Evolution of the E-Panel - Pg 2
The DC Section
This half of the RE system is very different from the parts available from Home Depot. Your local electrical supply wholesale company does not stock the DC breakers required for RE systems. Most of the circuit breakers available at Home Depot are not rated for DC operation. Square D has the QO and QOU series that are UL listed for DC operation up to 48 volts. Some installers use the QO breakers in low voltage combiner and charge control circuits. Today’s MPPT solar charge controllers quite often operate above 100 volts input even for a 12V battery system. 48 volt systems typically charge batteries to 60 VDC so QO and QOU breakers are not suitable. As in the AC section, there are multiple DC circuits all operating at the same time. They too require independent circuits, thus eliminating the possibility to use a standard off the shelf circuit breaker box as a one stop solution. The DC breakers required do not lend themselves to the stab in type of boxes available at your local hardware store anyway. Some of the DC circuits are:
  • Inverter battery circuit breaker
  • Solar charge controller battery disconnect
  • Solar charge controller PV disconnect
  • Hydro and or wind controller output disconnect
  • DC GFP device (required per NEC soon on all solar installations)
  • DC loads such as a DC refrigerator or freezer
  • Auxiliary monitoring equipment
  • PV combiner breakers
The circuit breakers required in these circuits are generally rated for 125 VDC. The enormous amounts of fault current available from the battery bank necessitate a large interrupt capacity (AIC) for inverter breakers. 25,000 amp interrupt is an industry standard. AC breakers are not suitable for DC operation due to interrupt rating and the lack of arc suppression. AC breakers tend to weld themselves in the closed position when subjected to high DC fault currents.
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