Renogy Wanderer Review: 10A vs 30A Charge Controller

I spent weeks testing both the Renogy Wanderer 10A and Renogy Wanderer 30A solar charge controllers.

I researched their specs, installed them in a custom-built testing system, and used them in my DIY solar power projects. I also tested them alongside other popular PWM charge controllers to see how they compare.

Based on all that, I think the Renogy Wanderer 30A is the best PWM charge controller for most people. It can handle up to 400 watts of solar, enough to power lights, charge devices, and run a couple small appliances. It’s also competitively priced for a 30-amp PWM controller.

Renogy Wanderer 30A

The best PWM charge controller

The Wanderer 30A is my favorite PWM controller because of its blend of build quality, ease of use, and value. It’s ideal for 12 volt batteries and can handle up to 400 watts of solar.

Check Price
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)

The smaller Wanderer model, the Renogy Wanderer 10A, is a good cheap charge controller for low-wattage systems. It’s perfect for small solar projects, such as solar powering lights and charging batteries. I used it to power some lights in my dad’s shed, for instance.

There are cheaper charge controllers out there, but the Wanderer 10A is better quality than most of them. I think it’s worth the extra few bucks.

Renogy Wanderer 10A

The best cheap PWM charge controller

The Wanderer 10A is an excellent budget option for smaller systems. It’s compatible with 12 and 24 volt batteries and has an LCD display for easy monitoring.

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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)

The Wanderer is often compared to the Renogy Adventurer, another PWM charge controller. The Adventurer has the 30-amp current rating and temperature sensor port of the Wanderer 30A, plus the LCD display, 12/24V battery compatibility, and USB port of the Wanderer 10A. It can also flush mount for an aesthetically cleaner look and has a battery voltage sensor port.

It’s a bit like the best of both Wanderer models in one. However, it’s pricier. If you don’t need its blend of features, I think the Wanderer 30A will perform about the same for cheaper.

Full review: Renogy Adventurer

Renogy Adventurer 30A

A 30A PWM charge controller with more features

The Adventurer has 5 main features the Wanderer 30A does not: a USB port, an LCD display, 12/24V battery compatibility, flush mounting capability, and a battery voltage sensor port.

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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)

Here’s how these 3 Renogy charge controllers compare:

Renogy Wanderer 30A
By Renogy
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The Wanderer 30A is easy to use, versatile, and dependable. It’s great for solar power systems of 400 watts or less, making is the best PWM controller for most people.
  • 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
Check Price
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
Renogy Adventurer 30A
By Renogy
Check Price
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

You can compare them to other popular alternatives in my guide to the best PWM solar charge controllers. Or keep reading for my full Renogy Wanderer review.


Renogy Wanderer Review

Installation

You install both Wanderer models the same way you install any solar charge controller: connect it to the battery then solar panel, in that order.

The Wanderer 30A is only compatibly with 12 volt batteries. The Wanderer 10A is compatible with 12 and 24 volt batteries, and will automatically recognize your battery’s voltage when you connect it.

Installation instructions are in the manual if you’ve never done it before. Or you can check out my tutorials:

Once everything is connected, you complete the installation process by setting your battery type. Here’s how to do it on both Wanderer models.

Wanderer 30A

On the Wanderer 30A, hold the grey button until the LED flashes. Press it until the LED turns the color code for your battery. Then hold it until the flashing stops.

It takes all of 30 seconds. Here’s a video showing how to do it:

For lithium batteries, the default charging parameters are programmed for 12.8 volt LiFePO4 batteries. The only way I know of to adjust them is to buy the BT-1 Bluetooth Module (discussed below) and use the Renogy app.

Wanderer 10A

On the Wanderer 10A, press SELECT to cycle through the different display screens until you reach the battery voltage screen. Hold the ENTER button until the battery type starts flashing. Cycle through the battery options by pressing the SELECT button, and confirm your choice by holding ENTER.

Here’s a video:

For lithium batteries, you also choose your battery voltage (12 or 24 volts) and set the charging voltage.

Operation

A charge controller operates automatically once installed. You simply check it from time to time to make sure it’s still working properly.

Each one has its own way of alerting you if there are any errors in your system, such as an overdischarged battery. You can then look up the error in the manual and troubleshoot it.

Wanderer 30A

The Wanderer 30A’s LED indicators will light up certain colors and flash at different rates to convey the system status. The manual has a legend explaining what each color combination means.

