My project is to have a 12V solar LED strip lighting system throughout my apartment. This has 6 individual lights, with 5 white and 1 RGB = 8 channels.

I've got the whole setup working on my breadboard. Now it's time to transfer it to a "live" setup. Since it's my first such project, I'm looking for any and all recommendations on cabling and connectors to deal with reliability, isolation, modularity, aesthetics and of course safety.

Schematically, it all looks something like this

solar panel------\
                  charge controller--5v regulator--arduino--mosfets x 8--\__lights    
12v battery_fuse_/                  \____________________________________/    

So I have questions such as:-

  1. should I use a prototype shield, or a discrete pcb?
  2. do the MOSFETs (RFP30N06LE) need a heatsink, and any recommended unit?
  3. what connectors are recommended?
  4. any suggestions on box/packaging for the above?
  5. wire gauge? Maximum run is 4m to the furthest light.

And any other hints, tips and suggestions greatly appreciated. Bonus appreciation for amazon links to the parts :-)

update The breadboard is simply the mosfets, each with a current limiting resistor on the gate. The lights range from 8W to 40W. I will generally have them dimmed using PWM.

  • 1
    Can you share what you have on the breadboard, and particulars about the current draw, etc? Those are the kinds of details you'll need to attract useful answers.
    – SDsolar
    Sep 7, 2017 at 0:52
  • 1. if the proto board isn't warm it's fine if not mobile. 2. not unless way under-driven or over-loaded (small binder clips can double TO220's dissipation) 3. "terminal connectors" or solder. 4. dollar-store decorative box/container/lunchbox, or box-store outlet box 5. 18AWG or lower (thicker) is fine; aka "alarm", "doorbell", "speaker", "18/2"
    – dandavis
    Sep 7, 2017 at 6:29
  • 1
    @SDsolar question updated. thx
    – pinoyyid
    Sep 7, 2017 at 12:07

1 Answer 1


generic DC connector advice:

avoid the use of connectors which connect serially, like headphone jacks. you make strange combinations while plugging in

avoid connectors which do not latch, like headphone jacks

in a system like yours, with stages and signal processing in between, use different connectors for each phase, so you can not get it wrong

use connectors that can not be connected backwards for DC. I prefer:

Hopkins 47965 2-Pole Flat Extension for raw solar power.Not because it's a great connector, but because it's common in low power solar

  • Anderson Power Poles for regulated DC power. you can secure them
    together with a tie wrap; you can't connect them backwards without
    doing things that are obviously counter intuitive.
  • Fuel injection connectors from Autozone for signal wires. they got a million of them, they are made for DC at useful current levels
  • Trailer connectors for multiple lead serious power.
  • XLR connectors can be found from 3 to 6 pins, and you can't jam a 5 pin into a 6 pin, so you can't cross connnect

keep things dummy proof.

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