When you build out a solar power array, you want to find the right balance between voltage and amperage to meet your household power needs. You want to create enough voltage to connect your array to the power supply and balance that with the right amperage to build out your power needs.
Connecting some of your solar panels in series allows you to boost your voltage. Read on to learn what this means and how to achieve it for your solar power system.
What Does It Mean To Wire Solar Panels in Series?
When you combine solar panels, you need to be aware of the voltage and the amperage your panels produce. The voltage is the pressure with which energy moves through the system, and the amperage is the current. Depending on how you connect your panels, you can increase one or the other of these factors across your solar array.
Connecting solar panels in series means wiring a group of panels in line by connecting from positive to negative poles. This setup boosts the array’s voltage while maintaining the same amperage, allowing you to stack voltage output across your solar panel system. It will enable you to gather and convert the power you need to supply your electrical needs.
Beyond generating energy across your solar panels, you will need to convert the energy into power for your home. Your power, measured in watts, is the product of multiplying the voltage by the amperage in your total solar array. For the system to power your devices or appliances, you need to connect it to an inverter or a device that has one built-in, like a portable power station or power kit.
Your inverter converts the direct current (DC) power gathered by your solar array to the alternating current (AC) power of your local energy grid or the supply lines for your off-grid power solution. The inverter requires you to achieve a high enough voltage to function and convert your energy without raising your amperage to levels that increase the risk of electric shock.
How to Wire Solar Panels in Series
The process of wiring your panels in series is relatively straightforward. Even so, you should work with experts to effectively and safely build your array. Getting the right balance of voltage and amperage may require expertise beyond simply running the math on your array.
Whether you’re connecting multiple panels in a fixed rooftop array or using portable solar panels, the process begins with the inspection and setting up of the panels. To connect in series, you will follow these basic steps:
- Determine Your Energy and Power Needs
Identify the voltage your inverter requires to operate. Determine how much power you need to generate and store to meet your requirements. You want to identify the necessary wattage for your electricity needs and set the system up to generate just over that amount.
- Set Up Your Panels
Lay out the panels evenly, and line them up to maximize your available space. Make sure you have room to wire them together safely.
You may need flexible solar panels in some situations, such as installing the array on a van rooftop. EcoFlow’s Power Kits use a combination of rigid and flexible solar panels to maximize solar power generation off-grid. Make sure the construction of your solar panels is suitable for the space and structure of your roof.
Check to ensure no panels or connections are damaged. A single faulty panel or connection will impact the entire array when connected in series.
- Wire from Positive to Negative
Connect your wires from the positive pole of one panel to the negative pole of the next. This positive-negative connection in series will stack voltage across the panels you wire together.
- Connect the Array to Your Inverter
Connect the panels you have arranged to the inverter or portable power station. This component converts the solar energy from direct current (DV) into alternating current (AC) used for household electricity and most other consumer applications.
What Are the Differences Between Wiring Solar Panels in Series and Parallel?
The opposite of a series connection for solar panels is a parallel connection. While a series connection wires positive poles to negative, the parallel connections wire positive to positive and negative to negative.
The two kinds of connections achieve different goals for your array and bring distinct advantages and disadvantages. For most solar power users, you will want a combination of these connections to achieve your energy goals.
Series connections and parallel connections have the following differences:
- Parallel connections move from positive to positive and negative to negative poles. Series connections are positive to negative.
- Parallel connections maintain the same voltage while stacking amperage across panels. Series connections do the opposite; they stack the voltage and maintain amperage.
- Parallel connections still allow your array to work even if one panel or connection isn’t working correctly. One damaged or malfunctioning part affects the entire array in a series connection.
- Parallel connections are not advisable for high-output panels because they can overload the power station.
As noted above, you need to consider both the voltage and the amperage your array produces. Each of your panels will have a rated power level you can expect to capture under peak sun conditions. You will usually need to connect multiple panels to meet your electricity needs.
Whether a parallel or series connection is better depends on the solar panel’s output rating and the power station’s input limitation. For something like a 400W rigid solar panel, using a parallel connection for such a high output current may overload the input limitation of the power station. A series connection is better for high-output panels.
Solar panels allow you to generate power that is economically and environmentally friendly. Once your solar power system is in place, it can run for twenty years or more if you maintain it properly. The investment at the front end pays dividends for years to come.
Getting the right balance in your array can take time and effort for a novice. The experts at Ecoflow can help you identify the right solar panels to meet your needs and help with installation. Get your solar array set up and running safely and effectively. Reach out today to learn how.