If you are using a power inverter for a Renewable Energy system at your home with either solar panels or a wind turbine, it is possible to wire an inverter to a circuit breaker panel. An easier alternative could be obtaining an inverter with standard outlets and using an extension cord and power strip. However, if you want the ability to plug in appliances and electronics to wall outlets on an independent circuit powered by the RE system, then connecting your power inverter to the circuit breaker is the best way to go about it.
Turn off the main power switch on the circuit breaker. The main power switch is typically located at the very top and centre of the circuit breaker panel. Also make sure that the power switch on the inverter is turned off as well.
Unscrew the mounting screws for the front plate of the circuit breaker. Select the new circuit that you want to connect the RE system to via the power inverter. Knock out the tab on the back side of the panel cover with your screwdriver and hammer.
Connect wiring to the output from the power inverter. Make sure that the inverter is capable, according to the manufacturer, of being connected to a circuit breaker panel. The size of the wiring will depend on the maximum anticipated amperage of the system along with its voltage. Use a wire sizing chart to make sure that you are using the correct size of wire.
Test the bus bar with a voltmeter by touching the probes to the bus bar. If it does not read any voltage, then you may continue with the installation process. If there is voltage, make sure that the main electrical breaker is turned off. If it is, contact an electrician.
Strip 1/2 inch of insulation from the ends of the wires leading from the inverter to the breaker. Use a screwdriver to connect the white wire to the neutral ground bar on the circuit breaker. Connect the hot wires, red or black, to the selected breaker on the back side of the circuit breaker panel.
Screw in the front of the breaker panel. Turn on the switch for the main power breaker. Turn on the switch to the power inverter. Test the outlets connected to the circuit for the RE system.
This process is from the perspective that assumes the installation of a circuit and outlets specifically for the RE system have already been installed and wired to the new breaker on the circuit breaker.
Remember that even though you have switched off the power on the circuit breaker, the main incoming wires from outside your home that meet at the main cut-off switch are still live. Also remember that the bus bar may be energised and to test it even after turning off the electricity.
Tips and warnings
- This process is from the perspective that assumes the installation of a circuit and outlets specifically for the RE system have already been installed and wired to the new breaker on the circuit breaker.
- Remember that even though you have switched off the power on the circuit breaker, the main incoming wires from outside your home that meet at the main cut-off switch are still live. Also remember that the bus bar may be energised and to test it even after turning off the electricity.
Things you need
- Lineman's pliers
- Wire stripper
- Hammerzone: Installing A Circuit Breaker
- Ask The Builder: Installing Circuit Breakers; By Tim Carter; 2007
- Free SunPower: Wiring Diagram Examples
- Backwoods Solar: Wiring a New House for Solar Electricity
- Backwoods Home: How To Wire Your Home For Solar Electricity; Steve Willey
- Power Stream: Wire Gauge and Current Limits
- ArcAdvisor: Arc-Fault Circuit Breaker, Two-Pole
- Photovoltaics: Working Safely With Photovoltaic Systems
- Hammer Zone: Adding A Sub Panel: An Overview; Bruce W. Maki
- All About Circuits: DC Batteries and Power Systems: Practical Considerations
- Backwoods Home: Solar Power 101 Inverters; Jeffrey Yago
- Whistler Group: Inverter Will Not Run My Appliance