How to Connect Multiple Solar Panels in Array
Wiring multiple solar panels together to form an array may sound like a daunting task, but if you are well prepared, the job is fairly straightforward. Array wiring is a tedious, time-consuming task, depending on the wire termination method used. Preparation is an essential component to a successful and timely array wiring job. Organizing your "plan of attack" before you pick up any tools or materials will make wiring your array the easiest part of the overall solar panel installation process.
Connecting the Wires to the Panels
Cut the wire for the lengths you think you will need between panels. Always add a couple of inches in case of length errors or termination errors.
Strip ¼ inch of insulation from wire end that connects to panel.
Crimp connector onto wire if using a screw-on contact or a multiconnector, or MC, contact. MC contacts look like the RCA plugs (red, white and yellow) used on your stereo equipment.
Apply solder to terminal plates on all panels if a soldering method is used, by touching plate with the iron, then touching the solder to the plate, not the iron. You should only leave a small ball of solder on the terminal plate. Do this for all panels in the array at the same time.
Either solder bare wire to solar panel terminal plates on all panels or crimp contact onto wire if a screw-on connector is used. Plug MC contacts together if MC contacts already are installed on panel.
Connect the positive (+) lead of the first panel to the negative (-) lead on the next panel in the array. Repeat throughout the array.
Connect the negative (-) lead of the first panel to the positive (+) lead on the next panel in the array. Repeat throughout the entire array.
Keep wires from the end of the series run separate or terminate into a two-position plug to avoid shorting.
Connect the positive (+) lead on the first panel to the positive (+) lead on the next panel in the array. Continue throughout the entire array.
Connect the negative (-) lead on the first panel to the negative (-) lead on the next panel in the array. Continue throughout the entire array.
Bundle all wires in the system together and run them through a conduit. Using zip-ties or electrical lacing tape to bundle them together will help prevent any wiring damage caused by snagging or tripping.
Things You Will Need
- Appropriate length No.12 gauge wire, preferably designed for PV
- Wire strippers
- Soldering iron
- Rosin core solder
- Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol)
- Marking tape, red and black
- MC contacts (multiconnector)
- Crimping tool
- Zip ties or lacing tape