What is Panel Level Optimisation?
Cheaper solar panels combined with attractive government rebates have spawned the solar revolution across Australia and have made it one of the leading countries in the world in terms of rooftop solar installation. The technology behind solar panels has also undergone a huge change in recent years.
While there has been a lot of improvement in solar power technology, most of those improvements have gone to the newer solar panels. Thankfully, there are also solutions to optimise existing solar panel installations with the help of certain products.
This blog post will explore various products and technologies that can be used for optimising existing solar panel installations to maximise the harnessing of solar power.
What is Panel Level Optimisation?
A typical residential solar power installation consists of several solar panels wired together in series. This configuration produces the maximum voltage when all the solar panels are properly exposed to sunlight. However, this configuration isn’t that efficient once a few of the solar panels start producing less energy. In short, the energy produced by a whole solar panel system depends on the weakest performing panel in the system.
Panel level optimisation involves using certain products that allow each panel to work independently. It prevents underperformance of the whole grid due to the underperformance of a single panel. The end result is that an optimised system starts producing much more energy compared to a non-optimised solar panel system.
What Problems Are Optimisers Solving?
A typical solar PV system consists of multiple panels that are wired together in series. All these panels work together to produce the maximum amount of energy. However, the energy production capacity of the whole system goes down when even a single panel starts underperforming. Let’s make it clearer with an example:
Consider 10 panels of 200 W each producing 2,000 W of energy when all the solar panels are exposed to sunlight. If one of the panels is now shaded due to a tree branch or cloud cover or something else, it starts underperforming and now produces only 100 W. Now, all the panels in the spring will start producing 100 W each. This is a big problem as a single panel has the potential to drag down the production capacity of the whole system.
Optimisers are designed to overcome this problem by ensuring that underperformance of a single or multiple panels doesn’t drag down the whole system.
Available Panel Level Optimisation Solutions
Several solutions are available in the market for panel-level optimisation. Some of these include:
- Smart panels with integrated PC optimiser
- Stand-alone PC optimiser
- Maxim Smart panel optimisation
A micro-inverter is a smaller version of the bigger string inverter. These micro-inverters are tacked onto the back of each panel and convert DC power into AC power. Stand-alone optimisers are mounted onto the back of each solar panel where the electronics inside monitor the performance and optimise the output to ensure maximum production of the system as a whole. One of the advantages of a stand-alone optimiser is that you only have to put them on the panel that is most likely to receive shade during the day. There are also smart panels with integrated optimisers. A maxim smart panel has inbuilt microchips that optimise cells in a panel to produce the maximum possible energy.
All these possible solutions have their own advantages and limitations. Micro-inverters are great but the cost might be prohibitive for some people. Stand-alone optimisers tend to be the cheapest as you only need to install them on the panels that are likely to receive shade. Maxim smart panels offer the best solution but not many manufacturers offer them due to them potentially interfering with the TV reception.
Do You Need Panel Level Optimisation for Your Solar Power System?
Panel level optimisation is needed for systems where a part of the system receives shade during daytime and you want to get the maximum possible efficiency from the panels. If only a part of your system receives shade, it’s better to invest in a stand-alone optimiser only on those panels. However, micro-inverters would make more sense in case shade moves across the entire roof where the panels are installed.
In short, panel-level optimisation is the best way to get the maximum possible efficiency from your solar panels. In some cases, the improvement could be more than 10%. At the end of the day, it all comes down to the amount of extra energy you can generate through optimisers and the cost of those optimisers.
There are several panel-level optimisation solutions available in the market. These solutions have the potential to increase the energy production capacity of your existing system by a considerable amount. However, these come at an extra cost. You need to sit down and do the math to figure out whether the extra investment in an optimisation solution is worth the extra efficiency.
Give our experts a call today and we will help you figure out the right panel-level optimisation solution for your requirements.
Switch to Solar Energy!
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