Top 5 Ways to Maximize Rooftop Solar Output
PV systems need to be designed, maintained and inspected regularly to ensure optimum performance. Simple and (perhaps) obvious they might be, but the following 5 tips will ensure that you get maximum electricity output from your rooftop PV system:
Tip 1: Select the Correct Site
Do a walk around and analyze factors such as your total roof area available, degree of shading on the roof, the roof’s orientation with respect to the sun (ideally your roof should be south facing), your roof’s angle of tilt (if any) and the intensity of solar radiation the roof receives.
Your roof is ideal, if it is south facing with enough unshaded area to accommodate the required size of the PV system. It should also be structurally sound and easily accessible.
Tip 2: Configure Your Array to Match Component Specifications
All PV system components have a certain voltage window within which they operate. And voltage fluctuations will be inherent for any PV system, due to changes in ambient temperature (warmer temperatures reduce power output), presence or absence of debris on the array and/or gradual array degradation due to age.
Therefore it’s critical to match your array’s energy (voltage and current) output to the range of input voltage and current specified for charge controllers and inverters. Excess or insufficient input are likely to jeopardize energy production and may damage components.
Tip 3: Size the Conductors, Fuses and Breakers Properly
The conductors (wires) are the components that deliver the power/current the PV array generates. Therefore they have to be sized (or have the right ampacity) according to how much current the array generates. Undersized conductors will be unable to carry the maximum amount of current generated, while oversized conductors – while not harming the system – will unnecessarily increase system costs.
Fuses and breakers have to be sized as per local regulations, which usually mandate a rating of between 10 – 20% of the receiving equipment’s input current capacity.
Tip 4: Clean Your Modules Periodically
This cannot be stressed enough. Your PV system is only as good as the amount of direct sunlight it receives and processes. Soiling – or the collection of dust, leaves, bird droppings and other debris on your modules will obstruct sunlight from reaching them and thus hamper electricity production. Make it a regular routine to inspect the modules and clean them whenever required.
Tip 5: Inspect Your System Annually
While robust in construction and cheap to maintain, daily ambient conditions such as temperature fluctuations and changing wind loads do take a toll on your rooftop PV system. Therefore inspect them (at least) annually for issues such as loose or damaged conductors, corrosion of mounting structures and the tightness of mechanical connections. Also check for the growth of weeds/plants around the system or the growth of nearby trees for shading.
Timely rectification of problems will not just save you money but also ensure that your system remains in peak condition.
To read more about the performance of rooftop PV systems, click here.