Beyond code: Safety advice for installing solar PV DC connectors and cables



As multiple data collection shows, DC cabling is 1% of the total project cost, but it is also the number one source of technical failures in PV projects and greatly affects the LCOE and safety of your project. Stäubli would like to share our 20 years of experience in DC cabling and connectors with PV industry to increase the safety and reliability of your project.

DC cabling checklist:

Protect connectors in the field when not mated (Sealing/dust caps), Soiled or wet connector will have accelerated degradation on the contact parts.

Do not cut strands when stripping the cable. Each strand carries a % of total current carry capacity of the cable, with each lost strand will mean loss of performance of the PV Cable. This is especially important for modern PV installation which uses higher strand count cable to compensate the movement of the trackers.

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Select the connector’s reference according to the cable size (cross-section and OD): After choosing the cable size in AWG and the outer diameter is just as important. Proper sizing of the OD ensures weather tight seal.

Use correct and approved crimping tools: Not all crimping tools are made equal. For field assembly of MC4 connectors, UL certification requires the installation to be performed by qualified electricians and factory provided tooling.

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Cable management has to be carefully prepared:

  • Avoid using color cables for outdoor: Color cable has higher photo-degradation rate, because carbon black pigments in Black cable can act like sun-screen by absorbing UV rays and turn the energy into heat.
  • Cables are supported all along, not lying on the ground, and ventilated.
  • Protect cables and connectors from direct irradiation
  • Cables not lay in water or on sharp edges
  • Respect bending radius.

Jeff Wang, Stäubli Business Development North America

— Solar Builder magazine


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