How Series Vs Parallel Wired Solar Panels Affects Amps & Volts

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The amps and volts of a solar panel array can be affected by how the individual solar panels are wired together. This blog post is going to teach you how the wiring of a solar panel array affects it’s voltage and amperage. The key takeaway to know is that ‘Solar Panels in Series Adds their volts together’ and ‘Solar Panels wired in Parallel adds their amps together.’

Tutorial Video:

Solar Array Volts & Amps Wiring Diagrams:

This diagram shows two, 5 amp, 20 volt panels wired in series. Since series wired solar panels get their voltages added while their amps stay the same, we add 20V + 20V to show the total array voltage and leave the amps alone at 5A. There is 5 Amps at 40 Volts coming into the solar charge controller.

This diagram shows three, 4 amp, 24-volt panels wired in series. Since series wired solar panels get their voltages added while their amps stay the same, we add 24V + 24V + 24V to show the total array voltage of 72 Volts while the Amps remain at 4 Amps. This means there are 4 Amps at 72 Volts coming into the solar charge controller.

This diagram shows Four, 6 amp, 18-volt panels wired in series. Since series wired solar panels get their voltages added while their amps stay the same, we add 18V + 18V + 18V + 18V to show the total array voltage of 72 Volts while the Amps remain at 6 Amps. This means there are 6 Amps at 72 Volts coming into the solar charge controller.

This diagram shows five, 5 amp, 20-volt panels wired in series. Since series wired solar panels get their voltages added while their amps stay the same, we add 20V + 20V + 20V + 20V + 20V to show the total array voltage of 100 Volts while the Amps remain at 5 Amps. This means there are 5 Amps at 100 Volts coming into the solar charge controller.

This diagram shows six, 8 amp, 23-volt panels wired in series. Since series wired solar panels get their voltages added while their amps stay the same, we add 23V + 23V + 23V + 23V + 23V + 23V to show the total array voltage of 138 Volts while the Amps remain at 8 Amps. This means there are 8 Amps at 138 Volts coming into the solar charge controller.

This diagram shows two, 8 amp, 23-volt panels wired in parallel. Since parallel wired solar panels get their amps added while their volts stay the same, we add 8A + 8A to show the total array amps of 16 Amps while the Volts remain at 23 Volts. This means there are 16 Amps at 23 Volts coming into the solar charge controller.

This diagram shows three, 6 amp, 18-volt panels wired in parallel. Since parallel wired solar panels get their amps added while their volts stay the same, we add 6A + 6A + 6A to show the total array amps of 18 Amps while the Volts remain at 18 Volts. This means there are 18 Amps at 18 Volts coming into the solar charge controller.

The above diagram shows four, 5 amp, 20-volt panels wired in parallel. Since parallel wired solar panels get their amps added while their volts stay the same, we add 5A + 5A + 5A + 5A to show the total array amps of 20 Amps while the Volts remain at 20 Volts. This means there are 20 Amps at 20 Volts coming into the solar charge controller.

The above diagram shows five, 9 amp, 18-volt panels wired in parallel. Since parallel wired solar panels get their amps added while their volts stay the same, we add 9A + 9A + 9A + 9A + 9A to show the total array amps of 45 Amps while the Volts remain at 18 Volts. This means there are 45 Amps at 18 Volts coming into the solar charge controller.

The above diagram shows a four-panel array using 5 Amp, 20 Volt panels wired in a series-parallel configuration of 2-panel series strings wired in parallel (2s2p). First, we need to find the volts and amps of the series wired strings of solar panels. Since solar panels wired in series add their voltages together while the amps stay the same, we add 20V + 20V. This means that each series string in this series-parallel configuration is 5 Amps at 40 Volts. Since the two 5A – 40V series strings are then wired in parallel, we add the amps while not changing the volts because parallel wired solar panels (or series strings) get their amps added while their volts remain the same. Adding 10A + 10A from the series strings and leaving the volts the same as the series wired strings gives us an array of 10 Amps at 40 Volts.

The above diagram shows a six-panel array using 5 Amp, 20 Volt panels wired in a series-parallel configuration of 3-panel series strings wired in parallel (3s2p). First, we need to find the volts and amps of the series wired strings of solar panels. Since solar panels wired in series add their voltages together while the amps stay the same, we add 20V + 20V + 20V. This means that each series string in this series-parallel configuration is 5 Amps at 60 Volts. Since the two 5A – 60V series strings are then wired in parallel, we add the amps while not changing the volts because parallel wired solar panels (or series strings) get their amps added while their volts remain the same. Adding 5A + 5A from the series strings and leaving the volts the same as the series wired strings gives us an array of 10 Amps at 60 Volts.

The above diagram shows a six-panel array using 8 Amp, 23 Volt panels wired in a series-parallel configuration of 2-panel series strings wired in parallel (2s3p). First, we need to find the volts and amps of the series wired strings of solar panels. Since solar panels wired in series add their voltages together while the amps stay the same, we add 23V + 23V. This means that each series string in this series-parallel configuration is 8 Amps at 46 Volts. Since the three 8A – 46V series strings are then wired in parallel, we add the amps while not changing the volts because parallel wired solar panels (or series strings) get their amps added while their volts remain the same. Adding 8A + 8A + 8A from the series strings and leaving the volts the same as the series wired strings gives us an array of 24 Amps at 46 Volts.

