Configuring PV Array

A solar array is the electrical combination of several solar modules. The power output of this array will be the sum of the power outputs of the combined solar modules.

The method by which the solar modules are configured will determine the electrical output characteristics (namely, current and voltage) of the solar array. Solar modules can be connected in series (Figure a), parallel (Figure b), or a combination of the two.

Simply put, (i) connecting modules in series means that the voltages of the modules are summed, but the current output stays the same, and (ii) connecting solar modules in parallel means that the currents of the modules are summed, but the voltage output stays the same.

PV Array Configuration, Solar System Design
a) solar modules connected in series; b) solar modules connected in parallel

The implications are that two arrays can have the same power output but operate at different current and voltage outputs according to their configuration. Simply matching an array’s rated power output to the power requirements of the pump or motor is not enough. When designing a solar PV array, you must ensure that the array’s voltage and current outputs match the pump’s requirements.

P.S.: Designing a PV array to power a pump or motor involves more than matching the array’s rated power output to the power requirements of the solar pump. Voltage and current outputs must be matched.

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