Next Generation Solar Power Systems
The solar industry in Australia has moved on from the days of a centralised inverter. Nearly all Solaray installations now feature advanced technology that allows for panel level output and one of the best solutions available is from SolarEdge.
DC Optimiser technology facilitates increased performance, added flexibility, panel level monitoring and increased safety. Let’s check out why you too should choose to power your home with a SolarEdge system.
With a SolarEdge system, there is a small power point tracker integrated into each solar panel, which allows for each individual panel to output power independently from the other panels, significantly increasing system output.
According to Renewable Energy World, shading of as little as 9% of a solar system connected to a central inverter, can lead to a system-wide decline in power output with as much as 54%.
The below image is a great example of how SolarEdge can significantly increase output. In this image, the system will be working at near maximum output, despite the patchy shade because each panel is independent from the rest of the array.
Solar panels are manufactured with a power tolerance. Each manufacturer is different, however the better brands tend to have a +3% range. For example a 320W panel from LG Solar will be anything from 320W up to 329.6W. Q Cells Q.Pro panels have a +5W tolerance so the 265W panel will be from 265W to 270W and so on. The only way to take advantage of this is to use a system such as SolarEdge that facilitates panel level output, otherwise you will be outputting power at the rate of the worst performing panel in your array. At best this will be at the panels’ rating, at worst it may be much less.
Under performing panels
An independent study by CSIRO for Choice Magazine tested one panel from 15 of the most common solar panels available in Australia. During the test, they found that 12 out of the 15 panels performed under their claimed nominal power, some by as much as 10W. Because only one panel was used in the test, it was impossible to draw strong conclusions about certain brands, however it certainly drew attention to the fact that there are some large inconsistencies between a manufacturer’s claimed nominal power and the real world output. For example a 260W panel from one of the largest manufacturers in China scored a test result of 251W. This inconsistency highlights just how critical it is to have access to panel level monitoring (we will get to that).
The star performer in this test was LG Solar; their 300W panel produced a test result of 307W. This is in line what we have seen from our LG Solar systems installed across NSW and emphasises the importance of buying good quality panels.
Trees are not the only thing that affect solar output
Solar panels work on light (not heat) and so the glass on the solar panels needs to be clean and free of debris for the panel to be at peak performance. Shade from trees is an immediate obstruction that obviously impacts output, but it is the build-up of dust, pollen and pollution over the course of a few months that will typically go unnoticed. This is critical because even if you monitor the output on your central inverter, how are you to know if one panel is under performing if all you have access to is total system output?
Yes, the rain will often wash most of the debris off most of the time, but in NSW we will often have months without rain, and in Sydney our air is full of dust, salt from the ocean, pollen and pollution, especially near main roads. What’s more, things like bird poo often won’t wash off, but with a SolarEdge system only one panel will be affected instead of the whole string.
Heat is also one of the main factors that affects output from a solar panel, and typically the panels in the middle of the array get much hotter than the panels on the end of each row.
vs a String Inverter
One of the biggest limitations with standard string inverter systems is that the panels are installed in series, meaning that the system will always perform at the rate of the worst performing panel. This means that partial shade on even just one panel can have a large impact on the output of a system.
Compatible With The Tesla Powerwall
SolarEdge is currently the only solution in Australia that is fully compatible with Tesla’s Powerwall home battery.
A solar storage system from Solaray Energy allows households to store excess solar power to use in the evening, potentially giving homeowners the freedom to be powered almost entirely by solar power. The beautifully functional Tesla Powerwall home battery maximises the usefulness of your solar panels and allows you to run your home off renewable energy.
SolarEdge’s StorEdge™ DC coupled storage solution allows home owners to maximise self-consumption and enables energy independence. Unused PV power is stored in a battery and used when needed to maximise self-consumption. The solution is based on a single inverter for both PV and storage. Existing SolarEdge systems can be upgraded to the StorEdge™ solution.
SolarEdge technology allows our solar technicians to design a panel array across multiple roof areas – both across different orientations and angles. Panels can be installed on roofs sections facing west, north and east – all on the same string. What’s more, a SolarEdge system can have up to 45 panels on the one string, reducing the cost of safety hardware that needs to be installed on each string such as DC isolators and cabling.
If you use most of your power in the afternoon, it can be beneficial to have panels facing both north and west to distribute the output of solar power across the day. This avoids having a big peak of solar power in the middle of the day, making it easier to use a larger percentage of the solar power as it is generated, and hence increasing the value of your system.
A SolarEdge system comes with panel level monitoring – free for life. This is a very valuable feature for system owners and for us as the installer, and it is something that very few manufacturers offer free of charge.
A SolarEdge system is connected to the internet, where you can login to the SolarEdge portal on any device to monitor system performance, system status and you can even access detailed output graphs over time at the module level. As your SolarEdge Installer, Solaray receives automatic emails alerting us to any technical issues, making it simple to conduct system checks remotely from our head office in Glendenning, or even when our technicians are on the road.
SolarEdge systems feature increased safety, minimising both fire risk and electrocution risk. Whenever AC power in the home is off, the SolarEdge DC wires are automatically deenergised to 1V. Power optimizers shut down the DC voltage in the PV wires to protect installers, maintenance personnel, and firefighters.
No Single Point of Failure
In the unlikely event that something goes wrong with one of the panels, the rest of the system that is unaffected will still be operational. This allows for less down time, and allows you to continue to generate solar power during a warranty claim or service check.
Remote Technical Support
Both SolarEdge and Solaray as your installer have access to live, real time monitoring of every panel. In the event of a fault, Solaray receives an automated message to alert us to the issue. This can save you days of downtime and the frustration of having to call out a technician to troubleshoot an unknown performance issue.
SolarEdge systems are expandable, limited only by your roof space and the size of the installed inverter. If a panel needs to be replaced in the future, you will not need to match the new panel to your existing array. This allows you to take advantage of any technology gains over the next few years. For example, you may find that in 3 years’ time, 350W panels are the market standard.
With a standard string inverter, you need to match the inverter size to the panel array to ensure high performance. This means that adding panels normally requires the inverter to be replaced. The other limitation is that we need to match the panels in order to add panels to a string. This limits the upgrade window to around a year or so, as trying to find old stock is close to impossible due to the fast advances in technology.
12 Year Warranty as Standard
SolarEdge offer a 12 year warranty as standard on the inverter, and a 25 year warranty on the power optimiser that is integrated into each solar panel. One of the reasons Solaray are considered to have industry leading support standards is that we offer full replacement warranties. Solaray do not have ‘back to base warranties’ where you need to send faulty parts to the manufacture.
All of the main string inverter manufacturers including SMA, ABB (Aurora), Schneider Electric and Growatt offer a 5 year warranty as standard.
SolarEdge systems are battery ready and fully compatible with the Tesla Powerwall.
SolarEdge’s StorEdge DC coupled storage solution allows home owners to maximise self-consumption and enables energy independence.
The StorEdge interface allows connection of the Tesla Powerwall Home Battery to a SolarEdge inverter, is simple to install and connects the Powerwall Battery to the SolarEdge Meter. The system is designed with safety in mind as it eliminates DC voltage and current during installation, maintenance, and firefighting.
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