Solar Panels

For ESPMs, a .005 thick tab ribbon is sufficient to connect the individual cells to the bus ribbon, but the bus ribbon needs to be larger to accommodate the larger current carried. For the panels described here, a 20 amp capacity conductor is needed for the bus wire. Most suppliers of cells do not have bus ribbon in the thicknesses required. Enquire and see what is available.

Tab and bus ribbon can be purchased in the thicknesses required and cut to any width from manufacturers, such as E. Jordan Brookes Co. They cut the ribbon from larger rolls and can provide any width and thickness of tinned wire desirable. Most tab ribbon widths supplied by secondary cell dealers usually run about 1/16" to 1/8", and bus ribbon is usually cut at 3/i6" widths. Measure the width of the solder fingers on your cells to see if you can use a larger width cell connect tab

bus ribbon

roc wire. The more surface you cover, the better. These sizes are generally adequate for most cells and solar panels. The 1/16" width is usually fine for most cells. Ask your dealer what thickness the tab ribbon is.

For an ESPM as discussed in this book, use at least a .005 thick ribbon for the cell connects. The bus ribbon needs to be able to carry the current of this ESPM, for instance .010" thick, at 3/8" wide; or a .020" thick at 7/32" wide.

You can make your own tab and bus wire. Copper foil is available in thicknesses from .002 to .021 from McMaster-Carr or another supplier. It can be cut into thin strips to your particular specifications. You can also use flat grounding braid for bus ribbon, as it is made for heavier current carrying capacity. Grounding braid comes in a variety of thicknesses and widths and is usually tinned. Make sure to use Tinnit® to tin the tab and bus if you make your own - it also helps to minimize oxidation. You can use round wire, either solid or stranded, for bus connections as well as cell connects, if you desire, but the flat ribbon is probably easier to work with.

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