What Is Photovoltaic (PV) Wire?
Photovoltaic (PV), or solar, systems need wiring that can withstand the elements and exposure to the usual hazards and wear factors in electrical systems. Consider the following factors when selecting the right wiring for your PV system:
- Conductor Size. The conductors in PV systems tend to range from 18 AWG through 2000 kcmil. The wiring for each component needs to be able to handle the conductor’s upper limits.
- Conductor Material. Typical wiring for all electrical systems are made from either copper or aluminum, which can conduct electricity with relatively little resistance or energy loss. PV systems can benefit from using copper-coated or copper-clad aluminum wiring.
- Insulation. Insulation is crucial for protecting the wiring from moisture, heat, UV, or chemicals. In PV applications, it is important to choose an insulation material that can resist sunlight and handle high voltage levels, such as XLPE or EPR.
- Voltage. Three standard levels in PV systems are 600 V, 1 kV, and 2kV. Choose the right wiring based on the specific needs of your equipment.
- Sunlight Resistance. Because PV systems need to be in direct sunlight for full utilization, the materials are exposed to an extraordinary amount of sunlight and UV radiation. The wiring must be coated in a sunlight-resistant material to avoid breakage, brittleness, and degradation.
- Temperature Rating. UL 4703 establishes the temperature ratings for PV wiring at 194°F for wet wiring and 221°F, 257°F, or 302°F for dry wiring.
- Optional Direct Burial Rating. This type of wiring can be directly buried without the need for shielding, according to the NEC.
- Optional Multi-Ratings. The two optional multi-ratings under the UL standards are USE-2 and RHW-2.
- Construction. PV wiring is a single-conductor type of wiring. It is also non-armored.
PV Wire Advantages
- Reliable performance at high temperatures. PV wires can perform in direct sunlight on rooftop or field systems without shade or protection.
- Resistance to the elements and environmental wear. PV wires are insulated and durable enough to withstand wind, rain, and UV-related wear over time.
- XLPE insulation. XLPE insulation offers good dielectric strength and insulation qualities, as well as better resistance to temperature damage.
- Ratings of over 600V. We provide PV wire in multiple voltage standards to best fit different systems.
- Direct burying capabilities without shielding demands. Our wiring is built for direct burying potential without the need for shielding.
How to Check the Quality of the Solar Cable
Solar cable and wiring must meet many requirements to qualify for use in PV systems. When checking the quality of PV wiring, it is important to note it’s ability to withstand environmental, mechanical, chemical, and electrical damage.
Resistance to Environmental Damage
Since solar cables and wires are used primarily outdoors, it is crucial that they withstand a wide temperature range and resist weather, ozone, and UV radiation. PV wires may also benefit from additional reinforcements, such as metal mesh, to protect against rodents and other pests.
Resistance to Mechanical Damage
PV wiring and cables will be subject to wear and tear, so it’s important that they withstand mechanical and abrasion damage from movement, debris, and maintenance. They must also be able to withstand mechanical stress such as bending, compression, tension, and shear loads.
Resistance to Chemical Damage
Depending on the application, PV wires are often exposed to a wide variety of chemicals, such as acid rain, ammonia, oxalic acid, digester gases, caustic soda, and more. To avoid damage and corrosion, PV wiring should be resistant to chemicals and be acid or base proof.
Resistance to Electrical Damage
The wiring must be able to withstand fluctuation and electricity-related hazards. Good properties of wiring include temperature resistance, high dielectric strength, flame-retardance, and a short-circuit proof design.
At Nine Fasteners, our wiring is also built to have a small outside diameter that doesn’t interfere with configurations or maintenance.
Solar Wire Management From Nine Fasteners
Nine Fasteners is an industry leader in solar panel systems, hardware, and auxiliary components. Learn more about our commitment to quality or contact us to find the right wires and parts for your PV system.