Can I Get Even More From My Residential Solar Panels?
When purchasing a solar panel system for your home, it is important to understand approximately how much electricity your home uses, so your installer can design a system that can meet whatever your expectations are. But it’s also important to know that every residential solar customer is different, and that not everyone wants a solar system that can provide 100% of their daily energy needs.
In fact, it’s not uncommon for some solar customers to have smaller systems installed to help them save money on their energy bills, but not replace their grid-delivered energy completely. As is often the case, however, these customers can wind up regretting their decisions once they discover the value and reliability of solar energy. And it is for this reason that so many former customers contact their solar installers to inquire about expanding their solar panel systems.
If you recently had solar panels installed on your home but now you’re wishing you had a larger system installed, here’s everything you need to know about expanding your system.
Can Solar Panels Be Added to an Existing System?
Yes, most solar energy systems can be expanded to accommodate more solar panels, but there are factors that can come into play. For instance, expanding the size of your system might require your contractor to adjust or modify certain parts of the original setup, such as if your current inverter isn’t able to handle the additional capacity. In this case, your inverter will also need to be replaced with one that is properly sized. The inverter will also usually need to be replaced if you are adding a battery bank to a system that previously didn’t have one.
If your solar system has microinverters, then your expansion will be easier to complete. With this type of system, microinverters are mounted on the underside of each solar panel, so you would just need to install more microinverters on the new solar panels instead of replacing your current inverter.
If, on the other hand, your solar panels are installed using a ground mount instead of being placed on your roof, then another racking system may need to be installed for the additional solar panels.
Things to Consider Before Expanding Your Solar System
Before you have additional solar panels added to your system, you and your contractor will need to re-evaluate your home’s energy bills since the solar panels were first installed.
Next, you will need to tell your contractor why you are choosing to increase your system’s capacity. For example, are you getting an electric vehicle or swapping out a gas appliance for one that works off electricity? This information will be important to ensure that the contractor understands your energy needs, so they can design the right size upgrade.
Other factors that you will want to keep in mind when adding additional solar panels to your system include:
Roof Space – Does your roof have enough open space to accommodate more solar panels? If not, there are some ways a contractor can work around this, such as installing the panels on a garage, shed, or even on the ground, but doing so could increase the cost of the upgrade.
Battery Storage – If you are expanding your system, then now might also be a good time to add battery storage to it if you are thinking about doing so eventually. Adding the batteries now will ensure that all your equipment will work seamlessly together and prevent you from having to upgrade your inverter in the future if you wait.
Local Permit Requirements – Different townships have different permitting requirements when it comes to installing and expanding residential solar systems. In most cases, you will need to notify your local utility company that you expanded your system, so your interconnection agreement with them can be updated. Before expanding your system, always check local requirements to ensure you are compliant with local laws.
Discuss All Your Options With Your Solar Contractor
Most households can benefit greatly by expanding their solar system capacity, even if it requires mounting the additional panels in another location, such as on a garage roof. It’s even worth it if your contractor needs to replace the existing inverter or install additional microinverters on each solar panel.
The cost of adding more solar panels to a system can be expensive, but the additional savings you’ll enjoy on your monthly energy bills, especially if you have a battery system included, will prove to be more than worth it. Just be sure to discuss all the possible options that might be available to you with your solar contractor to help ensure that your upgraded system will see you through the foreseeable future.