How an MPPT controller works
In the sector of solar regulators, the MPPT technology It has been a revolution in terms of functionality and efficiency, notably increasing the performance of the panels and representing a turning point in the development of this type of technology. Thanks to its complex development and the versatility it offers, it is convenient to delve into and learn about its functions and advantages in detail, in order to understand the great change that products such as the MMPT 60 regulator. We show you how an mppt regulator works.
What is an MPPT controller
The MPPT controller (Maximum Power Point Tracking, or Maximum Power Point Tracking) is a type of solar regulator that incorporates a much more complex technology than conventional devices. They are in charge of looking for the voltage point where the panel offers the maximum possible powerand operates through it until some change occurs (arrival of shade, clouds or temperature changes).
Given the complexity of the technology that these devices incorporate, their price is increased if we compare it with the most common solar regulators, but it makes up for it in efficiency and effectiveness. Its efficiency is around 95% in terms of conversion, assuming a power gain that can reach 45% in winter and 15% in summer.
Operation of MPPT controllers
This regulator is considered a direct current (DC) converter. As its name indicates, it works by making a change from DC, at the input of the panels, to alternating current (AC), through a transformer (generally, toroids). After that, the AC is converted back to DC depending on the voltage needed by the battery, to end up passing through a regulator and heading towards the battery.
An MPPT regulator for solar panels requires much more complex and precise electronics than other converters, given the changes in light and temperature that occur throughout the day. These types of devices operate at fairly high current frequenciesallowing them to be designed with smaller components and fairly efficient transformers.
The MPPT regulator offers us three important figures to take into account:
- Charge current to the batteries.
- Working voltage on the batteries.
- Maximum working voltage in the panels.
What are the main advantages of using an MPPT controller?
Having seen the characteristics and the main operation of the MPPT regulators, we can highlight some of its advantages as the most relevant:
- It allows oversize solar panelsensuring the load in the winter months or spells where the weather conditions do not favor the generation of solar energy.
- They can be used with 60 cell panels.
- The charging efficiency is much larger, highlighting this in cold climates.
- is a solution with greater versatility and better technology than traditional regulators.
Differences between MPPT controllers and traditional PWM controllers
Before the release of this revolutionary technology, so-called PWM regulators (Pulse-width modulation). Both have certain objectives within an installation:
- Cut off the power supply when the battery is fully charged, avoiding possible overloads and their serious consequences.
- Also avoid possible battery discharges, especially at night or in times of low light, given the lack of light.
- Control the consumption of direct current, cutting it if an overdischarge occurs, protecting the battery at all times.
Although both types are responsible for fulfilling the same function, they have fundamental differences that will influence when choosing one or the other to use in a given installation. The PWM regulators They allow current to flow to the battery during the charging process, quickly connecting and disconnecting it until reaching 100% of it. Once achieved, it disconnects it completely.
For their part, the MPPT regulators work through indirect connections between the panel and the battery, through the voltage conversions that we detailed previously. This means that PWM regulators do not take into account the maximum power point, and can operate both below and above it. In addition to this great difference in their operation, there are other unequal factors between both types of regulators:
- The price of PWM regulators is lower given the characteristics of both systems.
- The size of the PWM is smaller than that of the MPPT.
- The components of an MPPT suffer more thermal stress, so their life expectancy is shorter than PWM.
- MPPTs can be used with 60-cell panels, while PWMs cannot.
- PWMs require, on occasions, an additional oversizing that does not occur in MPPTs.
When to use an MPPT solar controller
Now that we have seen how an MPPT regulator works, it is time to analyze the cases where it is convenient to use this type of device for our installations. We may think that in all cases it is better to use MPPTs over PWMs, since they have greater efficiency and effectiveness, but reality tells us that there are favorable situations for both types.
This will depend on the solar photovoltaic modules that we use in the installation. For example, in solar panels with 36 or 72 cells, with a maximum power of 200W, we will not need to maximize the voltage at the maximum power point, so PWM regulators are perfectly applicable in this type of installation.
On the other hand, if we have plates with 60 cells that work above 200W, it will be time to use the regulator MPPT, which does have the possibility of correctly regulating the plate voltage. In any of the cases, it is always advisable to contact a professional specialized in the matter, who will be able to solve other complementary problems, for example how to connect a wattmeter.
We have seen everything relevant about the how does an mppt controller workbut we recommend the assistance of specialized professionals to maintain the efficiency and safety of your facilities at all times.