Author Topic: MC4 101  (Read 5448 times)

Offline Alan Georges

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MC4 101
« on: March 27, 2016, 08:02:34 AM »
Here's an informative link over to Prepared Ham that spells out the basics of MC4 connectors:
http://offgridham.com/2016/03/introduction-mc4-connectors/

I have got to move into these soon.  While I don't have much solar out in the yard at present, the BOL will need some soon.  Might as well pop for the crimper.

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: MC4 101
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2016, 03:47:29 PM »
:popcorn:

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: MC4 101
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2016, 03:58:20 PM »
One other thing, do not mix up MC4 with MC5.   Your neighbors will never forgive you.

Offline idelphic

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Re: MC4 101
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2016, 04:09:01 PM »
Here's an informative link over to Prepared Ham that spells out the basics of MC4 connectors:
http://offgridham.com/2016/03/introduction-mc4-connectors/

I have got to move into these soon.  While I don't have much solar out in the yard at present, the BOL will need some soon.  Might as well pop for the crimper.
I've never been a fan of the crimpers - I've used Molex 2pin connecters from Radio Shack for years,..  While I crimp them,.. I solder them also.  So many times I have had a mechanical crimp fail. 

Crimper may make a difference though.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: MC4 101
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2016, 11:49:32 AM »
Got my first batch of connectors in this week, along with crimp and connector tools.   As soon as this rainy weather lets up I'll get down to putting these on the outside solar, well pump, etc. to replace some aging PowerPole connectors.  Here are a couple of useful videos I've found:
crimping & assembling: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sT-WIU91viQ
connect & disconnect w/tool: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=woPktgfJn7w

Unlike PowerPoles there doesn't seem to be any hard-and-fast polarity standard.  Also these things have a gender, and what's more there's even some confusion about that.  I'm just going with the one panel I already have, which agrees with this diagram from Arizona Wind & Sun: http://www.solar-electric.com/how-to-use-mc4-connectors-cables.html/.  Simple and done.

Pretty nice though.  They've got an o-ring seal to keep out the weather and local wildlife, looks like they'll hold up a lot better in the yard than PowerPoles.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: MC4 101
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2016, 03:22:44 PM »
As soon as this rainy weather lets up I'll get down to putting these on the outside solar, well pump, etc. to replace some aging PowerPole connectors.
Got a little hole in the weather, got the pump connection done.  Vastly superior to PowerPoles for this sort of thing.  They went together much more quickly and easily than PowerPoles, and everything feels more substantial.

The main advantage that I can see PowerPoles retain is that, paired off as red/black, they're almost foolproof.  In a rat's nest of under-the-shack-desk wiring it would be hard to get things crossed up with PP's, but I could see getting something tragically wrong with MC4's.  Also, PP's are a good deal less expensive.  But for a simple two-wire job that has to be weathertight, man these MC4's rule.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: MC4 101
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2016, 12:49:54 PM »
I just joined this club.  As far as crimping, it looks like other crimpers I already own might suffice.  I have the powerpole crimper, as well as plain old wire crimpers I've probably had since high school.

Minor rant to follow...

The polarity thing kinda bugged me.  On the backside of my renogy panel, you've got clearly marked "+" and "-" wires each with the respective MC4



However, the kit also included a pair of wires with MC4s on one end, and raw on the other.  The intent is for the raw ends to connect at the controller and the mc4 connectors to mate with the mc4s on the panel.



So for the mc4 extension wire, you plug in a "red" (positive) plug into the negative side of the panel, and the opposite raw end into the negative on the controller.

I get it, and I can handle it, but at first I goofed when wiring up the controller. 

Offline Cedar

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Re: MC4 101
« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2016, 12:54:10 PM »
.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: MC4 101
« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2016, 05:43:57 PM »
I just joined this club.  As far as crimping, it looks like other crimpers I already own might suffice.  I have the powerpole crimper, as well as plain old wire crimpers I've probably had since high school.
Worked OK?  I suspect it did, doesn't take much.  Seems way more forgiving than PowerPole connectors.  As in the video link above, I ended up with the 'IWISS MADE' $19.95 el cheap-o, it works great.

Quote
So for the mc4 extension wire, you plug in a "red" (positive) plug into the negative side of the panel, and the opposite raw end into the negative on the controller.

I get it, and I can handle it, but at first I goofed when wiring up the controller.
Important Safety Tip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyaLZHiJJnE

Offline Carl

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Re: MC4 101
« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2016, 05:50:57 PM »
I live in a humid,hot-cold region and know that dissimilar metals will cause corrosion in  close proximity and I crimp PLUS SOLDER to make sure I don't have a problem with corrosion. A completely water/air tight connection might survive with just a crimp but I would rather do construction than repairs.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: MC4 101
« Reply #10 on: July 07, 2016, 09:32:31 AM »
I live in a humid,hot-cold region and know that dissimilar metals will cause corrosion in  close proximity and I crimp PLUS SOLDER to make sure I don't have a problem with corrosion. A completely water/air tight connection might survive with just a crimp but I would rather do construction than repairs.

I now do this as a rule with my powerpole crimps.  Before crimping, I dip the raw wire end in some flux.  After crimping I just heat up the crimped contact, and it sucks in the solder to fill the voids.  Similar to sweating copper pipes.