What is MPPT charge controller ?

What is MPPT charge controller for solar panels. MPPT  stands for MAXIMUM POWER POINT TRACKING (MPPT).Maximum power point tracking, usually referred to as MPPT is an electronic architecture that is used by inverters, battery chargers or other solar operated equipment to extract maximum available power out of photovoltaic devices (PV modules) such as a solar panel. The word ‘tracking’ must not be confused with the mechanical movement of the module with the movement of the sun, which allows the panel to stay at an angle such that it receives major chunk of the sunlight at all times. However, the two concepts can be used together to achieve even better results.

To enable the module to deliver maximum power as per its capabilities, the charge controller compares the output from the solar panel with the battery voltages and then selects the best possible power out of the two, to charge the battery.

The functioning of the MPPT algorithm can further be explained as that of a DC to DC converter which converts the high voltages generated from the solar panel into low voltages required to charge the batteries through which our daily appliances can be operated.


Working of an MPPT charge controller can be understood better if we first consider the function of a ‘Non MPPT’ converter. A ‘Non MPPT’ battery charging would simply mean connecting the solar panel directly to the terminals of battery without any additional circuitry in between. This would only permit the solar panel to operate on battery voltages, thereby totally rejecting the chance of allowing the panel to deliver the maximum power that it is capable of.

On the other hand, MPPT allows the solar panel to be operated on voltages at which it is able to extract maximum out of the module. It helps in finding a particular current or voltage rating at which maximum power can be achieved.

For example, mostly solar panels are designed to generate 16 to 18V. By connecting it directly to the battery, the solar panel is forced to operate on a mere 12V (battery voltages) resulting in considerable power loss and all of this just because of a poor match between battery and the solar panel. With MPPT, panels can operate on Vpp of around 17V causing maximum amps to get into the battery.

The most effective functioning of MPPT can be observed in cold weather conditions and that’s exactly when you need the most out of your solar panel. In winter season when the sun is low on the horizon and the days are short, the operating temperature of solar panel goes down and as a result the maximum power voltage increases. It is, however, essential for solar panels to have enough margin built-in to perform even in the worst of conditions. That’s why the panel voltages must be greater than the battery voltages at all times, so that even on hot days, the expected voltage drop is still enough to put a charge into the battery.

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