What Does It Mean To Wire Solar Panels In Series
Just like a battery, solar panels have two terminals: one positive and one negative.
When you connect the positive terminal of one panel to the negative terminal of another panel, you create a series connection. When you connect two or more solar panels like this, it becomes a PV source circuit.
Solar panels are wired in series when you connect the positive terminal of one panel to the negative terminal of another.
When solar panels are wired in series, the voltage of the panels adds together, but the amperage remains the same. So, if you connect two solar panels with a rated voltage of 40 volts and a rated amperage of 5 amps in series, the voltage of the series would be 80 volts, while the amperage would remain at 5 amps.
Putting panels in series makes it so the voltage of the array increases. This is important, because a solar power system needs to operate at a certain voltage in order for the inverter to work properly.
So, you connect your solar panels in series to meet the operating voltage window requirements of your inverter.
How To Wire Solar Panels In Series Vs Parallel
As a homeowner who is just learning about solar energy options, it is easy to get confused with all the technical terms you might read or hear about. You may have come across the different ways that solar panels can be wired. And your first thought might be: does this really matter? After all, you just want the panels to produce electricity!
How your solar panels are wired actually does matter. It impacts the performance of your system, as well as the inverter you will be able to use. You want your panels wired so that they give you the best savings possible, and a better return on investment.
Here are answers to a few of the common questions homeowners ask about wiring solar panels that can help you get a better understanding of whether your panels should be wired in series or parallel.
Investigate Your Home’s Energy Efficiency
Before starting the process of powering your home with solar energy, homeowners should investigate their energy use and consider potential efficiency upgrades. Homeowners should be well aware of their total electricity usage, and consider low-cost and easy-to-implement efficiency measures before choosing solar.
Explore the following resources to reduce your electricity use:
- Home energy audits: A home energy audit can help you understand where your home is losing energy and what steps to take to improve the efficiency of your home.
- Appliances and electronics: Use your appliances and electronics more efficiently, or consider investing in highly efficient products.
- Lighting: Switch to energy efficient lighting, such as LED light bulbs.
- Heating and cooling: If you use electricity to heat and cool your home, your heating and cooling needs will significantly affect the amount of solar energy you need. Weatherizing your home and heating and cooling efficiently will reduce the amount of electricity you need to produce with solar.
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Wire The Solar Panels To The Conduit
For this method you may need either of these two:
- A junction connector
- A fuse combiner box
If you already have either of those, the modules of the panels should be stripped and wired in pairs before being connected to the fuse box mounted at the platform and connected to underground conduit output cables.
As always, we do not recommend that you do this without any electrical work knowledge. If you are not familiar with the materials mentioned above, then hiring an electrician to do it for you would be safer. Even if you are, proper precautions should always be observed.
Now thats out of the way, in the terminal box, the stripped wires must be connected properly. In this instance, the red wires are connected to the positive terminal and the black wires to the negative terminal. Once connected, the wires are fed up through the bottom of the junction box and connected to the corresponding positive and negative terminal blocks.
Planning A Home Solar Electric System
There are a number of steps to follow when planning to power your home with solar energy. After choosing which option is best for you to use solar , follow the steps afterward that apply to you. Your solar energy installer and local utility company can provide more information on the exact steps you will need to take to power your home with solar energy.
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Are Solar Panels Efficient
Conditions for solar panels are never perfect, and so they are never 100% efficient. In fact, most residential panels have an efficiency of around 20%, which sounds low but is actually enough to cover most of a households energy consumption.
As the solar technology industry continues to advance, we can expect more efficiency from residential solar systems in the future.
Select And Charge The Battery
A major hiccup with solar power is that it doesnt provide electricity when the sun goes down. However, you can easily crack this problem by using a battery. A lead-acid or a lithium-ion battery stores solar power generated during the daytime and discharges it at night. This provides a steady supply of energy, provided you have selected the optimum battery storage capacity. You will need a power controller to monitor your batterys charging. These come between the panels and the battery. Such controllers are typically fitted with a small LED light that announces the charging state of the battery, and it adjusts the power that flows into the battery.
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What The Inverter Does
An inverter converts the direct current produced by your solar panels into the alternating current that your electrical appliances need to work. Its probably the most important part of the whole system.
A small unit installed inside your home, the inverter takes the DC and runs it through a transformer so it essentially becomes the typical household 120-volt AC. From there, the current runs through the fuse box and meter to your appliances.
Any electricity you dont use can be fed back into the national grid.
Hiring A Solar Installer
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Install Your Solar Panels
- Mounting Z brackets for solar panels come with nuts and bolts, but can be attached to the roof with strong adhesives.
- Aluminium tiltable mounting brackets allow you to adjust the angle of panels, but require drilling. Panels on these brackets or frames can be also safely put on the ground.
- Light flexible or amorphous solar panels can be just glued to the roof or fixed with velcro tape. However, they tend to overheat, which lowers their already below-average efficiency
Home Solar Panels And The Grid
When a homeowner decides to add solar panels to their home, in most cases they will choose to be grid connected. This means that the home can get electricity both from its solar panels and the electric grid.
This is important because solar energy is intermittent: it stops working when the sun sets. When this happens, a grid-connected solar home will use electricity from the grid to meet its needs. This process happens automatically and is seamless to the homeowner.
In the other case, when solar panels generate more electricity than a grid-connected home needs, it will send its extra electricity into the grid. That solar electricity will then get used by the neighborhood. No electricity gets wasted.
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How Does A Solar Hot Water Heating System Work
Thermal Solar utilises evacuated tubes technology to exclusively heat water and can generate up to 70% of your hot water needs from free solar energy. It works as follows:
The dedicated solar hot water heating system can be a single tank or a dedicated solar tank can provide pre-heated water to a main hot water tank.
