The Benefits Of The SolarEdge Inverter Solution
What is an inverter?
An inverter is an essential part of a solar PV system as it converts DC voltage into AC voltage. Solar panels generate electricity in DC, whereas household appliances run on AC electricity. Inverters are basically the brain of the solar system. They direct energy from your solar panels either into your home or back to the National Grid. Or if you have a solar battery, a hybrid inverter will transfer excess energy into charging this up. The inverter is a small box-like piece of equipment that will usually be installed in your loft or your garage.
Traditionally, the most common type of inverter was the 'string inverter'. With this, the panels are connected on either a single or dual string and they feed back to the inverter as one or two blocks. String inverters are the cheapest type of inverter, however they do have some drawbacks. Similar to Christmas lights, string inverters can experience problems if one of the modules underperforms. If one of your panels is covered with dirt or shade as an example, it can cause the rest of the panels on that string to also underperform.
What is SolarEdge?
SolarEdge is a solution to the Christmas light problem, by collecting the output of each solar panel individually! Meaning that if one panel is temporarily affected by shade it will only affect that one panel, rather than the whole system. This essentially maximises your solar energy production.
So how does it work? The SolarEdge solution includes an electronic control box called a power optimiser to each solar panel. These power optimisers then feed back to the SolarEdge inverter separately.
What are the benefits of SolarEdge?
1. Get the maximum power from each panel
One of the main SolarEdge benefits is that the system will get the maximum power from each solar panel. By having power optimisers on each panel, it takes the maximum power from each panel individually. Modules won't be weakened by other underperforming modules as seen in the Christmas light problem of traditional inverters.
There are a number of things that can affect the output of your panels. Shade, dirt, bird droppings or leaves could potentially impact the amount of energy that you are getting from your solar panels. With a traditional inverter, if one panel is weakened it will also weaken the output of all of the other panels.
The below diagram illustrates this well.
2. More solar energy
SolarEdge inverters are among the most efficient with a 99% efficiency rating. This means your system will be producing more energy, leading to quicker return on investment and higher electricity savings!
Most string inverters have an efficiency rating of between 93-96% so over the lifespan of your product the extra efficiency is likely to make a difference to your generation and savings.
3. Monitor your solar generation and usage
The SolarEdge solution includes connectivity to the SolarEdge portal which allows you to monitor your solar panels. On this online portal/app you can see the output of each individual panel as well as your system data over time. This is great to see how much you are saving, and there is an option for the portal to also show how much energy you are using in the house.
4. Higher capacity allowance
Once your system has been installed your solar installer will inform the local distribution network operator (DNO). The DNO limits domestic systems to 16 amps per phase, equivalent to a 3.68kW system.
Traditional string inverters can handle solar PV systems up to 4.2kW, whereas SolarEdge inverters can take systems with a capacity of up to 5.7kW. While the DNO limit remains at 3.68kW, it will only be for short periods of the year and of the day that the system will be generating at maximum capacity. So, if your system is working at 65% and you have a 3.68kW capacity installed you will only actually be getting 2.4kW of energy. If however, you have 5.7kW system you can receive the full capacity allowance of 3.68kW.
You might be thinking what about the wasted energy that is clipped? First of all, this is only going to be a small amount of the annual energy that is clipped. Secondly, if you install a solar battery this excess energy can go into charging your battery so you can save the energy and use it later.
5. Superior safety solution
PV systems are generally a very safe technology and shouldn't pose an inherent danger to people or properties. Despite this, the system deals with high electric voltages running through the cables.
With traditional inverters, as long as the sun is shining on the solar panels, DC electricity will still be running through the PV cables. SolarEdge however automatically de-energises the DC electricity when AC power is shut down.
This ensures complete safety for installers, maintenance personnel, firefighters or anyone else who might need to access the system.
6. Protect your investment
With a traditional string inverter, if something goes wrong, you may not notice, until you come to take your quarterly meter reading. Often you will have to go and manually check the inverter. With SolarEdge however you can access performance information straight from your mobile and get alerted if anything isn't working as it should be.
7. System lifetime warranty
The SolarEdge system is there to match the rest of your system. The optimisers are designed to match the duration of your FiT scheme, so that you are optimising your system well into the future.
- Power optimisers: 25 year warranty
- Inverter: 12 year standard warranty (can be extended to 20/25 years)
- Monitoring - free for system lifetime!
Fairly simply, the longer your warranty the more secure your investment is.