There are key practices to utilise for solar cabling and wiring and being informed of and understanding them will only benefit you when evaluating installers and electricians. These practices are devised to ensure a longer-lasting system, optimise safety, and minimise maintenance. “Wiring has no standard warranties and is likely the first component of the system to have problems or to fail completely. When this happens, it’s generally the solar provider’s responsibility to fix the issue,” said Andrew Wickham, marketing manager at SnapTrack. “Poor wire management could lead to service calls every couple of years, each costing hundreds of rands.”
Cables and connectors for a source of weakness in your system, so it is important to protect these components as diligently as possible. Your cabling needs to be protected from damage through friction and stress. Conduits or raceways are excellent methods to provide that protection. To ensure the longevity of your cabling, your connectors should be kept away from any humidity. You do that through:
- Shielding connectors. You need to place them underneath a solar panel to make sure that no water can fall on the connection.
- Tightly fastening cables and connectors. They should not hang loose or be moved by the wind.
- Making sure cables are not stretched. They should be tightly fastened, but not overly to not damage the insulation.
The best practice would be to fasten the cable 20mm on either side of the connectors. The connector itself should not be fastened, as this might damage the connector shell that is supposed to protect it.
Wire management is the practice of properly routing, organizing, supporting, and protecting the wiring. The cables and wiring of a solar system are exposed to extreme temperatures and often direct sunlight, wind, snow and rain. Sharp panel and mounting system edges can score cables, and rough roof shingles can corrode insulation with continual rubbing. Here are a few key practices to abide by to achieve the goals of wire management:
- Keep it neat. All the electrical equipment should be installed meticulously. If your workmanship is a mess, it makes it difficult to recognise where the wires and cabling are not secured. It is also of great help for any maintenance that may occur in the future.
- Take care of sharp edges. When cutting mounting rails to length usually leaves you with sharp edges. All cabling and wiring should be led away from these edges, even if they are not sharp. Tightly drawn wires will get damaged.
- Keep the wires off the roof. The surface of a roof is abrasive. If wires have contact with the roof, wind and vibrations can wear right through the insulation over time, resulting in an electrical fault.
- Balance your tension. The tension of the cables and wires stretches much more than one would suppose it does. With that in mind, they should have enough tension to keep them off the ground when stretched, but not so much as to pull out of any clips or around a sharp edge when contracted.
- Continuous support. Use continuous support wherever possible. This will “automatically” prevent contact with the roof and sharp edges, and remove the need to carefully balance the tension between attachments.
To avoid any drops in performance or at worst any risk to life, following the best practice guidelines above will ensure a safe and durable bond between panels and other components. There are many techniques in the managing of solar cabling and wiring, but the end goal is always the same—to preserve life and property by securing the wires to prevent conductor damage that would lead to an electrical fault.
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