How to Wire a Solar Panel – Connecting Solar Panels Together
One of the great things about installing your own solar power system is how easily you can expand your power capabilities. By adding additional solar panels and increasing the capacity of your battery bank, you can quickly and affordably increase the amount of clean electricity your system is capable of generating and storing.
If you are one of the many homeowners that has joined the solar energy revolution, we want to make it as easy as possible for you to expand your solar capabilities. This is why we have provided this simple guide for wiring solar panels together.
We will start by explaining what it means to wire solar panels in series and in parallel. From there, we will explain how you can connect your own solar panels together. We will also highlight some high-quality solar products you can incorporate into your existing solar power system.
What Does Wiring Solar Panels in Series Mean?
Just like a standard car battery, all solar panels feature two prominent terminals – a positive terminal and a negative terminal.
When you connect the positive terminal of one solar panel to the negative terminal of another, you create what is known as a series connection. When solar panels are wired to create a series connection, the voltages of the panels are added together, but the total amperage remains the same. This means if you connect two solar panels that each have a rated voltage of 40 volts and a rated amperage of 5 amps, the series would then have a total voltage rating of 80 volts, but the total amperage would stay at just 5 amps.
It is important to remember that the voltages are combined, as knowing the total voltage is important if your solar power system uses a solar inverter. Since inverters are rated to work with certain voltages, you will need to keep the combined voltage of any solar panels you wire in series within the voltage limit of your inverter.
What Does Wiring Solar Panels in Parallel Mean?
Wiring solar panels in parallel differs from wiring them in series. When you wire your solar panels in parallel, the positive terminal from one panel is connected to the positive terminal of the other. The negative terminals are also wired together.
To do so, you would connect the positive wires to the next solar panel’s positive connector, which would be done within a combiner box. The same is done for the negative wires. When multiple panels are connected in parallel, the result is called a PV output circuit.
Wiring solar panels in parallel allows you to increase the amperage, while the voltage remains the same. In many ways, it works just like a series connection, but in reverse. For example, if you connected your same 40 volt solar panels that each had a rated amperage of 5 amps, the resulting parallel connection would have a voltage of just 40 volts, but the amperage would increase to a total of 10 amps.
Wiring solar panels in parallel gives you the ability to have more solar panels in your system that produce more total energy, but the operating voltage is kept down, which can allow you to meet the voltage limits of your existing solar power inverter.
Are There Advantages to One Type of Connection Over the Other?
You can almost think of the two ways of wiring solar panels together like Christmas lights. Older Christmas lights were wired in a series, which is why if a single bulb burned out or became loose, the entire string of lights would not light up. On the other hand, modern day Christmas lights are wired in parallel, which is why the entire string of lights will stay lit, even if one of the bulbs breaks or burns out.
The same basic principles apply for connected solar panels. If you have wired your panels in series, one defective solar panel or a loose wire can cause the entire system to fail. While individual failures in a parallel circuit will not cause the rest of the solar panels to shut down.
While the way you wire your solar panels should depend on the limitations of your power inverter, there certainly could be an argument made that wiring your solar panels in parallel is the superior option.
How to Wire Your Solar Panels
Now that you know the different wiring styles, we can explain how you would go about actually wiring your own solar panels.
The process is actually quite straightforward and much less complicated than most people assume it will be. As you would expect, the first step is determining which type of connection you are going to put together. As mentioned above, this decision should be based on the voltage and amperage limitations of your power inverter. You will also want to look at the capabilities of your charge controller, as this will help you protect any batteries you plan to charge with your solar panels.
Once you know which type of connection you would get the most out of your existing solar equipment, you can simply follow the instruction manual that came with your solar panels. Essentially, the solar panels are connected just like the terminals when you are boosting a car battery. If you are going for a series connection, simply use the solar cables that came with your solar panels to connect one panel’s positive terminal to the other panel’s negative terminal. Do this for both sets of terminals and you will have created the series. From there, you will simply connect the panels to your power inverter and charge controller, which will then be connected to your battery bank.
To connect your solar panels in parallel, simply connect the positive terminal of one panel to the positive terminal of the next. Then do the same for the negative terminals. Once the panels are connected to your power inverter and solar charge controller, you are pretty much finished.
Mounting the Solar Panels:
Since your entire solar power system is completely reliant on the amount of sunlight your solar panels are able to absorb, it is important that you position them correctly, especially if they are going to be a part of a permanent solar power system.
Find a location that receives the optimal amount of sunlight and make sure it is as shade-free as possible. Once you have found this location, you can mount the solar panels on an angle that faces the sun throughout the. day. Most panels come with their own mounting brackets and hardware, so as long as you have a drill, you should be able to install them quickly and easily.
Choosing the Correct Solar Products
If you are expanding the power capabilities of an existing solar power system, you can choose to purchase individual solar panels and simply incorporate them into your system in the same ways discussed above. For those with portable solar power systems, we recommend taking a look at our Folding Suitcase Solar Panels. They are ideal for those looking for highly portable solar panels that can be assembled and stored with ease.
If you have a more permanent solar power system, opting for one of our High Efficiency 12V 200 Watt Monocrystalline Solar Panels is an excellent option. They are incredibly easy to install and feature a simple plug-and-play junction box, so you can wire them to your existing solar panels with ease.
Solar Panel Kits:
If you are just getting into solar power and you do not have an existing system, solar panel kits are one of the easiest and most affordable ways to get started. Luckily, we carry a wide variety of solar panel kits from some of the best brands in the solar industry.
For those on a budget, as well as those that are just looking for a basic solar power system that is easy to install and wire, we recommend taking a look at our Renogy Solar Panel Kit Collection. Renogy has a strong reputation for offering high-quality solar power equipment at affordable prices. Their kits come with everything you need to get started, including highly-efficient solar panels, solar power inverters, charge controllers, and even their high-capacity solar batteries.
If you are just looking for individual solar components, we also sell Renogy equipment on its own; however, for the best prices, we recommend taking a look at the complete kits.
If you plan on using the solar electricity your solar panels generate, you are going to want to invest in a battery bank. If you are unsure where to start, read through our Solar Power Storage Guide, as it will tell you everything you need to know about solar battery banks and solar generators.
If you just have basic power storage needs, consider the BattleBorn 100Ah 12V Deep Cycle Solar Battery. It is affordable, easy to use, and made to last. You can easily incorporate it into your solar power system and you can add more than one if you have greater power storage needs.
Wiring solar panels is not as complicated as it sounds. Most solar power equipment is designed to be so easy to install that there is no need to hire an electrician. Just be sure to read through your instruction manuals and feel free to reach out to us if you ever have any questions!
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