRover Li 30A
Best Renogy All Round Renogy MPPT ControllerBest Renogy All Round Renogy MPPT ControllerRover Li 20A
Best Renogy PWM ControllerBest PWM ControllerVoyager 20A Waterproof

Solar Charge Controller Review (Renogy MPPT And PWM)

The Renogy solar charge controller highlighted in the review are shipped to their customers from the US. And from depots around the world including Europe, Latin America, The Far East, Australia and Canada. I will be looking at their range and providing specifications for their PWM and MPPT charge controllers. In case you don’t know. I will start off by explaining how solar controllers work and the differences between them.

Renogy video showing the Rover Li 40 Solar Charge controller controller
How Do PWM And MPPT Solar Charge Controllers Work?

If you look at the specifications of a 12V 100w solar panel. As an example I am using the Renogy compact. You will notice it has a minimum operating voltage (VMP) of 18.6V and an open circuit voltage of (Voc) 22.3.

18.6V is too high because a 12V battery requires about 13.6V to 14.4V while charging. This means without a solar charge controller the batteries would be damaged by overcharging. The controller reduces and regulates the voltage between the solar panel and battery. This makes sure there is no overcharging.

Renogy 100w Monocrystalline Solar Panel (Compact Design)

Because they regulate current they can also power DC appliances this is called the ‘load’. This use is most often seen in recreational vehicle installations. When both battery charging and DC loads require current from the solar panels.

Related == >>>>>>>>>> Renogy Solar Panels 100w – Versatile 12v Charging Power

Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT)

MPPT charge controllers are more sophisticated and complex than PWM. It compares the battery voltage to the solar panel output. Then calculates what the best voltage the panel can supply at the time. This is because the panel’s output varies in different weather conditions.

It then fixes the voltage to achieve the maximum charging current to the battery. And  continually optimize the DC match. Like a PWM controller near the end of charging it reduces the current. Then it trickle charges the battery to keep it topped off

This means the MPPT keeps the power transfer between solar panel and battery, at its highest efficiency. Meaning they can use the full power of the solar panels while still providing effective protection. Unlike PWM they can also be paired with different voltages between the solar panel and battery. 

Solar Charge Controller Review

Pulse-Wave Modulation (PWM)

A PWM solar charge controller works like a switch that allows packets of current to charge the battery. It’s internal circuitry divides the packets into pulses of the same voltage size. This allows it to match the required charging voltage.

The packets are larger at the start of charging because more current is required to charge the battery. Less current is needed as it nears capacity at the end of charging so the packets are smaller. Then it trickle charges the battery to keep it topped off

They work with matching voltages – 12 volt battery and 12V solar panel system. If the solar panel system and batteries have different voltages the controller won’t work.

Regarded as standard, reliable types of controllers they are simpler and less expensive than MPPT. Many manufacturers build them into their portable solar panels.

Rear of Voyager 20A Charge Controller

What MPPT Solar Charge Controllers Do Renogy Have In Their Range?

Renogy has 5 solar charge controllers in their MPPT range under the Rover brand name.

Renogy Li 30A MPPT Solar Charge  Controller
Specs Rover LI 20A Rover Li 30A Rover Li 40A Rover 60A Rover 100A
Charge Current20A30A40A60A100A
Load Current20A20A20A20AN/A
Voltage12V/24V Auto Recognition12V/24V Auto Recognition12V/24V Auto Recognition12V/24V/36V/48V Auto Recognition12V/24V/36V/48V Auto Recognition
Self Consumption12V/
<100mA – 24V/<58mA
12V/
<100mA – 24V/<58mA
12V/
<100mA – 24V/<58mA
0.7W to 1.2W2.7W -2.9W
Maximum Input Voltage100V100V100V150V/25°C – 140V/-25°C150V/25°C – 140V/-25°C
Maximum PV Input Wattage12V/260W – 24V/520W12V/400W – 24V/800W12V/520W – 24V/1040W12V/880W – 24V/1600W 36V/2400W 48V/3200W12V/1300W 24V/2600W 36V/3900W 48V/5200W
Maximum Battery Voltage32V32V32V9V – 70V9V – 60V
Lead Acid BatterySealed (AGM), Gel, FloodedSealed (AGM), Gel, FloodedSealed (AGM), Gel, FloodedSealed (AGM), Gel, FloodedSealed (AGM), Gel, Flooded
Lithium BatteryYes (LFP)Yes (LFP)Yes (LFP)Yes (LFP)Yes (LFP)
LCD DisplayYesYesYesYesYes
Controller Parallel PortYes And Cable Supplied
BluetoothOptional ExtraOptional ExtraOptional ExtraOptional ExtraOptional Extra
Temperature Sensor PortYes And Sensor Supplied Yes And Sensor Supplied Yes And Sensor Supplied Yes And Sensor Supplied Yes And Sensor Supplied 
Communications PortRS232RS232RS232RS232 and RS485RS232 and RS485
TerminalsUp To 8 AWGUp To 8 AWGUp To 8 AWG25mm2,
4 AWG
25mm2,
4 AWG
Dimensions8.27 x 5.94 x 2.34inch/210 x151 x 59.5mm9.37 x 6.81 x 2.85inch/238 x 173 x 72.5mm9.37 x 6.81 x 2.85inch/238 x 173 x 72.5mm11.2 x 8.1 x 4.0inch/285 x 205 x 102mm 12.00 x 17.44 x 4.35inch/305 x 443 x 110mm;
Weight3.08lbs/1.4Kg3.08lbs/1.4Kg4.41lbs/2.0Kg7.9lbs/3.6Kg22lbs/9.98Kg
Overall Customer Review Rating98%94%96%88%98%
Product QualityN/A98%88%60%100%
Value For MoneyN/A100%88%80%100%
Warranty2 Year2 Year2 Year2 Year2 Year
Price$109.99$139.99$169.99$399.99$699.99

