Solar Energy Water and Power — 24 July 2013

Whether you are making your own solar panel or not, it is important to understand the fundamentals of solar panel wiring.  A solar panel is made up of multiple solar cells that are connected using wire tabbing.  Wiring solar cells is usually done so that the panel produces about 18 volts and 3.5 amperes.  Following the fundamental electrical equation P = EI, the total power of the solar panel would be 63 Watts (18 x 3.5).

Connecting in Series

Connecting panels in series means to connect the positive lead of one panel to the negative lead on the adjacent panel as illustrated in the wiring diagram below.

Series Connection

Series Connection

By connecting the four solar panels in series, the voltage becomes additive while the amperes remain constant.  So the total voltage of the 4 panels would be 72 volts (18 x 4).  The total power of the solar array would be 252 watts (72 x 3.5).

Connecting in Parallel

Connecting the panels in parallel means to connect the positive lead of one panel to the positive lead on the adjacent panel.  The negative lead would be connected to the negative lead on the adjacent panel as shown below.

Parallel connection

Parallel connection

By connecting the four solar panels in parallel, the amperage becomes additive while the voltage remains the same.  So the total amperes of the 4 panels would be 14 amperes (3.5 x 4).  The total power of the solar array would be 252 watts (14 x 18).

Parallel and Series

By connecting with both parallel and series connections, it is possible to get the right fit for the wiring and battery bank you are planning on using.  Using our 18 volt, 3.5 amp. solar panels as an example, you could wire two panels in series and two panels in parallel.  This would give 36 volts and 7 amperes.  Although the total wattage doesn’t change, the volts and amperage can be modified.

Although I’ve used solar panels as the example here, the wiring for a battery bank uses the exact same methodology.  Connecting two 6 volt batteries in series becomes a 12 volt battery bank.

 

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