How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Solar Installer
Professional solar installers charge a wide range of rates based on a number of factors. The #1 factor driving the cost of installation is the availability of qualified installers in the region. Rates will be lower in a place like Los Angeles, with several qualified installers competing for business.
As a benchmark, we find that most reputable solar installers charge 75 cents to $1.25 per watt of solar for their labor.
On a 5kW system, you should expect to pay $3,750 to $6,250 for a professional solar installers services.
Installing A Grid Connect Solar System
Most customers choose a roof mounted solar power system. For most of Australia, panels installation facing north is in order to take full advantage of the sun. However a west facing installation may also be desirable. This positioning may provide power at the time of the day when there is most demand.
Our accredited grid connect installers will aim to install the modules at an angle which ensures that the glass face of the modules is positioned at 90 degrees to the sun for most of the day.
As an example, in Sydney this angle would be approximately 30-40 degrees to the horizontal. Standard Australian roofs usually have an angle of elevation of ~22 degrees, which is acceptable. This provides a close approximation to the position in which a solar array produces its maximum output. For installations on flat roofs an elevated array frame allows the solar modules installation at an angle of elevation of approximately 30 degrees from the horizontal.
What Happens To Excess Energy
To manage the excess energy, you can either store excess energy in a solar battery or use net metering to sell the energy back to the utility companies. During peak sunlight hours, your solar energy system can potentially produce more renewable energy than you need. Storing the remaining energy in a solar battery can help you have access to power during outages or allow you to power portions of your home during the night.
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Let Solar Software Do The Stringing For You
Finally, new technology developments like Auroras autostringing functionality can actually do the stringing for you! It will take into account the considerations discussed here and present you with an ideal stringing configuration.
Schedule a demo to see how software can help you design your solar systems.
The Utility Interconnection Process
As mentioned earlier, the majority of solar homes are grid-connected. This means that part of the process of having solar installed is getting permission from the utility company and applying for grid interconnection.
In most cases, your solar installer will take care of the paperwork for you. Thereâs usually no work for you except for supplying your signature.
The interconnection process also typically involves an onsite visit for an inspection. With utility companies that offer solar rebates, the inspection is often a qualifying requirement. If youâre curious, your utilityâs website will often have the interconnection agreement forms available for you to look at. In most cases, the requirements are technical in nature and specify the wiring and equipment requirements for the solar PV system.
Many utilities charge a fairly small fee for the interconnection application, which may include a separate fee for the new utility meter. This fee is often in the range of $100 or less.
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Ground Mount Or Roof Mount
So where should you mount your panels?
Our default choice is to put them on your roof if you have room. Rooftop solar is less expensive to install because the support beams act as a foundation for the mounting hardware. You save on materials and labor because you dont need to build a substructure to hold the weight of the array.
The alternative is a ground mounta standalone metal or aluminum framework built somewhere on your property to mount the solar array. Ground mounts cost more because you have to buy the pipe for the frame, but they are easier to access for maintenance and repairs .
For help making the right choice, read our comparison of the pros and cons of ground mount vs. roof mount racking.
What Is Net Metering
Grid-tie solar systems store the power they generate in the public utility grid. In return, the utility company credits your account for the power you generate. Those credits can be claimed to draw power from the grid when the sun isnt out .
Every utility company has their own policy which outlines the rates at which solar customers are credited and billed for power. This agreement is known as a net metering policy.
In many cases, the utility will buy and sell electricity at the same rate. But some utilities may buy power from solar customers at reduced rates, which has a real impact on the ROI of going solar. So its important to contact your utility and understand the terms of their net metering policy.
Read our net metering guide to learn more about how it works.
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Solar Panels In Series Of Same Characteristics
In this method ALL the solar panels are of the same type and power rating. The total voltage output becomes the sum of the voltage output of each panel. Using the same three 6 volt, 3.0 amp panels from above, we can see that when these pv panels are connected together in series, the array will produce an ouput voltage of 18 Volts at 3.0 Amperes, giving 54 Watts at full sun.
Now lets look at connecting solar panels in series with different nominal voltages but with identical current ratings.
Fix The Solar Panels On Your Roof
Once the battery, controller, and the inverter are ready, you need to get started with mounting the solar panels. Select the best spot for the panels on the roof or on open ground that receives an unhindered supply of the suns radiation. You can either make a mounting stand yourself or get it from the market. The tilt of the mounting stand should almost be equal to the latitude angle of your location. The proper setting of the solar panels is critical for their operation & maintenance. Hence, it is essential to ensure that the panels face the sun throughout the day.
In the last phase of this step, wire the solar panels. You can trace a small junction box at the back of the solar panel. The junction box has negative and positive signs of polarity. In a large sized-panel, the junction box has terminal wires too with an MC4 connector. However, you will have to align the junction box with external wires yourself if you use small solar panels. Use the black and red wire for negative and positive terminal connections, respectively.
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Net Metering And Grid
On a sunny day, itâs common for solar homes to send excess electricity into the grid in the middle of the day when power generation is at its peak. How you receive credit from your utility company is dependent on a policy called net metering.
Adequately describing net metering requires an article by itself – which you can read here – but the graphs below give you a quick idea of what it looks like over the course of a day.
In the first graph, you can see that when the sun isnât shining, a solar home will pull power from the grid, and tend to generate excess electricity in the middle of the day.
With net metering, you get full credit for the extra electricity sent into the grid, which is used to offset any power that you need to draw from the grid at night or when solar power generation is low.