What are Solar Panel Optimisers and why fit them?

Welcome to the World of Solar Panel Optimisers

In your journey towards harnessing the power of the sun for your energy needs, you may have heard about a crucial component that can supercharge your solar power system’s performance – the solar panel optimisers.
Today, we invite you to join us as we delve deep into the fascinating world of these optimisers, shining the spotlight on two industry frontrunners – Tigo and SolarEdge.
Whether you’re a solar newbie or an experienced aficionado, this exploration promises to enrich your understanding and appreciation of how optimisers can enhance your solar energy experience. Let’s get started!
Solar panel optimiser

The Hidden Heroes of Solar Energy: Solar Panel Optimisers

When considering solar energy, we often think of the broad panels soaking up sunlight on our roofs. However, there’s more to a high-performing solar system than just the panels themselves. Tucked away, out of sight, yet critical to the efficiency and output of your solar array, are devices called solar panel optimisers.
These tiny yet potent components are the unsung heroes of solar power generation. Their task? To Optimisers take on challenges such as shading, different panel orientations, and varying degradation rates, conditions that, left unchecked, could significantly reduce your solar system’s overall efficiency.
Brands like Tigo and SolarEdge are at the forefront of this technology, offering optimisers that enhance solar energy production. These powerful little devices not only boost energy generation but also provide greater design flexibility, improving the overall look of residential solar installations. As such, optimisers present a cost-effective method to significantly upgrade your solar panel system’s functionality.

 

The Technology Behind Solar Panel Optimisers

Now, let’s delve into the nitty-gritty of how these optimisers work. At their core, solar panel optimisers use a technology called Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT). This technology helps mitigate the mismatch problem by adjusting the voltage and current of individual panels, thereby optimising the output.
Tigo, for instance, applies a concept known as “impedance matching.” It adds resistance in parallel to individual panels, providing two potential paths for power: through the panel or through a bypass tunnel around a shaded or underperforming module. This feature ensures that if one panel underperforms, the system can exclude it from the string. What’s more, Tigo employs Predictive IV technology to predict a module’s optimal settings, maximising power drawn from the entire array.
On the other hand, SolarEdge provides a comprehensive all-in-one system, including SolarEdge optimisers, a SolarEdge inverter, and SolarEdge monitoring. By connecting each solar module to a power optimiser, the system ensures that each module delivers optimal solar energy production

Benefits of Fitting Solar Panel Optimisers

There are several reasons to fit solar panel optimisers. The first and foremost is to maximise the power output from your solar panel system. By overcoming issues caused by shading, different panel orientations, and uneven degradation, optimisers can significantly increase your system’s output.
Tigo’s system stands out in this regard as it only requires optimisers on panels directly affected by shading. This selective application of optimisers makes Tigo a cost-effective solution. Conversely, SolarEdge provides a complete system, which not only manages optimisation but also covers aspects like battery storage, EV charging, and other smart devices.

Understanding Tigo and SolarEdge: The Popular Brands

When we talk about solar panel optimisers, Tigo and SolarEdge are the two brands that often come to mind. Tigo’s TS4 optimisation technology can work independently of the PV inverter, which makes it compatible with any inverter.
In contrast, SolarEdge offers an integrated system where the optimisers, inverter, and monitoring platform are all developed by SolarEdge. This integrated system allows for seamless functioning and compatibility between the components.

Installation of Solar Panel Optimisers

The installation of solar panel optimisers is usually quite straightforward. They are installed beneath each solar panel, connected to a small box clamped under the frame, and then the panels are wired together. In the case of Tigo, the optimised output from the strings is fed into any normal string inverter.
On the contrary, SolarEdge’s system is slightly different as it requires a specific inverter, which is part of the SolarEdge system.

Unlocking the Advantages of an Optimised System

By optimising the power output of your solar panels, you not only get more energy but also reduce power losses due to panel shading or mismatch. Beyond this, optimisers also provide flexibility in panel installation, enable comprehensive module-level monitoring, and enhance the longevity and performance of your solar system by ensuring that each panel operates optimally.

The Question of Cost: Are They Worth It?

While the upfront cost of fitting optimisers might deter some homeowners, it’s essential to consider the long-term benefits. The increased efficiency and potential savings on electricity bills often outweigh the initial investment. It’s a classic case of spending a little more upfront to save significantly in the long run.

