How Does A Solar Plant Work?

How Does A Solar Plant Work?

As you’re likely already aware, the term “solar” refers to just about anything involving the sun. So naturally, “solar power” denotes the energy we obtain from the sun’s rays. A solar power plant, therefore, is a facility that converts the light from the sun into electricity. There are two types of solar power plants: photovoltaic plants and solar thermal power plants.

What are photovoltaic plants?

Before defining what a photovoltaic plant is, it’s important to revisit the definition of “photovoltaic”. As we introduced in our “What Is A Solar Combiner Box?” blog, photovoltaics (PV) is defined as the conversion of light into electricity. This is achieved through semiconducting materials that exhibit a photovoltaic effect.

A photovoltaic cell is typically made from silicon alloys. Photons are particles of solar energy. They strike the surface of a photovoltaic cell between two semiconductors which exhibit what is known as the photoelectric effect. This causes them to absorb the photons and release electrons which are captured in the form of electricity.

What are solar thermal power plants?

Since we have already clarified the meaning of “solar”, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that a solar thermal plant generates heat and electricity by using the sun’s energy. By focusing the energy that comes from the sun, the plant generates steam that helps to feed a turbine and generator to produce electricity. At a solar thermal power plant, MC4 connectors are widely used. Learn more about them in our “What Is An MC4 Connector?” blog.

There are three types of solar thermal power plants: parabolic troughs, solar power towers and solar ponds.

What are parabolic troughs?

Parabolic troughs are the most common type of solar thermal plant. They incorporate several parallel rows of solar parabolic trough collectors, making up what’s known as a “solar field”. Parabola-shaped reflectors are used to concentrate the sun anywhere from 30 to 100 times its normal intensity. This method is used to heat up a special type of fluid. Once heated, the fluid is collected at a central location in order to generate high-pressure, superheated steam.

What are solar power towers?

A solar power tower is the type of solar power plant that utilizes hundreds or even thousands of flat sun-tracking mirrors called heliostats. The heliostats reflect and focus the sun’s energy onto a central receiver tower. This energy can be concentrated up to 1,500 times that of the energy emanating from the sun.

With the concentrated solar energy, the air in the tower can be heated up to 700 degrees Celsius (1,300 degrees Fahrenheit). A boiler captures the heat and with the assistance of a steam turbine, uses it to produce electricity.

What are solar ponds?

As its name conveys, this solar power plant comes in the form of a saltwater pool. Using what is known as “’salinity-gradient technology”, a solar pond collects and stores solar thermal energy. The bottom of the pond is very hot, often reaching temperatures as high as 85 degrees Celcius. It acts as a transparent insulator. It allows sunlight to be trapped so that heat can be withdrawn or stored for later use.

For more information about how solar plants work, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 1-800-557-FLUX or email us at

What Is An MC4 Connector?

What Is An MC4 Connector?

MC4 connectors are single-contact electrical connectors. They are commonly used for connecting solar panels. MC4 stands for “Multi-Contact, 4 millimetre”. It is a standard in the renewable energy industry. An MC4 connector enables the easy construction of strings of panels. In today’s solar market, both MC4 connectors and their compatible products are used across the board.

For the most part, larger solar panels will already come equipped with MC4 connectors. They are manufactured by Multi-Contact, which is the official manufacturer of MC4 connectors. Solar panels are plastic-based round housings with single conductors in paired male/female configurations. With the help of a notched interlock, MC4 connectors are able to terminate to each other and avoid being unintentionally pulled apart.

When and where are MC4 connectors used?

Generally, this depends on the size of the solar panel. While they are all designed to be weather resistant and UV proof for reliable outdoor use, their different sizes serve different purposes. Smaller solar panels (less than 20 watts) do not produce high currents. They are typically used as stand-alone units making the method of termination less significant.

Larger solar panels (more than 20 watts), on the other hand, are designed to handle higher power levels. They are wired together in an array for standardized termination that can handle greater voltage. As a result, the MC4 connectors must fit perfectly.

How many parts does an MC4 connector have?

Each MC4 connector has five parts. They are the main housing, a metal crimp contact, a rubber water seal, a seal retainer and a screw on end cap. The male version of the MC4 connector uses a different housing and metal contact. The rest of its parts are interchangeable. Some MC4 connectors have removable safety lock clips. They cover the interlock tabs and provide additional unintentional disconnect protection.

What tools are necessary when working with MC4 connectors?

Those who work with MC4 connectors need to use a few different specialized tools. The most important of them all is a crimp tool and two disconnect/spanner wrench combo tools. A must-have on any crimp tool is a hinged, swing out contact holder. It helps to make terminations uniform and on spec. It’s wise to avoid any crimp tools without this feature.