Related == >>>>>>>>>> Renogy Smart Lithium Iron Phosphate Battery Review

Which Is The Best Renogy MPPT Solar Charge Controller?

Renogy BT-1 BlueTooth Module

Renogy MPPT solar charge controllers range from 20A to 100A. The company says that the controllers provide up to 99% efficiency. With die-cast aluminum shells for high durability and heat dissipation. They all have backlit LED displays to be able to easily see data displays.

die cast aluminum shells for high durability and heat dissipation

With fault self-diagnosis, automatic voltage detection, lead acid and lithium battery charging options. These MPPT controllers are rugged and sturdy and will provide the required battery protection. 

They all have battery temperature sensors supplied. And have options for BT1 and DC Home App using the built-in RS232 communications port. This means you will be able to control and adjust settings directly from your mobile phone, laptop or tablet.

Options for BT1 using the built-in RS232 communications port

The Rover 100A has the ability to be connected to each other in parallel via the parallel port. Renogy supplies the cable to accomplish this. Connecting two Rover 100A together means for even larger projects 200A can be achieved. For instance when connected in parallel in a 12V system they can handle up to 2600 watts of solar power.

Best Customer Review Renogy MPPT Controller 

There is a winner here the Rover 100A

Rover 100A MPPT Solar Charge Controller
  • Overall Customer Review Rating 98%
  • Product Quality 100%
  • Value For Money 100%

Amongst the smaller controllers, customers preferred the Rover Li 20A and the 30A. Saying that the quality and design of the products are great. And the interface and features like the data readout are an unexpected added bonus. 

Rover Li 30A Solar Charge Controller

<<<<<<<<< Take A Look At The Renogy MPPT Solar Charge Controller Range >>>>>>>>>

What PWM Solar Charge Controllers Do Renogy Have In Their Range?

Renogy has 5 solar charge controllers in their PWM range. There are 3 brands of controllers : Adventurer, Voyager and Wanderer and range between 10A and 30A

Adventurer
Adventurer Li 30A PWM Solar Charge Controller
Specifications Adventurer Li- 30A Flush Mount
Charge Current30A
Voltage12/24V Auto Recognition
Self Consumption<13mA
Maximum Input Voltage50V
Maximum PV Input Wattage12V/400W – 24V/800w
Lead Acid BatterySealed (AGM), Gel, Flooded
Lithium BatteryYes
USB Output Port1 x 5V/2.4A Max
LCD DisplayYes
BluetoothOptional Extra
Battery Voltage Sensor (BVS)Yes
Temperature Sensor PortYes
Communications PortRS232
TerminalsUp To 8 AWG
Dimensions6.56 x 4.5 x 1.90inch/167 x 114 x 48mm
Weight0.6lbs/272g
Overall Customer Review Rating94%
Product Quality80%
Value For Money90%
Warranty2 Year
Price$69.99

Battery protection include with the Adventurer range; 

Reverse PV and battery polarity, PV and battery over-voltage, PV and battery over-current, controller over-temperature and battery over-discharge

Voyager
Renogy Voyager 20A PWM Waterproof Solar Charge Controller
Specifications Voyager 10A Waterproof Voyager 20A Waterproof
Charge Current10A20A
Voltage12V/24V Auto Recognition12V/24V Auto Recognition
Self Consumption12V/0.22W – 24V/0.72W12V/0.24W – 24V/0.74W
Maximum Input Voltage12V- 25 VOC &  24V – 55 VOC12V- 25 VOC &  24V – 55 VOC
Maximum PV Input Wattage12V/130w – 24V/260W12V/260w – 24V/520W
Lead Acid BatterySealed (AGM) Gel. FloodedSealed (AGM) Gel. Flooded
Lithium BatteryYesYes
USB Output PortNoNo
LCD DisplayYesYes
BluetoothN/AN/A
Battery Voltage Sensor (BVS)NoNo
Temperature Sensor PortYesYes
Communications PortNoNo
Terminals20-6 AWG20-6 AWG
Dimensions6.08 x 3.83 x 1.40inches6.08 x 3.83 x 1.40inches
Weight0.55lbs0.55lbs
Overall Customer Review Rating96%98%
Product Quality90%100%
Value For Money90%100%
Warranty2 Year2 Year
Price$39.99$49.99

Battery protection include with the Voyager range is the same as the Adventurer Range

