What is MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) and why does it matter with solar?

MPPT ChartMPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) charge controllers are a commonly found component in today’s battery-based renewable energy systems although they’re not commonly found in the smaller, portable solar chargers. The JOOS Orange from Solar Components is different—it has a proprietary MPPT circuit that allows the small, portable device to achieve amazing efficiency and charging capabilities not found on competing products.

But what exactly is MPPT? MPPT control reduces wasted energy by operating the photovaoltaic solar module at its higher MPP (Maximum Power Point) voltage and lower MMP current, instead of the lower power obtained by connecting the photovoltaic directly across the battery terminals. This higher voltage in turn helps to keep price down, especially when the PV wire runs are long because the current is lower for a given amount of power.

Raising the controller’s PV limits higher gives a buffer for when part of the PV cell becomes shaded by trees, clouds, or poles. We want to keep the MPPT voltage above the battery voltage as much as possible and MPPT allows us to do that.

MPP tracking efficiency has also improved to almost 100% accuracy. Algorithms that can quickly scan the entire I-V curve of the PV array from battery voltage up to Voc (Open Circuit Voltage) ensures that the correct MPP “bump” is chosen from multiple possible power points with as little time away from the correct power point as possible.

So now that you understand what MPPT is and what it does, you may be wondering why Solar Components would put such powerful circuitry in a small, portable solar charger. The reason is simple: “When we set out to design and build the JOOS Orange, we wanted a device that was light years ahead of our competition and more importantly, we wanted a solar charger that would actually work,” said Mark Sherwood, the company’s president. “With our proprietary MPPT circuitry, we are able to offer a more efficient and technologically advanced product than what our competition is able to offer, for about the same price.”

The JOOS Orange can be purchased by itself for $149, or as part of a bundle that includes the JOOS Orange, PowerBoost Reflectors, and a sturdy neoprene protective case for $175.

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