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Solar Panels

penneck
Rising Star
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Registered: ‎03-08-2007

Solar Panels

I'm hoping it is okay to have this topic here. I'm looking for people who know what they are talking about when it comes to domestic Solar Panel systems.

I have just had my solar panel system checked for the first time since it was installed 4 years ago. Apparently it is only generating about a fifth of what it should be doing, and I was told that they hadn't fitted a regulator after the invertor. The story is that the system will work without a regulator but will be susceptible to mains surges (which we get a lot of here). The trouble is the cost of supplying and fitting an invertor would be £2500.

My income from this system isn't anything like what I was expecting. If I get the regulator, am I throwing good money after bad?

Thanks for any help

 

11 REPLIES
Community Veteran
Posts: 18,026
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Registered: ‎06-11-2007

Re: Solar Panels

Just "dun a google" on  Solar Panel Installation... found this

 

https://www.greenmatch.co.uk/blog/2014/09/solar-panel-installation-and-maintenance

 

hope there is some good info there for you..

 

Baldrick1
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Registered: ‎30-06-2016

Re: Solar Panels

I have a solar system. It neither has or needs a regulator. When there is a surge the inverter provides its own protection. This year my inverter failed after 5 and a half years. Unfortunately it only had a 5 year guarantee so I had to pay for a replacement. The manufacturer's agents replaced it, it cost £1100 fitted including a 10 year warranty. Nothing in the guaranty conditions mentions the need for a regulator.

Fitting a regulator will not increase the amount you are generating. There are sites on line where you can input your  location and the direction your panels are pointing and it will give you an estimate of how much you should be generating.

My panels are not ideally aligned but to give you an idea I generate about 3200 kWh per year from a 4kWp 16 panel system so do your own sums to see if you are only getting a fifth of the rated system output. If that's true then something on your existing system is broken. Buying a regulator will not fix it.

These systems are maintenance free so paying for a 'service' is a con, especially if there's pressure to buy 'enhancements'. Save your money.

if I can help further do come back here. Alternatively send me a PM when I can possibly give more details.

Community Veteran
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Registered: ‎04-08-2009

Re: Solar Panels

@penneck

Who told you that you need a regulator? What kind of regulator? Was it by any chance the same people who fitted the system?

Normally after the inverter all you should have is an electrical circuit breaker of some kind. Inverters are built to withstand surges and glitches and any major voltage excursions can be dealt with by the circuit breaker if it's the automatic type.

Have you got a battery backup for supplying the house in a power cut? If so there should be a regulator to control the charge for that but it's fitted before the inverter.

What's the area of panels that you have in square metres?

Edit: you might find this useful...  https://www.exeoenergy.co.uk/solar-panels/solar-panel-output/

penneck
Rising Star
Posts: 772
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Registered: ‎03-08-2007

Re: Solar Panels

Thanks to all of you for your help. My system is only 8 panels, 5 facing south east, and 3 facing south west. The person who checked my system today said the company that had fitted my system was no longer in business, that they had fitted a good quality solar panel type and invertor, but had not fitted a regulator. There isn't any battery backup. They didn't seem to want to leave any documentation identifying themselves, and I hadn't contacted them asking to come. They phoned me saying that they were due to do a free check on my system, and it was only during the conversation with the tester when he had arrived that it turned out it wasn't the original installation company. Everything they told me, I have no way of confirming, but I said I wanted to think about it before deciding on the regulator. They are going to phone me in about a week for an answer - I can tell you now that it will be NO.

However, I have had one question that has nagged me for some time, that you have pointed to an answer - should I clean the solar panels? It seems it should be done monthly (or even weekly) but has to be done with care. Quite how I do it is open still. I guess I need a ladder, a hose, and a soft sort of brush on a pole (like you use for cleaning upstairs windows from the ground), but the panels can be damaged so take care.

Thanks to all. Regards

Community Veteran
Posts: 2,562
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Registered: ‎04-08-2009

Re: Solar Panels

Just use a hose, nothing abrasive. If they are mounted at a reasonable tilt, say 35 degrees, they should stay fairly clean anyway unless it never rains where you live. A telescopic soft brush if they are very dirty. I do mine every three or four years with just a hose. 

Baldrick1
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Re: Solar Panels

It sounds like the company who installed them has gone out of service and flogged their customer list to this company. The same thing happened to me and I received a letter explaining the perils of not having a service contract. It went straight in the bin! I suggest that you avoid this company as I imagine that the 'free service' is no more than a ploy to flog service plans and extras that are simply not needed. When my inverter failed I rang the manufacturer and they provided a very efficient replacement service. This same organisation will also replace solar panels if I ever have a problem so there are reputable companies out there if you actually have a breakdown.

If you read the blurb that comes with the solar panels the manufacturers claim that they are self cleaning. Mine have been up over 6 years now and I have not detected any loss of average output. Is it the same people who claim that they need regular cleaning?

Baldrick1
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Re: Solar Panels

@nozzer

By regulator my guess is that it's an attempt to flog the OP a voltage optimiser such as this. http://www.reuk.co.uk/wordpress/energy-efficiency/vphase-voltage-optimiser/

penneck
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Registered: ‎03-08-2007

Re: Solar Panels

Hello Baldrick1 and Nozzer, sorry for the delay but yesterday was rather hectic. I have had a look at what you suggested, Baldrick1, but I think I am going to leave my system alone. As for Nozzer's suggestion about cleaning the panels with a hose, my house has two large oak trees close to it. Judging by what those trees do to my car when the weather gets warm, my panels might get dirtier than I realise. Bird droppings on the car is less of a problem than a sticky muck from these trees. My house is also on a main road so dust then sticks to the muck on the car. However, there is a difference between the location of my car and the panels in that the car has to be parked under one of these trees (no alternative parking) whereas the panels are at the same level as the tree tops but 10 feet away. Thus, the sticky stuff from the trees would need to be blown horizontally to get to the panels.

I'll investigate getting a long pole and a soft brush (I've already got the hose and a ladder)

Thanks to all

Baldrick1
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Posts: 2,008
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Registered: ‎30-06-2016

Re: Solar Panels

penneck
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Posts: 772
Thanks: 25
Registered: ‎03-08-2007

Re: Solar Panels

Yes that would do. They sell 2m-long versions near here, for about £14, but your one is 3.9m long, so would be better. However, as I have found with a brush used for washing a car (this one has the hose connector and a 2-feet long handle, not the pole), if the connector is plastic, it can snap off because of the weight of the hose. Possibly the brush was getting old and the plastic brittle, but the broken stub is not removable so I haven't been able to get a new connector. I still use it, but with a large bucket of water rather than the hose. As far as these extendable brushes are concerned, if I am up a ladder cleaning the solar panels, there would be a lot of hose hanging off this connector. I will need to find out if it is possible to replace the connector on your one just in case.

Thanks for your help 

Baldrick1
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Posts: 2,008
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Registered: ‎30-06-2016

Re: Solar Panels

If before erecting the ladder you tied the hose to the top say 6 feet from the end of the hose then you wouldn't have a long length of hose hanging on the pole connector, just the last 6 feet..