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One thing you need to keep in mind when designing your off-grid solar system is that your solar panel array needs to produce a voltage that is larger than your battery banks’ voltage.
So you’ll need to connect your solar panels in a series to get a higher voltage. (If you don’t know what that means, then keep reading! I’ll explain it to you as simply as possible.)
Solar Panel Array: Parallel vs Series
A solar panel array just means a collection of solar panels.
While learning about solar panel systems, you’ll also often hear the terms series and parallel when it comes to wiring batteries or solar panels together.
Let’s look at both parallel and series connections separately.
Wiring Solar Panels in Parallel
If you connect your solar panels in parallel, it means that you connect all the positives together and all the negatives together.
Wiring Solar Panels in Series
If you connect solar panels in a series, it means that you connect the positive side of one panel to the negative side of another panel.
Parallel vs Series: Volts & Amps
When you connect solar panels (or batteries) together, you can change their voltage and the amp rating in various ways. (Don’t know what volts and amps are? Check out my easy-to-read posts where I explain volts and amps in the simplest way possible).
In a parallel connection, the voltage does not change but the amps will be added up.
For example, if you connect 4 solar panels in parallel and each provides 10 volts and 10 amps, you will end up with a total of 10 volts and 40 amps.
In a series connection, the amps do not change but the voltage will be added up.
For example, if you connect 4 solar panels in a series and each provides 10 volts and 10 amps, you will end up with a total of 40 volts and 10 amps.
Can a 12 Volt Solar Panel Charge a 24 Volt Battery?
You cannot use a 12-volt solar panel array with a 24-volt battery bank. However, you can use a 60-volt or a 100-volt solar panel array with a 24-volt system (as long as your solar charge controller can handle it).
In a 24 volt system, the real volts in the battery system can actually be 32 volts (most batteries actually have a voltage that’s slightly higher than what you see on its label). So, that means that your solar panel array should be at least 40 volts or more. But, this is usually not a problem because you can take solar panels and connect them in series to increase the voltage.