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What Is Voltage Drop?

By February 24, 2020 Solar Panel Tips
voltage drop

The electrical current carrying wires of a solar panel system have an inherent resistance to the current’s flow. As a result, small amounts of voltage is lost during the transmission of the current, a process known as voltage drop. Due to voltage drops, an array of solar panels cannot deliver a full 100% of the power produced at any one time. However, it is possible to minimize these losses and increase the efficiency of your solar array to obtain peak voltage.

In accordance with the National Electric Code (2017 NEC 210.19), an ideally designed solar array should be able to keep voltage drop below 3%.

How to Prevent Voltage Drop?

Resistance in transmission wires leads to voltage drop. Therefore, the best way to counteract this scenario is by reducing resistance. The four basic approaches to preventing voltage drop include:

  • Using thicker wires – Metaphorically speaking, the more lanes you have on a road, the more cars can pass through. The same case applies for electricity — the wider the thickness of the wire, the more electrical currents pass.
  • Minimizing wire length– Electric cables have a per foot resistance. This means the longer the wire, the higher the resistance and the voltage drop. Always use solar array designs that minimize the length of the wiring run to achieve higher efficiency.
  • Transmitting a higher voltage – Using high voltage results in a low current. This means you minimize power losses associated with the current.
  • Strategically installing your inverter – In order to reduce voltage drop, your solar inverter should be as close to the panel as possible, as compared to the meter box.

How Does Voltage Drop Affect Your Solar Energy System?

Voltage drop reduces the efficiency of your solar energy system. Using small wires and having a long wiring run may lead to potential power losses and cause your solar energy system to not live up to its expected power needs. Even though it is impossible to completely eliminate voltage drop, minimizing it below 3% should be enough to eliminate any significant energy loss and maintain your solar efficiency.

Efficient Solar Energy System Installations

To receive a high-quality solar panel system that produces the energy and savings you need, contact the professionals at PES Solar. For over 20 years, we have satisfied homeowners with efficient solar panel installations, zero-down financing (pending credit approval), and excellent customer service. To find out more about solar energy products and services, call us today at 386-668-4222.