Overview: Electricity is generated at the power plants and transported all the way to the substations and distribution centers, which finally supply them to the end consumer. Right from the moment the electricity is generated, to the point where it is being consumed, it is transported by cables and wires. Now, cables have a very big and important responsibility to carry out and that too safely! It is rightly understood that various applications demand cables with specific qualities and capabilities. In other terms, cables must be chosen properly for them to function safely and appropriately in coordination with the application, for e.g., Cables used in household and residential applications are flexible cables which may have a special jacketing material which has a low smoke and zero halogen coating. Similar to household applications other applications demand cables with flexibility, fire retardant, strength, durability, weather resistant properties and much more. While installation and setting up any application which involves a lot of electrical utility, cables are meticulously selected and properly installed. Care is taken at the point of jointing as well as the process where the cables are laid if not, then the entire integrity of the cabling structure is at stake.
Similar to household and industrial applications, solar installations also need specific cables which can carry out its duty even in the most hostile situations. Before understanding the solar cables themselves some knowledge regarding solar installations is a must.
Solar installations: As any other power plant, solar power is generated at a particular place and needs to be transported to the end user to consume. The place where this solar energy is trapped and converted to useful electricity is called as a Solar Farm or a Photo voltaic power station. Energy generation at these power stations is a bit different from the energy generated at the panels which are mounted on rooftops or small areas around residential buildings. Solar energy, which is generated on these solar harvesting farms can be fed into the grid as is fed by any other fossil fuelled power station. Solar farms use solar panels to capture solar energy. These solar panels have Photo voltaic cells which are mainly made of silicon based materials. These cells convert the incident solar rays on them into electric power. Solar farms can be typically spread on a big patch of land and have a multiple solar panel array. To generate electricity, it needs multiple solar panel arrays, thus the arrangements. If we look at some general statistics the state of California is the top solar energy harvesting state, whose energy powers around 1 million homes in the USA where as Karnataka and Telangana prove to be the top energy generators in India.
Solar panels: Apart from the solar panels, the solar setup has other components too! Major component of any solar harvesting setup is the Solar panel array. These arrays capture the solar rays and convert them into electricity. The farm installation can have either a fixed array or axis tracking array. Fixed arrays are those types of arrays whose inclination can be fixed at a certain angle which provides maximum exposure to sun rays and which can be effectively adjusted seasonally. Another type of is the dual axis tracking array which track the sun as it moves throughout the day. Cables which connect all the components, Inverters, step up transformers and other power lines are some of the other components present in the solar harvesting stations.
Location of solar farms and cable selection: Solar farms with large scale installation as well as solar panel clusters installed over buildings and other establishments are situated at such a location where there is no hindrance in between the panel receptive surface and the sun rays. These farms can be located in open fields, desert areas or any other open and unobstructed area. The cables used in the PV installation applications must have certain qualities to be able to survive and sustain in all conditions. The main focus of solar installations is absorbing as much solar energy as practically possible so the cables present in the vicinity of the solar panels will be exposed to solar rays throughout the day. Naturally, when the cables get bombarded with sun rays they are also exposed to UV radiation too. Some solar panels have a rotating axis, which is most helpful when the solar panels track the sunlight though out the day that means the cables used in such installations need to have a sufficient amount of flexibility. If the cables are rigid and do not bend as according to the turning panel then there are high chances of the cable breaking apart. Another factor which is very important while choosing the cables is the heat and temperature these wires can withstand. Solar cables need to be extremely durable, which means these cables should be able to withstand high temperatures without melting or getting damaged. Apart from the temperature resistance, cables need to be resistant towards all the other weather conditions too. Generally, such cables will be laid underground or have some similar layout for making the connection from solar panels. So the cables laid underground or on the surface need to be dust and dirt resistant plus the cables will undergo a certain amount of abrasion while laying and over the period of its working period.
Thus, looking at all the aspects the cable used in solar applications needs to be robust and extremely versatile. These cables are required to behold their own in tough and hostile situations. Setting up a solar harvesting farm is a costly affair as one has to arrange the required land, installation of the solar panels, inverters and connection to the grids. Failure of a cable due to any factor will cause a lot of damage to the entire systems, the power supply will be affected and it will be a costly affair to mend. Thus, selection of proper cables at the initial stage is as important as selecting the place for the installation of the solar farm itself.
