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Compass Marine How To | all galleries >> Welcome To >> Do I Need A Solar Charge Controller ?? > Do I Need A Solar Charge Controller ??
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Do I Need A Solar Charge Controller ??

I get asked this question quite often and the answer is almost always a resounding, yes. There are always caveats to everything however..

Last summer I finally had the opportunity to set this up for demonstration with a small 12W panel and two battery banks. It then took me 9 months to get this article up on my site.. Sheesh, sorry for slacking...

Both banks were charged with the 12W panel and a Morningstar PWM solar controller until they were full. The controller was then removed and the panel allowed to feed the banks unregulated.. The panel was left flat, not angled towards the sun, just like it would be on a boat. Getting these banks full did not happen over night because I purposely drew them down to approx 60% SOC. With the solar controller removed the small 12W panel eventually brought both banks over 15V!!! This panel is 10% of the 125Ah bank, in wattage, and only 5.5% of the 220Ah bank, in wattage..

Bank #1 = 220Ah Lifeline 6V AGM

Bank #2 = 125 Ah Marine Maxx Group 31 Flooded Lead Acid

Solar Panel = 12W

As you can see even a diminutive 12W solar panel can push a 220Ah bank of Lifeline batteries well over 15 volts!!!! Do you need a solar controller? The answer is almost always a resounding YES!

other sizes: small medium large original auto
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Ray Durkee 10-Aug-2017 19:30
I am no expert, but I think that using voltage for an index to how much charge is actually in a battery is not very reliable. I am going to suggest that you can lay a charge over a totally sulfated battery that will indicate a high voltage---untill you put any kind of load on it--then the system will crash. Actually I can demonstrate this. Some of these small cheap chinese panels have very high voltage and very little amperage output and i think they can deceive folks into thinking they are overcharging the bank---when the reality is that they have simply parked a bit of high voltage in a cell that will quickly dissipate when the load is put on it. If you use a battery monitor you are familiar with the process---indiciated voltage is transient and a very poor indicator of a battery's true charge.