Solar Panel Connectors: The Ultimate Guide

Posted on May 16, 2022 David Atkinson Electrical Connectors

Solar panel connectors are used extensively in modern solar panel systems to securely and rapidly establish connections between cables. Several manufacturers in the present use the ubiquitous MC4 connector, which accounts for the majority of solar panel connectors available in the market. However, the renewable energy industry uses several connectors or standard non-connector junction boxes as the primary constituents of solar modules. Using the right kind of solar connectors is extremely important since they are directly responsible for the wiring and installation of photovoltaic modules with other components. Thus, this blog shall deconstruct the working and types of most solar panel connectors used today.

Types of Solar Panel Connectors

Several large-scale solar installations need end-to-end electrical connections for their smooth operation. This is where the role of solar connectors becomes prominent, as their male and female ports are snapped together to complete a circuit. With several design modifications added over the years, solar connectors now come equipped with the capability for more secure connections and wiring throughout the array. However, several factors are still considered while choosing a solar connector for a particular project, such as type, maximum voltage, and shape (T-joint, X-joint, and U-joint). Narrowing down the types of solar panel connectors, some prominent examples used today are:
  • MC4 Connectors
The term MC4 stands for "Multi-Contact, 4 millimeters," and as previously discussed, it is the staple of the modern solar energy industry. The main manufacturer of this connector is Multi-Contact Corporation, and the prototype consisted of a round plastic casing with a paired male/female interlocking configuration and a single conductor. The type of wire needed and the contextual application determine the connector's maximum voltage and current tolerance. Since MC4 connectors permit a large margin of safety for operation, they find frequent application in small solar panels operating under 20 watts, using spring/screw terminals.
  • MC3 Connectors
Before the advent of MC4 connectors, MC3 (Multi-Contact, 3 millimeters) connectors were the stars of the solar industry. Like their MC4 counterparts, MC3 connectors also use male and female interlocking mechanisms to secure the wiring. However, since the National Electric Code mandated the positive locking mechanism, the MC3 got pushed into obsoletion, and the MC4 took over. This does not mean that MC3 connectors are not used today, as smaller setups and solar panels still use them as a reference to mark the ends of a cable because of their 600V and 20A voltage and current thresholds.
  • Amphenol Helios Connectors
The American Phenolic Corp, now known as Amphenol Corporation, is credited with manufacturing Amphenol Helios connectors. The Helios 4 connector was developed in line with the MC4 connector, with design features that incorporate the interlocking bayonet-style connections just like the MC4. Additionally, the H4 boasts UV and ozone resistance, crimp terminations, and compatibility with other solar connectors, making it perfect for solar installations.
  • Radox Connectors
Radox connectors are UV and ozone-resistant connectors with small profiles but high current carrying capacities. Radox was initially a collection of solar products manufactured by Huber & Suhner. However, the brand name came to be recognized for its connectors since they were its most popular products, and since then the trend has continued. Today, the company offers customizable connectors for indoor and outdoor usage, with a specialized product line appropriate for harsh environmental conditions, such as windy locations and coastal areas. 

To Conclude

There is a massive risk involved in choosing off-brand or poor-quality solar connectors since they represent the most vulnerable junctions of end-to-end solar arrays. Any improper fitting or non-compatible wire-connector usage can lead to the breakout of fires or the melting of components by electric arc formation. This is why only trusted suppliers such as ASAP Parts 360 should be consulted to deliver quality-tested connectors. Our user-friendly database features over 2 billion parts catering to the electrical, IT, and aviation sectors, sourced from more than 29,000 manufacturers. Moreover, one of our dedicated account managers will respond to every quote generated from our Instant RFQ service within 15 minutes or less. Get started with your purchasing journey with us and experience the industry's best part procurement option with 24/7x365 customer assistance.

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