Solar cables and its details: As compared to any other cable used in a system, Solar cables too are the main components carrying the electricity from the generation source to the utility destination. As most of the electric power generated by the Photo Voltaic system is generated at solar farms or at PV panel installations and it is utilized somewhere else, solar wires help with the transmission of this power. Unlike house wires, these solar cables require special tools for making connections which also need to be resistant to heat and efficiently work in rugged environment as already mentioned above. Photo voltaic cables are also being made in different colors to help identify the source, inverter and the output due to which marking and tagging of the cables is partially eliminated. Even though solar cables are usually open to environment and electrical fire, if caused, will not cause as much damage as in residential or industrial setups, but if these cables have fire retarding capabilities, it is most welcome. Fire retarding properties will help in extinguishing the fire before it can cause damage to any equipment and machinery in the solar setup. Halogen if absent from the cables will be most beneficial for PV devices near residential setups. Now buy solar cables online at a click of a button.
Solar cables can be further classified into 2 categories, for e.g. DC main cables and AC connection cables. Module DC cables are generally integrated in the PV panels. Such cables have specific connectors which hugely help in jointing and interconnections. As these Solar cables are used in outdoor environments, positive and negative cables may not be placed in the same cable to avoid the chance of a short circuit thus increasing its safety factor. The power output of a particular Solar harvesting installation has a huge impact on selection of cable cross section, for e.g. 2.5 sq mm, 4 sq mm or 6 sq mm and so on. AC connection cables typically connect the solar power inverter to the main grid passing through some protective equipment. Three phases inverter having connections to a low voltage [LV] grid may employ a multi core construction like for e.g. three wires to carry three current carrying phases, one neutral wire and ground where as single phase inverters require only three core cable having one live wire, one neutral wire and ground.
Selection of cable size is important when it comes to solar cables as it ensures no loss of energy and no overheating of the cables. Typical solar cables are chosen with respect to the generating capacity of the Solar Panel and distance between the panel and the corresponding load. Lastly, solar cables must be all weather and UV resistant, high temperature resistant, able to bear stress, acid proof, flame retarding and short circuit proof and have less diameter for space saving purposes.
The Whole point of power generation from renewable sources like sunlight or wind is maximizing the use of such resources and reduces dependency on fossil fuel generation sources. A solar cable should be designed in such a way that electrical losses are avoided and are cut to the minimum. Cables used for solar transmission have the higher voltage range to offer, up to 2000 volts in comparison to 600 volts used in conventional applications. As the technology is develops special efforts are being put on reducing the losses and increasing the life of cables which run between transformers and distribution stations. As discussed earlier, these cables need to have a larger working temperature range for e.g. a single core cable with 1.8 KV maximum DC voltage should work anywhere between -40°C to +90°C. Shielding of the cable is received by the means of metal meshing which improves protection from over voltage too. Shop for solar cables online.
Solar cables can be installed in a loop, cable raceways or installed along the mounting railings. However, in such situations the cable needs to be installed safely for e.g the cables must not hang in such a manner which might entangle or give rise to fire hazard. Wiring loop should preferably be 5 times the diameter of the cable. Cables which are installed in cable runways or the railings are secured by means of metallic clips or brackets. Care should be taken in such installations as the temperature of the railings or the runways might cause unwanted heating effects on the cable. Sharp bends or installing the cables near railings which have a sharp edge may lead to cuts in the cable leading to cable damage and ultimately failure of the system all together. Hence the installation of these cables is also an important aspect as compared to the cable design and specifications itself.
This from all the information mentioned above, one can understand that harvests energy from renewable resources is quite easily possible, but one needs to have knowledge of the subject to make it more efficient. Demand for solar energy harvesting is on the rise and so are the standards being developed for the safety of such installations. Different law enforcement and safety authorities in different countries apply different standards for the cables used in such solar installations. Even if the size of the solar farm is small or is done on a large commercial scale it requires a safe, tough and resilient cabling. Manufacturers who are commercially made such cables can always improve the quality and utility of cables by making a sizeable investment in R n D initiatives, due to which these cables can achieve all the modern standards.
Summarizing the content, solar cables can be considered to be one of the toughest and rugged cables available in the market. These particular cables carry out power transmission duty in versatile situations and also posses the strength to sustain them. Proper cabling and correct cabling in solar installations can help energy harvesting and consumption a smooth and efficient process.