Overcurrent protection isn't just part of electric code compliance - it's common sense.
The National Electrical Code (NEC) requires "overcurrent protection and a disconnect means" between any power source and any appliance.
Every battery-based renewable energy system requires charge control. A charge controller brings your batteries to optimum charge level by monitoring voltage and limiting battery current as appropriate. For solar arrays over 200 Watts, an MPPT charge controller is almost always more economical when the power system is considered as a whole.
With wind or hydro power sources, an additional PWM type controller is often used in addition to the MPPT. The MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) operates the solar array at its best possible performance, while a PWM can be configured to divert excess power to a diversion load – water and air heating elements.
Temperature compensation is important – voltage requirements for batteries are different at different temperatures. To prevent overcharging in the summer and undercharging in the winter, use temperature compensation probes whenever possible, and if not available, adjust the charge controller's charge voltage setpoints appropriately.
DC disconnects are switches that complete or interrupt a flow of DC electricity. In a solar PV system, the DC disconnect is placed between the solar panel array and the power inverter so it can easily be thrown if you (or the fire department) need to shut off solar power to the house.
Properly sized and installed DC disconnects provide an easy, obvious way to shut down a renewable energy system and are essential for safety and code-compliance. For help choosing or sizing DC disconnects, call our Tech Desk at 800-919-2400 for their expertise.
A power panel (not to be confused with a solar panel) can significantly improve both the safety and the performance of a solar PV system. Power panels do not only provide protection from the elements for your inverter, charge controllers, fuses and circuit breakers - many of them come pre-wired for plug-and-play, UL-certified interconnection.
Most of our power panels are specific to a particular solar inverter model or family of models, so make sure you select the right panel for your inverter. (We also offer pre-wired inverters that include the correct power panel and remove any guesswork here.) And remember, our Tech Desk is available at 800-919-2400 to help answer any questions you might have.
A solar PV system without any system monitoring is like a car without gauges on the dashboard – much more likely to exceed speed limits, run out of gas, or do accidental damage. Solar system monitoring equipment ranges from the basics – volt meters and amp meters – to computer software that logs and displays dozens of system readings in real time.
Some charge controllers offer basic solar system monitoring abilities, but the best monitors stand alone, mounted in the kitchen or living room where they're more likely to get regular attention. With the right solar system monitoring solution, you can even view your system's data over the Internet, giving you peace of mind when you’re away.