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A Brief History of Photovoltaic Connectors

June 6, 2022

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     Before 1996, photovoltaic cables were connected using screw terminals or splice connections. As the number of installed photovoltaic systems increases, the demand for fast, safe and easy-to-operate connection solutions is increasing.


    Because photovoltaic systems are exposed to wind, rain, hot sun, and extreme temperature changes for long periods of time, connectors must be able to adapt to these harsh environments. They must not only be waterproof, high temperature and UV resistant, but also touch protected, high current-carrying capacity and efficient. At the same time, low contact resistance is also an important consideration. All of this must also run through the entire photovoltaic system life cycle, at least 20 years.


   In 1996, based on these application environments and market demands, a new type of plug-in connector came into being, which is the world's first true photovoltaic connector - MC3. Its inventor is the Swiss company Multi-Contact (in 2002, it was merged into the Stäubli Group as its electrical connector brand), MC is the brand abbreviation, and 3 is the diameter of the metal core. The body of the MC3 is made of TPE material (thermoplastic elastomer) and is friction fit for physical connection. More importantly, the MC3's connection system uses MULTILAM technology to ensure the lasting stability of the connection. Later, many connector manufacturers are imitating MULTILAM technology.


    In 2002, the birth of MC4 redefines photovoltaic connectors again, which truly realizes "plug and play". The insulation uses rigid plastic (PC/PA) and is designed to be easier to assemble and install in the field. After MC4 came into the market, it was quickly recognized by the market and gradually became the standard of photovoltaic connectors. Many manufacturers refer to their own connectors as "XXMC4".


    MC4 has successively launched the MC4-Evo2 and MC4-Evo3 series as the market demand changes. MC4 series connectors can fully meet the needs of customers for 1500V photovoltaic systems.

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