A universal charge controller for integrating distributed energy resources

Shammya Shananda Saha, Samantha Janko, Nathan Johnson, Robin Podmore, Alain Riaud, Ray Larsen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

7 Scopus citations


Centralized electric grids provide power to much of the world's population, yet cost and technical constraints prevent grid extension to 1.2 billion people living without power today. Off-grid and micro-grid power systems are solutions to electrifying remote areas of developing countries. Generally, these systems include a mix of renewables, storage, conventional generation, and demand response or metering, with a wide variety of controllers needed to address the many possible power system configurations and component specifications. Existing low-cost technologies have limited interoperability and flexibility to span the problem space. This paper seeks to address this need and describes the motivation, requirements, specifications, prototyping, and early testing of a Universal Charge Controller (UCC) that integrates with various sources, loads, and storage. The UCC meets load requirements for a household or other small building up to 500W peak load capacity. Power source connections include solar photovoltaics (18-24VDC), battery storage (12-24VDC), an AC micro-grid (110/220VAC), or a DC micro-grid (50-70VDC). This flexibility, combined with intelligent controls, permits the UCC to serve as the keystone in connecting various energy architectures as a community develops over time. The UCC can charge a 12V or 24V Lead Acid or Lithium-Ion battery from one or more sources (current controlled or voltage controlled). Storage charging efficiency is improved with Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) during the conversion of solar power. The accuracy of the design parameters was analyzed by testing different use cases on a commercial development board with results used to refine specifications and schematics of the UCC prototype. Technical specifications and design documentation are in development through an open source partnership with IEEE Smart Village to promote widespread adoption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGHTC 2016 - IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference: Technology for the Benefit of Humanity, Conference Proceedings
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9781509024322
StatePublished - Feb 15 2017
Event6th Annual IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference, GHTC 2016 - Seattle, United States
Duration: Oct 13 2016Oct 16 2016


Other6th Annual IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference, GHTC 2016
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • charge controller
  • microgrid
  • off-grid
  • Smart Village
  • solar
  • UCC

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Health(social science)
  • Communication
  • Political Science and International Relations


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