Which wires are needed for MC4 connectors?

Most wires needed for MC4 connectors are advertised as solar panel wires or photovoltaic wires. Although there is a variety to choose from, it’s important that they all meet National Electric Code (NEC) requirements. It’s also imperative that they meet Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) standards for UV resistance. Wires that are not UV resistant are not approved for outdoor use.

Beware of “MC4-compatible” connectors. They are not manufactured by Multi-Contact. While they may appear cost-effective, these imitation connectors often do not meet the same safety certifications and engineering standards as authentic MC4 connectors. Because these knock-offs have proven to be a problem in the industry, Multi-Contact has actually issued a formal statement about them.

For more information about MC4 connectors, please don’t hesitate to give Flux Connectivity a call at 1-800-557-FLUX or email us at

Flux Connectivity Partners With Arbor Day Foundation For The Time For Trees Initiative

Flux Connectivity Partners With Arbor Day Foundation For The Time For Trees Initiative

The Arbor Day Foundation is a non-profit conservation and education organization. It is made up of over a million members, donors and partners that support its programs to make our world greener and healthier. A top Arbor Day Foundation mission statement is to enrich the planet with as many trees as possible in an effort to purify the air and better our living environment as a whole. They are working to accomplish this mission through their Time for Trees initiative.

What is Time for Trees?

Through the Time for Trees initiative, the Arbor Day Foundation intends to accomplish two major feats by their 150th anniversary in 2022. The first is to plant 100 million trees in forests and communities around the globe. The second is to inspire 5 million tree planters to help carry the mission forward.

Flux Connectivity got on board with Time for Trees when it was introduced in March of 2019. We strongly believe that meeting and even exceeding the initiative’s lofty goals is a big step in the right direction for our planet. It’s vital to ensure that we continue to have life’s essentials. We’re talking about clean air, clean water and a tolerable climate. These are all necessities that trees provide us with.

“Trees provide the very necessities of life itself,” proclaims the Arbor Day Foundation, “They clean our air, protect our drinking water, create healthy communities, and feed the human soul. But these life necessities are threatened around the globe…Air and water pollution is rampant. Weather patterns are shifting at an alarming rate. Poverty is widespread. The entire globe is battling poor health for a number of reasons. And society as a whole is becoming more and more fractured. We must do something before it’s too late.”

Why should you support Arbor Day Foundation?

With increased help from members of the general public, the Time for Trees initiative is certainly bound to build upon the already-astounding progress it has made. By the time 2020 rolled around, more than 66 million trees had been planted. Just one of the benefits of the newly-planted trees is recovery disaster.

In communities damaged by hurricanes and tornadoes, new trees are helping to restore the natural environment. They are also replacing the majestic trees lost to wildfires in forests while restoring critical rain forest lands that were devastated by unsustainable forestry and agriculture practices.

What is the global impact of 66 million newly-planted trees?

Firstly, these new trees will sequester enough carbon to equal taking more than 4.1 million cars off the road for an entire year. They will also intercept and filter enough water to fill the water bottle of every person on Earth every day for nearly four years. In addition, they will provide an estimated $500 million in human health benefits!

At Flux Connectivity, we’re very proud of the 66 million tree accomplishment. Time for Trees has also inspired more than 3.8 million tree planters so far. However, we have more work to do. We’d like to invite you to join us in supporting the Arbor Day Foundation’s large-scale effort.

You can donate to the Time for Trees initiative HERE in order to support tree planting. On behalf of our entire team, we sincerely thank you for helping us make a difference for the better in our world!

What Is A Solar Combiner Box?

What Is A Solar Combiner Box?

Before we can answer the question posed by the title of this blog, it’s important that we offer you a few other definitions. Photovoltaics (PV) can be defined as the conversion of light into electricity. This is achieved through semiconducting materials that exhibit a photovoltaic effect. A photovoltaic array, which is also known as a solar array, is a linked collection of solar modules.

In order to generate enough power to adequately meet the needs of a home or business, these modules must be linked together in order to form an array. In a large solar photovoltaic array, multiple solar modules are connected in a string. This excels the voltage levels to make them ideal for the inverter. Several strings of solar modules are then combined together. This multiplies the string output currents to greater levels for input into the inverter.

What is the function of a solar combiner box?

It’s similar to a junction box, which is an electrical enclosure that securely unites multiple wires and cables through various ports of entry. A solar combiner box combines the output of numerous strings of PV modules for connection to the inverter. Generally, it houses the input overcurrent protection fuse assemblies for multiple strings. The number of strings can range anywhere between three and 52.

