Five Points To Consider When Expanding Your Solar Panel Network
Anyone who has installed a solar panel system for their home or business will likely find themselves amazed that they did not do so sooner. Enjoying monthly savings (or even entirely eliminating them) on your grid energy dependency is a great feeling! Quite a high proportion of people approach us and ask whether or not they should consider adding more panels to their initial set-up, and in most cases, it is both perfectly possible and an excellent idea. There are a couple of caveats to be aware of, so in this article, we’ll take a look at the five key considerations to bear in mind when enhancing your solar power system.
1) How Many Extra Panels Are Needed?
One of the great advantages of adding panels to an existing network is that you can accurately predict the yield you’ll generate from each fresh panel. We usually suggest people allow for a full year to pass before adding new panels as this accounts for seasonal changes and how they affect energy generation. Once you have a 12-month figure you can compare that against your grid energy needs and work from there.
Say for example you have a dozen panels that are providing 75% of your entire energy needs. It stands to reason that four new panels are that all that you’d require to hit energy parity and total self-sufficiency – assuming they are placed in spare slots that will enjoy identical exposure quality to those already in place. We’d suggest actually installing six panels just to be sure and to make some long term provision as panels will very slowly deteriorate over the coming decades. In this case, we’d anticipate six panels to cover your energy requirements in full for 10+ years – not bad for a little extra investment and effort!
2) Upgrades & Compatibility
It is no secret that modern panels manufactured in the last couple of years are far more efficient than those brought to market a decade ago. They also ought to last for longer too, and it is far from unreasonable to expect a 30 year+ effective lifespan. But how simple is it to add new panels from different manufacturers to an existing setup?
Generally speaking, it depends on the existing panels and the inverter (which we will discuss next). Most good quality solar energy engineers will be able to rig different panels together without much hassle, but they will also advise against it if there are compatibility issues that will be detrimental to energy cultivation. You may also want to consider the aesthetic qualities, especially for residential set-ups, as mismatched panels can look a little strange.
3 ) Assess Your Inverter
The inverter is a crucial aspect of expanding any solar energy system and you need to make absolutely certain that it can handle the additional Direct Current (DC) being produced by fresh panels. Inverters basically turn that DC current into usable Alternating Current (AC) for electricity supply, and while a tiny amount is naturally lost during this process you need to make sure it is not being overloaded. ‘Spare’ DC is simply going to be wasted if your inverter is not up to the task.
You ought to check your existing set-up and look for adding new panels that use the same style of energy inverter. In principle, upgrading this is not a huge task although it will add a little to the cost and probably require a couple of days of downtime while the engineers make the necessary changes. Once again, a good quality installation team will know all about their inverters and guide you towards a tailored long term solution.
4) Warranties & Service Agreements
In sheer mechanical terms, it is usually not especially complicated to add additional panels to an existing network. What we’d advise all people to do before they commit to any enhancement project is to check how it may affect their current warranty on their existing panels. Many companies (including almost all of the big-name national operators) will not allow other engineers to work on ‘their’ projects without it invalidating their agreement with the owner. So if the system fails it can cause all sorts of complications regarding responsibility for making it good again!
You need to remember that the margins are pretty small when it comes to installing solar panels and quite a few companies may turn down smaller projects especially if it may cause contractual headaches. Negotiating with one of the big-name companies to add a few extra panels is really surprisingly difficult and chances are you will be facing very high charges for doing so. Think it through carefully and make sure you shop around for quotes. The best independent contractors will perform a full consultation before performing any work whatsoever.
5) Government Incentives
Plenty of people have quite sensibly installed solar power panels by making use of federal incentives. In most cases, those are for one-off purchases and not extendable to the addition of extra panels – although there are always exceptions to the rule. Take a thorough look through your state incentives and make sure to look into green energy funds and projects. It helps if you have followed the above advice and have accurate and provable records on the savings your current system is providing and a realistic estimate on what additional capacity can add. If your project will meet your entire energy needs then chances are that you will have much more success in finding an alternative way to shave a chunk off the costs.
Expanding existing solar energy systems can sound like a troublesome process but the truth of the matter is that such projects are performed daily and rarely encounter any serious issues. Just be sure to understand that it is not quite as straightforward as just ‘rigging up’ some new panels to an existing system and that you need to make sure energy is being properly processed into your supply. We’d suggest that anyone looking towards expanding their solar energy system consults with experts before paying out a penny – the best companies will have plenty of experience in this line of work and know all the local regulations and incentives to the letter.