Having solar power is an amazing investment that can reduce or even eliminate your electricity bills. However, like any major 25-year investment minor maintenance is required to get the most out of your system.
One easy way to maximise your system is to stagger your energy usage throughout the day, especially during peak electricity hours.
1. Get a professional installation.
Professional solar installers are credentialed and trained in the technical knowledge and craftsmanship required to make your solar power system a success. They can help you evaluate your energy needs and roof structure, as well as provide blueprints of how your home or business will be powered.
A professional installer can also take the stress out of navigating local government and utility company offices to get the necessary permits and approvals to complete your project. They can also handle the complex electrical work needed to connect your solar panel system to the grid and to your backup battery bank.
Solar batteries store the electricity generated by your panels during the day so that you can use it at night. They can also serve as a backup power source during storms or other weather conditions when traditional energy may be unavailable.
2. Take advantage of daylight hours.
A power system is a powerful tool that can meet the energy needs of a home or business. However, you must be careful to choose the right company for the installation process. A reputable company will provide recommendations, estimates, and equipment expertise. They will also help you navigate local and state regulations for your area. They will evaluate shade trees and other factors that can affect the performance of your solar system.
Install a charge controller between your panels and batteries to convert the direct current (DC) from your solar panels into alternating current that can power household appliances. This will improve your savings potential. Maximize self-consumption by putting electricity-intensive appliances on timers during daylight hours. This is especially important if your utility offers time-varying rates, which can make solar more beneficial than grid electricity.
3. Clean your panels.
Dirty panels reduce performance by up to 10%. This is due to air pollution, bird droppings and grease, or simply dust accumulated on the panels over time. It is important to clean solar panels at least twice a year to ensure they are performing as well as possible.
Cleaning your panels is easy, safe and a great way to protect the investment you have made in your PV system. There are a variety of over-the-counter cleaning products that work specifically for solar panels.
Be sure to use a product that does not contain chlorine as this can damage the solar panel glass. If you are planning to do the cleaning yourself, make sure you have all the right supplies and safety equipment. It is also a good idea to have the inverter and charge controller (for grid-tie systems) connected before beginning any cleaning work.
4. Install a battery.
Adding a battery to your solar power system allows you to store excess energy for use at night or during cloudy days. This reduces your reliance on the grid and lowers your electricity bills.
Battery storage is particularly useful if your utility has TOU rates or demand charges, which are fees that you pay for using a lot of electricity during peak periods. By drawing on energy stored in your battery during these times, you can reduce these extra charges.
Most solar systems have a grid-interactive inverter that converts the DC energy from the panels into AC electricity your household appliances can use. If you want to add a battery, you will need an AC coupled solution that can be connected directly to your switchboard.
5. Monitor your system.
If you want to maximise your solar energy savings and increase your savings, it’s essential to monitor your system regularly. A good monitoring solution will show you how much your system is generating at any given time, giving you valuable insight into your power consumption patterns.
Most of today’s inverters (and most off-grid inverters) come with built-in monitoring. However, a third-party monitoring system with module-level data will give you more in-depth information about your solar panel performance.
For example, Enphase MyEnlighten, available via web browser and mobile app, allows you to view your panel and inverter performance on an hourly basis, even down to the individual panel level. It will also alert you if one of your panels is underperforming. Having this information will help you understand fluctuations in your electricity bill and take immediate action to reduce them.