How To Wire Solar Panels? Parallel and Series Wiring
The solar panel is a good alternate source of renewable energy of which many countries are already utilizing the potentials. Harnessing the power from solar energy requires technical knowledge for the connections and installation. Proper knowledge is required to know how to wire solar panels to get the best power from it.
There is need to know how to wire the batteries, the panels, and the supply. This can go a long way in determining the output rating and also the longevity. The output is very important as it determines what load capacity it can carry. This is one vital aspect of solar panel which determines the purpose and the usage.
Types of solar panels
Glass Solar Panel
Glass solar panel is arguably the most applicable in a household and commercial installation. The solar cells are made of glass and have been around for a very long time.
This one is relatively more expensive than the rest and it usually ideal for mobile application. The solar cells are flexible and can be bent into some shapes for easy transit.
Portable solar is very popular with travelers and campers for lighting in isolated regions. It is flexible and made with glass. The only challenge is that the power rating is usually low and may not produce very high watts.
Parts of solar panel
The charge controller is the device that controls the charging terminals of the solar panel. The solar panels are connected directly to the input terminals of the charge controllers using the proper wires.
The charge controller outputs to the batteries delivering the watts that charges up the batteries. It is usually located very close to the batteries to reduce wiring and easy maintenance.
This is the brain of the solar system and one of the most critical parts of the system. This is the device that converts the DC produced by the solar cells into AC during normal operation. The major work of this device is to reverse the direction of the current from DC to AC and increase the amperage depending on the settings.
The power inverter draws its input from the batteries and supplies to the mains. It, therefore, requires the large size of wires since it may be supplying up to 10 or 15amps.
The batteries are like the heartbeat of any solar system, it produces the necessary power. The battery receives its input from the charge controllers and output to the power inverters. The batteries are usually rechargeable and come in different ratings depending on the design.
The rating and output of the batteries can be altered boosted or reduced by the kind of wiring. The battery wiring is of utmost importance as it determines the quality of the output. There are two basic ways of wiring the battery which are series or parallel.
The wiring instruction for solar panel often comes from the manufacturers indicating the wire thickness and colors. The thickness of the cable is important in the output rating and the distance of the panels to the batteries.
The cables for connecting the batteries are often pre-made battery lead which different from the supply. Correct wire sizes are essential to avoid loss of energy and prevent overheating of the system.
Improper wiring may also cause damage to the system this why a wire chart is usually available for selecting the ideal wire. It is ideal to follow the chart to avoid this error and also prolong the lifespan of the solar system.
How to wire solar panels: Parallel and series wiring?
Wiring of solar panel is very critical to the battery longevity and output quality. The wiring can have a great impact on the overall performance of the solar system. The output capacity of every solar panel is measured in watts which can be calculated by simply multiplying the current by the voltage.
There is need to find the right balance between the ampere and the voltage to ensure normal and steady output. The installer may decide to wire the solar in series or in parallel or even a combination of both depending on the required output.
Wiring in series
Wiring solar in series involves connecting the batteries with a string a cable running from the charge controller. The trick here is that the voltage is summed up for each of the batteries but the amperage across the line remains the same.
The process of wiring in series:
- It involves connecting all positive terminal of the first solar panel to the negative terminals of the next solar panel.
- Connect the negative terminal of the first solar panel to the positive terminal of the next solar panel. This way, the positive and negative terminals of the last solar panel would connect to the inverter. For instance, if you have six solar panels with ratings of 12volts and 7amps, connecting the entire array in series would produce 72 volts and 7 amps. The voltage becomes the summation of all the voltage across the solar panels while the amperage remains the same.
The series connection of solar panel is akin to the old string of Christmas lights. It come in a long continuous loop such that if one of the bulbs breaks the whole string goes off. This is because all the current in the circuit flows through the entire load connected to the system. The current travels only in one path so breaking the circuit at any point will cut off the entire series. This is one major setback of wiring solar panel in series.
This means that more wiring is required to completely loop all the terminals from each of the solar panels. Remember that solar panels are like a battery, they have both positive and negative terminals and the current flow from the negative to the positive terminals.
Wiring in parallel
Wiring in parallel means connecting the terminals of solar panels with a single wire leading from the roof. The advantage here is that the amperage is summed together while the voltage remains the same across the load line. Depending on the technical specifications, parallel wiring provides higher ampere compared to series.
For instance, if you have six solar panels with ratings of 12 volts and 7 amps and wish to wire them in parallel. The resultant output would be 12 volts and 42 amperes which mean the voltage is the same while the ampere is summed up.
Connecting solar in parallel entails:
- Using a single wire to connect all the positive terminals of the first solar panel to the last one.
- Then connect the negative terminals of the first solar panel to the last one and terminate the connection to the inverter.
The parallel connection uses less wiring compared to the series wiring.
In conclusion, whether it is series or parallel, the choice of a wiring of solar panel will go a long way in determining its output rating. If you do not know how to wire solar panels it is advisable you seek a technical expert advice.
This will ensure you avoid errors that could damage the system and also get the best performance from a solar panel.
The solar panel is user-friendly and some quality products can last up to 25 years which is long enough to get the ROI from it. So, you choose wisely when determining the kind of wiring to go for.