Solar Combiners – Effectively Combines and Houses Wiring of Solar Panels
Significances of Solar Combiners:
Solar combiners, or combiner boxes, are electrical components used to combine and house the wiring that comes from solar panels. These are not always necessary for solar systems, so it is really contingent upon what type of solar system is in use. Often times, wires coming from the strings of solar panels are already combined inside the inverter, negating the need for a combiner box. On the other hand, when distance between the solar panels and the inverter is considerable or if there are more than 2 or 3 strings present, a combiner box may come in handy. It is important to understand the specific needs of each solar panel in order to determine whether a solar combiner is necessary.
What are their specific attributes?
What are the basic characteristics of a solar combiner? Combiner boxes will usually come in small rectangular boxes that are made of either sheet metal or fiberglass. In addition, they are often mounted near the solar panels on the roof or just below the exit for the wiring. It is commonplace to have solar panels that are wired together in a quantity of anywhere between 6 and 10. However, you can have up to 2 or 3 strings of wiring in a significant system that has up to 18 solar panels. The characteristics of the inverter and whether the system is grid-tied or off-the-grid will dictate exactly how many panels are present. The solar combiner comes into play by combining multiple string inputs into a single set of wires that are either positive, negative, or ground, which then go out of the box to the inverter in a relatively straightforward process.
Main components of a solar combiner:
A combiner box will usually have these components:
· Outer Housing
o Protects the wires from the weather and has to be water tight
o Prevents people from getting close to the wiring who should not have access
· Over current protection
o Set of either fuses or circuit breakers that prevent a short from sending too much current to the inverter
o Fuses are more common than circuit breakers
· Wire terminals
o A plastic bar with holes to insert the wires which come from the solar panel
o Designed to hold wires of different sizes
o Number of holes depends on the model
o Most models will have enough wiring inputs for at least 8 strings, but sometimes up to 20-30 strings
All combiner boxes should be certified as compliant with the National Electrical Code due to the fact that they are probably one of the most heavily inspected components of a solar system. In addition, many combiner boxes also have what is known as a dead front, which is a metal plate that covers the wiring with a cut out for the fuses, which enables you to access the fuses or breakers without being exposed to the wiring.
Explore the benefits of solar combiners:
Using combiner boxes can provide a number of benefits, which include the following:
· Reduction in the amount of wiring needed -> reduced cost
· Simplifying the physical wiring
· Easier to provide over current protection
· Ability to disconnect a single string easily
· Easier to service
Be sure to look into the following benefits as well as characteristics of each solar panel before deciding whether a solar combiner box is the best option for your particular application.
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