Things to consider before adding more solar to your existing system

As energy costs rise and technology continues to advance, many UK homeowners are expanding their existing solar systems.

Whether you’re looking to add more panels, integrate or increase battery storage, or both, adding to your solar set-up can offer numerous benefits. It can increase your energy independence, reduce your electricity bills and potentially boost your property value. It can further shrink your carbon footprint, while making the most of the latest advances in solar power generation and storage.

However, before you dive into this project, there are several key factors to consider. This article will guide you through the essential aspects of expanding your solar system, helping you make an informed decision that maximises your investment and energy savings.

Understanding hybrid systems

A home solar system combines solar panels with battery storage, allowing you to generate, store and use your own electricity. A typical domestic set-up comprises:

  • Single inverter: The heart of the system is a specialised inverter that manages the flow of electricity between your solar panels, batteries and home.
  • Solar panels: These capture sunlight and convert it into electricity before feeding it into the inverter.
  • Batteries: Energy storage allows you to use solar power even when the sun isn’t shining, making your system more versatile and efficient.

This type of system offers greater energy independence and can significantly reduce your reliance on the grid. If you want to expand your existing solar set-up, you can add in a new ‘hybrid’ system to work alongside your current one. Your installer can programme the new inverter to prioritise using solar energy from both systems, ensuring you make the most of your total solar generation.

However, if you’re currently benefiting from a feed-in tariff (FiT) scheme like the Smart Export Guarantee, it’s crucial to understand how expanding your system might affect your payments. FiT schemes offer financial incentives for the electricity you generate and export to the grid. Preserving these benefits should be your top priority.

Risks of modifying your current system

Altering your existing solar system by changing or adding panels, inverters or other components could jeopardise your FiT payments. In some cases, even minor modifications might lead to your losing your tariff, resulting in significant financial consequences.

To maintain your benefits while expanding your solar capacity, consider installing a separate system that runs alongside your existing one. Your new ‘hybrid’ system should complement your current set-up without directly interfering with the FiT-registered system.

Adding a separate system allows you to increase your solar generation capacity without risking your FiT benefits. It also provides an opportunity to incorporate newer, more efficient technologies that may not have been available when you installed your original system. While your new system won’t be directly connected to the FiT-registered set-up, it can still work in harmony with it. 

Modern solar systems can be programmed to prioritise self-consumption, ensuring you use as much of your generated electricity as possible before exporting to the grid. And if you’re adding battery storage, your new system can charge the batteries using excess power from both your existing and new solar panels. This maximises your total solar generation use and increases your energy independence.

Key things to consider

When expanding your solar set-up, you’ll need to consider the compatibility between your existing equipment and the new components. This includes factors such as voltage requirements, communication protocols and monitoring systems.

Assess your available roof space for additional solar panels and consider where you’ll place new equipment like inverters and batteries. Ensure you have adequate space that’s easily accessible for maintenance and meets safety requirements. Expanding your solar system may require upgrades to your home’s electrical infrastructure. This could include modifications to your consumer unit, wiring or meter set-up. It’s essential to have a professional assessment, from a solar specialist like Electrical Innovations, to determine what changes, if any, are necessary.

Before expanding your solar system, conduct a thorough cost-benefit analysis. Consider the upfront costs of new equipment and installation against the potential long-term savings on your energy bills. Factor in the expected lifespan of the new components and any maintenance costs. Estimate how much additional electricity your expanded system will generate and how this will affect your energy consumption patterns. Calculate the potential reduction in your grid electricity use and the associated cost savings.

Finally, research any current government incentives or grants that might be available for solar system expansion. While the original FiT scheme is closed to new applicants, other incentives like the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) might apply to your new system.

Choosing the right approach

Before expanding your system, evaluate your current energy consumption and how it might change in the future. Consider factors like electric vehicle charging, home improvements or changes in household size that could affect your energy needs.

Seek advice from an experienced solar installer like Electrical Innovations who can assess your existing system and provide tailored recommendations for expansion. We can help you navigate the technical and regulatory aspects of adding to your existing solar set-up. We’ll explain the various options for expanding your solar system, such as adding more panels, integrating battery storage or installing a completely new hybrid system. We can also help you evaluate each option based on your specific circumstances, energy goals and budget.

How can we help?

Expanding your existing solar system can offer significant benefits. A well-designed expansion can adapt to your changing energy needs and help you take advantage of advances in solar technology.

But, it’s essential to approach the project thoughtfully. Given the complexity of solar system expansion, it’s crucial to consult with our solar experts who can provide personalised advice. We can help you navigate the technical, financial and regulatory aspects of your project.

So, if you’re interested in adding more panels or another inverter to your solar set-up, integrating battery storage or both, give us a call to see how we can help ensure your upgraded system continues to meet your energy needs, well into the future.