The above diagram shows an eight-panel array using 5 Amp, 20 Volt panels wired in a series-parallel configuration of 4-panel series strings wired in parallel (4s2p). First, we need to find the volts and amps of the series wired strings of solar panels. Since solar panels wired in series add their voltages together while the amps stay the same, we add 20V + 20V + 20V + 20V. This means that each series string in this series-parallel configuration is 5 Amps at 80 Volts. Since the two 5A – 80V series strings are then wired in parallel, we add the amps while not changing the volts because parallel wired solar panels (or series strings) get their amps added while their volts remain the same. Adding 5A + 5A from the series strings and leaving the volts the same as the series wired strings gives us an array of 10 Amps at 80 Volts.

Check your Comprehension

Here is a quiz you can take to check yourself and see if you understand this blog post:

18 thoughts on “How Series Vs Parallel Wired Solar Panels Affects Amps & Volts”

    1. Nate … thank you – your information is the best on the web ! Question : I bought a Bluetti 150 that lists max input of 10 amps and 60 volts. I jumped the gun and ordered 4 new Newpowa 100 watt 12 volt panels. To correctly figure the volts is it 12 – or – as it lists on the back sticker
      “Operating voltage 17.68 volts”. ? If it’s 12 I could hook up 4 in series and still be under the 60 volt limit.
      If I do a 2+2 series/parallel since each panel is 5.66 amps – i’d be over the amp limit. Virtually all the 100 W panels I find are over 5 amps – how are people on line hooking up
      4100 watt panels I’ve seen on 2 sites ? Thank You !!

      1. You want to refer to the Open circuit voltage on the back of the panel to determine it’s max voltage output. Furthermore, as a panel gets colder, it will put out MORE voltage. See this video for more of an explanation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxziHKvTRh8

        I don’t know how others are hooking up 4x100w panels. I have not really messed with the Bluetti system before. Just by your description; they are likely ignoring the maximum parameters of the unit.

  1. Enjoyed the quiz. I thought it definitely strengthened my comprehension of the series/parallel concept.
    Thanks !!

  2. Hi Nate. Looking to change my actual settings but not sure if it will fit so… here it is.

    I actually have a Morningstar Mppt 60. Yep, probably not the one you’ve recommended…

    The specs are 150 Voc max and 800 Watts on a 12 V battery bank.

    I wonder if I can connect 3 panels in series (315 w, 40.7 VoC and 9.89 amps each). I know that VoC will be good (122.1 with some spaces for cold temperature).
    But… Watts will be at 945 and system is 800 max. Can it be a problem ?

    Also, cause if its a problem… can I install 4 panels with same specs as above, 2×2 (2xseries, 2xparallels) still on a 12v system… or must I absolutely convert my battery bank at 24v and buy a new converter (had it on 12v).

    Regards,
    Chantal.

  3. I’m a newbie to electrical and van life. I have a 2020 144” Sprinter and would like to go solar as much as possible for boondocking. I’m a fan of air conditioning and know I have limited roof space for MaxxAir vent as well as solar panels.
    I see 12v, 24v, and 48v Air conditioning systems that don’t take up roof space at 90-100 lbs like roof 120 AC systems.

    Do you recommend 48V systems for longer air conditioning use boondocking or is there a downside to 4 batteries in series with charging, step down to 12v use, etc?
    Can a system be set up that charges from alternator, solar or shore?

    1. I only recommend 24v battery banks for systems larger than 1200w of solar and larger than 3000w of Inverter power. If you are trying to run a 24v air conditioner or 48v air conditioner natively off of the battery bank, that’s fine; but you are, at that point, going to be diving into ‘electrical arts and crafts’ to make the system work as I have no resources at this time for 24/48v systems.

      All of my diagrams charge from alternator, shore, and solar.

  4. Great tutorial. Quick question on your Power Audit spreadsheet. I see it is 110v, how do I apply that to 220v Australian appliances?

    Thank you
    Shaun

  5. If you connect the solar panels in series to be able to run 10AWG instead of 6AWG from the array to the charge controller is it required for the batteries to be ran in series as well or can you leave it as 12V?

  6. Thank you,
    You have a winner in this. I have been needing a tutorial and quiz-like this. I hope one of your former teachers finds it. Your info is a great thing for us sailors.

  7. Nate,

    I like the quiz, it put the puzzle in a visual for me. Most of your diagrams are Series Parallel, my project is 2S, 7P I see how to wire it now, just need to find some 7 into 1 connectors.

    1. I have never seen 7 to 1 mc4 combiners. The highest I’ve seen is 5-1. Usually, if there are 7 parallel strings; the amps from the array will be too high to be able to use MC4 connectors & 10 AWG Wire. I would be DESPERATELY trying to fit ONE more panel so I could run 3x series-strings of 5 panels (5s 3p) which would let me easily use a 3 to 1 combiner with 10 AWG wire.

  8. I understand how series and parallel arrays work, what I don’t understand is what amps and volts you want going into the controller. My controller max amps is 50 and max volts is 150 which will be mounted 15 feet from panels. So what is the best amps and volts to wire the panels for?

    1. Generally speaking, you want to feed the charge controller as many volts as the charge controller can safely handle and the amps will work themselves out as appropriate.

      What specific panels are you using and I can give a better answer?

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