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Solar PV equipment

Our key standard for all the solar systems that we provide is that we only use equipment we would be happy to install on our own homes.

Your solar PV system consists of three main pieces of equipment;

 

Solar Panels

Although they may look the same, not all solar PV panels are created equal. They may have the same rated capacity, they do not all produce the same amount of energy. The best analogy would be cars with the same size of engine from different makers.

As a starting point we evaluate panels using simulation software to ascertain likely performance in local conditions.

We also research the provenance of specification and production methods. We look for fully automated manufacture with the minimum of human intervention at all stages to help ensure consistency of quality and performance.

The performance warranty offered on panels is one we pay attention to. Performance slowly degrades over time. Most offer to guarantee 80% of output at 20 or 25 years. However this is often stepped during the life of the panel, meaning it could drop by a significant amount in the earlier years and still meet the terms of the warranty. We only use panels with a linear performance guarantee to avoid this pitfall.

The aesthetics of how panels look may be important. Panels are often black or have a black black frame giving a better appearance.  We specify these where ever possible and will discuss this with you.

There are occasions where roof space is limited. It may then be beneficial to use a higher performance panel, one that produces a greater output for a given size. There is often a price premium that must be weighed against the increase in output. We will always show you the cost benefits of proposong their use.

Inverter

The inverter is at the heart of a solar PV system. At a most basic level, the inverter converts DC electricity generated by the PV array to AC electricity the same as that supplied by the Grid. It also synchronises to the AC frequency and cycle.

However, things are a little more complex than that.

It tracks current and voltage to maximise yield, known as maximum power point tracking (MPPT). Also in the event of a power failure on the grid, the inverter must shut down until power is restored. This is known as anti-islanding. This prevents the inverter from continuing to feed power into the grid, which would present a risk to workers who may expect the area to be unpowered.

Inverters are highly efficient in converting DC to AC. Many exceed 97% efficiency.

One other function of some inverters in to provide system monitoring. Where ever possible we specify inverters that provide this facility. Most have an inbuilt server which is connected to your home network to display the information on your computer. This shows real time energy generation, allowing you to better utilise available electricity.

Inverters do not last forever. It is likely within the life of your system, the inverter will need to be replaced. Wherever possible we specify inverters with a ten year warranty to help mitigate this.

Mounting Equipment

Many mounting systems are superbly engineered but principally for German roof construction which is very different to that in the UK. (Germany being the biggest PV market). As a consequence they are not always suitable or compliant with UK standards. The mounting systems we use are designed for UK roofs. They are tested and certified to a new standard, MCS012. This means you can be assured that the integrity of your roof will be unaffected by your PV installation.

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