Using Software To String Solar Panels And Design Systems
Manual calculations used to be the most time-consuming part of the solar design and installation process. Handling many different formulas and values created tons of opportunities for human error, but they also left much to be desired in terms of working with the client and finding good solutions to their problems quickly.
Today, Solargraf is here to help you design the most accurate systems possible and fast by doing all the heavy lifting. Heres how.
How To Wire Solar Panels In Parallel Or Series
- Dan Gillison
When connecting multiple solar panels in a 12-48 volt off-grid system, you have a few options: parallel, series, or a combination of the two. In this article, well give you the basics on wiring solar panels in parallel and in series. Lets start off with a quick comparison of parallel circuits and series circuits.
Parallel circuits have multiple paths for the current to move along. If an item in the circuit is broken, current will continue to move along the other paths, while ignoring the broken one. This type of circuit is used for most household electrical wiring. For example: when you turn off your TV, it doesnt also turn off your lights.
When wiring solar panels in parallel, the amperage is additive, but the voltage remains the same. eg. If you had 4 solar panels in parallel and each was rated at 12 volts and 5 amps, the entire array would be 12 volts and 20 amps.
Series circuits have only one path for current to travel along. Therefore, all the current in the circuit must flow through all the loads. A series circuit is a continuous, closed loop breaking the circuit at any point stops the entire series from operating. An example of a series circuit is a string of old Christmas lights if one bulb breaks, the whole string turns off.
Remember: just like batteries, solar panels have a negative terminal and a positive terminal . Current flows from the negative terminal through a load to the positive terminal.
Should You Wire Solar Panels In Series Or Parallel
This might sound vague and repetitive at this point. Still, you have to understand that the decision to wire your solar panels either in series or parallel highly depends on the conditions you need to satisfy.
Conditions to satisfy? What are those?
Recall that connecting solar panels in series increases the total system voltage sent to your inverter. On the other hand, parallel-connected solar panels increase the whole system current received by the same power inverter.
So when choosing a wiring configuration, your job is to make sure that the total system voltage, total power injected, and total system current fall within the inverters voltage, power, and current ratings, respectively.
The best way to drill this concept into you is through practice. So, in the next section, we will use all the things we discussed to decide which wiring configuration/s to use for a 1kW and a 5kW solar system.
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Have Your Strings Determined By A Design Team
When you complete your solar design and the software has determined the ideal number of panels, orientation, and best configuration possible, you can order your permits through the tool with a 24 48 hour turnaround time where our design team will do all the heavy lifting for you and define the panel strings.
Instead of all the extra planning, math, and busywork, all you need to do is define your offset, select the roof surfaces youd like the system to be installed on, and pass it on to Solargraf to get the rest of the job done.
This makes for a more streamlined design and sales process. Fewer revisions are required when the client signs on the dotted line and you need to begin the permitting process to get the installation started. This makes each individual job easier and also opens up more time in the workday for booking more meetings, generating more proposals, and spending time on the roof installing other systems.
Wiring Solar Panels In Series Vs Parallel
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This post explains the different ways of wiring multiple solar panels together, providing the information you need to decide how best to configure your camper solar setup.
It starts simple, with diagrams for the different wiring configurations, and explains how each affects the components needed.
Well then delve into the complexities of mixed solar panels .
Weve included an interactive series vs parallel calculator so you can decide the best configuration for your solar array.
Weve made our own mistakes when setting up our campervan solar system.
This post will help you avoid these to get the best performance from your solar setup from the outset.
Need help & advice with your electrical setup?
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This post is part of our series on campervan electrical components.
If youre new to electrics or van builds, look at our starter guide to campervan electrics first.
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Which Is Best Series Parallel Or A Combination
The calculator will give you a good idea of the total power output, current, and voltage you might expect from each wiring configuration.
But keep reading. The decision isnt black and white.
While the calculated results are interesting and useful for sizing your solar charge controller, dont wire your solar panels based on the minimum power loss.
The calculations are all based on the optimal operating conditions for the given solar panels.
In reality, though, those conditions may not be met all the time.
Automatically Determine The Optimal Amount Of Panels
Outline the roof facet youd like to place the panels on, and let Solargraf fit the system for you. With an extensive library of solar panel makes and manufacturers pre-loaded into the software, you can choose your panel of choice from a drop-down menu or import your own if you have a datasheet on hand.
