If you love to geek out over data and want to take your camper van solar system to the next level, the Victron Smart Solar Charge Controller is for you.
Simple, intuitive, and well-designed, the Victron solar charge controller is a popular choice in the RV and Vanlife community, and we love ours, too.
This post will review our experience with the Victron ‘Smart Solar’ MPPT Solar Charge Controller. This includes what we like about the module and how to choose the right model for you.
We love this Victron controller not only for it's high quality build, but the Bluetooth feature is rock solid. The Victron smartphone app provides an amazing interface to monitor all your solar data. This 30A charger is good for solar systems up to 440W (for 12V batteries).
What We Love About The Victron Solar Charge Controller
There are so many things to like about the Victron charge controllers. Below, we list our top four.
1. Wonderful User Interface With ‘VictronConnect’ Smartphone App
By far, the best aspect of the Victron controller is that you get to use the VictronConnect smartphone app.
You can access all the solar energy data and settings you need using the app on your phone, which connects to the Victron controller via Bluetooth.
This is a fantastic feature because many other solar charge controllers on the market today have a clumsy digital interface built into the controller’s hardware (or none at all). These types of interfaces aren’t useful to us because we installed our controller under our bed. And we don’t want to always look under the bed to check our solar harvesting stats.
But because of the VictronConnect app, we can always access our solar data as long as we have our smartphone with us.
2. Real-Time Stats On Your Phone
Through the VictronConnect app, you can view a wealth of real-time statistics related to your camper van’s solar array system.
- Total instantaneous watts harvested from your solar panels;
- The detailed volts and amps generated from the solar array and
- The instantaneous volts and amps that are outputted from the Victron controller to your batteries.
(Remember from our What Is A Solar Charge Controller post, a charge controller adjusts the voltage from the solar array into a more suitable voltage for your batteries and electrical system)
Warning: It can be super addictive to look at solar data from your phone constantly. The incoming watts from your panels are constantly changing due to the intensity and location of the sun, cloud cover, and whether or not you’re parked in the shade. The VictronConnect app makes it super easy to see how many watts are harvested at any moment. This isn’t necessarily a safe thing to do when you’re driving.
3. Historical Stats On Your Phone
Through the VictronConnect app, you can also view solar harvesting data per day. And you can view this data for as far back as 30 days.
This informational feature lets you see how many watt-hours (Wh) your solar array produces daily. The app also visualizes how many of those watt-hours were generated during the bulk, absorption, and float stages of battery charging.
The amount of solar data you can view on your smartphone from the VictronConnect app is literally mesmerizing.
4. Easy Setup
Using the VictronConnect app, you can easily set up the Victron Smart Solar charge controller to fully integrate with your RV’s electrical system.
While using the app from your phone, simply press the gear wheel in the top right corner, and you’ll be directed to the settings interface for the Victron charge controller. From there, you can adjust:
- Battery voltage type (12v or 24v)
- Max charging current allowed
- The battery chemistry type (lead acid, lithium, etc)
- Input custom voltages for absorption and float stages
The last bullet point is a VERY nice feature to have if you have lithium batteries because by inputting your own custom voltages, you can lengthen the lifespan of your LiFePO4 lithium batteries.
Check out the video below to learn more about how to do that.
Improvements We Want To See From The Victron Charge Controller
Honestly, there isn’t much to dislike about the Victron Smart Solar charge controllers. But two issues come to mind.
If we’re being honest, the Victron solar charge controllers sit on the more expensive end of the solar charge controller pricing spectrum. You can get a very respectable MPPT solar charge controller for roughly half the price. But this is likely without a similar UI design and Bluetooth capability.
Further down this post, we will review our recommendations for Victron solar charge controllers and a more affordable alternative that provides a similar experience.
Multiple Inputs For Different-Sized Panels
To get the maximum efficiency from your solar array, your panels should be exactly the same (and ideally the same brand). Same wattage and volt/amp makeup.
Due to how solar systems work, solar arrays made up of different-sized panels often suffer from decreased efficiency.
So, for those with solar panels of different makes and sizes, people often install multiple charge controllers to deal with the different panels.
But we would love to see a future Victron charge controller that can accept solar wattage outputs from different solar panel sizes without sacrificing any harvesting efficiency. This could be done with multiple solar array inputs into the single charge controller hardware.
Victron Solar Charge Controller Models
If you’re interested in picking up a Victron Smart Solar charge controller, you’ll notice that there are a variety of models. The model that is right for you depends on the size of your solar array.
Note: The listed “solar size” assumes a 12v system. If you’re running a 24v system, multiply the above “solar size” by two.
For more information about what these numbers mean, check out our post: What Size Solar Charge Controller Do You Need?
If you’re on a tight budget, you may want to look into the BougeRV MPPT charge controller. Like the Victron controller, you can connect this controller to your smartphone via Bluetooth to visualize the same solar harvesting data.
Affordable charge controller with premium features, such as Bluetooth connection to your smartphone (via BougeRV app) to view current and historical solar harvesting data.
How To Install A Victron Solar Charge Controller
A Victron solar charge controller is installed in between your solar panel array and your batteries.
To learn how to install one, check out our post: How To Wire A Solar Charge Controller In A Van
The Victron Solar Charge Controller: The Luxury Piece To Your Solar Array System
Make no mistake; other solar charge controllers on the market today will do the job just fine at half the price (or more) compared to a Victron-branded controller. But by paying a little more, you get a great controller that is easy to set up and keeps you up-to-date on the performance of your solar array with the awesome VictronConnect app.
If we were building a second van, we would purchase the Victron Smart Solar charge controller again.
Please let us know in the comments section below if you have any questions.
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