The market for PV connectors is becoming increasingly crowded. There are well over 30 different manufacturers of PV connectors on the market today. This article will outline the different connectors used by solar manufacturers, provide details on which connectors are compatible, and discuss the requirements to maintain PV module and inverter listings when mating pairs of connectors. Free Clean Solar carries solar connectors from the following manufacturers:
Tyco | Multi-Contact | Amphenol | Bizlink | SMK
Many of these connectors state that they are compatible with Multi-Contact. This may be the case physically, but mating two different connector brands was not covered under the conditions of acceptability for recognition of the Multi-Contact MC4 connector.
To our knowledge, at the present time, no connector has been listed or recognized by any listing agency for interconnection to any other manufacturer's connectors. Some manufacturers have used independent third party tests and field verification to demonstrate compat- ibility with Multi-Contact. For example, Amphenol produced three separate TUV test reports confirming intermatability with Multi-Contact connectors, and point out that 10 million connectors in Europe, field mated with MC4 product, have to date had no incident of failure. Note, however, that module and inverter listings are not a requirement for PV system installation in Europe.
In addition, six major projects in Canada with Amphenol-Multi-Contact connections were completed and inspected with no inspector rejections. In-field use and inspector approval of cross-mated product does provide a level of verification of compatible performance. How- ever, we are all aware that field approval is dependent upon local inspectors, and the ultimate compatibility question will only be answered in the long run as to how well the lab tests represent long-term performance of the connectors in widely varying climatic conditions.
In addition, several of these connectors, even though claimed to be compatible with Multi-Contact, have had issues with compatibility with each other. For example, field experience has shown that both Amphenol and SMK have had mating issues with Bizlink connectors. Furthermore, Tyco, another commonly used connector, is not designed to mate with MC connectors.
How to use solar panel adapter kits
To alleviate this situation and to allow customers the option to continue to make recognized connections, several adapter cable sets are available. The solar product listings below include the part number, the connectors they utilize and a typical application.
Customers may choose to mate connector pairs from different manufacturers based on price, availability or for convenience. How-ever, it is important to understand that at the present time, mating connector pairs from the same manufacturer can provide assurance that connector recognition and module and inverter listings are fully maintained. Make an informed decision about what connectors to use.
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