Once you have decided that you want solar panels for your home, you would need several additional details. As they are not too new and yet not conventional at the same time, you might not be familiar with the details.
Hence, it is important to understand everything before you proceed with the installation of the solar panels. One important aspect to ensure that your panels function optimally is that you understand and know how to use a fuse. This is in terms of its position, size, etc.
What Size Fuse For 300 W Solar Panel?
The size of the fuse for solar panels would depend on the specifications. If the fuse is too small, it would trip when not necessary. That said, a 300 W solar panel should work fine with a 30 amps fuse.
Why Do You Need A Fuse For Your Solar Panel?
With their advancing technologies and capabilities to power an entire house, you might wonder if you need to fuse your solar panel at all. After all, your solar panels are different from traditional sources of electricity.
However, being different does not mean that they do not need a fuse. They still carry electric current. Hence, if you do not use a fuse for your solar panel, you could risk damaging your appliances. Also, your device could catch fire. Parts of your device where the panels merge are vulnerable and prone to becoming too hot.
In addition to this, your device may also be faulty. To prevent any such misfortunes, you need to fuse them. A fuse functions by sacrificing itself. It is made up of an alloy of tin and lead. These materials give it some unique properties.
It has a high resistance and a low melting point. So, when excess current passes through the current, it melts and hence breaks the circuit. This means that the current can no longer pass through the circuit. In this way, it prevents current from flowing when it is dangerous.
Now, you might wonder how the fuse melts first. It melts before any other piece of electronics because it has the unique properties its composite elements conferred on it. By unique properties, you should understand that the resistance and melting point is important.
Thus, when too much current flows through the circuit, that is, more current than the devices can tackle, the fuse heats up. As soon as it heats up to a certain temperature, which is significantly lower than the temperature needed for other parts of the circuit to melt, the fuse breaks down.
Another aspect that helps in achieving this is the high resistance of the fuse. The heat produced in a material when current flows through it depends, of course, on the current. But what may not be so obvious to ordinary people is that it also depends on the amount of resistance.
Is A Fuse Absolutely Necessary For All Types Of Solar Panels?
Now that you have understood the working of a fuse and why it is important, you would know that different appliances need fuses that are different in their rating. For example, some devices function perfectly well at high currents.
On the other hand, other devices may not be able to handle such high values of current. Certainly, both the devices cannot function with the same fuse. The same goes for your solar panel.
If you use a fuse that is too sensitive for your device, it may trip unnecessarily, thus preventing the smooth functioning of your device. At the same time, if you use a fuse that is not sensitive enough, it goes without saying that you will end up damaging your device.
That said, when you choose the fuse for your solar panel, it depends on the amount of current your panel can handle. This depends on the rating of your panels and also on the number of gauge wires. Typically, a commercial panel is able to handle 30 amperes of current.
However, that is not the end of the story. The fuse, in fact, the very question of whether or not you need one, would also depend on the type of connection. For example, if you connect the panels in a series type of connection, you would notice that the amount of electricity that flows through it does not increase.
In a series connection, however, the number of volts gets added. On the contrary, if you connect the panels in a parallel type of connection, you would see that the value of the electricity, in amperes, increases. So, while a series connection would not necessarily need a fuse, you would have to use a fuse in a parallel connection.
What Size Fuse Should You Use For Your Solar Panel?
In a parallel connection, each individual part is capable of drawing excess current. You can understand this better with the help of an example. So, suppose that you have 5 panels, each is capable of 10 amperes, for the sake of simple calculations.
Now, in this example, any of the panels, when connected in parallel, can take in 50 amperes of current. This value is much higher than the current it can tackle. So, without a fuse, your solar panels would heat up. And, as you can imagine, extra heat can lead to a fire hazard.
So what do you do in this kind of situation? Well, all you can do is ensure the safety of each panel. To do this, you would need a 30 amps fuse for each panel. So, when you design or place a fuse for a parallel system, you need to remember that it is box fusing.
A parallel connection system consists of a combiner box. It houses all the fuse of the system. Hence, it has connections to all the solar panels. It also has fuses that are combined for certain applications. Therefore, when calculating, you must consider the worst possible situation.
So, you have to include a factor of safety. This will take care of considering any additional currents in an out-of-the-ordinary situation. The usual practice is to take 0.25 as the factor of safety and add it to the value of current (short-circuit).
Now you know exactly why you need to use a fuse. That said, you also know when you can skip using it. However, you should ensure that you use the right-sized fuse. This would ensure the safety of your gadgets.
Eng. Matthew Joseph Nandirio is the Founder of walkingsolar.
After graduating from the University of Houston in 2002, matt started working as an electrical and electronic engineer for several multi-national solar energy companies.
He has a wide range of experiences including solar system requirement analysis, planning, maintaining, debugging and even solar device development through research.
He now shares his 20 years of expertise through his articles on the walkingsolar website.
Further, he is also the author of two books on Solar Technology, “Solar Power for Villages” and “DIY Solar System for Dummies”.