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Wiring For Solar Panels

When you are doing ANY electrical wiring - ask yourself these questions. Do I know what I am doing? Is it SAFE?  Should I get a professional to assist?  For a DIY project, make sure you really do understand what you are doing, you may be compromising not only safety but also insurance policies.

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If you are considering a DIY Solar project, we stronly suggest you obtain a comprehensive guide that covers all aspects of the build.  Solar panels are not difficult to build, but there are both technical aspects and practical points to make your project a success.  Depending on the number of panels, your controller and storage, along with how far your cabling will run, you need to make sure that your cables are of the correct gauge (thickness).

The wiring within your panel and leadting to your starage system needs to be done correctly.  When you connect your solar panel array up to your storage system, your supply cable needs to be of the correct size. When you buy electrical cable, remember that the smaller the gauge, the thicker the wire.  The gauge is very important and knowing what gauge wire to use on a specific installation and the amperage each specific wire can handle is necessary to install the proper wiring.

When running your cables, you need to consider both the power rating of your panel or array and how far the run is to the controller and storage system.  All electrical wire, no matter what material it is made out of, has a certain electrical resistance. Resistance is increased with smaller diameter wire, and also as the length of the cable increases.  By using the wrong diameter wire over a long distance and you will have a significant drop in voltage by the time it reaches the storage unit.

 

The solution is easy,  just choose the next sized larger wire size to lessen the effects.  However, if the run is over 50 feet long, you should use a lower gauge wire(thicker) instead of that used on a short run.  The voltage drop on wires due to resistance also causes wires to heat up and which in turn supplies less voltage to run the devices attached to it. More seriously, if you then have a sudden over-load, you may be in danger of a short-out resulting in a possible fire hazard.
Make sure you know the size of the loads you will be using and the distance it must travel, it will save you money and frustration later.

 

A Rough Guide to Wire Gauge Usage

Wire Use Rated Amps Wire Gauge
Low-voltage Lighting & Lamp Cords 10 Amps 18 Gauge
Extension Cords 13 Amps 16 Gauge
Light Fixtures, Lamps 15 Amps 14 Gauge
Kitchen Appliances, Sump Pump 20 Amps 12 Gauge
Electric Clothes Dryers,  Built-in Ovens, Electric Water Heaters 30 Amps 10 Gauge
Cook Tops 45 Amps 8 Gauge
Large Electric Heaters 60 Amps 6 Gauge

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