So you set up your solar panel, now you decide to measure the voltage and current. There is a good chance that you may see there is voltage but no amp (which means current). Why?
Solar panels having voltage and no amps are mostly caused by an open circuit. In simple terms, it means your circuit is incomplete or flawed. Causes include using wrong voltage, wrong Connection, problems with panels or solar charge controller.
Another cause of zero amp may be wrong measurement technique like connecting multimeter in parallel blowing up its fuse.
Let’s unpack it, nine out of ten times wrong wiring or problems with equipment are the culprits. Common mistake people often make is wrong voltage setup, using low-quality old equipment and even connecting terminals incorrectly.
Some people even start measuring amp the wrong way. Without proper knowledge of such topics, you may face countless problems like this.
In the following article we will be discussing how to measure amp properly, why do zero amps happen in solar panels, and ways to fix such messy situations.
Table of Contents
How to Identify Zero Amp Problem in your Solar Panel?
Zero Amp with voltage can occur due to various reasons. So we have to do tests to see where the actual problems lie. With a simple test, you can easily distinguish your problem.
Measuring Amp or current is done with a multimeter. Before you start the process be sure to check the voltage and current rating of your solar panel. And remember to put your Panel in Sunlight otherwise you won’t have power in it. Now let’s start:
- Step 1: Get your solar Panel onto a nice sunny place, there should be no load on it yet.
- Step 2: Set your Multimeter to DC Volt settings.
- Step 3: Connect the negative terminal to negative and positive to positive and hook up the multimeter to the panel. The Red Part would be connected to the Voltage Slot in Multimeter.
- Step 4: Note Down the Volt
- Step 5: Now Disconnect the system and set your multimeter to DC amp
- Step 6: Reconnect the system like in Step 4. This time the Red Part should be on the Amp Slot.
- Step 7: Note Down the Amp
- Step 8: Now compare them with the rating of your Solar Panel
Now following this step if you get zero amps there is either and problem with your solar panel or the multimeter itself. Because there is nothing other than your panel and multimeter here. So the problems can either be in one of them.
Keep in mind your multimeter is not a good enough load. So this time you have to measure amp with load (You can even do this in your own solar system). Below we discuss how to measure amp with a load.
- Step 1: Make Sure Your System is wired properly
- Step 2: Set Parameter as DC Voltage and connect your multimeter in parallel to your circuit. And take note of the voltage.
- Step 3: Set Parameter as DC Amp. And Connect the multimeter in series to your circuit.
- Step 4: Take Note of the Amp. And compare them with your Panel’s rating.
Still, if you get zero amp, your wiring of the system is wrong in other words you have an open or incomplete circuit. Or another case is something in your system is already broken.
Why do Solar Panels have Voltage but Zero Amp?
Now that you tested your solar panel you have questions about how did you get into the zero amps scenario and how can you solve it. To solve it you should know about problems like this in detail.
If you can understand the various mechanisms in which your system fails and provides zero amps you can save yourself from future hassles.
So below we will be discussing the causes of why solar panels have voltage but zero amps. Hopefully, it will provide quite a bit of insight into this issue.
Now to one of the main problems. To understand it we must understand how current flows. Let’s say you have one small voltage and one big voltage. Current will flow from Big Voltage to Small Voltage. Now the current flows properly in a good circuit.
Here comes the open circuit. Where your circuit is not properly configured and is incomplete. Here our current has no way to flow properly and you have zero amps despite having voltage.
There are various reasons such as broken equipment to bad environmental conditions to other issues. Some of the common issues are Broken Charge Controller, Reversed Terminal Connection, Solar Panel Shading, etc. To solve this you must ensure a proper good circuit.
Another way Open Circuit happens is using more Load Voltage than panel voltage. As said earlier current always flows from high voltage to low voltage.
When the voltage of your load (Load is something you connect to Solar Panel. Take Battery for Example) exceeds your panel’s volt current would not flow from the panel. It’ll be reversed.
Your Solar Charge Controller won’t let current flow from Load to Panel due to its settings thus the total circuit will have zero amps despite having voltage.
Solar Charge Controller Error
Your Solar Panel Circuit has a lot of equipment. One of the main pieces of equipment is Solar Charge Controller. Now if it is broken your entire circuit will be busted.
In the worst-case scenario, the current will stop flowing. Thus there will be zero amps despite voltage.
Usually, low-quality charge controllers have this problem. Sometimes the Charge Regulator gets damaged and needs replacing.
Also, Solar Charge Controller can have various problems like moon error symbol, display freeze, no power which contributes to causing problems like zero amps.
Solar Panel’s Internal Problem
Sometimes Solar Panel’s internal problems are the issue of zero amps. One of the most common problems is loose MC4 connectors.
If the connectors of your solar panels are loose they may not connect at all or connect partially. This can cause the panels to have voltage but zero current flow aka zero amps.
Another Problem is Junction Box Problem. Many times during shipping the mechanism inside the junction box becomes loose. Later on, this creates problems like zero current flow.
Other problems may include cracked panels. (Which may not be visible to the naked eye). The weird pattern in your panel. (Happens when water seeps into your panel causing a chemical reaction). Hotspots, etc. Shading is also a big problem.
Without proper sunlight, your Solar Panels won’t be producing current.
Wrong Measurement Method
Maybe everything about your solar panel is alright. From its circuit to wiring to equipment everything is top-notch. But what you’ve been doing wrong the whole time was measuring it.