The Wanderer 30A’s manual has a chart showing what the various LED indicators mean.

The LEDs make it easy to monitor your system at a glance. If both are green, everything is working fine.

Wanderer 10A

The Wanderer 10A has an LCD display instead of LED indicators. It cycles through real-time system specs, such as charging current and PV voltage.

The screen will show error codes if anything is wrong with your system. The manual has a list explaining each.

If you don’t see an error code, the controller is operating normally.

Temperature Sensor

If you’re placing your batteries somewhere with wide temperature swings — such as in vehicles or buildings without air conditioning — then I recommend picking a charge controller that has a compatible temperature sensor.

Wanderer 30A

The 30A Wanderer model is the one with a temperature sensor port. You use it to connect the Renogy Battery Temperature Sensor, an additional purchase. You then tape the sensor’s probe to your battery to give the charge controller an accurate battery temperature reading.

The Renogy Battery Temperature Sensor probe taped to a 12V lead acid battery

The charge controller will now automatically optimize the charging voltage and current based on the battery’s temperature.

This feature, called temperature compensation, will maximize the lifespan of your battery. You won’t have to replace them as frequently, saving you money.

Wanderer 10A

The Wanderer 10A does not have a temperature sensor port, so it isn’t able to adjust the charging parameters as accurately in response to battery temperature.

You can still use it if your battery experiences a wide temperature range, but the battery likely won’t last as long. In that case, I’d recommend buying cheap batteries that you wouldn’t mind replacing.

Bluetooth Monitoring (RS232 Port)

Both Renogy Wanderer models are compatible with the Renogy BT-1 Bluetooth Module, an additional purchase. The BT-1 connects to the Wanderer’s RS232 port and lets you monitor your system wirelessly from your phone.

The BT-1 Bluetooth Module, an additional purchase, is compatible with the Renogy Wanderer. It lets you remotely monitor your system from your phone.

Charge controllers are often tucked away in closets or cabinets — or other rooms entirely — so it’s convenient to be able to check on your system with an app. The BT-1 is pricey, though.

You don’t often see PWM charge controllers with Bluetooth monitoring. In fact, Renogy PWM charge controllers are the only ones I’ve tested with this feature.

You pair the BT-1 to your phone using the Renogy DC Home app. Once paired, the app shows a variety of system specs.

The app is called Renogy DC Home. It shows you real-time specs like charging current, battery voltage, and PV voltage. It also shows how much solar energy your system has generated over time. I found it sufficient, if a bit buggy.

Download: iOS | Android

What I Like

Wanderer 30A

I’ve used the Wanderer 30A in my own solar power projects, such as these DIY solar-powered LED lights.
  • It’s a good value. You get a well-built, 30-amp PWM charge controller for a good price.
  • It works well for solar power systems in boats, vehicles, and small buildings. It can handle up to 400 watts of solar. That’s enough to run lights, charge phones and laptops, and power small appliances.
  • You can buy the Renogy Battery Temperature Sensor for improved temperature compensation. If your battery will experience wide temperature swings, adding a temperature sensor is important for maximizing its lifespan. Most other cheap charge controllers don’t have a temperature sensor port.

Wanderer 10A

I used the Wanderer 10A with a 20 watt solar panel to power some lights in my dad’s shed.
  • It’s cheap. It costs about the same as a lot of the cheap Chinese models and is a step above them in quality.
  • It can handle enough solar to power lights and charge devices. For 12 volt systems, it can handle up to 130 watts of solar. For 24 volt systems, it can handle up to 260 watts. On most systems, that’ll be enough to run LED lights and charge your devices.
  • It has an LCD display. You can see real-time specs just by looking at the screen.
  • It has a couple other useful features. The 2 USB ports are good for charging phones, headphones, and other USB devices. You can program the load terminals to turn on and off at scheduled intervals.

Both Models

  • They’re compatible with sealed, gel, flooded, and lithium batteries. That’s the most of any PWM controller I’ve tested. Many PWM models are only compatible with lead acid batteries.
  • You can buy the BT-1 Bluetooth Module for remote monitoring. It lets you monitor your Renogy charge controllers from an app on your phone. This is another feature I haven’t seen on many other PWM charge controllers.

