Wiring Solar Panels

How to wire solar panels and batteries together to get the effect you want!

Solar Panel Wiring

Before we get into the subject of wiring solar panels let's review some of the more important things we have learned up to this point.

So far you have learned how to build your own solar panels capable of producing 63 watts, 18 volts & 3.5 amps. (Section 1: Make Solar Panels).

You have also learned some electrical terminology and gained a better understanding of how many watts, volts and amps your solar system must be able to produce/store in order to meet the specific needs of your specific appliances or the needs of your entire home. (Section 2: Solar System Sizing).

In the last section, we answered all of the following questions:
  • How many watts will I need for my specific power use?
  • How many volts should my system produce for my specific appliances?
  • How many amps do I need in order to be able to produce solar energy fast enough for my usage needs?

Now were going to show you how to wire solar panels and batteries together so that you can increase those watts, volts and amps as you need.

More specifically, we'll show you the exact solar panel / battery arrangements (that you can use) - with different watt, volt and amp totals so you can get a good idea of what's available from each arrangement VS your specific "watt, volt and amp" needs.

This way you can choose the system that's best for you.

For instance:

  • If the appliances you want to power are rated high in voltage, then you'll want to pick a pv panel wiring arrangement that has high enough volts (push) to power those appliances.
  • Similarly, if you have less daylight hours available and want to charge your batteries faster to take advantage of the sun while it's around, you would probably benefit from a solar system wiring arrangement with higher amps (current speed/intensity).
  • Or if you want to power many, many different appliances you'll need to make sure your solar system not only produces many watts, but also has enough volts for the big appliances, enough amps to charge fast enough and enough batteries to hold the big load.

By visually seeing approximately how many watts, volts and amps is created by each solar wiring arrangement in the examples we'll show you, you can better choose the system with the balance of everything that's right for you.

After picking which system best suits your needs (and buying or building the solar panels needed), you can connect your solar panels / batteries as shown and even add more over time. In fact, you can pick one of the smaller systems (we show you) for now, add to it gradually and eventually turn it into one of the bigger systems over time.

It's just a matter of adding more panels or batteries and switching the wiring to match the bigger system by following the exact wiring in the example arrangements (linked to below). If you are going to be buying solar panels click here to learn more about solar panel cost.

We are going to start with showing you some smaller solar systems (arranged in different ways to produce different results) and move on to bigger solar systems (arranged in different ways to produce different results). Wiring solar panels is flexible like this, you can change the wiring as you add to your system over time.

Remember, you don't need to start off by making all the solar energy you'll ever need, right away. You can get your feet wet by setting up your first solar system successfully, save a little bit of money at first, then do it over and over again as many times as you want.

How To Wire Solar Panels

Ready to start learning about wiring solar panels?

Ok, let's look at some solar system wiring arrangements YOU CAN COPY:

Due to the fact that there is a lot of them, we have put the solar wiring arrangements on their own page.

Click here to check out all of our solar wiring diagrams.

This section is essential to correctly wiring solar panels and setting up your solar system, so make sure you don't skip it. When you're done, simply click where prompted (at the bottom of the page) to get back to this exact spot.

You Decide What You Want, Then Build It

As you saw on the Solar Wiring Diagrams page linked to above, setting up a solar system requires some thought before you even start wiring solar panels together. You must decide what factors are important to you, your available time and budget as well as how much stress you want to put on your solar system.

In the end, it's always better to balance your system out so that the volts and amps are not very far apart. The greater the difference between your volts and amps, the more stress you put on your batteries and the shorter your batteries' lifespan will be.

However, sometimes it's necessary to pick a solar pv panel wiring arrangement that increases your volts or amps but also puts stress on your battery bank. You would typically do this if you didn't have the budget or space to use a lot of solar panels and you wanted to raise the volts or amps to a certain level by using straight series or straight parallel wiring.

Solar Wiring How Stress Affects Your Battery

When learning how to wire solar panels, it is imperative that you understand how stress as a result of an unbalanced system can affect your battery bank's overall lifespan.

Although each battery has their own specs, the general examples below can give you some idea.

Low Stress Example:
With a well balanced solar arrangement (volts and amps are not very far apart), your batteries should last 7 to 10 years (using batteries with a 10 year life span).

High Stress Example:
With a solar arrangement that's not well balanced (volts and amps very far apart) your batteries should last about 3-5 years (using batteries with a 10 year life span).

Choosing The Correct Wire Gauge (Size)

The type and size of wire you use for wiring solar panels and to connect all of the different components in your solar system together with plays a big role in the effectiveness and efficiency you'll get out of it. It can also make the difference between damaging your system unknowingly and not. Click here to learn how to choose the right solar wire types (and sizes) for your PV system.

Do Not Mix Used Batteries With New Batteries

It's also important to note that unlike with wiring solar panels, it's not a good idea to add more batteries to a battery bank after the batteries in that bank have been used. In other words, all the batteries in your system must be equally used and all have the same remaining usage cycles in order for you to get the best results from your system.

Sure people break this rule all the time, but it is not the healthiest thing to do to your pv system. If you're going to start with a smaller system and add to it as you go, I suggest you wait until you have completely used up your batteries' s life span with the smaller system and then buy all new batteries when you upgrade to the bigger system with more panels.

When it comes to deciding on the size of your battery bank, make sure you match your battery bank size to the solar panel array size. After determining your load requirements, build a battery bank that's big enough to store five days' worth of power plus another 30%. This extra 30% is to allow for changes and fluctuations in battery capacity due to temperature and other factors. To learn more about solar batteries click here.

Using Bigger Solar Panels

One way to get around having to stress your system (or having to join many panels together) in order to bring up your volts, amps or watts, is to use more powerful solar panels. With more powerful solar panels, large or complex PV panel wiring becomes less necessary.

To make more powerful solar panels all you have to do is buy more powerful solar cells. This will bring up your watts, volts and amps so you don't have to do so much joining and balancing of solar panels.

If you really want to make a bigger (more powerful) solar panel with the materials available today, I would suggest substituting the solar cells used in the examples on this page with mono crystalline solar cells rated at 41 Volts and 5.49 Amps. If you use 72 of these solar cells to make one panel your one finished panel will be able to deliver 225 Watts of power maximum in optimal sunlight. Click here to learn more about the different types of solar panels.

So now that you know how to wire solar panels and batteries together to get the effect you want, (solar panel wiring), it's time to learn about the other photovoltaic components you must add to your solar system in order for it to work.

Click here to continue to the next section of this website: Photovoltaic System Components.