How To Wire Solar Panels
The wiring of the solar panel is also known as stringing. Now the question arises of how to string solar panels together. This is a fundamental topic for any solar installer. It’s important to understand how different stringing impacts the voltage, current, and power of a solar array. The user of the solar panel requires an appropriate inverter for the array and needs to make sure that the system will function effectively.
It is considered that if the voltage of your array exceeds the inverter’s maximum, production will be limited by what the inverter can output. The production is totally dependent on the extent the inverter’s lifetime may be reduced. If the array voltage is too low for the inverter, the system will also produce less production of energy because the inverter will not operate until its “start voltage” has been reached.
Series vs. Parallel Stringing
There are multiple ways to approach solar panel wiring. One major way to understand the differences is by stringing solar panels in series versus stringing solar panels in parallel. These different kinds of stringing configurations have different effects on the electrical current and voltage in the circuit.
How To Wire Solar Panels In Series
Stringing solar panels in series is inclusive of connecting each panel to the next in a line.
Just like a typical battery, solar panels have positive and negative terminals. While connecting the stringing in series, the wire from the positive terminal of one solar panel is connected to the negative terminal of the next panel.
When stringing panels are interconnected in series, each additional panel adds to the total voltage (V) of the string, but the current (I) in the string remains the same.
One drawback to stringing in series is that a shaded panel can decrease the current through the entire string. The reason behind the same is the current remains the same through the entire string; the current is reduced to that of the panel with the lowest current.
How To Wire Solar Panels In Parallel
Stringing solar panels in parallel is a bit complicated. Rather than connecting the positive terminal of one panel to the negative terminal of the next, when stringing in parallel, the positive terminals of all the panels on the string are connected to one wire, and the negative terminals are all connected to another wire.
In this situation, each additional panel increases the current (amperage) of the circuit. However, the voltage of the circuit remains the same, which is equivalent to the voltage of each panel. A benefit of stringing in parallel is that if one panel is heavily shaded, the rest of the panels can operate normally, and the current of the entire string will not be reduced.
Tips For Wiring Solar Panels
Based upon the connectivity of the wires in accordance to the series or parallel, it’s reasonable for your solar energy clients to conclude that series wiring is best for installations that receive some shade – and parallel wiring is better suited when shading isn’t a problem.
There are some additional factors that are worth considering.
Make Sure Your Voltage Is within the range of the Inverter
Every inverter has its very own voltage range. For maximum power generation, it’s critical that the PV panels (and wiring) lie within each inverter’s spectrum:
If the array’s voltage falls below this range, the installation won’t generate any usable power. The reason behind the same is that the inverter doesn’t become operational until it achieves its “start” voltage. Your panels may be producing energy, but none of that energy is saving you money.
If the array’s voltage lies above this range, your panels will generate more power than what the inverter can accommodate. This indirectly decreases the power of saving money. Thus, it can also reduce the overall life of the inverter.
Know Your MPPTs
MPPTs stands for Maximum Power Point Tracking, which is a relatively modern type of inverter technology that can optimize PV output even as conditions change. It accomplishes this by monitoring the system to help the inverter find the optimal balance of voltage and current for “maximum” power generation.
Tracking this sweet spot in real-time allows inverters with MPPT technology that are installed to generate more clean energy than legacy inverters.
Use the Right Design Software to Plan Systems
The utilization of wiring configuration is totally dependent upon the PV system. The system involves crunching the numbers as you run through multiple solar power system designs for each potential project.
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What’s the Difference Between Wiring Solar Panels in Series vs. Parallel?
The most significant difference between wiring solar panels in series vs parallel is the output voltage and amperage (also known as current).
If you wire several panels in series (connecting the wiring positive-to-negative, positive-to-negative down the line), the output voltages of the panels add together, but the output amperage remains the same as it is for a single panel.
If you wire your solar panels in parallel, the opposite occurs. Here, you’re adding output amperages together, but the output voltage of the combination remains the same as it is for a single panel.
For example, let’s say you’re wiring up two solar panels and each panel has an output of 18V/6A. If you wire them in series, you’ll be getting an output voltage of 36V (18V x 2) while the output current will remain 6A. If, however, you wire your panels in parallel, your output voltage will remain 18V, but your output current will double to 12A (6A x 2).
How to Wire Solar Panels in Series
To wire solar panels in series, you’ll connect the positive terminal on one panel to the negative terminal on the second panel.
If you’re wiring multiple panels, you’ll simply continue this pattern of connecting all of the panels, from the positive of one panel to the negative of the next, and so on. When you’re done, you’ll have a single positive connection at one end of the series, and a single negative connection at the other.