What I Don’t Like

Wanderer 30A

  • It’s compatible with 12 volt batteries only. If you have 24 volt batteries (or higher), you’ll have to look elsewhere.
  • It doesn’t have an LCD display. The Wanderer 30A’s LED indicators are good for monitoring your system at a glance. But I prefer LCD displays because they show you real-time specs, like battery voltage and charging current.

Wanderer 10A

  • You can’t power that much. A 10-amp charge controller can only handle so much solar power. It’s enough for low-power systems, such as those used to power lights and charge batteries. But to power appliances or other energy-hungry electronics, you’ll most likely need a charge controller with a higher current rating.
  • It doesn’t have a temperature sensor port. Because of this, I’d only use this charge controller with batteries that won’t get too hot or too cold, or with cheap batteries I wouldn’t mind replacing.

Both Models

  • They’re PWM charge controllers. They’re cheaper but less efficient than MPPT charge controllers. If conversion efficiency is a priority of yours, I recommend buying an MPPT controller.
  • Their maximum operating temperature is 113°F (45°C). Building and vehicles without air conditioning can get hotter than this during the summer.

Who the Renogy Wanderer Is for

Wanderer 30A

  • You want a charge controller that’s a good value. It isn’t the cheapest, but its build quality, 30-amp current rating, and add-on features make it a good bang for your buck.
  • You want to power lights, charge devices, and maybe run a couple appliances. The Wanderer 30A can handle up to around 400 watts of solar. That’s a good amount of power for boats, vehicles, and small buildings such as sheds and barns.
  • Your batteries may experience wide temperature swings. The Renogy Battery Temperature Sensor, an additional purchase, can be connected to the Wanderer 30A for improved temperature compensation.
  • You have 12 volt batteries. It’s designed for use with 12 volt batteries only.

Wanderer 10A

  • You want a good cheap charge controller. I like its build quality a lot more than many of the dirt-cheap charge controllers on Amazon and eBay. And it’s only a few bucks more.
  • You want to power lights and charge devices. The Wanderer 10A can handle enough solar to power lights in vehicles or off-grid buildings and charge phones and other small electronics.
  • You have 12 or 24 volt batteries. The Wanderer 10A is compatible with both 12 and 24 volt batteries.

Both Models

  • Price is a top priority. PWM solar charge controllers are much cheaper than MPPT models. However, they waste a lot more energy during the conversion process.
  • You want to build a low-wattage solar power system. These charge controllers are great for beginners or anyone who wants to build a small-scale solar system. In fact, the Wanderer 30A was the first charge controller I bought. I used it to build small projects and systems that taught me the basics of DIY solar power.
  • You want a PWM charge controller with Bluetooth monitoring. The Renogy BT-1 Bluetooth Module, an additional purchase, can be connected to each controller’s RS232 port. It lets you wirelessly monitor your system.
  • You have a compatible battery type. Both Renogy Wanderer charge controllers are compatible with sealed, gel, flooded, and lithium batteries.

Who the Renogy Wanderer Isn’t for

Wanderer 30A

The Wanderer 30A doesn’t have USB ports or load terminals. I tend not to use these features, but some people may find them important.
  • You want an LCD display, USB ports, or load terminals. The 30A model doesn’t have these features. If you want a 30-amp charge controller with these features, consider the Renogy Adventurer 30A.

Wanderer 10A

  • You need a lot of power. A 10-amp charge controller will only let you power so much. If you plan on frequently running appliances, power tools, or other energy-hungry devices, you’ll need a charge controller with a higher current rating.

Both Models

  • Conversion efficiency is a top priority. The rule-of-thumb conversion efficiency for PWM charge controllers is around 75%. In other words, they waste around a quarter of all incoming solar energy as heat. That’s a lot. Consider an MPPT charge controller if you want a better conversion efficiency. They’re pricier but can be up to 97% efficient.

Renogy Wanderer vs Renogy Adventurer 30A

The Renogy Adventurer has the 30-amp current rating and temperature sensor port of the Wanderer 30A, plus the LCD display, USB port, and 12/24V battery compatibility of the Wanderer 10A.

It’s a bit like the best of both worlds. Plus it can be flush mounted for an aesthetically cleaner look.

Here’s a breakdown of the main differences:

Renogy Wanderer 30A vs Renogy Adventurer 30A

Main differences:

  • 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 wall mounted. The Wanderer 30A can only be wall 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 Wanderer 10A vs Renogy Adventurer 30A

Main differences:

  • 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 wall mounted. The Wanderer 10A can only be wall 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).
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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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