A regulator buyers guide

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Using the right regulator in an independent power system is very important if you want your batteries to live a long and healthy life. We take a look at the types available, what they cost and where to get them.

While most solar photovoltaic energy systems are grid-interactive, many people live away from the mains grid and need to generate their own electricity. Also, as energy companies shift more of their charges to fixed charges (such as the supply charge), thus making energy efficiency measures less cost-effective, more and more grid-connected homeowners are likely to disconnect from the grid and go it alone with energy generation.

All independent systems require a suitably large battery bank and other equipment. One of the most important, but often overlooked, components is the charge regulator, also called a charge controller.

The choice of regulator is an important one as the regulator can have a significant effect on the correct operation of your system and the lifespan of your batteries. In order to select the right regulator, you need to understand a bit about them and the choices that are available.
A charge regulator controls the amount of energy flowing from your solar panels, wind turbine or micro-hydro system into the batteries, in order to prevent the battery bank from being overcharged.

Regulation methods

There are several ways in which energy flow to the batteries is controlled, including high-frequency series switching, open-circuit series switching, shunt power dissipation and the more recent DC to DC conversion employed by maximum power point tracking (MPPT) regulators. The method used varies between manufacturers and often depends on the energy source the regulator is designed for.

Read the full article in ReNew 121

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