Saturday, July 2, 2022

Answering a Few Questions About Solar Panel Cable

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A term like “10 AWG solar PV multi-conductor tray cable” is a mouthful, but that doesn’t mean we can’t break it down.

AWG, for example, refers to American Wire Gauge, which is a logarithmic scale used for measuring wire diameter, and thus resistivity and the maximum current the wire can carry. For instance, 10 AWG wire is .1019 inches in diameter (2.58826mm) and rated to carry 55 amps for chassis wiring or 15 amps for power transmission.

The use of the term multi-conductor simply means that the sheathing contains more than one conductor or wire. “Solar PV” is a bit of a redundant title because “PV” stands for “photovoltaic,” meaning that the wire can be used with photovoltaic cells, which are a fundamental part of solar arrays. That is, PV and solar wire are often called so interchangeably.

The final designator, tray cable, simply means that the cable is appropriately insulated to be suitable for laying in trays. Some cables may be laid in trays, whereas others must be drawn through conduits. Others may be suitable for burial or even be submersible.

What Makes It Solar Wire?
Solar wire or solar panel cable is defined by a few important attributes. Chiefly, is it critical that solar panel cables be resistant to both UV light and to the weather – including wild shifts in temperature and exposure to both very high and low humidity.

There are other traits that can qualify solar panel cable but these are the most important.

There are a few reasons for this. One is that solar panel cables may, by being exposed to the elements all day, also be exposed to sunlight for prolonged periods of time. Sunlight includes large portions of ultraviolet radiation, which can be highly damaging to the insulation of some electrical conductors.

This is because many wire insulation materials are made with polymers that are sensitive to photodegradation – meaning that sunlight can destroy them. Therefore, solar panel cables must be UV-resistant.

As they will be used in the outdoors, it is also important for solar panel wire to be resistant to the weather, including snow, ice, rain, and very arid conditions. Extreme shifts in the weather, like prolonged exposure to sunlight, can prove very damaging to synthetic materials, and solar panel cable insulation must be able to withstand these conditions, making it necessary in some instances to choose cables that may be installed in wet or dry locations and withstand the elements.

Can You Use Normal Cable for Solar Panels?
There are some types of wire that are suitable for multipurpose applications, but generally, it is not suitable to use general building wire for solar panel cables unless it is expressly recommended for those uses by the manufacturer.

If there’s any doubt, contact a licensed electrician or the manufacturer. Do not assume that general building wire can be used for solar power systems.

What Size Solar Panel Cable Is Needed?
The size (gauge) of solar panel cable you will need to complete the installation depends on a few factors, namely the size of the array, the amount of energy it will produce, and how far the wires will have to run.

The greater the power produced and the longer the wires have to run, the larger and thicker they will need to be in order to prevent overheating and loss of energy. Remember also that as AWG increases, wire diameter decreases as it is an inverse scale.

Where Can I Get 10 AWG Solar PV Multi-Conductor Tray Cable?
Already know what you’re looking for and after 10 AWG solar PV multi-conductor tray cable? Check out EWCS Wire at EWCSWire.com. They carry a wide range of electrical wires and cables, including specialty products such as welding cable and solar panel cable.

Visit their website and get in touch with them at 1-800-262-1598 if you have any questions.

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