Wiring solar panels in series, you’ll connect the positive of one panel to the negative of the next, and so on. You’ll be left with a single positive connection at one end of the series and a single negative connection at the other.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Wiring Solar Panels in Series?
If you wire your solar panels in series, you’ll have a low-amperage solar system. (Remember – wiring in series doubles the voltage but keeps the amperage of a single panel.) Lower amperage means that you can use smaller gauge wiring, which is not only easier to work with but is also less expensive. (Copper isn’t cheap!)
Wiring in series is a good choice if you’re unlikely to be in shaded conditions. If you’re able to keep all of your solar panels completely in the sun for the greatest part of the day, wiring your panels in series may be advantageous.
But, if your solar panels are likely to be in shaded conditions at times, you’ll be at a distinct disadvantage if you wire them in series. That’s because if even a single panel of your solar system is shaded, even partially, the power output of the entire system will be reduced, sometimes significantly.
For more on this important concept, see our posts Should I Tilt My RV Solar Panels? and Boondocking – Why We Face East.
Tilting the rigid panels of our solar array allows us to take maximum advantage of the sun, especially during short winter days, when the sun stays low on the horizon.
Another important thing to consider when wiring your solar panels in series is that it will enable you to benefit from using an MPPT solar charge controller. This type of RV solar charge controller is typically more expensive. But it’s more efficient because it can take advantage of the higher voltage output from a series array of solar panels. MPPT charge controllers convert that excess voltage into additional charging current. Since you’ll experience less loss by running high-voltage/low-amperage current from your panels to your charge controller, you’ll have more power available to charge your batteries.
Solar Wiring How Stress Affects Your Battery
When learning how to wire solar panels, it is imperative that you understand how stress as a result of an unbalanced system can affect your battery bank’s overall lifespan.
Although each battery has its own specs, the general examples below can give you some idea.
With a well-balanced solar arrangement (volts and amps are not very far apart), your batteries should last 7 to 10 years (using batteries with a 10-year life span).
With a solar arrangement that’s not well balanced (volts and amps very far apart) your batteries should last about 3-5 years (using batteries with a 10-year life span).
Choosing The Correct Wire Gauge (Size)
The type and size of wire you use for wiring solar panels and connecting all the different components in your solar system play a big role in the effectiveness and efficiency you’ll get out of it. It can also make the difference between damaging your system unknowingly and not.
Do Not Mix Used Batteries With New Batteries
It’s also important to note that unlike when wiring solar panels, it’s not a good idea to add more batteries to a battery bank after the batteries in that bank have been used. In other words, all the batteries in your system must be equally used and all have the same remaining usage cycles in order for you to get the best results from your system.
Sure, people break this rule all the time, but it is not the healthiest thing to do to your PV system. If you’re going to start with a smaller system and add to it as you go, I suggest you wait until you have completely used up your batteries’ life span with the smaller system and then buy all new batteries when you upgrade to the bigger system with more panels.
When it comes to deciding on the size of your battery bank, make sure you match your battery bank size to the solar panel array size. After determining your load requirements, build a battery bank that’s big enough to store five days’ worth of power plus another 30%. This extra 30% is to allow for changes and fluctuations in battery capacity due to temperature and other factors.
Using Bigger Solar Panels
One way to get around having to stress your system (or having to join many panels together) in order to bring up your volts, amps, or watts, is to use more powerful solar panels. With more powerful solar panels, large or complex PV panel wiring becomes less necessary.
To make more powerful solar panels all you have to do is buy more powerful solar cells. This will bring up your watts, volts, and amps so you don’t have to do so much joining and balancing of solar panels.
If you really want to make a bigger (more powerful) solar panel with the materials available today, I would suggest substituting the solar cells used in the examples on this page with mono crystalline solar cells rated at 41 Volts and 5.49 Amps. If you use 72 of these solar cells to make one panel your one finished panel will be able to deliver 225 Watts of power maximum in optimal sunlight.
Solar Wiring Guide
How to join your solar panels batteries together with the different results (watts, volts, amps) created.
Now that you have reached the solar wiring diagrams section of this website, you are finally ready to learn how solar panels and batteries are wired together.
We are going to start with showing you some smaller solar systems (arranged in different ways to produce different results) and move on to bigger solar systems (arranged in different ways to produce different results). Each arrangement has its own solar wiring diagram, so you can see exactly how it’s done.
Remember, you don’t need to start off by making all the energy you’ll ever need, right away. You can get your feet wet by setting up your first solar system successfully, save a little bit of money at first, then do it over and over again as many times as you want!
Ok, let’s look at some solar system arrangements YOU CAN COPY:
How To Select The Right Solar Panel Wire Size?
Finding the right solar panel wire size is crucial to improve the efficiency of your solar power system. If you are confused about choosing the proper wire size, here are the four steps you need to follow.