Solargraf will take the specifications/dimensions of your panels into consideration and fill the surface with the optimal number of modules for the job.
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The Main Benefit Of Parallel Wiring
When you wire all your solar panels in parallel, the performance of one panel is not dependent on the performance of the other panels. But in a serial connection, if one solar panel is working at a lower capacity, it reduces the whole solar arrays performance.
This is important in case the panel malfunctions. Also, a particular panel may be receiving less sunlight because of shade. In this series connection, the whole systems power output will be reduced.
Putting Solar Panels In Series
There are several advantages to putting solar panels in series, including a lower cost and simpler installation. Unlike parallel connections, series arrangements maximize power output for a longer period of time. In addition, series connections do not sacrifice power unlike parallel connections, series panels do not charge batteries when there is no sunlight. For more information, read the following sections. Continue reading to learn about the benefits of series connection. Heres a quick overview of the pros and cons of putting solar panels in series.
Solar panels connected in series have identical voltages and currents. The individual voltages of each panel will add up. Thus, the overall output of the solar array will be equal to the lowest-rated panel. An example of this is a solar array of eighteen-volt panels with a four-amp rating. In this case, the total power would drop from 324 watts to 216 watts.
A downside to installing solar panels in series is that theres a higher risk of shading. Because all the panels are interdependent, if one panel gets shaded, it will affect the entire array. However, this issue is not likely to occur if the panels are connected in parallel. Instead, installers prefer to avoid such places. In addition, shading will reduce the production of all panels. When placing solar panels in series, make sure that you place them in a protected area.
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Connecting Solar Panels Together Summary
Connecting solar panels together to form bigger arrays is not all that complicated. How many series or parallel strings of panels you make up per array depends on what amount of voltage and current you are aiming for. If you are designing a 12 volt battery charging system than parallel wiring is perfect. If you are looking at a higher voltage grid connected system, than youre probably going to want to go with a series or series-parallel combination depending on the number of solar panels you have.
But for a simple reference in regards to how to connect solar panels together in either parallel or series wiring configurations, just remember that parallel wiring = more amperes, and series wiring = more voltage, and with the right type and combination of solar panels you can power just about any electrical device you may have in your home.
For more information about Connecting Solar Panels Together in either series or parallel combinations, or to obtain more information about the different types of solar panels available, or to explore the advantages and disadvantages of using solar power in your home, then to order your copy from Amazon today and learn more about designing, wiring and installing off-grid photovoltaic solar electric systems in your home.
What Is Electric Power
Power is the rate at which energy is transferred. It is equivalent to voltage times current and is measured in Watts . In solar PV systems, an important function of the inverter in addition to converting DC power from the solar array to AC power for use in the home and on the grid is to maximize the power output of the array by varying the current and voltage.
For a more technical explanation of how current, voltage, and power interact within the context of a solar PV system, check out our article on Maximum Power Point Tracking .
In it, we discuss current-voltage curves , and power-voltage curves . These curves offer insight into the voltage and current combination at which power output is maximized.
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Solar Panels In Series Of Different Voltages
In this method all the solar panels are of different types and power rating but have a common current rating. When they are connected together in series, the array produces 21 volts at 3.0 amps, or 63 watts. Again the output amperage will remain the same as before at 3.0 amps but the voltage output jumps to 21 volts .
Finally, lets look at connecting solar panels in series with completely different nominal voltages and different current ratings.
What Is A Solar Charge Controller
controller charge solar system mppt power panel 12v grid works panels controllers pwm vs altestore systems between difference
Solar dilemma evergreen spheralsolar. Solar parallel series pv array panels controller charge configuration going know chapter wiring string cell mixing. What is a solar charge controller
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What Are The Pros And Cons Of Wiring Solar Panels In Parallel
When you wire your solar array in parallel, each panel will effectively operate independently of the others. This is a good approach if youll be in locations where one or more of your panels could be shaded. Or if you have several things protruding from the roof that can cause shading . Unlike with a series array, where shade on a single panel can affect the entire system, parallel arrays function much better under partial shading conditions. Only the shaded panels output will be affected, while the remaining panels can continue putting out their full power.
When you wire solar panels in parallel, the panels function independently of one another. This means that if one panel is shaded by a tree, or something sticking up off your roof, the other panels will not be affected and can continue to harness the power of the sun.
