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What is Voltage Drop? Line Loss Fundamentals Explained

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Voltage drop is the natural loss of power that occurs when an electrical current moves through a circuit. It is important to understand this concept as it will allow you to get the most out of your PV array. Before you start any Solar based project, be mindful of this phenomenon and plan accordingly. Today we will go over what Voltage Drop is, strategies in reducing line loss and the impact it can have on your system.

Why Does Line Loss Occur?

When power travels through a conduit, it will lose a small amount of energy during transit. This is due to an increased resistance within the circuit. There are a few factors that have an impact on line loss including system voltage, distance of power traveled and wire gauge. When designing a solar system, you will want to keep these contributing factors in mind to help you build the most efficient configuration.

How to Minimize Voltage Drop:

There are a few effective ways to minimize line loss and ensure you achieve the most efficient power production possible. Let’s take a look at each strategy and how you can incorporate this practice when designing your Off-grid system.

1. Limit the Length of Cable in Circuit

One of the simplest solutions is to plan ahead. Determine component location in the early stages of your build to ensure you are using the absolute shortest amount of wiring possible. Try to locate your panels in a central area that receives the best southern exposure, while maintaining close proximity to your Solar Charge Controller and Inverter/Battery System.

2. Increase Wire Gauge

If you must travel an undesirable distance, increasing the size of the cable can be an effective strategy. The thicker the gauge, the less resistance; meaning a more efficient transfer of power. Each Solar Panel/Generator system will have an optimal cable distance, so feel free to check with the manufacturer regarding the recommended cable length and gauge. Be mindful of your budget when planning to increase cable gauge, as thicker cables can be rather costly and may even affect compatibility.

3. Optimize System Voltage

Often times increasing the voltage of your panels is a great solution in combating voltage drop. Higher voltage reduces the fraction of energy lost to resistance. This process can be as simple as changing a parallel PV connection to a series PV connection. Always be sure to check with the manufacturer of your solar kit before making any changes to configuration.

We hope today’s blog post was informative, as it is our goal to make your solar projects more effective. If you are still unclear about the best location for your solar panels, please comment below for more assistance. As always, we are just a phone call away (877-548-3387) and are happy to offer our expertise on all of your Solar Power needs!
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