Combiner Box

Combiner Box

Combiner Box

The combiner box’s role is to bring the output of several solar strings together. Daniel Sherwood, director of product management at solarBOS, explained that each string conductor lands on a fuse terminal and the output of the fused inputs are combined onto a single conductor that connects the box to the inverter. “This is a combiner box at its most basic, but once you have one in your solar project, there are additional features typically integrated into the box,” he said. Disconnect switches, monitoring equipment and remote rapid shutdown devices are examples of additional equipment.

Solar combiner boxes also consolidate incoming power into one main feed that distributes to a solar inverter, added Patrick Kane, product manager at Eaton. This saves labor and material costs through wire reductions. “Solar combiner boxes are engineered to provide overcurrent and overvoltage protection to enhance inverter protection and reliability,” he said.

“If a project only has two or three strings, like a typical home, a combiner box isn’t required. Rather, you’ll attach the string directly to an inverter,” Sherwood said. “It is only for larger projects, anywhere from four to 4,000 strings that combiner boxes become necessary.” However, combiner boxes can have advantages in projects of all sizes. In residential applications, combiner boxes can bring a small number of strings to a central location for easy installation, disconnect and maintenance. In commercial applications, differently sized combiner boxes are often used to capture power from unorthodox layouts of varying building types. For utility-scale projects, combiner boxes allow site designers to maximize power and reduce material and labor costs by distributing the combined connections.

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