A solar combiner box can also house a number of other components such as string monitoring hardware, surge protective devices and DC disconnects. Selecting the ideal solar combiner box requires that you have a good understanding of the site and the difficulty of the job. You should also be well aware of the other components and their relation to the combiner.

What factors must be considered when evaluating a solar combiner box?

Factor number one is the enclosure. The majority of solar combiner boxes come in outdoor enclosures. The minimum requirement is NEMA 3R although NEMA 4 steel and NEMA 4X non-metallic enclosures are more common. You’ll want to keep climate in mind. In areas where high humidity or frequent changes in humidity is common, it’s wise to include a breather or condensation vent. This will enable pressure equalization to the enclosure. It also prevents water molecules from entering the solar combiner box.

In many cases, choosing the right solar combiner box comes down to availability and cost. If you are installing your box in a residential building, an off-the-shelf solution may be ideal. They often offer a number of potential configurations. The customization feature helps you to save both time and unnecessary expenses. Although the enclosure is generally among the more pricey components of a solar combiner box, it’s a vital in attaining long-lasting service from the box.

Where should a solar combiner box be mounted?

Ideally, you want your solar combiner box to be mounted on a north-facing wall where shade is available. This helps to limit the amount of direct sunlight it endures. As you can imagine, long periods of sun exposure can increase the temperatures of the internal combiner. This can reduce both the effectiveness and lifespan of the components in the box.

It should also be noted that size does matter. Larger enclosures allow greater air volume and surface area. This is handy in cooling the internal components. As well, by allowing more room to work during installation and maintenance, larger enclosures make field wiring much easier.

For more information about solar combiner boxes, please don’t hesitate to give Flux Connectivity a call at 1-800-557-FLUX. You may also email us at

What Are Incoterms?

What Are Incoterms?

Flux Connectivity is based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. But our client base is spread all throughout the world. In fact, our neighbours to the south make up a very large portion of those clients. If you’re based in the United States, we’d like to let you know just how easy it is to receive shipments from Flux Connectivity. Firstly, we usually pay the costs associated with shipping and duties. But secondly, we also strictly adhere to Incoterms.

What exactly are Incoterms?

“Incoterms” is an abbreviation for “international commercial terms”. They are a set of rules, published by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), that define the responsibilities of sellers and buyers for the delivery of goods under sales contracts. A trademark of the ICC, Incoterms is registered in countries all over the world, holding universal meaning for buyers and sellers across the globe.

Incoterms is used by worldwide shippers to determine who is responsible for the shipping, insurance and tariffs on items that are shipped. These terms come in handy as they help to resolve trade disputes and misunderstandings that can occur between traders. As a manufacturer of goods, it’s important to understand Incoterms so that you can have clear understandings of who is responsible for which charges. This will significantly improve customer satisfaction.

When were Incoterms last updated?

Although Incoterms® 2010 is still considered acceptable, Incoterms® 2020 came into effect at the beginning of this year. According to the ICC, “Incoterms® 2020 contains the ICC rules for use of the 11 Incoterms® trade terms. It takes into account the latest developments in commercial practice, and updates the rules to make them more accessible and easier to use.”

As of January 1st, the ICC stresses, all sales contracts should make reference to the Incoterms® 2020 rules. They are available on the ICC’s new e-commerce platform ICC Knowledge 2 Go in both print and digital formats.

“The 2020 edition is available in no fewer than 29 languages — from Estonian and German to Pashto and Spanish,” they report, “More than 250 launch events and training seminars are also being organised worldwide by ICC national committees. What’s more, there is even an online course and certificate programme available from our educational arm, the ICC Academy.”

What are some important Incoterms considerations?

As outlined by, it’s important to know who is responsible for paying all applicable tariffs and local taxes when you export goods to another country. Many companies require their buyers to make these payments. Buyers, however, generally wish to know the grand totals of their charges, including shipping and taxes, when making their purchases. These total charges are known as “landed costs”.

It’s important to be clear about your policy on tariffs. This is because you may not necessarily know what the landed costs are for your shipments before they are shipped.

“The shipping companies you select often act as freight forwarders, helping you complete shipping documents, helping you estimate duties and taxes, pre-paying them for you, and then invoicing you,” explains, “If you use the U.S. Postal Service for lighter weight shipments, its local partner in the buyer’s country will collect duties and taxes.”

For more information about Incoterms and how Flux Connectivity makes it easy for you to accept our international shipments, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 1-800-557-FLUX or email us at