Installing solar can be a great way to reduce your electricity bills and your carbon footprint. But, as with any investment, it pays to look ahead with solar when exploring your options.
With the summer bushfires not far behind us, many people are thinking about safety and energy resilience (blackout protection) more than ever before.
Future-proofing your tech can protect you from shelling out for new kit if your energy needs change. It can also ensure you get full use out of your system, so you maximise your savings and recoup your investment faster. Not to mention keeping your home safe and operational, even when the grid goes down.
Some questions to ask yourself when thinking about which inverter to install …
are you thinking you’ll buy an electric vehicle when they reduce in price?
do you want to be able to easily and cost-effectively add a battery when they drop in price?
do you want to migrate away from gas for environmental or cost reasons?
are you after full visibility of your system, so you know right away if something isn’t working exactly as it should?
how important is it to you to have blackout protection when the grid becomes unstable?
So Which Are the Best Components to Future-Proof?
The Engine of Your Solar System
Solar panels do a great job producing clean electricity from sunlight. But the engine of your system is your inverter. It’s the one component above all others that you don’t want to skimp on, as it’s the most prone to failure and it’s the most expensive to replace (given the panels are largely subsidised by the Federal government rebate). Your inverter converts the electricity generated by your panels from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC), which powers your home and can be sold back to the grid.
If your inverter is solar-only, keep in mind that if you want to add battery storage in the not-too-distant future, you’ll have to buy a battery inverter, which can be quite expensive if installed separately to your solar.
SolarEdge can also handle extra kW, so you can oversize your solar array (by as much as 200%) when you add a battery. eg. install a 12kW system with a 6kW inverter.
If you have any shading issues, SolarEdge allows for individual panel performance (ie. other panels won’t be affected if one is impacted by shade, bird poo, leaf litter or one panel is underperforming). They each work to their individual optimum. It also gives you individual panel monitoring via an app on your phone or PC, so you can see how each of your panels is performing at any given time.
Plus you can install more panels on a limited roof space, by installing closer to obstructions/shade.
The Smarts Behind Your Solar System
Your inverter isn’t just the engine of your system; it’s the brains too, as it lets you control how and when your solar energy is used.
For example, when your system is producing excess electricity, you can either sell it to the grid or with a smart inverter, you can:
automatically charge your batteries so you can power your home when the sun goes down.
divert the surplus energy to pre-heat your electric hot water system (so it doesn’t need to run as long overnight).
Direct high-energy consuming appliances such as air-con, pool pumps and heat pumps to start operating when there’s surplus energy. If a cloud then blocks the sun and your electricity production subsequently drops, the inverter stops sending solar energy to these dedicated appliances.
The result? Full system utilisation, lower electricity bills and a faster payback on the cost of your system.
To further speed up your return on investment, you can join a virtual power plant (VPP). A VPP is a network of solar and battery systems, where members can buy and sell their stored solar power and make a profit when there’s demand for energy in the grid. SolarEdge is one of the VPP-compatible brands.
Australia’s Unstable Grid
Australia’s electrical grid is becoming increasingly unstable. As a result, electricity network operators want the ability to control your system’s power output if the grid gets overwhelmed. eg. if there’s too much solar being produced in the middle of the day.
This can be a problem if you have a standard AC-coupled grid-connected solar and/or battery system. The operator can turn down or even switch off your system if there’s too much solar being fed into the grid. With most batteries being connected to the grid, this means they won’t charge when this occurs.
But, with a SolarEdge solution, your battery is connected directly to your solar inverter. So your solar and batteries will keep charging, regardless of what happens to the grid. With the right SolarEdge inverter, you can also have blackout protection should the grid go down.
There’s a lot to think about … but we’re here to help guide you on the right solution for your needs. The Energy Experts take the hard work out of installing solar and batteries and can help you future-proof. Get in touch today to learn more.