How You Expand Your System Depends On The Inverter
The inverter in your system converts DC electricity from the solar panels into AC electricity that your home can use. When it comes to system expansion, there are really two types of inverter: microinverters and string inverters.
String inverters are central units that perform the energy conversion for the entire array. This includes both conventional string inverters and those that incorporate power optimizers, such as the SolarEdge HD-Wave series. A string inverter has a maximum input/output capacity, beyond which you wont be able to connect any more solar panels.
If you have a string inverter, youll be able to add more panels to it only if there is spare capacity. If the inverter is already operating at maximum capacity, you can still expand your system, but youll need to either purchase a second inverter or upgrade the existing one. In most cases it will be less expensive to get a second inverter, but an installer can talk you through the options.
The better situation is to have a system based on microinverters. With microinverters, each solar panel is paired with its own inverter. To expand this type of system, you can simply add more panels and microinverters. Youll only be limited by the size of your roof.
How Many Additional Solar Panels Can You Add
The number of solar panels you should add will depend on how much additional power you need to generate to offset your current usage adequately. When you add solar panels to your existing solar energy system, it is recommended that you use the same type of solar panels that your solar energy system already currently uses. If the exact solar panels that were initially used arent available, then youll want to use another solar panel that is rated to produce the same amount of power that your current solar panels are generating.
Why Doesnt My Solar Energy System Offset 100% Of My Solar Energy Needs
The short answer is because your habits may have changed since getting solar. We used your utility bill to custom design a solar energy system that would meet the energy needs of your household. If you suspect that your system isnt producing enough energy, its possible that youve started consuming more energy since activating your solar energy system. Additional energy consumption is often the result of new appliances or consumption behaviors, such as:
- Getting a pool or hot tub installed
- Running heat or air conditioning for longer periods of time
- Getting an electric vehicle
- The introduction of medical devices
- A new person living in your home
All of these things have an impact on your electric bill, so you end up pulling more from the electric company because your solar panels cant keep up.
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Ways To Add Solar Panels To An Existing System
You have many options to choose from if you want to add solar panels to your existing system. Your decision should be based on your electricity output goal, as well as your unique situation.
Weve gathered some of the best options so you can see which one suits you best.
Permits In Adding Solar Panels To Existing System
If you want to add more panels to your system, will you need new permits? The answer can depend on many factors. First, it depends on how many panels you want to add. It is also important whether or not you need to get a new inverter. Lastly, the permitting requirements in your area are worth noting.
If you want to add more than a couple of kilowatts and you need to purchase an inverter, you most likely have to submit an interconnection application with your utility company.
Installation companies in your area should be aware of the permits required of you. And they can also typically help you file these as part of their services.
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Does It Matter If I Chose A Ppa Or Lease
When signing your home purchase agreement, your sales agent will ask you if you would like to finance your new homes solar or sign a lease agreement. The homes listing price does not typically include the cost of the solar system. Any additional costs can weigh heavily on the homebuyer in the decision-making process. For this reason, leases can be an appealing option because they are less expensive than financing. For more information on leasing vs. solar ownership, read our article on Why You Should Own Your Solar .
Because the solar system is not owned by the homeowner, companies are not allowed to make additions, inspect, or repair leased systems or PPAs. With a purchased system installed by a different contractor, companies may perform these services. However, the workmanship warranty provided by the installing contractor may be null-and-avoid after another company has tampered with or made additions to their existing system.
To accommodate our customers, Solar Negotiators and Solar Maintenance Pros offer a replacement workmanship warranty upon services rendered. Our workmanship warranty offers lifetime coverage, and protection of the system, and production monitoring so our customers know they havent compromised anything when they request a service call.
Does Adding More Solar Panels Require Additional Permits
In some cases it can be required to get a permit if you want to add more solar panels.
This can depend on many factors such as the size of your system and how much power they put out, but in most cases this isnt necessary.
So before going ahead with any new panel installation make sure to check with local authorities since if can require a permit in your area.
The whole process can be relatively quick and painless, but its always best to check first before making any major changes!
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Will You Be Eligable For Incentives
Increasing the size of your existing solar system might not make you eligible for some rebates such as tax credits.
