The Key Benefits of SolarEdge Systems
1. Increased Output
SolarEdge systems can output significantly more solar power in all weather conditions. With a SolarEdge system, there is a small powerpoint 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 power tolerance. Each manufacturer is different, however, the better brands tend to have a 3% range in tolerance. 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 a 265W panel will be anything from 265W to 270W and so on. The only way to take advantage of this is to use a system such as SolarEdge that features 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 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 affect 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.
SolarEdge 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.
2. SolarEdge is considered one of the World’s Leading Solar Power Manufacturer
SolarEdge is the 2nd most common solar inverter installed globally, has shipped over 15 million Power-Optimisers, and has the most systems installed in the USA (considered to be one of the leading solar markets globally).
Since 2009, SolarEdge has taken Australia by storm with revolutionary technology that allows each panel to work at its optimum power point, significantly increasing output in all weather conditions.
3. Home Automation
This is what so many homeowners have been waiting for, so it is with great excitement that home automation is now available in Australia from SolarEdge. You can now be sitting in the office, and with the touch of a button on your mobile phone turn on your air conditioner to run on excess solar power to cool down your house before you come home. You can also program appliances such as the pool pumps, hot water system and even under-floor heating to run on excess solar power when it is available, turning your solar system into a complete energy solution. The future of renewable energy has arrived!
4. Increased Flexibility
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.
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.
5. Panel-Level System Monitoring
A SolarEdge system comes with panel-level monitoring, free for life. This is a valuable feature for both system owners and for us as the installer because it allows our support team to identify faults on individual panels.
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 access detailed output graphs over time at the module level.
6. System Safety
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 de-energised to 1V. Power optimisers shut down the DC voltage in the PV wires to protect installers, maintenance personnel, and firefighters.
- SolarEdge inverters also have a built-in protection designed to mitigate the effects of some arcing faults that may pose a risk of fire.
7. 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 typically still be operational. This allows for less downtime, and allows you to continue to generate solar power during a warranty claim or service check.
8. Remote Technical Support
Both SolarEdge and your installer have access to real-time monitoring of every panel. In the event of a fault, your installer receives an automated message to alert them to the issue. This can save them days of downtime and the frustration of having to call out a technician to troubleshoot an unknown performance issue.
9. Easily Expandable
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, 400W 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.
10. A 12-Year Warranty as Standard
SolarEdge offers a 12-year warranty as standard on the inverter and a 25-year warranty on the power optimiser. The warranty inverter can also be extended to either 20 or 25 years, highlighting the quality of a SolarEdge inverter.
11. Identifying Faults
One of the biggest issues with an ageing solar system is that solar panels begin to degrade in output. An example of this is a blown bypass diode that would result in a 33% reduction of output. With a string system, there is no real way of knowing if this has happened, or if one of the panels is degrading too quickly compared to the other panels and the claimable warranty.
This information puts the control back in the hands of the system’s owner, allowing you to monitor the performance of your investment over the life of the system.
12. Battery Compatible
Combining SolarEdge’s breakthrough PV inverter technology with leading battery storage system, the StorEdge solution helps homeowners reduce the electricity bills while maximising energy independence from the grid. StorEdge is based on a single SolarEdge DC optimised inverter that manages and monitors PV production, consumption and storage.
SolarEdge’s StorEdge DC-coupled storage solution allows home owners to maximise self-consumption and enables energy independence through backup functionality to pre-selected loads such as lights, fridge, freezer, and your modem for when the grid goes down. Solar energy can also be stored for evening and morning use when the grid is working normally, offering demand response, peak shaving, and performing time of use shifting to significantly reduce your power bill.