Author Archive Donna Vanpelt

ByDonna Vanpelt

Solar Panels Series Vs. Parallel – A Guide on How to Wire Solar Panels

If you’re a newbie to the inner workings of solar energy systems, you’ll probably get lost when you see this topic. Parallel and series wiring refers to the major wiring methods used for installing solar panels. How your panels are installed matters a lot because it influences the performance level of your panels and even the kind of inverter you have to involve in your setup.

Read on to know all you need to know about both wiring methods, how to install your panels in parallel and series, how they compare against each other, and which one is better.

Solar Panels in Series

This wiring method has to do with the solar panel terminals, both the negative and positive terminals. To form a series connection, you have to wire the positive terminal of one panel to the negative counterpart of another panel. With this wiring method, you create a photovoltaic source circuit, resulting in at least two panels stringed together from positive terminals to negative terminals.

The major highlight of this wiring method is that it will enhance the pressure or force moving your electric current through the circuit. However, the supply of electric current is constant. Let us quickly paint a practical installation scenario for you to understand it better. If you’re installing solar panels with a rating of 60 volts and 10 amps, stringing four of these panels in series will give you a total voltage of 240 volts and a total amperage of 10 amps.

This is the primary reason solar installers use the series wiring method to improve the voltage, which is essential for the solar inverter to function properly. For instance, if your inverter’s voltage requirement is 480 volts, you need to install 10 panels with a 48-volt rating in series to meet that requirement.

Wiring Your Solar Panels in Series

Let us show you how to wire your solar panels in series, one step at a time. We’ll begin with the materials needed for this process.

What do You need?

∙ The required number of solar panels you need. (Ensure that they are identical. For some reason, if you can’t get identical solar panels, at least ensure that their current ratings are similar)

  • Multimeter
  • Blankets
  • The Wiring Process
  1. Pinpoint the negative and positive solar wires, so you don’t mix them up when the process is underway. Some cable manufacturers make it easier by marking their negative cables with (-) and positive cables with (+). If you’re not so lucky to get these kinds of solar cords, it’s not a big deal. Aside from checking the cables, you can also check the junction box or the MC4 connectors.
  2. For some reason, if there’s no indication whatsoever on your cables, you can use a digital multimeter to check the open circuit voltage of your panels. If your meter displays a reading for negative voltage, the cable connected to your meter is the negative cable. On the other hand, if the meter displays readings for positive voltage, the cord connected to your meter is the positive cable.
  3. Spread a blanket or a very large cloth on the floor before turning your panel upside down so its surface will be face down on the covered floor. The blanket will prevent scratches on the panel’s surface. Turning your panel upside down will expose its wiring and prevents it from receiving solar energy from the Sun.
  4. Get the positive cord from the first panel and the negative cable from the second one and join them together by plugging one into the other.
  5. To connect more panels, join their positive solar wires to the negative wires of the panels you’ve strung so far. That’s how you wire panels in series.

After this, you can link your charge controller to the batter.

Then link your charge controller to the panels.

Return the panels to their original position.

Solar Panels in Parallel

Unlike wiring panels in series, which involves joining the positive cable of one panel to the negative cable of another panel, wiring panels in parallel requires linking the positive cable to the positive cable of the other panel, and the same applies to the negative cables as well. There’s usually a combiner box containing the negative and positive connectors. The positive cables are fastened to the positive connectors in the combiner boxes, and the same applies to their negative counterparts. The aggregate of all these connections (with more than two panels) creates a photovoltaic output circuit.

In sharp contrast to wiring panels in series, wiring in panel enhances the amperage produced by the panels while the voltage remains constant. Using the same scenario as before, stringing four 60-volt panels (with an amp rating of 10 amps) in parallel will create a total voltage of 60 volts and a total amperage of 40 amps. This kind of wiring helps you meet the amperage requirements of your inverter. For instance, if the minimum amperage requirement is 60 amps, you must wire at least six 10-amp panels.

Wiring Solar Panels in Parallel

man wires solar panels

What You Need

  • Identical solar panels (if you can’t get identical panels, at least get panels with similar amp ratings)
  • Y-branch connectors
  • Multimeter

The Wiring Process

  1. Like in the first step with the first wiring method, pinpoint the negative and positive solar cables.
  2. Same as step 3 under wiring solar panels in series.
  3. Once you have easy access to the panels’ wiring, link the solar cables to the Y-branch connectors, the positive wires of two panels should go to the FFM side of the connector, while the negative solar cables should be joined to the MMF side.
  4. If you’re wiring multiple panels in parallel, get the connector that will be compatible with its number. For example, if you want to wire four panels in parallel, purchase a pair of 4-in-1 connectors. The Y-branch connector was compatible only with wiring two panels in parallel. That’s how you wire panels in parallel.
  5. Link the charge controller to the battery.
  6. Then link the panels to the charge controller
  7. Return the panel to its original position.