Harnessing Data: The Power of Monitoring

Both Tigo and SolarEdge provide monitoring capabilities, but they have different approaches. Tigo’s system can function with or without monitoring, depending on which optimiser model you choose. For monitoring capabilities, you need to connect the Module Optimizers, Tigo Access Point (TAP), and Cloud Connect Kit.
In contrast, SolarEdge’s monitoring platform offers module-level data and allows you to manage your solar energy and control other connected smart devices. SolarEdge is widely acknowledged as offering one of the best solar panel monitoring apps available today.
In conclusion, understanding solar panel optimisers, their functionality, and how they fit into your solar panel system can help you make informed decisions about optimising your solar power generation. Both Tigo and SolarEdge offer high-quality and safe DC power optimisation solutions, and considering either can significantly enhance your solar system’s performance.
To learn more about solar panel optimisers, visit our solar section at elec-inn.co.uk/solar. With an optimised solar panel system, you can harness the sun’s power more efficiently and contribute to a more sustainable future.

Solar panel optimiser

How We Use Optimisers: Practical Use Cases

Solar panel optimisers, with their various benefits, come into play in numerous scenarios when setting up a solar energy system. Here’s a look at some common situations where we find them especially useful:

1. Mitigating Shading Issues

While we always strive for unobstructed solar panel placement, sometimes unavoidable shading can occur. This could be due to nearby trees, buildings, or even chimney shadows that move throughout the day. Shading can drastically reduce the output of your solar panels as they work in a string formation – if one panel is underperforming due to shade, it affects the output of the entire string.
This is where solar panel optimisers come into play. They allow each panel to function independently, meaning even if one panel is affected by shading, the others continue to operate at full capacity. It’s an essential solution to maximise energy generation in shaded conditions.

2. Accommodating Multiple Roof Directions

In many properties, the roof design isn’t a simple, single-plane layout, making it challenging to achieve optimal sunlight exposure for all panels. If your rooftop has different sections facing various directions, an ordinary inverter may not efficiently handle the energy generated from multiple angles.
Solar panel optimisers solve this problem by allowing for maximum power point tracking (MPPT) on a per-panel basis, rather than for the entire string. This capability means you can install panels on different roof sections without worrying about decreased efficiency.

3. Enhancing Data Monitoring

Another excellent feature of solar panel optimisers is the granular data monitoring they offer. They can provide panel-level performance data, enabling you to keep a close eye on your system’s operation and quickly detect any potential issues.
By offering insights into each panel’s output, optimisers allow for early detection and resolution of any performance dips, ensuring your system always operates at its best.

4. Boosting DC Safety Features

Optimisers also offer enhanced safety features. They enable panel-level disconnect, which means that in case of any electrical faults, they can isolate the problem to a single panel rather than affecting the entire system. This is crucial not only for the longevity and maintenance of your solar installation but also for the safety of any maintenance personnel working on your system.
By integrating solar panel optimisers into your system, you’re not just optimising your solar panel efficiency, but also enhancing safety, improving data monitoring, and gaining greater flexibility in system design. It’s a small component that makes a big difference.

Conclusion

Harnessing the power of the sun for sustainable, clean energy is a remarkable feat. But, the real magic happens when technology like solar panel optimisers are introduced into the mix. These devices, whether from Tigo or SolarEdge, offer enhanced design flexibility, improved aesthetics, and increased functionality for your solar panel systems.
They are a key tool to tackle common challenges such as shading, irregular roof layouts, and the need for advanced data monitoring and enhanced safety features. With optimisers, your solar panels are free to function independently, maximising their potential and ensuring you get the most out of your investment.
The crucial takeaway here is that solar panel optimisers ensure you get the best performance from your solar panels, irrespective of panel mismatch, varying orientations, or shaded conditions. They boost efficiency, enhance safety, and provide detailed insights, all leading to a more robust and efficient solar energy system.
If you’re considering a solar energy system for your home or business, or looking to optimise an existing one, don’t overlook the power of these little devices. You’ll find the investment in optimisers is quickly justified by the enhanced performance of your solar setup.
Take action today to make the most out of your solar power system. Reach out to us for a discussion on how we can leverage solar panel optimisers to supercharge your solar power generation!
If you are considering Solar Panel and want to speak to our team please get in touch