Renogy Adventurer Review (vs Renogy Wanderer)

I spent weeks testing the Renogy Adventurer 30A solar charge controller.

I researched its specs, then rigged up a testing system and used it alongside other PWM charge controllers to see how it compared.

I came to see the Adventurer as a feature-rich PWM charge controller that is great for some people, and overkill for others. Particularly, it’s a good option if you want a 30-amp PWM controller with flush mounting, an LCD display, or 12/24V battery compatibility.

Renogy Adventurer 30A

A fully-featured PWM charge controller

The Adventurer has an LCD display, flush mounting capability, 12/24V battery compatibility, a temperature sensor port, a battery voltage sensor port, and an RS232 port for Bluetooth monitoring.

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Nominal battery voltage: 12/24V Charge current rating: 30A
Battery compatibility: Sealed, gel, flooded, lithium Operating temperature range: -13°F to 131°F (-25°C to 55°C)
Max. PV open circuit voltage (Voc) 50V LCD display: Yes
Temperature sensor: Yes (requires additional purchase) Bluetooth monitoring: Yes (requires additional purchase)

Some of the Adventurer’s features aren’t necessary in a lot of solar power systems. If you have a 12V battery and are using 400 watts of solar or less, I recommend looking at the Renogy Wanderer 30A.

Both charge controllers have a 30A current rating. Both are compatible with sealed, gel, flooded, and lithium batteries.

The Wanderer 30A is a fair bit cheaper. It lacks some of the Adventurer’s bells and whistles, though, such as the USB port, LCD display, and battery voltage sensor port.

Full review: Renogy Wanderer

Renogy Wanderer 30A

A cheaper 30A PWM charge controller with fewer features

If you don’t need all the Adventurer’s features, the Wanderer 30A works about the same and is quite a bit cheaper. It’ll work fine for most 12V systems of 400 watts or less.

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Nominal battery voltage: 12V Charge current rating: 30A
Battery compatibility: Sealed, gel, flooded, lithium Operating temperature range: -20°F to 113°F (-35°C to 45°C)
Max. PV open circuit voltage (Voc) 25V LCD display: No
Temperature sensor: Yes (requires additional purchase) Bluetooth monitoring: Yes (requires additional purchase)

Then there’s the Wanderer 30A’s little sibling, the Renogy Wanderer 10A.

Its 10-amp current rating means it’s best for low-wattage solar projects. It can handle up to around 130 watts on 12V systems and 260 watts on 24V systems.

The Wanderer 10A is my favorite cheap charge controller. It’s a good option if you just need to power lights and charge devices.

Renogy Wanderer 10A

The best cheap PWM charge controller

The Wanderer 10A is an excellent budget option for smaller solar projects. It’s compatible with 12 and 24V batteries and has an LCD display for easy monitoring. Its current rating is limiting, though.

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Nominal battery voltage: 12/24V Charge current rating: 10A
Battery compatibility: Sealed, gel, flooded, lithium Operating temperature range: -31°F to 113°F (-25°C to 45°C)
Max. PV open circuit voltage (Voc) 50V LCD display: Yes
Temperature sensor: No Bluetooth monitoring: Yes (requires additional purchase)

Here’s how these 3 charge controllers compare:

Renogy Adventurer 30A
By Renogy
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The Adventurer 30A combines the best features from both Wanderer models. It can flush mount, too, making it good for anywhere you want an aesthetically cleaner mount.
  • Max. PV input power of 400W for 12V systems and 800W for 24V systems
  • LCD display
  • 12/24V batteries
  • Flush mounting
  • Pricey
Renogy Wanderer 30A
By Renogy
Check Price
The Wanderer 30A has fewer features than the Adventurer but retails for quite a bit less. It’s suited for 12V solar power systems of 400 watts or less. It’s a great bang for your buck.
  • Max. PV input power of 400W for 12V systems
  • Good value for 30A charge controller with its feature set
  • No LCD display
  • 12V batteries only
Renogy Wanderer 10A
By Renogy
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The Wanderer 10A is a good choice for smaller 12 or 24 volt systems. The features and build quality you get for the price make it the best cheap PWM charge controller.
  • LCD display
  • 12/24V batteries
  • Programmable load terminals
  • Current rating of 10 amps limits its use to lower-wattage systems
  • No temperature sensor port

You can compare these controllers to other popular alternatives in my guide to the best cheap PWM charge controllers. Or keep reading for my full Renogy Adventurer review.


Renogy Adventurer Review

What’s Included

Here’s a brief unboxing video I made to show you what was included with my Adventurer:

Mine included:

  • Renogy Adventurer 30A
  • Removable surface mount attachment
  • Screws for surface mounting
  • Screws for flush mounting
  • Renogy Adventurer manual
  • Warranty information

Based on old Renogy Adventurer reviews I read, it seems the Adventurer used to come with a battery temperature sensor or a battery voltage sensor included. Mine didn’t.

