So what is a smart solar system and why are so many customers installing it these days? With almost one in four households now having a rooftop solar system installed, solar power has changed the way many of us use, buy and manage our energy but a lot has changed over the last 10 years.
Panels are now twice as powerful, one 10th of the cost really, and look better than they did 10 years ago, but it’s with the inverter where the real leaps forward have happened.
Put simply, inverters convert the DC power that solar panels produce to AC power that your home uses. 10 years ago, there were no smarts, no controls and in fact, it was often guesswork whether you were saving money or how much. 10 years ago, all inverters were what’s called string inverters, which had a number of pretty significant limitations.
So let’s fast forward to today. Today, almost all the systems we install are smart but what does smart mean when talking about solar? When we talk about smart solar, we mean a solar system that is firstly, optimised to generate the most power during all daylight hours.
It also has smart management software that allows the system to maximise savings and put customers in control of their energy usage. It’s also smart enough to know when something’s wrong or when it’s not right, and to do something about it and it will work together with a smart solar battery to keep your home running at the least cost and in a blackout. Oh, and it’s safe from fire risk. Okay, so this really is in part of a smart system but we think it’s really, really important anyway.
So let’s just spend a minute looking at where we’ve come from so we can see just how important smart solar is today. A number of years ago, solar inverters consisted of a single box, which all the solar panels fit into. This had a number of problems, not the least of which is that it didn’t work very well. You see, with a single old-style inverter what happens is that because of the way the panels are wired together, the entire system would operate at the output of the worst performing panel and because all panels perform differently, even if they’re from the same manufacturing batch, you automatically lose up to around 5% of your output. If even one panel is shaded, has a leaf on it or is damaged, this gets dramatically worse.
The other major thing the solar industry has learned over the last 10 years is that having high DC power running through your roof and your house is just downright dangerous and a fire risk.
The modern, smart solar systems we install convert the DC to AC on the roof, which is leaps and bounds ahead of the old technology. This is done by using a small or microinverter placed under each and every panel. What this does for a solar system is it increases the output and therefore the savings by between 4% and 25% as each panel can operate independently. This is particularly important if a panel is shaded or soiled by for example, bird droppings, or if it’s faulty.
The other major benefit is that it is much, much safer than the old string systems, especially in terms of fire, because it only uses AC cabling which is protected by circuit breakers. There are a number of other advantages of this system, such as being able to have panels facing in different directions but for this video, the most important one is that it truly is a smart system.
The Enphase microinverter system comes with really smart, clever software that gives you control of your energy usage, how much you save and how you manage your energy at home and because each panel operates independently, the software called Enlighten, not only gives you all that but also proactively monitors the health of your solar system. Meaning you always know it is delivering what you expect. Coupled with a smart battery, such as the Tesla Powerwall, this system will also keep operating in a blackout and even keep charging your battery during the day to keep your power on at night.
Smart solar systems are now the heart and brain of any home management system. It’s where you really do make sure that your solar power is working for you and earning you the best return on your investment. And it also means that if or when you install a solar battery, you will get the most value from that as well.
Of course, these smart solar systems use complex technology to work well. So they need to be designed, installed and most importantly, managed and supported by experts and Solaray Energy has been awarded the installer of the year by Enphase in Australia every year for the last five years. We have the most experience, the best track record and importantly, we have a dedicated team of support staff to ensure your system works as expected and to help you with how to get the most from it.
So if you are looking for a modern state-of-the-art smart solar system in Australia today, make sure you talk to us at Solaray. We specialize in Enphase microinverters more than any other solar company, with more customers than any others and with the longest track record of support and service.