Which Method is Better?

Well, let’s see. Wiring panels in parallel has one advantage over wiring in series; the whole setup still generates electricity even if one of the panels is faulty. You can’t say the same for wiring in series. However, both methods have obvious disadvantages which complement each other. For wiring in series, you may be unable to meet the amperage requirements of the inverter. On the other hand, you may not meet the voltage requirements of your inverter with parallel wiring. The solution will be to combine both wiring methods for your solar system to meet the amperage and voltage requirements of the inverter.

ByDonna Vanpelt

How to Choose a Solar Charge Controller

Being able to handle erratic voltages flowing out of solar panels is very important to harness the energy output of this abundant source. As light changes, so do the energy flowing from your solar panel. However, the problem is that electrical current around the world has little variable range, of 3-5% depending on the current. To help mediate this issue, a solar charge controller steps up to the plate.

What is a Solar Charge Controller?

The perfect equipment to store solar energy is called a solar charge controller. A solar charge controller is basically a regulator that transfers power from the PV array to the battery bank and system loads.

Also, Solar Charge Controllers regulate the voltage when the battery is fully charged to protect them from undercharging or overcharging. This is a crucial role since solar charge controller batteries can be expensive.

Solar charge controllers come in handy during a power outage, during winter, or when you want to store power for night use. However, not all solar charge controllers are the same. That is why we compiled a list of tips on how you can choose the perfect solar energy controller for your equipment.

What to Look for in a Solar Charge Controller

Selecting the perfect solar charge controller is crucial to match your needs. If you want to control a system wherever you are, you will need to check the performance and reliability of your controller. Even when you are on a budget, it is important to make sure that the solar charge controllers meet important charging requirements.

When you settle with cheap and ill-performing controllers, your risk running into future problems like high expenses, loss of operating time, and you might need to make a lot of site visitations.

Read on to know what to look for in Solar Charge Controllers.

Design of the Solar Charge Controller

The design is an important consideration to keep in mind when selecting a solar charge controller is the design. The design of solar charge controllers is essential since they are always exposed to high temperatures.

With this in mind, it is recommendable for smaller charge controllers to have no fans since they benefit from simple passive cooling. Some of the advantages of a fanless solar charge controller include:

  • High Dependability– Since fans are designed with moving parts, they are likely to cause solar charge controller problems. For this reason, fanless controllers work better.
  • Longer Lifespan- Fans are more likely to trap insects, dust, and dirt. When this happens, the controllers will get clogged, and this will inevitably shorten their lifespan.
  • Higher Efficiency- Since fans use electricity from the solar panels, it acts as a parasite to the charge controller. They divert and consume solar power that could have been used in more important things.

There are larger charge controllers that make use of passive cooling technology without the aid of fans. These controllers have highly advanced thermal-mechanical software and design. They are also best suited for remote systems, and you won’t need to worry about maintenance.

Compatibility

Another tip is to ensure that the settings of the controller are compatible with your system’s needs. Preset charge settings are often present in smaller solar charge controllers. Therefore, it is a good idea to choose a controller with a lot of settings options.

There are also charge controllers that allow you to customize the settings to adjust to a certain set of voltage points. If your system does not cycle as required, you can set it up with less time in daily absorptions. This is the same length of time before the battery is used.

Examine the Lighting Options

If you don’t want to be bothered by setting up the lights in your solar charge controllers, you may choose to customize the daily lighting control settings freely. With this kind of control, you can easily adjust the lighting on/off setting according to your needs.

You don’t have to worry about manually turning on the lights when it gets dark or turning them off in the morning. Make sure that the device can do this automatically to make your work easy.

Conclusion

When choosing the right solar charge controller, it is highly crucial to think about what it is for, how big or small you want it to be, how much you are willing to spend, and where you want to install it.

All these things must coincide to avoid facing any possible problems in the future. The quality and reliability of the solar charge controller should not be overlooked since it serves as the energy storage once your solar equipment runs out of energy.

ByDonna Vanpelt

How to Install Solar Attic Fans in 13 Steps

Installation of solar fans is easy, but you need to follow certain steps to place them correctly and function as to how you want them to be.

It is good to consider solar fans since solar power counterbalances over 70 million metric tons of carbon dioxide every year in the US. Please continue reading to learn more about solar attic fans and how to install them.