Further, you might face some problems with your PBIs such as your feed in tariff and you might need to apply for a new one.
So before you buy any additional solar panels it can be highly beneficial to consult an expert as they can help you avoid such scenarios and can provide guidance on how much power your system can handle.
You Might Not Have The Ideal Location On Your Roof For Extra Panels
Your original solar array should have been placed on the best part of your roof for solar panels. This means south-facing with minimal or no shade. If you want to add more panels, you may find that the ideal location on your roof has already been used, and youll be forced to consider east, west, or even north-facing panels.
While west-facing panels are often desirable because of utility prices that vary during the day, east-facing isnt as good and north-facing is usually the worst choice of all.
It is possible to install panels on the north side of a roof, especially if the panels are tilted up using a method known as reverse tilt, but in general a north-facing array should be considered a last resort.
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Can You Upgrade An Existing Solar System
Ever since you went green, youâve installed a solar system that powers your entire home. The system has been working just fine but you increased your consumption with the addition of a few appliances or machines. Possibly, you developed a new hobby that eats up your power, or some panels just slowed down.
The new electric car you bought recently guzzles up your last watt of power. The stress is evident in the monthly bills, and you have to do something. Fortunately, your roof is spacious enough to support a few more panels, and you are wondering, “can you upgrade an existing solar system?â
Yes, you can upgrade the existing solar system, as long as the upgrades meet the standards outlined by the policies of your state and network provider. The additions must work seamlessly with the existing panels, inverters, or battery storage.
An upgrade can be either a repair or an alteration.
You only repair the specific parts of the system that are worn out. However, the technician can also check if the other parts are working correctly. Repairs aim at restoring the system to the initial standards that existed at the time of installation.
Then, alterations are a strategic change in the way the system works. This could include a few replacements or additions of panels, inverters or batteries. Alteration upgrades aim to improve the system to current standards.
Talk To The Professionals
Deciding whether to add more solar panels to your system can be a big decision, and you want to ensure you will receive the right return on your investment. Our team of friendly experts at Project Solar UK will be able to help you, no matter how far along you are on your solar journey. Get in touch with us today.
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Can I Add More Solar Panels To My Existing System
So youve invested in solar power and youre enjoying the benefits, but youre starting to wonder if its possible to expand your system and increase your savings. Is it as simple as adding more solar panels?
You have already experienced the advantages of solar, you are happy with your investment and have seen how your energy bills have been going down, thanks to solar energy. However, you may be wondering, can I have even more power? Do I need to consider adding more solar panels?
This is something that usually happens to solar customers after some time. First, they are not quite sure of making the investment in solar they are not sure about how the technology works whether the system they installed will be profitable if the solar installer is reliable if the products they purchased were good or bad quality, or maybe simply they didnt have the money to install a big system. Therefore, many homeowners decide to install a small PV system at first, just to put solar energy to the test.
Nevertheless, as some years pass by, the homeowner realises that the investment made was indeed profitable, that its saving money on electricity and that they should have installed a bigger system.
If thats your case, here we will show the available options that you have to expand your PV system. But first, lets take a look at an important question.
Most Solar Installers Have A Minimum Project Size
If you only want to add a few solar panels to your array, you might discover that many solar installers wont take the project. Very small projects often dont have enough profit margin to make them worthwhile for companies. When speaking with installers, you may find that many have a minimum project size of 3 or 4 kilowatts, which is about 8-10 panels.
One way around this is to oversize your array to meet the minimum size, but at the same time utility companies often have a maximum size limit on the array to prevent homeowners from generating more electricity than they use. Because of this, you might find yourself unable to size your system expansion to fit within the minimum and maximum sizes imposed by the installer and utility company.
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Can Your Breaker Box Handle The New Addition
One thing that can determine whether you can add more solar panels to your current system is the breaker box.
Most homes have a standard 200 amp service which can be upgraded in some cases or use a solar ready panel, but for most homeowners this isnt enough.
This can cause issues when trying to install new solar panels since your new system can output more electricity than the bus can handle, which can lead to fires and damage to your home appliances.
