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How to check that you are getting the most out of your solar panels

Posted by EvoEnergy . on 11 November 2013 at 9:48 am

Q: I am not sure if we are getting the benefit of the solar panels we had fitted in 2011. In short, we appear to be using the same amount of units as we did before the panels were installed. I understand it may be different appliances in the house which are responsible for the increase in expected usage. However, I have found out that the company who fit the panels are in liquidation. Do you know if there is an independent organisation who could help if I wished to get the fitting checked? I have been advised to look at REIGA but the company I used are not listed there. 

A:There are a few things that make generation look higher. Solar works more cost effectively if you use appliances during the daylight hours, as they directly use the energy produced. If you are mainly consuming electricity in the evening, then begin to make a habit of using appliances in the day time when the panels are operating. If you are out during the day, try to set timers on appliances such as your washing machine or dishwasher.

Over time panels will naturally degrade and produce less power; however this depends on your panel model. Mostly degradation is less than 1% per year, and higher quality panels will see even less in the first few years. This being said, the biggest jump is in the first few years after your installation, when you may see a difference in your energy production and consumption.

Having clean panels can noticeably improve performance. After severe weather or if you have had them for a while, give your panels a clean and allow them to let more light in.

Mainly, a combination of natural degradation, dirt and higher energy use will most likely be the reasons for what appear to be high energy consumption. Some of these problems you can solve, such as cleaning the panels and using your appliances during the day, however solar panels will naturally produce less over time.

There are many solar panel installers (such as EvoEnergy) that will be able to check the health of your solar panels. Use the YouGen website to look up companies in your area, and see who offers this service. By looking at other reader’s reviews of solar installers, YouGen can help you to select the right one.

More information on Yougen

The YouGen guide to solar electricity

How to clean your solar panels

10 tips to choosing a good solar pv installer

About the author: EvoEnergy  is an independent solar installer, helping homes and businesses around the country discover the benefits of cleaner, greener energy.

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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Comments

4 comments - read them below or add one

rogerhoward

rogerhowardComment left on: 23 November 2013 at 7:45 am

Those of us who are members of 'Microgen' can compare our monthly generation with each other, and I'd suggest you join. The Microgen forum members are also quite helpful in answering questions.

How does your generation compare with the SAP prediction that your installer provided you with? Or a PVGIS prediction? 7113kWh over 27 months sounds pretty good on the face of it.

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Caitlin Moran

Caitlin MoranComment left on: 12 November 2013 at 2:02 pm

Hi Caroline,

This is the blog that James@Joju mentioned.

James, thank you for your comment.

YouGen

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James@Joju

James@JojuComment left on: 12 November 2013 at 1:34 pm

Caroline

You should check your house meter is not clocking export as use (switch everything off on a sunny day and the meter should stop.) See the previous blog on export - very occasionally people have found faulty/incorrect house meters.

 

 

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caroline577

caroline577Comment left on: 12 November 2013 at 11:31 am

Hi.  Thanks for your answer.  I am doing all that you recommend in terms of using the appliances when the sun is out.  I work part time and my hubsand shift work so we are able to do this easily.  I don't use a tumble dryer often and the only new addition since we had the panels is a snake with a heat mat.  We use low energy light bulbs, turn lights out etc.

 The panels have only been up since 2011 so we haven't cleaned them yet but we will do.  The problem is that when I checked with suppliers I seem to be on the same electricity consumption as I was prior to the panels (approx 4000kwh per year).  This is  despite generating over 7113kwh of solar power in 27 months.  Because the installer has gone into liquidation I am concerned that they may have installed them incorrectly in the first place, maybe not wiring up to the electricty meter properly or something.  Is this possible aqt all?  Are there any checks we can do.  I have looked on line and the diagrams are quite confusing to follow in terms of how the panels should be linked in to the meter.  If the only option is calling out a ucrrent supplierto check, do you have any idea of the cost?  Thanks very much and I apologise for the numerous questions!!

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