Installing solar panels at your home or business will benefit both your budget and the environment as you’re drawing on a renewable energy source to power daily operations. Your energy requirements will determine the number of solar panels, but it’s worth considering oversizing to better power your inverter. Here’s why.
Also known as a photovoltaic (PV) array, the solar array is a collection of solar panels that generate electricity. The solar array is often connected to an inverter which converts the DC power produced by the modules into AC power used for business and household energy requirements.
What is an inverter?
As mentioned, the inverter is connected to the solar array to convert DC to AC power. It is a compact piece of equipment that can also be powered by a combination of batteries which can be charged by solar panels. It’s important that this conversion happens as most household appliances and electrical fixtures require AC power to work.
What are the benefits of oversizing?
When you’re looking to install a solar array, you’ll need to take into account your energy requirements to determine the panel number. However, it’s often safest to go with more panels than fewer. Here’s why:
- Reduced panel efficiency
When considering the size of your panel array, it’s important to note that there are various factors that will reduce your panel efficiency over time – up to 10% as a rule of thumb – which is why oversizing is often recommended. Some of these factors include:
- The tilt angle of the solar array
- Higher temperatures
- Cloud cover
- Sun position
- Sun hours (the amount of time the sun is positioned to generate power)
- Maximise daytime energy
If you’re installing your solar array at a business, then it’s likely you’ll want to maximise on your daytime energy use from the PV system to avoid peak-capacity charges. By oversizing the solar array, the inverter is able to reach its AC capacity earlier in the day and continue operating into late afternoon.
- Lower inverter costs
When you choose to oversize your PV array, you’re increasing the DC energy output so that it better matches the AC power of the inverter. This allows you to use an inverter with a lower AC rating, which means a more economical inverter can be used.
- Fewer inverters
In oversized PV array systems, you’re able to achieve a higher energy output with fewer inverters. This translates to a reduction in inverter costs, but also saves you on space required for more inverters. In residential or commercial properties where there’s limited space, or where the inverters require specific storage, this could be hugely beneficial.
- Easier inverter replacements
With your oversized PV array system, you’re able to easily install an inverter with a lower AC output power. This makes finding a replacement inverter much easier and more cost-effective than when you have a smaller solar array.
- Split the array
Your solar panel installer will choose a position that maximises the energy output, facing the panels either north or south. While this is often the best location, in some instances, east- and west-facing orientations will be beneficial in terms of solar energy. With an oversized solar array system, you’re able to split the strings so that you’re benefiting from peak output power at different times of the day.
Factors to consider when oversizing
Although oversizing your PV array can save you in the long run, as well as providing you with more energy throughout the day, it is not always possible. Here’s a look at what you’ll need to consider:
- The PV system
Oversizing will apply to on-grid solar systems rather than off-grid solar systems, as off-grid systems have different sizing requirements. Sizing for off-grid relates to the maximum load required for running appliances, rather than daily use.
- The inverter input voltage
Inverters are designed and rated for certain input voltage levels, and exceeding this will cause the inverter to fail. When oversizing a solar array, you’ll need to check the inverter input voltage levels so that there’s no risk of going out of range.
- Inverter operating efficiency
When you oversize your solar array, the inverter will operate at close to its rated AC output power, so there could be a problem with too much heat generation. This might require that the inverter be placed in a room with cooling or air flow for heat dissipation.
Investing in a solar array is always a good idea, but it’s important to consult with industry professionals such as JUP Solutions to ensure you’re getting the right size PV array for your energy needs.
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