Trust me, more often than not this is the case. Say for example you forget to set your Multimeter to DC Amp instead set it to AC or something other. And you will naturally have zero amp.
Another classic is using a low-quality broken multimeter and messing up the wiring in the multimeter not connecting it with panels properly.
Speaking of you connecting the multimeter with the system. Some people connect Multimeter in parallel to measure Current. Do not do this.
Your fuse will blow up instantly and not only will you get zero amp you have successfully killed your multimeter.
How to Fix Solar Panel having Voltage but Zero Amps?
Now that we have discussed the most common reasons in detail. We can divide the reasons in mainly three categories, Open or Flawed Circuit, Solar Panel, and Charge Controller Problems, and Wrong Measurement Techniques.
We will be providing solutions to each of these problems in detail and along with that additional tips to avoid problems like this and precautions to take.
Fix to Open Circuit
Open circuit occurs when you make mistake while wiring your system. The solution depends on how complex your system is. If it’s a simple battery charging system fixing it will be easy.
But if it’s a full-on solar array system or your home’s solar panel system you better take help from an expert. Regardless we will be providing tips on how to properly wire your system.
- Ensure your Solar Panel is getting proper sun. Shading is a big problem with Solar Panels. Be sure to put your panel in a sunny spot.
- Always use good quality equipment, wires, and panels. Using Old Equipment or Low-Quality products is the main culprit in causing Open Circuit.
- Always wire equipment properly in your system. More often than not people mess up the terminal. Sometimes they don’t connect them properly, sometimes the wire gets torn, etc. Always be super careful while wiring and don’t mess up the terminals.
- Check for Bad Connection. Use a multimeter to check voltage and various points and troubleshoot errors accordingly.
- If your Solar Panels have defects like Hotspot, Weird Pattern consider replacing them. Along with that if other equipment like Charge Controller, the inverter has problem replace them if you have money.
- Be Careful of Overheating. More Temperature equals Less Current Flow. Overheating is a big culprit of an open circuit. Always ensure the safety of your circuit and system and monitor any overheating.
- Look for physical damage in the circuit. Sometimes wires get cut off. To solve physical damage take protective measures against things that can harm your system.
- Always set up voltage and watt requirements according to experts. If you are inexperienced and try to use a random rating panel you will face various problems. Learn about proper electricity requirements.
- Try to get your circuit wired by a professional. Professionally wired circuits have nearly zero chance of being open circuits. The same tip applies if you are already facing a problem and want to troubleshoot it.
Fixes to Solar Panel’s Internal Problem
Let’s talk about Loose MC4 cables. It is highly recommended that you take help from an expert while fixing it. What happens here is the terminal is not actually fully inserted into our MC4 connector.
Due to not making full contact problems occur. Here is how to fix them.
- Step 1: First we loosen up the back gland of the connector with a screw.
- Step 2: Now pull the MC4 connector to check if it pops out.
- Step 3: If it pops out it means your MC4 connector is loose. Now push the MC4 connector in until you hear a click. Make sure the connector is fully seated.
- Step 4: Put back the backward gland.
After following this your MC4 connector will be fixed.
Now to the junction box. These are located in the back of your Solar Panel. You can open them and check if they are screwed up properly. If not screw them up properly.
It’s recommended that if you have problems in your junction box seek help from the experts.
If your Solar Panel has cracks or hotspots or other physical damage, you have to replace it. There is no way I know of that can easily fix such damage.
Fixes to Charge Controller Error
If your solar charge controller is showing a problem moon error symbol, zero power, frozen display, etc. it may cause the zero amp problem. The easy fix is to reset your solar charge controller.
As with any electronics resetting works like a charm. A quick restart can easily resolve the solar panel not charging the battery. There are two types of reset. Hard and Soft. Try the soft one before attempting the hard one.
A soft reset is simple. Press the reset button and restart your charge controller. In some models, you have to press both the power and the reset button and in some four buttons together.
Its screen will blink and flash and soon after it will return to the same display screen. It’s basically like rebooting a phone.
Hard Reset is basically disconnecting the system. Do this night if you attempt it. Disconnect the load first, then disconnect the panel. Do not forget in which order you disconnected the wires.
Wait like two to ten minutes. It depends on the controller. Reconnect the wire in the same order you disconnected them.
In most cases, a soft reset is enough. If it is not working attempt a hard reset. Resetting Solar Charge Controller is one of the most common solutions if your Solar Charge Controller is not working properly.
Also if resetting doesn’t fix the problems with Charge Controller consider replacing them.
Correct Measurement Method
We have already discussed earlier how you can measure Volt and Current with a multimeter. But the key thing to keep in mind here is when you are measuring Voltage Connect your Multimeter in parallel to your load. Set Parameter to DC Voltage.
When you measure Amp, Always Connect the Multimeter in Series. And Set Parameter to DC Amp. Don’t forget to set the wires properly.
Now if you accidentally set it on Parallel while measuring Amp earlier, there is a high chance you have blown up the fuse of your multimeter. In that case, you have to replace the fuse.
Overall, despite having voltage Solar Panel giving zero amps has various different reasons. But the main thing to keep in mind is: Always measure Amp and Voltage with Multimeter properly, Properly and Professionally wire your Solar System so that you can avoid open circuit and be prepared to troubleshoot any problems in Solar Charge Controller and Solar Panel.
Hopefully, the above guide will help solve Solar Panels not providing zero amp despite voltage.