A Guide to Good Solar Health
Over to 1 in 5 households have have installed solar panels. While panels are reliable, faults can still occur and, unfortunately, these faults are often only discovered when the next energy bill arrives, if at all. Furthermore, many households do not take full advantage of the solar energy they produce, exporting much to the grid for a reduced price.
In this talk you will see a range of case studies showing common faults with solar systems and how you can use data to diagnose them before the next energy bill comes. You will gain insights on how, with adequate data, you can adjust your energy consumption to make the most of your solar investment.
Outline/structure of the Session
1 - 5 minutes: Introduction, explanation of the situation of solar in Australia
5 - 12 minutes: Case studies on shading. Shading reduces the amount of energy a solar panel can produce. Even a small amount of shading can greatly reduce an entire array's production. I will show examples of shading caused by growing plants, how a build up of dust on the panel can reduce performance and in an extreme case why an owner moved the panels to a more appropriate position
12 - 20 minutes: Case studies on over voltage problems. During the day most households are producing more solar than they are consuming so the excess energy is sold back to the grid. This can cause problems where the voltage on the energy grid becomes too high, which causes the inverter to shut down and stop producing electricity. But the inverters will turn on every few minutes to check what the voltage situation is. To detect this problem we need high resolution data, otherwise it appears the system is performing at 10% of capacity rather than turning on and off every few minutes.
Furthermore, persistent over voltage problems are a real issue for the electricity grid. I will present some examples of over voltage problems, solutions, as well as how smart distributed systems can solve related grid problems
20 - 25 minutes: how home owners can take solar production data, combined with their energy consumption data, to make the most of their solar. For example in the evenings, after the sun has set, people will turn on the air conditioner. For many households it will be more economical to turn the air conditioner on earlier to pre-cool the house and to take advantage of their free solar power. For a household to know if this is beneficial for them, detailed data needs to be available.
25 - 30 minutes: Conclusion and questions
- An understanding of the faults that can occur with solar panels and the importance of high resolution energy production data
- How to manage household consumption so as to take better advantage of your solar panels
Everyone, especially those who are interested in solar energy