In this case it is highly recommended to consult an electrician about upgrading the breaker box if you want to add more solar panels!
So before buying any additional solar panels make sure to consult a professional and upgrade your breaker box first!
Things To Consider When Expanding Your Solar Pv System
Space and Location
One of the first things youll need to consider is where the additional solar panels will go. If you previously installed a roof-mounted system, there may not be an area available thats well-exposed to the sun for more panels. If you have a ground mounted system, available space may be less of a concern, however, youll have to consider this when deciding how many panels you want to add. Remember – panels that face south and are free from any shade perform the best.
Desired Additional Capacity
Now that youve considered what kind of room you have for new solar panels, you can start thinking about how large your additional system should be. Determine your goal for the project. Do you want to cover 100% of your electricity usage, or do you want to just reduce your electricity bill? Talk to your solar installer and share your current electricity bill with them, so you can determine what the best size is to meet your specific goals.
Incentives may be different for expanding your solar system than when you installed solar for the first time. But the good news is, as long as you own your solar system , and you have tax liability, you will be able to use the 26% Solar Investment Tax Credit from the federal government.*
If youre a business, youll also be able to take advantage of MACRS accelerated depreciation, which accelerates all tax savings from depreciation to the year you install your system.
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Extra Space On Your Roof
Lets say you installed your system in the last couple of years and that you do not have access to a generous, state-sponsored solar feed-in tariff. Youre free to add more panels as you see fit or as fit into your budget. In this case, your options are the same as those described above in section 2.
Current Size Of Solar System
The size of your current system may influence how many more solar panels you plan to add. If your solar installation stays below 3.68kW generation with the added panels, there shouldnt be any problem.
If you plan to generate over 3.68kW with the added panels, youll have to submit a G59 application form to the Distribution Network Officer . You must receive permission before installation can commence. This is to determine whether the increased size of the system can operate within the existing grid framework. Your installer can help you with the application process, but it may take several months before you get a response.
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Homeowners With An Exiting Solar Array Sometimes Want To Add More Panels To Generate More Electricity Here’s The Different Ways It Can Be Done
If you have a home with a solar array, its pretty common to find yourself using more electricity than you did when the solar panels were first installed.
Solar homeowners tend to be interested in other green technologies such as electric vehicles, heat pumps, and induction cooking. If you installed solar panels years ago and then, say, bought a Tesla, you may find that your solar panels no longer fully cover your electric bill.
Of course, theres no rule that your solar panels need to cover 100% of your homes electricity needs. Even if you generate only half of your annual electricity usage with solar, thats still a significant financial and environment benefit.
But if you do want to upgrade your solar array to add more power generation, it is possible. By adding new panels and possibly upgrading your inverter, you can expand your system to keep pace with your electricity usage. The feasibility will depend on considerations such as having enough roof space and the type of inverter you have. You may also find that the project isnt cost effective. With those caveats in mind, many existing home solar systems can be upgraded.
Can You Add Batteries To Your Existing Solar System
For years, batteries have been a way to store excess power for solar systems. But until recently, due to their high cost and low efficiencies, they only made sense for few, mostly off-grid solar systems. However, as battery prices continue to decline and batteries themselves become more and more effective, they are growing into a viable option for many grid-tied solar systems as well.
If you installed your system a few years ago, batteries may not have made sense. But as the market changes and technology advances, you may find yourself wishing you could take advantage of energy storage.
If youre wondering whether or not you can install batteries in your existing solar system, the answer is yes! There are several ways you can integrate battery power into your existing solar system.
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Avoid Losing Your Feed
Upgrading could force you to forfeit the feed-in tariffs youâre currently enjoying with the old system.
Check your stateâs FiT rules and policies to avoid losing out. Policies change over time. Check any restrictions that govern how you upgrade your solar system.
Calculate whether youâd make more money on the current tariff. Then, consult your provider or power company before you upgrade your solar.
Also, find out if your electricity network provider allows an expansion or approves the new size of power production.
In some cases, you may have to treat the additional panels as a whole new system. Youâd keep the existing system’s tariffs, but youâd also incur lots of costs for the new installation.