The original MC4 connector from Multi-Contact, the most popular connector in the world, recently received UL approval for 1500 volts. In addition to its existing global approvals such as TÜV, CSA, and CQC, the market leader for DC connectors in the PV sector has therefore been able to increase usage from 1000 to 1500 volts in UL-relevant countries. This is good news, especially for installers of utility-scale systems, particularly in the American market. There are clear advantages to the increased system voltage. More modules can be connected in series within a string, which reduces the balance-of-system (BoS) costs. This cuts the number of strings within an array and the need for BoS components such as couplings, overcurrent safety switch systems, contact breakers, and cables. Furthermore, inverters are cheaper in this voltage range. Overall, this reduces installation costs by up to 30%.
Systems with high system voltage also score well when it comes to operation. As there is less electrical loss in the strings and the inverters work more effectively at 1500 volts, the yield from these systems is increased in the long term. Sascha Schmidt, PV Product Manager at Multi-Contact, is pleased with the news: “The approval process took around six months, and our MC4 connector passed with flying colors without us having to change a single detail.” This is important for all module manufacturers, installers, service companies, and plant builders who have stocks of the popular connector. As of now, they can use them in UL-certified systems with 1500-volt string voltage. Of course, existing systems can also be upgraded to 1500 volts if they are already cabled with MC4 connectors.
Over a billion connectors from the Multi-Contact Solarline range have been providing reliable connections all over the world since 1996. This represents a PV output of over 110 GW. Its excellent characteristics have made the MC4 the “de facto standard” for connectors throughout the world for over 12 years. The heart of every connection is the tried and tested stable MULTILAM technology, which guarantees consistently low performance loss throughout the service life of the connector. The MC4 meets the requirements for the IP65 and IP68 degrees of protection and is approved for use within a temperature range of –40°C to +85°C (IEC and UL). The impact-resistant polycarbonate housing can withstand UV radiation, salt spray, and ammonia vapors.
The manufacturer offers Swiss-quality preassembled cable sets to meet customer specifications for all connectors. The MC4 crimping pliers developed specially for the range of connectors also allow the connectors to be assembled on site with cables of up to 10 mm². At this cable cross section, the MC4 can cope with up to 43 amperes. There is a snap-in lock that meets UL and NEC requirements to ensure mechanical and functional safety. An optional safety lock clip guarantees increased safety in the field.