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Is it a problem that my solar PV reads 280 volts?

Posted by Chris Rudge on 17 March 2017 at 4:50 pm

Is it a problem that my solar PV reads 280 volts?

Q. I have 12 solar panels, six facing east and six facing west. I have two inverters, one of which is a 'Sunnyboy', but I don't know which model. It was checked today and I was told its voltage is 281 when it should be around 240 volts. Is this a problem? Do I need something to reduce…

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Battery storage for solar PV: Which battery to choose?

Posted by Chris Rudge on 30 March 2016 at 12:55 pm

Battery storage for solar PV: Which battery to choose?

Battery storage bolt-on options for existing renewable energy generation systems are now becoming the next 'must have' for people looking to either reduce their energy bills or increase their energy security at times of power cuts. I have been providing different types of battery syst…

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Review of the SOLiC 200 Immersion Controller

Posted by Chris Rudge on 11 August 2014 at 9:06 am

Review of the SOLiC 200 Immersion Controller

In the quest to test as many of the current immersion heater controllers that let you use all your excess solar PV generated power, I got hold of a SOLiC 200 immersion controller to try out. My first impression was that unlike most of the other immersion controllers that are on the market, th…

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How closely should the input of an inverter match the output of a solar array?

Posted by Chris Rudge on 18 November 2013 at 10:31 am

How closely should the input of an inverter match the output of a solar array?

Q: How important is it to match the Max DC input of the inverter, to the maximum possible output of the solar array? Some companies have given me quotes where the output/input are miles different. A: It is standard procedure to install an inverter that is up to 20% lower in power rating than …

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Is all my solar electricity being exported?

Posted by Chris Rudge on 10 October 2013 at 9:22 am

Is all my solar electricity being exported?

Q: I suspect that all the generation from my 3.12 kW Solar photovoltaic panels is being exported as since installation almost 2 years ago my electricity bills have increased rather than reduced despite over 5,000 kWh being generated. How can I check this is the case? A: Any power be…

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Should I buy a device to store my solar generated electricity?

Posted by Chris Rudge on 13 September 2013 at 10:18 am

Should I buy a device to store my solar generated electricity?

Q: I have solar PV panels on my roof. There are now some devices becoming available that enable one to store the surplus electricity to use at another time, for example after dark. They are expensive to purchase though. How do they work; are they a good investment; and are there any models y…

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What happens to excess solar power when the batteries are full?

Posted by Chris Rudge on 20 June 2013 at 9:25 am

What happens to excess solar power when the batteries are full?

Q: I want to find out how my solar panels deal with excess solar power when the batteries are fully charged. It is a 24 volt system: 4 x 165 watt panels  into 2 kW inverter   stand alone system. A: As an off grid, stand alone system, I assume your power usage is quite low if the bat…

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Can I charge my tenants for solar generated electricity?

Posted by Chris Rudge on 28 May 2013 at 9:01 am

Can I charge my tenants for solar generated electricity?

Q: I have a property which is a farmhouse with attached barn conversion. I live in the barn and I rent out the attached house to tenants. The two properties are on one electric supply and we have PV array on the barn roof with meters in both properties so we can monitor who uses how much electric…

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Is my roof strong enough to take solar PV?

Posted by Chris Rudge on 25 March 2013 at 9:33 am

Is my roof strong enough to take solar PV?

Q: I live in an old stone cottage (c 1830) with roof rafters that I'm sure wouldn't pass current building regs for strength, even though they're not the original ones. The walls seem sound enough though. Would it be possible to put up a solar pv array that was supported on the 2 end w…

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Review of Amelec Intelligent Solar Switch

Posted by Chris Rudge on 17 December 2012 at 9:27 am

Review of Amelec Intelligent Solar Switch

For the cost, this looks to be really good value. The Amelec Eco2 Solar Switch is housed in a standard electrical housing such as used for consumer units and the like. As can be seen from the photo, it also has a standard DIN rail for fitting your selection of MCB/ RCD depending on application …

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Review of IntellyGreen PV Kit: intelligent solar power monitoring

Posted by Chris Rudge on 30 November 2012 at 11:16 am

Review of IntellyGreen PV Kit: intelligent solar power monitoring

The IntellyGreen PV kit setup is not just a power saving device to send excess power to an immersion heater or similar, but has a comprehensive large LCD display to provide information on your power usage too. The complete set I tested comprised of a radio transmitter unit to be installed n…

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Review of ImmerSUN: using solar electricity to heat water

Posted by Chris Rudge on 27 November 2012 at 9:28 am

Review of ImmerSUN: using solar electricity to heat water

This relevant newcomer to the market of power optimisation of solar PV systems seems to have taken off in a big way due to facilities, design and marketing. Certainly this little unit is well packaged and documented.  Unlike most of the other PV power optimisation units currently on the …

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Can I connect solar PV to my storage heaters?

Posted by Chris Rudge on 16 August 2012 at 8:37 am

Can I connect solar PV to my storage heaters?

Q: Can I connect my solar power to my storage heaters, and what are the pros and cons? A: I would strongly advise that unless you have a large (10kwP) solar PV system, having a diversion unit installed to re-direct excess power to a storage heater during the day will not be economic, ma…

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Making the most of your solar generated electricity

Posted by Chris Rudge on 23 February 2012 at 9:55 am

Making the most of your solar generated electricity

A lot of people ask how they can make the most of the power generated by their solar PV system. This question is especially important now the feed-in tariff (FiT) rate is (or will be) 21p as you will want to get the best from your investment. You will receive an export payment which will be 'deem…

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Do I need to clean my solar panels to maintain efficiency?

Posted by Chris Rudge on 17 November 2011 at 7:33 am

Do I need to clean my solar panels to maintain efficiency?

