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If you remember from our last solar video and blog post, we lost one of our 15 flexible solar panels. A tree branch damaged the mounting tape and we didn’t notice until wind from interstate speeds permanently removed it. I patched up the roof and tied down the loose wires so we could continue on our way.
Now I’m going to go through our RV solar repair so we can resume using the two panels in the front array that were wired to the panel we lost. I explain how our RV solar system is wired in series/parallel, why losing one solar panel actually takes down three, and how you could quickly repair a solar array depending on how the wiring was done in the first place.
Watch the following video to see how I made this repair and then continue reading for more info.
How Our RV Solar Panels Are Wired
Just over a year ago we installed 15 flexible solar panels for a total of 2625 Watts wired to 3 solar controllers. Panels 1, 2, and 3 are wired in series. Same with panels 4, 5, and 6. These two set of three are then wired in parallel and feed the solar controller for the “Kitchen Side.” The panels for the “Entry Side” solar controller are wired the same way. Panels 7, 8, and 9 are in series and so are 10, 11, and 12. These two sets of three are wired in parallel. The “Front” solar controller just has the front three panels connected to it, which are also in series.
The Effect Of Losing A Solar Panel On The System
Solar panels wired in series form a circuit with your solar controller. Losing one disconnects that entire circuit. The same applies with 3 batteries in a battery holder for a flashlight, a remote control, you name it. If one is missing, nothing works.
The same logic holds if you had all of your solar panels wired in series together. If one was damaged or disconnected, none of them would work! A combination of series and parallel wiring always comes with pros and cons. More panels in series raises the overall voltage so you can use smaller wires. However, if a tree shades one of those panels it drags down all of the other panels that are wired to it in series. Series/parallel configuration is also be affected by what solar controller you use as they always have maximum voltage and wattage ratings.
RV Solar Repair
Fortunately, reconnecting those 2 solar panels to their controller was pretty straight forward. Because it was just three panels in series, all it took was one length of wire with new connectors on it. But what if we had lost a panel in one of those series/parallel areas?
If you have 3 panels in series, the only way to connect solar panels in parallel is to connect another 3 panels in series. Otherwise you end up with two sections wired together at different voltages. At best it will be less than optimal for your solar controller. However, you can damage your solar panels this way. So 3 with 3 is great. You can also rewire to make it 2 and 2, or whatever configuration keeps things even on your system.
If I had lost a panel further back in of my series/parallel configured sections, I would rewire one of the front panels to make it a complete set of 3 again. If a rear panel was lost, you could rewire a middle panel to the rear section and a front panel to the middle. Of course the best thing to do would be to replace the missing panel. However, this works as a quick fix until a replacement is found.
The Parts List
MC4 Crimper Tool Kit (with spare connectors!): https://amzn.to/398hjcc
Red 10AWG PV Wire: https://amzn.to/3nBEq7q
Black 10AWG PV Wire: https://amzn.to/3kabgKt
Thankfully, the repair was pretty easy. The plan is still to replace that missing solar panel but it may still be a couple of months. In the meantime, this repair will allow us to resume using the two panels in the front array!
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If you’d like to read about our RV and other RV adventures, then check out some of our other posts :
- How To Lose One Of Your 15 Solar Panels
- RV Solar System Installation Series // 7.2kWh Batteries & 6kW Inverter Upgrade
- RV Solar System Installation Series // 2625W of Solar
- RV Solar System Lessons Learned
- Soft Starters For Your RV Air Conditioner, Why?
- RV Tank Sensors Not Working? We Use An RV Water Flow Meter Instead!
- Portable RV Waste Tank, Freshwater Tank and Pumps
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