Connecting and Disconnecting a Solar Panel, Charge Controller and Battery
You've got your solar panel and charge controller. Now you bought a battery or two. Yes, in fact, it does matter the order in which you connect the 3 most important components of an off grid solar power set up.
It’s not complicated, but it is important to do it correctly. If you bought a DIY Kit, be sure to follow the instructions closely. If you are winging it, here is a simplistic explanation:
Connect the charge controller negative and positive terminals to your battery(s) negative and positive terminals.
Connect the negative and positive wires of the solar panel to the charge controller negative and positive input terminals.
Disconnect in reverse order, too. Easy, right?
Because if you are not paying attention and accidentally take these steps in the wrong order - if the PV array remains connected to the charge controller without a battery and the sun is shining bright - you run a risk of confusing, or possibly damaging, your expensive charge controller electronics. Always follow the connectivity instructions of whatever solar charge controller you purchased, as specifications vary. Otherwise, you may take the sun out of the sunshine!
When setting up your own little off grid system, it would be wise to install an on/off switch between the PV array and charge controller, as well as a DC fuse between the charge controller and battery. These steps afford you an extra level of protection against accidentally damaging your solar charge controller.
To estimate how much power your solar panels are likely to generate, visit our RV Solar Power RoundUp calculator and scroll to the bottom for some basic math calculations.
Visit our collection of DIY solar power kits to explore some options or easy setups by Samlex, Xantrex, and Tycon Power Systems.