(Article courtesy of TLG windpower)
Charge Controllers for Wind Power
I will start off with a quick explanation of what a charge controller actually does for you.
Secondly I will answer the commonly asked question; "why can I NOT use a Solar or PV charge controller with my wind generator?"
What is a charge controller?
It is a device that regulates the current and or voltage that you can put into your battery or batteries.
It will not allow you to over charge and ruin your battery or batteries by controlling the voltage at the battery level. Once your battery or batteries are charged the controller kicks in and opens, diverts, or shunts the generator circuit.
Why you cannot use a Solar or PV Charge Controller for Wind.
For the sake of ease we are going to talk about a 12 volt system for this next section.
As I am sure you have noticed Solar and PV Charge Controllers come in 12, 24, 36, and 48-volt ranges, and you must match the range with your battery bank.
Here's why. Most Solar and PV controllers have circuits that will only work within a certain range of voltage and current/amperage.
For example: Lets say you have a 12v solar panel. It will put out between 0-18 volts DC and up to 3.5 amps (or 50 watts).
Most 12 volt Solar charge controllers are designed to handle up to 20 volts and 50 watts, or 3.5 amps of input power.
Most Solar controllers cannot comprehend voltages outside their range of input power, meaning if they get more than 20 volts of input they go nuts, crazy, wacko, screwball, etc.
A wind Generator can (easily) have a range from 0 to more than 100 volts, and amperage of 0 to 50 amps (on average 2 to 30).
Now if your Solar controller is designed to handle 0-18 volts what do you think it would say (if it could talk) when it gets hit with 25 to 100 volts of DC power from your Wind Generator with amperages up to 50 amps?
Here's my guess at what it would be saying.
1. What in the heck is this?
2. What am I supposed to do with this?
3. And last but not least,,, OUCH!
One other factor to look at on Solar charge controllers is most of them shunt when the battery is charged and that may not be the right solution for your generator. Others open the circuit and let your generator run wild.
You still have to get a wind generator charge controller for the correct battery voltage. And a wind generator charge controller will be designed to handle the wide range of input voltage and amperage from your generator.
An exception to the above are charge controllers such as the Morningstar TriStar 45, which are designed to be used with either wind or solar systems.