Q: Research seems to suggest that solar PV panels are not especially durable and suffer from failure. Even if they lasted 25 years of time (and I have not seen one company offering the domestic user anything like that length of guarantee), I have read that they deteriorate in efficiency and …

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How to know if your roof is sound enough for solar panels

Posted by Chris Rudge on 19 September 2011 at 3:29 am

How to know if your roof is sound enough for solar panels

Q: I've built a few houses and know how important it is to have calculations for roof trusses, considering the weight and "sail" potential of PV (I'm considering a 3.99kw 21 panel Schuco system in excess of £10k). Who takes responsibility if this lot blows off or you get some structural damage? The…

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Auto control enables use of solar PV for immersion heater

Posted by Chris Rudge on 16 September 2011 at 10:38 am

Auto control enables use of solar PV for immersion heater

Chris's previous article on how to use excess solar generated electricity in the home generated so much interest that he has written a follow up that goes into more detail about about the control he has built to use solar-generated electricity to heat water. One of the side issues of the …

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Strict enforcement of G83/1 restricts installation of 4kWp solar PV

Posted by Chris Rudge on 30 August 2011 at 9:54 am

Strict enforcement of G83/1 restricts installation of 4kWp solar PV

Many installers may have already encountered the newly enforced grid connected inverter G83/1 requirements recently. In simple terms, all the District Network Operators (DNO's) have finally got together and are now insisting that all installations should completely comply with G83/1 requireme…

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How important is voltage for a solar PV inverter?

Posted by Chris Rudge on 22 June 2011 at 9:20 am

How important is voltage for a solar PV inverter?

Q: I am thinking of installing a solar electricity system. I believe that the inverter is a key element. One company is peddling an inverter that operates at half the voltage of others. Is this an important factor when deciding which system to go for. A: All inverter manufacturers have …

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How to store your solar generated electricity to use in the evening

Posted by Chris Rudge on 11 May 2011 at 9:28 am

How to store your solar generated electricity to use in the evening

Q: I have installed solar panels and am amazed at the power I am creating.  This is great in sunlight hours - but has anything been produced to store this power so I can use it in the evenings?  This is such a waste of free power, surely someone somewhere must have this on board.  …

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Solar PV across different facing roofs

Posted by Chris Rudge on 3 September 2010 at 12:59 pm

Solar PV across different facing roofs

Q: I'm thinking of installing solar PV panels on two roof aspects, one south facing the other east. Can you please explain in layman's language what is meant by 'series' and 'parallel'. Different installers are recommending one or the other or both!  A: Unlike battery charging PV systems, a…

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Inverters for solar PV panels: your questions answered

Posted by Chris Rudge on 6 August 2010 at 8:52 am

Inverters for solar PV panels: your questions answered

Q1: I hear that inverters for solar PV systems typically last a maximum of 5 years, (Sunnyboy ones seem to fall over in Cambridge after a year, because of the way the grid is here). At £1,000 a pop, that makes a big difference to the economics of PV/ FITs, so it would be great to have someo…

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Why solar PV panels don't work so well in the heat

Posted by Chris Rudge on 19 July 2010 at 9:32 am

Why solar PV panels don't work so well in the heat

During these last few weeks of hot sun, which are a welcome change from the rain of previous  few years, we have been getting calls from customers asking why the output from their solar PV panels is down, even though there is bright sun beaming down onto it. The simple answer is solar heatin…

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How to read IV charts for PV solar panels

Posted by Chris Rudge on 6 April 2010 at 10:14 am

How to read IV charts for PV solar panels

Q: I'm being offered a Sharp 235w panel instead of Powerglaz 235w. The IV (current/voltage) charts look different. Can someone explain IV for me? A: I've just had a look at the charts for the Powerglaz polycrystalline 660235 against the Sharp NU235 Monocrystalline, and see that they do have diff…

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What's the best mounting for solar panels?

Posted by Chris Rudge on 10 February 2010 at 9:07 am

What's the best mounting for solar panels?

Flush fitting of a solar photovoltaic (PV) system to generate electricity has both benefits and downsides over the more popular 'on roof' mounting. The benefit is a PV array that is more integrated-looking, although to keep that essential cooling airflow to ensure the system works at maximum effi…

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Is my roof too shaded for solar PV panels?

Posted by Chris Rudge on 14 January 2010 at 7:10 am

Is my roof too shaded for solar PV panels?

If you are thinking of having a solar electricity  system installed in 2010 to take advantage of the last chances of getting a lump sum grant before the Feed In Tariff starts in April, the first thing to do is look for a good location to install it. Traditionally for domestic Solar PV (photo…

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How to deal with snow on solar PV modules

Posted by Chris Rudge on 7 January 2010 at 11:36 am

How to deal with snow on solar PV modules

This past weeks little deluge of snow may have provided a nice seasonal blanket of white over your solar PV modules. While the glass in most modules has self cleaning properties, the adhesion of snow means it will cover the modules until the temperature rises. In the case of a ground mounted system,…

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Solar panels fall in price

Posted by Chris Rudge on 11 November 2009 at 10:30 am

Solar panels fall in price

There is both good news and bad news in the solar PV (photovoltaic) installation world. Over the last few months, the cost of solar electricity modules has fallen by anything up to 10%. This is due to an early year slump in demand throughout Europe in caused by the credit crisis. There had also b…

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Solar panels have never been so attractive

Posted by Chris Rudge on 10 August 2009 at 10:50 am

Solar panels have never been so attractive

With the feed-in tariff due to start in April 2010 (after a short consultation period to October) the benefits of installing a solar photovoltaic (PV) system on our houses before the end of the 2009 are probably better than we will ever have again. Simply put, if you have a PV installation befor…

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