Many of us have heard that MPPT is “better” than PWM, but does that hold true when using a small 100w panel?
PWM means Pulse Width Modulation, is a slightly older tech when it comes to solar charge controllers. They work by slowly lowering the amount of power applied to the batteries as they get closer to a fully charge. The beneifts of a PWM solar charge controller is that while the technology used for them is older, it has had more time to be tested and perfected, and pricing is usually cheaper.
MPPT, or Maximum Power Point Tracking, still charges your batteries, but the controller is able to convert excess voltage into amperage, charging your batteries quicker. Since solar panels can frequently supply more than enough voltage to charge a 12v battery, that excess voltage is normally wasted.
This has a huge potential for increased energy production-ensuring you receive all the power you are collecting from the sun! The only real downside of MPPT is the price, and they are usually larger units.
As for our Victron SmartSolar 100/20, we even have bluetooth! This allows us to not only see battery voltage, charge amperage, and current, but it provides us history as well. This will be a very welcome feature when I want to know just how much power my panels have generated during a weekend or trip.
When I was using my Renogy Voyager, I had to rely on writing down how much power the display showed in the evenings and trying to remember how much the panel was out in the sun.
Normally MPPT is suggested for larger panel arrays, but I was curious if the jump to using MPPT on a smaller setup like my 100W Renogy folding suitcase would be worth it.
The end result? Watch the video and find out!