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Solar Charge Controller
A solar charge controller (also called solar regulator) regulates the voltage and current coming from your solar panels to your batteries.
Depending on the type and brand, solar panels (PV modules) generate 16 to 70+ DC volts. If there is no regulation the batteries may be damaged from overcharging. Generally, there is no need for a charge controller with the small 1 to 5 watt trickle charge panels. A rough rule is that if the panel puts out 1/60th or less per day of the rated battery amp-hour capacity, you don't need a charge controller.
Testing charge controllers: Almost of all charge controllers need to be hooked up to a battery in order to operate. You cannot hook up a solar panel to the input and use the LOAD or OUTPUT with no battery connected. Also, if you try to measure the volts or amps on those terminals with no battery, you will not get a valid reading.