What Are Solar Attic Fans?

An attic fan acts as a ventilation system that decreases the temperature in your attic by releasing hot air and bringing cool air in.

Temperature is reduced, and your air-conditioner is not overworked because the cool air decreases the temperature in your attic, so there is less heat going through your roof.

You do not need to keep your solar attic fan up and running all the time. You need a solar fan when direct sunlight goes on your roof tiles to make space underneath hot. Your solar fans start to function when the sun shines on the solar panel, which generates energy.

How to Install a Solar Attic Fan

Supplies You Need

Hammer
Flat pry bar
Finish hammer
Reciprocating saw
Utility knife
Drill or driver

Installing a Solar Attic Fan in 13 Steps

  1. Mark the location of a solar outlet between 2 roof rafters in the attic.
  2. Place a nail in the middle of the area where the vent is.
  3. Put fall-arrest and roof support structures to the roof.
  4. Using a homemade dowel compass, outline the vent’s flashing on your roof.
  5. Using the utility knife, cut the shingles along the outline.
  6. Pull out the nails and take off the shingles.
  7. Using a compass, outline the hole for the vent onto the roof sheath.
  8. Use the reciprocating saw to cut a hole in the roof.
  9. Take off the shingles around the opening of the vent.
  10. Put roofing cement on the sides of the hole.
  11. Put the roof vent on the hole and screw the flashing to the roof.
  12. Put additional caulking near the flashing.
  13. Change the roof coverings with one and a half-inch nails around the vent.

Final Words

Finally, you have a better understanding of what solar attic fans are and how to install them. You can save money when you decide to install solar attic fans. You need to follow the installation steps to ensure that you put them correctly and benefit from energy savings.

ByDonna Vanpelt

Comprehensive FAQs on Solar Power

Have some questions about solar? Here are some frequently-asked inquiries:

1. Will the solar energy system protect me from grid outages?

Not all the time. Especially during grid maintenance, your panels need to be shut down to protect electricians. It’s the reason why you should have a battery included in your solar power system for a continuous electric flow at home or in commercial spaces.

2. Why do fewer people use battery packs?

They aren’t as available and affordable, unlike other solar energy system components. It’s also worth considering when you go for solar energy system packages as they include battery packs in them.

3. Is there a constant need to replace solar panels?

Only for maintenance, but it’s a rare occasion. Most panels last up to fifty years. Also, they are only replaced when external forces damage them.

4. Will solar panels damage the roof?

Not at all. If the quality is excellent, your roof should hold the panels fine with less damage to the shingles or trusses.

ByDonna Vanpelt

Solar 101: The Quickest Guide on Going Solar

What does it mean to go solar? This comprehensive guide can tell you more about solar panels. It’ll weigh on solar power pros and cons, as well as other useful information about solar energy.

What is Solar PV?

Photovoltaics (PV or solar electric) is the technology behind solar power. It’s the module system inside every panel that converts sunlight into electricity.

What’s Inside Every Solar Panel?

Solar panels are made of conductive silicon modules that produce electricity when exposed to light. They have a positive and negative layer that creates an electric field like a battery. Once sunlight hits these modules, it converts the energy to DC and flows it to the inverter. Then, the inverter converts DC to AC which is now usable for power consumption.

Why is Solar Power Right for You? What are its Drawbacks?

Solar installation is safe. It undergoes full quality inspections and testing before use. Also, only a qualified and expert technician can do the process. Its renewable, low-cost energy production gives you leverage on electric power, with only its upfront costs and space consumption as its drawback. Solar power isn’t also a good option in areas with low sunlight and places with frequent weather changes.

ByDonna Vanpelt

How Much Can You Save on Solar Power?

Everyone knows that solar energy is the power source of the future, but do you know it is also an excellent saving on your bills? The big question is, how much does solar power save?

Based on the Solar Industry Energy Association (SIEA) statement, there are a million homes in the US now using solar power in 2016. The number of households using solar power is even growing in numbers this year. There will be four million homes in three years that’ll use solar energy as their power source.

What Makes it an Affordable and Cost-Effective Power Source?

Solar panel systems cost around $15K to install, but it delivers measurable and controllable energy within your budget. It means you only need to spend one time and save up from detaching yourself from the grid with lesser power to support your appliances and electronics.

Plus, electricity costs are rising every year. So, having an alternative energy source to power your home can offset electric bills by more than 30%. Also, solar power can increase property value and store some electricity that you don’t use or when you’re away from home.

If you want to know more about how you can save electricity costs with solar power, feel free to connect with us through our contact lines today.