Actually, arranging the solar panels in different combinations is the basics of designing the solar PV system. The voltage & the current output of the silicon solar cells (solar panels) vary with the change in their type of combination (series, parallel or combination of both). I am going to discuss and analyze the effect of the output voltage and the current when the solar panels are connected in the parallel combination. Remember that you can only increase the system voltage, system current or both by connecting solar panels in different configurations (series, parallel or combination of both) but in any case, you are not creating any kind of the extra power or energy. The power of the system will remain the same irrespective of the panel combination.
(1) How to connect the solar panels?
Any solar panel has two terminals one is positive and the other is negative, when the positive and the negative terminals of first solar panel are connected with the positive and the negative terminals of the second panel respectively, again the positive and the negative terminals of the second panel are connected with the positive and the negative terminals of the third panel respectively and so on, the configuration is called as parallel configuration. Please see the diagram below:
(2) The current will add up
The current in the system will add up when you connect solar panels in parallel to each other
Let’s say, I have 3 solar panels, each one of them is having the same electrical parameters or ratings:
You can also write in a general way that when n panels with each one of them having same current I, are connected in parallel, the overall system current will become n x I
(3) The voltage remains the same
When all the solar panels connected in the system having the same nominal voltage then the system voltage will be Vsys = V1 = V2 = V3. For example, when 3 solar panels with the same nominal voltage of 12 volts are connected under parallel combination, the system voltage will be 12 volts.
(4) Understanding the overall effect
Let us understand the overall effect on the voltage and the current of the system with the help of the following example:
I have same 3 panels with the same electrical parameters & characteristics:
(5) Connecting solar panels of different voltages and current
When you connect solar panels in parallel having the different electrical ratings, the current will add up to constitute the system current whereas the voltage of the system will the voltage of the solar panel having the lowest value. Let’s understand this with the help of the following example:
I have 3 panels with different voltage and the current ratings:
When you are connecting solar panels in parallel, the nominal voltage of each solar panel should be same otherwise the system voltage will reduce to the extent to that nominal voltage value which is the lowest in the array of the solar panels thus reducing the efficiency of the system. When dissimilar nominal voltage panels are connected in a parallel combination, the high wattage solar panels operate at lower efficiency, results in the wastage of the money which you have invested in purchasing high power solar panel.
In simple words, when connecting in parallel, the nominal voltage of the solar panels must be the same. However, they may have different current ratings. The right configuration will increase the efficiency of your solar roof and this will not only enable you to save money in the different months of the year but also enhance the feasibility of your residential solar roof.