A solar panel cable is for getting the power from your solar panels and into a storage device; with the most common storage device being a lithium battery. The best outdoor solar systems are those that have redundant backups built into them, these are there to make sure you can get access to power in the case of something going wrong. Therefore, having an additional solar panel cable is an ideal option for your overall system, as there is nothing enjoyable about having to go the weekend without power because your cable was chewed through, or damaged by human hands.
At Outbax we have everything you need to build the best outdoor solar systems possible, this includes camping solar panels, folding solar panels, solar blankets, and portable generators. Any of these can be paired up with the popular 100Ah lithium battery, or another battery of your choice. We also have many luxury items to make your stay outside perfect, these include UGG boots for keeping your feet toasty on cold days (especially if you can run a heater). For the outdoors at home, we have inflatable spas and above ground pools. If you need some assistance in setting up your outdoor power systems you can call a member of our team during business hours (Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm) and they’ll get it all sorted out for you with some brilliant solutions.
What type of cable should I use for my solar panel?
To choose the best solar panel cable, you’ll need to determine what type of load the wire will need to handle, and what length of cable is best for your system. For most solar panel setups, you can use a single copper core electrical wire, but if your area has a lot of high winds, you may prefer to use a multiple wire core as these perform better in areas that see a lot of movement (e.g. cars and planes).
With solar panels, you need to make sure that the wire can handle the correct number of amps. To choose the right wire, examine what you’re planning on running in the system and work out how many amps it will draw, and then choose a wire that can handle that safely. Ideally, you would choose a wire that can take an extra 30% over what you need as a precaution. If you’re not that comfortable choosing the right wire for the job, then it may be best to buy a premade solar cable or have an experienced electrician make these for you.
How to protect solar panel cable?
The cables are an important part of any solar energy set up, as without these you won’t be able to make use of any collected energy. To keep them working in excellent condition, you’ll need to look after them. In some cases, solar panel cable management can be as easy as running a few plastic cable ties and keeping everything neat and tidy. For the best results, you want as little cable as possible for going from the solar panels to what you’re using to store the collected energy. A loose cable can easily become a trip hazard in a camping environment and can be damaged if they are pulled on or repeatedly walked on.
If your power set up is a permanent fixture, you can go to great lengths to make sure that nothing can damage the cables, this includes reducing the possibility of rodents chewing at the cables. You could consider placing the cable inside the electrical conduit to help protect it from any issues. Performing regular inspections can assist in finding a problem before it becomes a major issue. If you see any damage caused by rodents or other pests, you can attempt to remove the pests by either taking care of it yourself or hiring a professional. It can be a good idea to have a backup solar panel cable in case something happens and you need to keep the electricity flowing.
How to shorten solar panel cable?
There can be many reasons why you’d want to shorten a solar panel cable and it is entirely possible to be done at home. However, before starting any work on your existing panels, it’s an excellent idea to check and see if doing so will void any warranties. To shorten the cables, you’ll need a few tools to get the job done (a cable cutter and a terminal crimper) and a couple of MC4 connectors (female and male). If you have experience working with cables, then that's great, but if you’re a bit of a novice it may be ideal that you have a couple of practise runs with spare wire before tackling your solar panel cable. Shortening your solar cable can be completed in a few steps:
- Cut the cable to the right length. Work out how long you need the cable to be and cut it to that length.
- Undo the screw cap of the correct MC4 connecter, and feed it onto the cable
- Feed the cable gland onto the cable, this will help clamp the connector to the cable making it waterproof.
- Feed the MC4 terminal onto the exposed copper wire of the cable and crimp it in place.
- Feed the main body of the MC4 connector over the terminal. Push the cable gland into the body, and then attach the screw cap until it is firm.
- Test the cable and make sure it is working properly. If not undo everything and check it all over.
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