Are Solar Panel Optimisers Worth It?

By Dynamic Solar PV

Producing free electricity from your own solar panel system already brings in a host of benefits. You’ll be already cutting back on your electricity bills and making a positive impact on the environment by using a renewable energy source. But are your solar panels working as efficiently as they can be? A number of factors can slow electricity production down. Shading, temperature drops and a build up of grime reduces the amount of sunlight the panel receives. 

Did you know that if one solar panel connected up in a system underperforms, the whole system is affected? Solar PV panels are installed in a ‘string’, wired together in a series. The reason why is because of how the current flows through each solar panel as they produce electricity. However, if one of the panels connected up in the string is covered for some reason and receives less sunlight, it’ll affect the current running through to the next module in the series. 

You can avoid this problem from happening in different ways. You can ensure that there is nothing casting your panels in the shade. Regular cleaning will clear away any dirt, grime and bird droppings that will limit the amount of sunlight getting through to the panels. Yet one method can prevent a whole series of panels from underperforming due to a single panel dropping in productivity. You can install solar panel optimisers. 

What are solar panel optimisers and how do they work?

Solar panel optimisers improve the efficiency of the solar PV system by individually optimising each panel’s electricity production. There are different types of optimiser and some solar panels even have optimisers already built in. Optimisers are connected up to the panel where it then works by using Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT). They then adjust the maximum power point when outside factors start to affect how much electricity is being produced. It adjusts the voltage and current so that the panel keeps achieving its peak efficiency. As a result, even if a single panel starts to underperform, it doesn’t affect the panels connected up to the system.

Optimisers reduce the negative impact that outside elements have on your solar panels output. If during the day, some of your panels are cast in the shade as the sun position changes, optimisers ensure that only those panels are affected and not the whole system. Temperature also affects how productive solar panels work. Optimisers regulate the voltage output by converting direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC). 

How are solar panel optimisers installed?

You may be tempted to tackle the task yourself, but it is always best practice to hire a professional solar panel installer to fit solar panel optimisers to your panels. The task involves a fair amount of expertise to ensure each individual panel is optimised. The solar panel system will need retrofitting to incorporate the optimisers, resulting in an involved job that is best left in the hands of someone with ample experience and the skills required to get the job done to a high standard. 

At Dynamic Solar, our team of experienced solar panel installers and electricians are trained and qualified to optimise existing solar PV panel systems. If you’re looking to install a new system that’s fully optimised, you may wish to consider having smart solar panels installed as an alternative as they have optimisers already built in. It is also worth noting that not all solar panels can have optimisers installed. So we recommend that you arrange to have someone survey your property and your solar panel system. They can recommend the best solution to optimising your system so you can get the most out of your panels. 

What are the pros and cons of solar panel optimisers?

Pros:
Use renewable energy to heat your hot water supply
Reduced dependency on the grid
Save money on your electricity bills
Low maintenance
Increased energy efficiency

Cons:
Additional cost to your solar PV system
Not compatible with every solar PV system or water cylinder
No benefits during the night or on overcast days
Doesn’t store electricity for later use
Only effective if no other appliances are using the electricity supply

Do solar panel optimisers need any maintenance?

As with the solar panels themselves, optimisers don’t need that much maintenance as they have no moving parts. Once they are installed, they get to work in the background as they optimise each solar panel. However, just with any complex equipment, they can be susceptible to issues. The monitoring feature will flag up any problems so if panel productivity starts to become affected, you can ring up your installer for them to investigate. Your optimisers should come with a warranty which will cover repairs and replacements within that timeframe. 

Are solar panel optimisers worth the additional cost?

We believe they are. While they are an extra cost on an already pricy investment, they do combat outside issues that you can’t control such as the weather. Optimisers will boost the efficiency of your PV system whether or not shading is a problem that you’re stuck with. Along with all the other parts of your system, optimisers contribute to your overall electricity output and will ensure that you get the very best performance while the sun is shining. 

Find out more about optimising your solar PV panel system

Not sold on the idea of having your solar panels optimised individually? They aren’t an essential component to a solar panel system so there’s no pressure to invest in having them installed. However, if you want to make the most out of your future savings, an optimised system will deliver the best results in terms of electricity production and efficiency. 

Want to improve your solar PV panel system? Give us a call on 01202 985325. We are renewable energy experts, installing solar PV panels at both homes and businesses. We cover more than just installations with our end-to-end service. If you’re interested in making the move over to solar energy, we can give you a free quote to cover the cost of the panels, the installation, additional battery storage and also any extras to get the most out of your system. You can arrange for a free quote and survey here