In fact, my Adventurer manual has them listed under a section titled “Optional Components” which, it says, “require a separate purchase.”

My Adventurer manual lists the temperature sensor and battery voltage sensor as optional components that require a separate purchase.

Hopefully that clears up some of the confusion.

Installation

You install the Adventurer by first connecting your battery. The Adventurer is compatible with 12 and 24 volt batteries, and will automatically detect your battery’s voltage.

The LCD display will turn on when the battery is properly connected. It will backlight when you press a button.

The LCD display will turn on when the battery is properly connected. The Adventurer auto-detects your battery’s voltage and, when checked against a multimeter, appears to have a respectable voltage accuracy.

Then, you connect your solar panel. If the panel is receiving sunlight, the battery icon will indicate that the solar panel is safely charging the battery.

This is how you install most charge controllers. If you’ve installed one before, you likely followed a similar process. If not, there are step-by-step instructions in the Adventurer’s manual.

You then set your battery type. To do so, press SELECT until the battery voltage appears on the display. Hold ENTER until the battery type starts flashing. Press SELECT to cycle through the options. Then hold ENTER once your type is on the screen to confirm your selection.

Here’s a video of me doing it:

If you’re using a lithium battery, the Adventurer will also prompt you to set the battery charging parameters. These should be listed in your battery’s manual.

Operation

Charge controllers operate automatically. The Adventurer is no different. Once connected, all you need to do is monitor your system and troubleshoot if any errors arise.

The Adventurer will alert you of any issues by displaying error codes — a capital E followed by a number. There is a list in the manual that tells you what each means.

Flush Mounting

The Adventurer is the only PWM charge controller I’ve tested that can flush mount. Flush mounting makes the Adventurer a good option for vans, boats, RVs, campers, or any other place you want an aesthetically clean mount.

The Adventurer sans its removable surface mount attachment.

When flush mounted, the wire terminals for the solar panel and battery will be behind, or “inside”, the mounting surface. You won’t have exposed wires running everywhere. Just make sure you can easily access the wire terminals in a pinch.

It can also surface mount like any other charge controller. The Adventurer comes with a removable surface mount attachment, so it’s your choice.

Temperature Sensor

The Adventurer is compatible with the Renogy Battery Temperature Sensor, an additional purchase. I recommend picking one up if your battery will experience wide temperature swings.

The ports for the temperature sensor, battery voltage sensor, and Bluetooth module are located on the back of the Adventurer.

You plug the sensor into the Adventurer, then tape the sensor’s probe to your battery. The sensor gives the Adventurer an accurate battery temperature reading, which helps the Adventurer better adjust the charging set points as your battery gets hot and cold.

A temperature sensor probe taped to a battery

Accurate temperature compensation can help maximize your battery’s lifespan, saving you money in the long run. I’d consider it if your batteries will be placed somewhere without air conditioning.

Battery Voltage Sensor

The Adventurer has a port for adding the Renogy Battery Voltage Sensor (BVS). The sensor helps the controller accurately measure battery voltage on systems with longer wire runs.

If your charge controller is mounted far from your batteries, consider picking one up. It’s cheap and, like a temperature sensor, will help the controller maximize battery life.

Bluetooth Monitoring (RS232 Port)

You can use the Renogy BT-1 Bluetooth Module, another additional purchase, with the Renogy Adventurer to monitor your system from your phone.

The Adventurer is compatible with the BT-1 Bluetooth Module.

Renogy’s PWM charge controllers are the only PWMs I’ve tested with Bluetooth monitoring. It makes monitoring your system a lot easier. The BT-1 is a pricey add-on, though.

You link the BT-1 to the Adventurer using the Renogy DC Home app. The app lets you see real-time specs like battery voltage and charging current.

The Renogy DC Home app lets you wirelessly monitor your system from your phone.

The app is easy to use, but a bit buggy.

What I Like

  • It can power lights, charge devices, and run a couple small appliances. The Adventurer can handle up to 400 watts in 12 volt systems and 800 watts in 24 volt systems. That’s enough for many small solar power systems, such as those used on vans, boats, RVs, campers, and in small buildings.
  • It flush mounts for an aesthetically cleaner look. When flush mounted, it won’t stick out from the wall like most other charge controllers. The wires will also be hidden. It can be wall mounted, too, if you prefer.
  • It has an LCD display. The display makes it easy to monitor your system in real time. At a glance you can see specs like PV voltage, battery voltage, and battery temperature.
  • You can buy the Renogy Battery Temperature Sensor for improved temperature compensation. This can maximize your battery’s lifespan if it experiences wide temperature swings.
  • You can buy the Renogy Battery Voltage Sensor for improved voltage accuracy. This can maximize your battery’s lifespan if your system has long wire runs between the battery and charge controller.
  • You can buy the Renogy BT-1 Bluetooth Module for remote monitoring. Checking on your system from an app on your phone is as convenient as it gets.

