Connecting Multiple Solar Panels

There are 3 ways to connect solar panels; parallel, series, and a combination of parallel and series. The first way I am going to talk about is parallel because this is probably the most common way that panels will be connected. For this example I am showing you connecting panels that are for a 12 volt system.  This is how the panels that I have built in my other instructables are connected, and feed my solar charge controller.

In this first image there are 3 solar panels.  If you look at the arrows along the white and red lines they are showing the direction of flow. The white line is the negative connection, all 3 panel negative wires are just simply tied together and to the wire that runs back to the negative connection on the charge controller.

The red line is the positive connection to the panels.  You will see a symbol that looks like a triangle pointing down at a horizontal line.  That symbol is for a diode, also known as a blocking diode.  What this diode is doing is only allowing the positive electrons to flow in only one direction. When looking at this symbol the triangle points in the direction of flow, when looking at the diode in your hand there should be a colored line around one end of it.  This line represents the line in the symbol that the triangle is pointing to.  The non-colored end would be the “in” side, and the end with the colored line around it would be the “out” side. By installing these diodes on each panel it stops the electrons from going back into other panels. Diodes also use up a small amount of voltage, so don't go crazy and put to many in or you will to low to use.

If you look below the panel to the left you can follow the red arrows from the panel down and make a right turn to the diode. Then they continue through the diode and down the line to the end where they would be connected to a solar charge controller.
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up
davisbr91 month ago
(removed by author or community request)
kalefranklin (author)  davisbr9yesterday

yes, that is correct. if you have taken any electrical training this is something that you should be learning in at the beginning of your training, or online. that website gives you a good start into series and parallel circuits.

timeman29 months ago
Thanks for the info. Would you spec a certain size diode for a 12v system? I'm sure that would depend on the total amps, correct?

The diode will drop about .6 volts. Multiply this times the maximum current from the panel to get the wattage dissipated by the diode. So if you have 10 amps from the panel, it would be 6 watts for the diode. Then the diode should be rated for the maximum panel output voltage.

Petebob11 months ago
Thank you for writing up a very clear and concise summary of connecting together solar panels.

I'm sure many will find this helpful.