Why would you want to do this? To save more on energy costs. Here’s how you should go about adding solar panels to your existing solar system.
What are your options?
- You can add more solar panels using your existing inverter.
Your inverter’s rated peak power can be maximized up to 133%. For example, you can install up to 2kW of panels to a system using a 1.5kW inverter. This is because energy losses result in a power output that is lower than your system’s maximum capacity. 3kW-panels, for instance, produce approximately only 80% of their rated peak power. So if you are currently only using less than 100% of your inverter’s capacity, adding more panels is a cost-effective way to harness more energy.
Remember, however, that you will have to hire the same solar installer to do the upgrade so as not to void your system’s existing warranty.
- Switch to a bigger inverter to accommodate more panels.
This is your next best option if you will be adding more panels than your inverter can handle, or if your solar installer is unable to find panels similar/compatible to what you already have. If you’ve been using a cheap inverter for a few years already, chances are it has already lost a lot of its efficiency, so you can replace it with a bigger and more efficient brand of inverter and not worry about your current inverter going to waste. And then you can add more panels.
If you will be getting a new and bigger inverter, better invest in one that has two or more inputs, so you’ll have the option to install extra panels that are different from your existing ones. Again, it’s important to have your original installer do the upgrade to retain your system’s warranty.
- Install a second solar system.
This would be your option if you don’t want to replace your existing inverter. Your second solar system will come with a separate warranty. Your two inverters (existing and new) will be in grid-connected, so adding batteries with backup might prove complicated if you’re planning on doing this down the line. Installing a new system is also more straightforward than adding and integrating new panels into an existing system, so the installation might even be cheaper than upgrading.
What are the factors to consider before adding solar panels?
- Your current energy consumption to determine how many panels you’ll need to add.
- Available space for extra panels. Ground-mounted arrays are easier to upgrade with additional panels because there’s usually more extra space. Roofs have limited space, but you can use the roofs of other structures on your property if necessary.
- Compatibility of solar panels. Your installer will have to source new panels that are similar or compatible with those in your existing system to ensure that they will match your current panels’ efficiency and power output.
- Your utility company might require new permits and interconnection documentation for the installation of new panels or a new system.
If you want to increase your energy savings or if your energy needs have increased, upgrading your existing solar system by adding new panels is a great option.