Wanderer
Renogy 10A PWM Wanderer Solar Charge Controller
Specifications Wanderer 10A Wanderer Li 30A
Charge Current10A30A
Voltage12V/24V Auto Recognition12V
Self Consumption<10mA<10mA
Maximum Input Voltage50V25V
Maximum PV Input Wattage12V/130w – 24V/260W400W
Lead Acid BatterySealed (AGM) Gel. FloodedSealed (AGM) Gel. Flooded
Lithium BatteryYes (LFP)Yes (LFP)
USB Output Port2 x 5V/2A maxNo
LCD DisplayYesYes
BluetoothOptional ExtraOptional Extra
Battery Voltage Sensor (BVS)NoNo
Temperature Sensor PortNoYes
Communications PortRS232RS232
TerminalsUp To 12 AWGUp TO 8 AWG
Dimensions4.7 x 3.0 x 1.1inch / 119 x 75 x 27.5mm6.5 x 4.3 x 1.8inch/163.8 x 109.6 x 44.7mm
Weight0.27lbs/122.47g0.65lbs/209g
Overall Customer Review Rating92%94%
Product Quality90%80%
Value For Money100%80%
Warranty2 Year2 Year
Price$19.99$33.99

Battery protection include with the Wanderer range is the same as the Adventurer Range

Which Is The Best Renogy PWM Solar Charge Controller?

I don’t believe it is a case of which Renogy PWM controller is the best. I think it is more about what you will be using it for. Taking a closer look at the specs for each controller. There doesn’t seem to be much difference between the 3 brands of controllers in terms of battery protection.

They can all handle lead acid sealed (AGM) Gel. Flooded and lithium (LFP) batteries. So no problems there. They all have auto 12V/24V recognition software except for the Wanderer Li 30A. 

Renogy Smart 100Ah Lithium Iron Phosphate Battery

An LCD display is incorporated into them all. It displays things like the number of charging amps, battery charge state and various warning symbols . The controllers are operated with clearly labeled push  buttons. These can be used to set the type of battery you are charging and other functions.

The Differences

The obvious difference is the amount of solar each can handle. This means the maximum for a 12V system is 400W using the Wanderer Li 30A. And up to 130w with Wanderer or Voyager 10A controllers.

Because the Voyager range is waterproof they would be more suited for use in small open air systems. Such as an open boat or an installation where water may be a problem. 

The Wanderer range looks to be a standard PWM controller for use with recreational vehicles. Or maybe for small outbuildings like sheds. But the Li 30 doesn’t cater for 24V systems so you would need to keep this in mind. If at a later date you wanted to add more solar power to your system.

Best Customer Review Renogy PWM Controller 

The clear winner is the Voyager 20A Waterproof Controller. 

Renogy Voyager 20A PWM Waterproof Solar Charge Controller
  • Overall Customer Review Rating 98%
  • Product Quality 100%
  • Value For Money 100%

The best recommendation is always from customer reviews and the Voyager 20A gets top marks. This is because it is easy to use, easy to read, waterproof, handles lithium and is well built. It also has a nice little touch with an Amp Hour display feature.

All in all a great waterproof PWM controller for $50.00

<<<<<<<<< Take A Look At The Renogy PWM Solar Charge Controller Range >>>>>>>>>

My Closing Thoughts

The quality and reliability of the Renogy solar charge controllers I have highlighted in the review. Are backed up by the customer reviews on their website. I know that everybody talks about Victron controllers. But I think the Renogy controllers are a credible alternative to them.

The range is extensive and you should be able to find the right controller for your needs. MPPT controllers are much better to install because of their efficiency capabilities. It is worth spending the extra dollar on one especially if you have expensive batteries.

Remember never hook up a solar panel to a battery without using a solar controller. Unless the solar panel is a 5w or 10w panel designed for trickle charging. If you do, you might regret it !!!

I hope you enjoyed this review and have found it helpful. If you have any questions about the Renogy solar controller range. Or want to leave your own personal review, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Spread The Solar Love

4 Comments on “Solar Charge Controller Review (Renogy MPPT And PWM)”

  1. I’m happy to discover your review, and I kept wondering while some batteries last longer than the others.

    Now I know it’s definitely important to have solar charge controllers handy just in case I mistakenly overcharge the batteries.

    I wouldn’t have to worry as the controller will balance the current.

    My best pick is the MPPT controller. 

    Do I need a special app to adjust the solar controller settings directly from my mobile?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Muslimah

      Yes you would use the separate BT-1 Bluetooth Module and connect via the DC Home App. And you can download the app from the App Store and Google Play. 

      Regards

      Steve

  2. I like this topic about sustainable energy. So, I read a lot about it. When I discovered, I needed an electronic DC to DC converter that optimizes the match between the solar array and the battery bank wave I immediately begun to read. And I have over and over again seen Renogy’s name pop up. It has made me give it some serious consideration.

    1. Hi Ann yes Renogy produce great products. I was originally going to write this article to include ACOPower, Rich Solar and Newpowa solar charge controllers. But decided that because Renogy had such an extensive range. Along with the quality, workmanship and online reviews. I would just stick with them. 

      Regards

      Steve

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