Best Solar Cable
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Solar cables are composed of several conductors or wires held together by something known as a sleeve or a jacket. They are used to carry the electricity your solar panels produce into where it needs to go throughout the rest of your system.
The sheath is usually a protective covering. Not only do they protect the wires from getting
damaged and keep them together, but they also protect anyone from getting electrocuted.
The wires are generally made from copper, which is the best to conduct electricity, but that also means that they can easily transfer the electricity between the wires and someone if they brush up against it.
The size of wires and cables you need depends on a couple of factors, such as the length of your wire needs to be to get from one part of your system to another and how much power is going to go through them at once.
Getting the right size ensures your system works correctly. It also helps to reduce the chances of fire or overheating. But size isn’t the only thing you need to be concerned about. You also want to make sure you have a quality product.
How to Pick the Best One?
When you are picking solar system wiring, you want cables that are specifically created for solar panel systems. This makes sure that they have the right currents, can handle the right voltage, and can handle the power from the sun without melting.
Not only is it the best option for your solar system, but it is also the only kind that the National Electrical Code accepts.
The two kinds of wire they accept are PV wire and USE-2 cables. USE-2 wires are designed for underground services and are also acceptable for your systems.
Which one is best for your system depends on your environment. For example, USE-2 cables are only able to handle 600 V, but PV cables can handle that voltage as well as 1000 V and 2000 V. So for high-voltage systems, PV cables are best.
USE-2 also is only allowed when your photovoltaic arrays are grounded. If you use an ungrounded system, you must use PV panels. Additionally, PV panels can be smaller, so if you need a smaller cable for your system, USE-2 panels aren’t ideal.
Which Types Should You Look For?
Generally, you want solar cables that are UV protected. So while your whole system doesn’t have to have a silicon sleeve on the outside that is designed to handle UV radiation, the cables that will be outside should be.
That means that you want to have a solar cable for your outside that is, at a minimum, UV radiation protected. You can also look for ones that are resistant to fire and are rodent repellent. These two qualities are good for your system too.
Specifically, it is a good idea to look at UL-rated PV-specific wiring. Of course, you can use any wiring that will still power your system, but this is the safest and most effective for solar panels and PV systems.
How Can You Know if it’s Good?
The best way to pick the right cables for your system, and a trustworthy brand, is to see what other people use. Look online at reviews and make sure they have good reviews and many of them.
That isn’t all. You also want to ensure that the reviews specifically discuss using that wiring for their solar panel system. If no one has mentioned that they used it for solar panels across any of the reviews, it is a good bet it isn’t the right kind of wiring.
Some reviews might even mention the size solar system they are using the wires for. If they do, compare it to your system and see if it is similar in size. It may let you know that you are on the right track to getting the right cables.
Are There Any Solar Cables You Should Avoid?
Many people suggest using THHN wires. THHN wires are insulated and stand for Thermoplastic High Heat-resistant Nylon-coated wire. Using it may seem like a good idea due to its high-heat resistance capabilities.
However, it isn’t actually the best cabling for your solar panels. Nevertheless, they Are useful for appliances and machinery. When it comes to solar panels, though, the insulation inside can block too much electrical current flow to be useful.
Solar panels can also be low in voltage, which can lead to arcing of electricity in your home. Arcing can cause sparking, which can then cause fires or electrocution, depending on what they hit.
You should also avoid ACSR wires. ACSR stands for Aluminum Conductor Steel Reinforced wire. It is usually left bare. The aluminum in them doesn’t allow for the proper flow needed for solar panels.
You should also avoid Romex wire and regular cables as they can’t handle high currents or sunlight exposure. In addition, Romex wires tend to have too much heat generated from solar panels, which can cause energy loss and chances of fire.
Should You Order it Online?
You can get wiring online or in a physical store near you. Both are acceptable depending on when you need them or what is available.
There are some benefits to both. People can help you out when you go into a store, such as answering any questions you may have and showing you the various brands available.
Since you don’t have to pay for shipping, you can also save money. In addition, some places will allow you to cut wires to the length you need as well, so you don’t have any excessive cable left over at the end.
However, buying online can allow you more options, such as getting the specific brand you’ve been looking at. You also often have a lot more options for sizes.
Final Thoughts on Best Solar Cable
Cabling is arguably the most confusing part of the whole system. First, you need to find the right size, strength, and type of cabling for your system, or you risk electrocution or a house fire.
When it comes to solar panels, the details can be a bit more complicated than other cabling. First, you have to make sure that your cable can handle the stresses of being outdoors constantly in the sun and weather without any damage or melting.
Thankfully, there is cabling out there dedicated to working on PV systems. Admittedly, it is more expensive, but that is because it is specialized and safer than other options out there.