The total wattage of your solar panels is the most crucial factor in determining the wire sizes you’ll need for your solar system. Remember, the larger the wattage of solar panels, the thicker the wires should be.
Depending upon the amps produced by the solar panel, you can calculate the maximum amps or current produced by the solar array. If you combine two or more solar panels in parallel, add the amps of each solar panel. However, if you place the solar panels in series, the total max amps produced will equal the amps generated by the single panel.
Now it’s time to divide the total wattage of the solar array by 12 and round it up to the nearest 10. For instance, if you are using 2 200 W solar panels with the power station, the total wattage of the solar array will be 400 W. Dividing it by 12 gives you 33.3 A. Hence, you’ll need to have a 34 A charge controller.
Depending upon the rating of the charge controller, you can choose the size of the wires. The ideal solar wire size will directly correspond to the ampere rating of the solar charge controller. You’ll need to consider the distance between the panels and the inverter. If the distance is large, you’ll need to choose a long, thick wire size.
Check out this simple-to-read table and choose the solar cable size that fits your solar system needs.
One-way distance for a pair of wires ( in feet)
Jackery Solar Panels Wire
Jackery SolarSaga Solar Panels are made with monocrystalline silicon solar cells, making them extra efficient. With a high solar conversion efficiency of 25%, it’s ideally suited for all weather conditions and outdoor activities. Teaming up the solar panels with Jackery Explorer Portable Power Station, you can harness the full power of the sun’s energy into electricity.
The multi-layered technology maximizes the efficiency of Jackery SolarSaga solar panels compared to other conventional panels. The best part about Jackery Solar Generator is that it is portable in nature, making it ideal for unexpected power outages, off-grid living, camping, etc. You can extend Jackery’s portable power station and solar panel distance using 16.4 feet Jackery DC Extension Cable (sold separately).
Here is a quick comparison table with the best Jackery SolarSaga Solar Panels and compatible Explorer Portable Power Stations.
Input Output Ports
Jackery Explorer 2000 Pro and 1000 Pro
With the help of six solar panels, you can charge the Explorer 2000 Pro Portable Power in 2.5 hours.
The three kickstands ensure that you can quickly set up the solar system and charge all your gears with the attached power station.
Practical carrying bags available with panels make transportation easy.
Jackery Explorer 240/500/1000 power station.
The ETFE-laminated case of the solar panels extends its lifespan and makes it extra durable.
The lightweight, IP68 waterproofing abilities and foldable nature make it easier to carry during off-grid adventures.
Multi-layered technology makes solar panels highly efficient.
All the Jackery power stations.
Upgraded and dual-sided panels generate electricity from both sides.
It is TÜV SÜD’s prestigious IEC TS63163 certified and has passed 15 professional tests.
Made of 2.8mm low iron toughened glass, the panels are highly durable.
Solar Panel Wires FAQs
Now that we have discussed solar panel wires in detail, here are a few frequently asked questions by buyers.
How much wattage do solar panel wires need?
The wattage of the solar panel wires will depend on the number of solar panels you plan to attach to the power station and the distance between them. It’s worth noting that wires with higher wattage capacity than required will keep your solar panels running efficiently.
What is the most commonly used solar wire?
The most commonly used solar wire is filmed with PVC material. The wire is designed to withstand harsh conditions and UV exposure and protect the entire solar system from temperature fluctuations.
How to protect your solar panel wires?
To protect your solar panel wires, you can follow these simple steps:
- Use a weather-resistant conduit to protect the wires from outdoor elements, such as snow, rain, and UV radiation.
- Insulate the wires to prevent electrical shorts and protect against potential electrical hazards.
- Fasten to secure the wires and prevent them from shifting or damaging the connections.
- Seal the entry and exit points to prevent water and debris from entering.
How do Jackery solar panel wires work?
Jackery solar panel wires are electrical conductors that connect solar panels to the inverter or other components of the solar power system. They work by transmitting the electrical energy generated by the solar panels to the inverter, which converts DC to AC electricity.
The DC extension cable is compatible with Jackery Solar Generator. It is one of the energy-efficient ways to go off-grid and harness the maximum power of the sun’s energy. It combines Jackery SolarSaga Solar Panels and Explorer Portable Power Stations, so you can use solar energy to charge your appliances.
Many homeowners are investing in solar generation solutions to reduce their carbon footprint and high electricity bills. However, to ensure your solar generator works efficiently and charges indoor or outdoor appliances, it’s vital to pick the right size solar cable.
If you’re still apprehensive about which solar panel wire you should choose, consider Jackery DC Extension Cable for solar panels. It is flame-retardant and durable, making it suitable for all outdoor adventures.
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