A solar controller is an electronic device that controls the circulating pump in a solar hot water system to harvest as much heat as possible from the solar panels and protect the system from overheating. The basic job of the controller is to turn the circulating pump on when there is heat available in the panels, moving the working fluid through the panels to the heat exchanger at the thermal store. Heat is available whenever the temperature of the solar panel is greater than the temperature of the water in the heat exchanger. Overheat protection is achieved by turning the pump off when the store reaches its maximum temperature and sometimes cooling the store by turning the pump on when the store is hotter than the panels.
Most commercial controllers display the temperature of the hot water in the store and provide general status information about the system, including overall energy production.