What I Don’t Like

  • It’s a PWM charge controller. MPPT charge controllers are much more efficient. They cost a lot more, though.
  • It’s pricey. The Adventurer is the most expensive 30-amp PWM solar controller I’ve tested. And the temperature sensor, battery voltage sensor, and Bluetooth module all require an additional purchase.

Who the Renogy Adventurer Is for

  1. You want a charge controller that flush mounts. Flush mounting is the Adventurer’s party trick. It’s the only charge controller I’ve used with this feature.
  2. You want to solar power a vehicle or small building. The current rating and flush mounting capabilities make the Adventurer well-suited for vans, boats, RVs, campers, sheds, barns, garages, and similar locations.
  3. You have 12 or 24 volt sealed, gel, flooded, or lithium batteries. These are the batteries the Adventurer is compatible with.
  4. Your batteries may get hot and cold. You can buy a temperature sensor that will help the Adventurer adjust its charging based on battery temperature, maximizing your battery lifespan.
  5. Your battery and charge controller will be placed far apart. On longer wire runs, there can be a discrepancy between the voltage measured at the charge controller and battery terminals. In these scenarios, you can buy a battery voltage sensor for an accurate voltage reading.
  6. You want a PWM charge controller with Bluetooth monitoring. Renogy PWM charge controllers are the only ones I’ve tested with this feature.

Who the Renogy Adventurer Isn’t for

  • You’re looking for the best bang for your buck. The Adventurer has lots of features, but it’s pricey. I think the Renogy Wanderer 30A is a 30-amp PWM controller with more bang for your buck.
  • Conversion efficiency is a top priority. PWM charge controllers waste a lot of energy as heat. MPPT charge controllers are much more efficient. If you need to squeeze out every watt-hour of solar you can from your system, consider an MPPT.
  • You want a charge controller with load terminals. The Adventurer doesn’t have load terminals.

Renogy Adventurer vs Renogy Wanderer

The Renogy Adventurer (left), the Renogy Wanderer 30A (top), and the Renogy Wanderer 10A (right)

The Adventurer is commonly compared to the Wanderer, another Renogy PWM controller.

The Wanderer comes in two versions: the Wanderer 30A and Wanderer 10A. Despite sharing the same name, they’re quite different. They aren’t as fully-featured as the Adventurer, but they are cheaper.

Here’s a breakdown of the main differences:

Renogy Adventurer vs Wanderer 30A

  • The Adventurer has an LCD display which shows real-time system specs. The Wanderer 30A has LED indicators that show general system status.
  • The Adventurer has 12/24V battery compatibility. The Wanderer 30A can only be used with 12 volt batteries.
  • The Adventurer has a USB port. The Wanderer 30A does not.
  • The Adventurer has a battery voltage sensor port. The Wanderer 30A does not.
  • The Adventurer can be flush mounted or surface mounted. The Wanderer 30A can only be surface mounted.
  • The Adventurer has a maximum operating temperature of 131°F (55°C). The Wanderer 30A has a maximum operating temperature of 113°F (45°C).

Renogy Adventurer vs Wanderer 10A

  • The Adventurer has a 30-amp current rating. The Wanderer 10A is rated for 10 amps.
  • The Adventurer has a temperature sensor port. The Wanderer 10A does not.
  • The Adventurer has a battery voltage sensor port. The Wanderer 10A does not.
  • The Wanderer 10A has load terminals. The Adventurer does not.
  • The Adventurer can be flush mounted or surface mounted. The Wanderer 10A can only be surface mounted.
  • The Adventurer has a maximum operating temperature of 131°F (55°C). The Wanderer 10A has a maximum operating temperature of 113°F (45°C).

Which Should You Buy?

Given their 30-amp current ratings, I think it makes the most sense to pick between the Adventurer and Wanderer 30A.

For most people, I think the Wanderer 30A is the right way to go. It does most of what the Adventurer does for less.

I’d start considering the Adventurer if I really wanted an LCD display, flush mounting capability, or 24V battery compatibility. Or if I planned to place my battery and charge controller far apart, in which case I’d get the Adventurer and battery voltage sensor.

The Wanderer 10A is right for you if you’re building a low-wattage solar system, such as a small project to power lights and charge batteries. If you need more power, I recommend upgrading to the Wanderer 30A or Adventurer.

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Alex Beale
Alex Beale
Hi, I'm Alex. I started Footprint Hero to help people reduce their environmental impact. My current obsession is DIY solar power projects, which I've been building since 2020.
Alex Beale

Alex Beale

Hi, I'm Alex. I started Footprint Hero to help people reduce their environmental impact. My current obsession is DIY solar power projects, which I've been building since 2020.

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