Solar power is one of the natural sources of free energy. Light emitted from the sun is converted into electricity to power up your devices. However, a solar panel can only hold a specific amount of power.
If you need to power up an entire house using solar panels, it’s better to combine it. This is where the solar combiner box comes in.
What is a Solar Combiner Box?
A solar combiner box houses different DC breakers. It serves as a funnel for the DC input from different solar panels. It combines the array of panels’ energy into a single DC output. This makes working with solar panels a lot easier.
It also gives room for larger wires and reduces a volt drop upon transition. This makes it safer to use. By doing so, you decrease the risk of potential accidents. A solar combiner box is commonly used in wiring PV systems. In a basic sense, it’s a junction box that combines multiple power sources.
How does it Work?
A solar combiner box brings together the output of different solar strings. These strings have their designated fuse terminals. Each terminal is combined into a single conductor. The conductor is then connected to an inverter and becomes a source of power supply.
This is just the basic feature of a combiner box. However, if you work out your solar project, additional features need to be integrated. This includes remote rapid shutdown, monitoring equipment, and disconnect switches.
The combiner box saves money and effort because of wiring reductions. Each combiner box is made to withstand high current and voltage that increases reliability and protection. A typical house uses only two or three solar strings. In this case, a combiner box is not needed.
But, when it comes to combining 4 to 4,000 solar strings, a combiner box is necessary. However, using a combiner box for any project size is beneficial. When used in a residential setup, it centralizes all strings into a single location. This results in quicker installation, maintenance, and disconnection.
In commercial use, different combiner boxes are used. This is to compensate with a building’s different layouts. On the other hand, combiner boxes are used in utility-scale use. Distributing the combined connections reduces material and labor costs while maximizing power use.
Evaluating a Solar Combiner Box
Choosing a solar combiner box is important. Choosing the best enclosure is the most crucial part. Solar combiner boxes are ideally designed for outdoor use.
Here are some of the most common combiner boxes:
- NEMA 3R (minimum requirement)
- NEMA 4 steel
- NEMA 4X non-metallic
Putting into consideration the climate is needed when evaluating a solar combiner box. If you plan on using it in areas with frequent humidity changes, pick something with a breather. The condensation vent neutralizes the pressure inside the combiner box. It prevents water particles from entering the box.
Cost & Availability
When buying a solar combiner box, make sure to avail the least expensive but durable one. Although there are a lot of options in the market, having the best quality is a question. Some are proven durable but come with a hefty price.
On the other hand, there are inexpensive ones but are not durable. Look for something cheaper that offers the highest durability within your price range. Visit exhibit booths and look for solar combiner boxes. Some solar combiner box brands will have exhibit rentals Las Vegas to lower their promotion costs. You can find cheap, high-quality products on the trade shows.
When it comes to size, it’s better to use a much larger combiner box. This gives room for air to flow freely inside. Imagine yourself inside a medium-sized room. It’s breathable but nothing compared to a bigger one.
The combiner box is the same. If you allow more space, it helps reduce heat. It’s important to keep your combiner box cool to avoid overheating. Thus, making it safe to use. Besides, it makes installation much easier.
Solar Combiner Box Placement
As a general rule, a solar combiner box is ideally mounted facing north. This is where the shade is directed. By doing so, you limit sunlight exposure directly on your combiner box. Thus, making it long-lasting means keeping it exposed under the heat of the sun.
Long periods of exposure to sunlight heats the combiner box. As a result, there will be a decline in your combiner box’s efficiency and durability.
Once you’ve decided where to place your combiner box, proceed with the installation process. Make sure to gather all materials. Arrange them in a way where you can easily access them.
In some cases, using a mechanical hand robot is useful like the robot CNC machine. The robot’s AI processor is capable of handling simple to complex tasks. It can help you reach out the materials or screw the combiner box if you need a hand.
Once your solar combiner box has been installed, you need to schedule a routine checkup. This prevents any further damage to your combiner box. Climate change is one of the main factors that affect the combiner box. As such, it’s important to look at your combiner box every once in a while.
Clean it regularly to get rid of dirt and dust. Check for any presence of moisture. If you see some moisture inside, it’s better to seal any leaks or change the box.
Dust affects the transmission of electricity. Clean the terminals for any specs that might hinder the flow of electricity.
Using solar panels is one of the most effective means of cutting your expenses. However, a single panel is only capable of producing a certain amount of energy. If you plan on powering your house with solar panels, you need to connect all strands into a single terminal.
This is where a solar combiner box comes into play. It combines all power generated from your solar panels. As such, it becomes a single power supply.