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Old 29-04-2015, 21:53   #1
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MC4 connector - suitable for solar panel?

I want to be able to easily remove & stow our solar panels below deck in the event of a severe weather forecast. So I need a simple way of connecting & disconnecting the wires at, or close to, the panel - i.e. before the wires head into the pushpit (stern pulpit).

Obviously the connection needs to be waterproof when connected, but also needs to be waterproof when disconnected. I'm a complete ignoramus when it comes to all things "electrickery"

Are MC4 connectors a suitable solution to the problem? If so, is there a recommended wire size for an MC4 connector? Do I need to buy a dedicated crimping tool?

If MC4 connectors are not suitable, what would be best?
Thanks in advance for your help.
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Old 29-04-2015, 22:37   #2
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Re: MC4 connector - suitable for solar panel?

MC4 is a standard connector for solar panels.
Ten gauge wire is also standard.
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Old 30-04-2015, 05:42   #3
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Re: MC4 connector - suitable for solar panel?

Quote:
Originally Posted by senormechanico View Post
MC4 is a standard connector for solar panels.
Ten gauge wire is also standard.
The 140 watt panels I bought from DM Solar came with 12g wire leads that ended in MC4 connectors. It isn't easy to find prefabbed cables with anything other than 12g MC4 connectors. If you have MC4 connectors already on the panels, you can buy a long length of cable with connectors on either end then cut it in the middle. The cut ends will fit in the charge controller connections.

Additionally I recall that my inexpensive charge controller would only take 12g wire at the terminal connections.

MC4 connectors are designed for your stated purpose. You can easily find a company that will make up custom cables for you, but if your panels don't have the connectors already you will have to buy a tool to attach them yourself. The connectors are really tough, but I suppose it is possible for them to fail so you should have a backup plan to repair them.

It might be easier just to get heat shrink crimp sleeves that will accept both 10g and 12g wire which are ubiquitous and easy to apply, and cut them when you need to stow the panels, which won't be often.

There are charts available to determine how much voltage drop you will suffer based on the two way length of the run and wire diameter. 12g worked fine for me.
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