With a parallel setup, youll have a lower-voltage system, which will allow you to choose a lower-cost PWM controller. Thats because the primary benefit of a higher-cost MPPT controller is its ability to take advantage of the higher voltage found in series-wired systems. Also, wiring in parallel means youre unlikely to exceed the voltage limitations of your solar charge controller.
- SmartSolar MPPT 100/50 Charge Controller
Combining Solar Panels With Different Electrical Characteristics
There is another important topic related to the selection of one or another type of connection in the solar PV system.
Do your solar panels share the same electrical characteristics?
So far we have assumed that your system contains a set of very similar or equal solar panels, meaning the same manufacturer, same electrical efficiency and characteristics .
But what happens if you decide to connect different solar panels?
Remember the intrinsic characteristics of each type of connection, the parallel connection forces all the system to have the same voltage and the series connection forces all the system to have the same current.
Therefore, it is not advisable to combine solar panels with different specifications, because low performance and underutilization will affect the system.
Even selecting solar panels from different manufacturers with the same electrical characteristics is not advisable because besides the rated power, each panel has its specific power degradation percentage which is never the same among different manufacturers. In the long term, you will have some panels degrading at different rate than other. This presents instability and could also lead to higher electrical losses.
But always remember that the major decision makers to establish the type of connection that your system should have are:
- Specifications of inverters or charge controllers power input
- Size of your system
- Distance between inverter and panels
- Expected active power output
Wiring Solar Panel In Parallel
Wiring the solar panels in a parallel connection means connecting the panels negative and positive terminals. In general, in the case of parallel solar panels, they are connected to an advanced charge controller, or sometimes they are connected to a solar inverter of the system.
A combiner box will be located below the solar panels where the positive and negative terminals are connected to the positive connector and negative connector, respectively. In this connection type, the total will remain the same. However, the amperage will increase.
You may note that when the panels are connected in a parallel setting, they share the same amount of voltage. The current that every panel produces is combined.
One of the significant benefits of this wiring configuration is higher reliability. Wondering how? If there are six solar panels and one panel fails to work for some reason, this will not affect the performance of the other five panels.
Every panels negative terminal is connected to its positive terminal it creates a unique wiring connection that makes all the solar panels work independently.
However, there are some disadvantages of such a connection that you should consider. The lower amount of voltages will denote increased current values. That means the electrical losses will be more. As a result, you will witness a lower performance from your solar panel systems.
When Should You Opt For Parallel Connection?
Wiring Solar Panels Together Also Called Stringing Requires An Understanding Of How Different Configurations Affect The Solar Arrays Performance
Voltage that exceeds what the inverter allows will limit production and possibly even the inverters life. Too little voltage, and the solar system wont perform to expectations, as the inverter wont work until start voltage kicks in. Shaded cells can also impact voltage. Growing foliage, nearby construction of tall buildings, chimneys or protruding pipes can all cause shade over panels, so you need to keep that in mind.
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Is It Better To Wire Solar Panels In Parallel Or Series
When connecting different solar panels or two solar panels into an off-grid system, homeowners will get a few options. These are parallel wiring solar panels, series wiring solar panels, or combined.
However, theoretically, solar panels in parallel wiring can be a good option for different voltage ratings and multiple electrical characteristics. How? This type of solar panels wiring will facilitate continuous operations of the solar power system, even though one of the solar panels is not working correctly.
However, this may not work effectively for wiring solar panels in every situation. The same way of connecting solar panels might not work. Sometimes, you may need to meet the desired voltage requirements to keep your solar inverter operating correctly.
On the other hand, a perfect balance of amperage and total output voltage needs to be attained so that the solar arrays can perform at their best. So, most solar installers suggest that you go for hybrid wiring solar panels that combine parallel and series connections.
If you dont know much about how to wire solar panels in series connections or solar panels in parallel collections, you should always take the help of an expert installer.
How To Wire Your Rv Solar Panels: Series Vs Parallel
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Harnessing the energy from the sun to power your RV is a fantastic feeling. We think that installing RV solar panels is one of the best upgrades you can make to any rig. But, whats the best way to connect them? Wiring solar panels in series vs parallel is an important consideration.
In this post, were investigating the details, the pros & cons of wiring solar panels in series vs parallel, how to wire in both configurations , and much more.
To introduce the topic of solar panels series vs parallel, cue John, Paul, George & Ringo, because Here Comes The Sun!=
Theres nothing like harnessing the awesome power of the sun to power a home, on wheels. Lets wire up those solar panels!
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