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Thread: Cost of adding to solar

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    Default Cost of adding to solar

    Just curious as to whether anyone has added to their solar array?

    Example, had a 3kw system installed and added more panels (if the inverter supported it) or more panels and a higher capacity invertor ? I am wondering how much more expensive panels and inverters are away from government subsidies.


    At the moment I am still getting prices for a 3 -5 kw system.



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    Mine started off as a 2.5KW and later updated to 4KW with 4.2kw of panels , It was a pain in the butt only 8 months after original install , I had to reapply for approval for the larger inverter and the panels I first used were already obsolete , so after a lot of searching I found the same type of panels to expand.
    The original inverter was a 2.5kw Transformer type inverter and the new one is a 4kw SMA4000TL Transformerless type ., basically it was like starting again with new mounting rails , double wiring for the extra array , larger wiring back to the meter box , new inspections and approval for REBS etc , it was just as difficult the second time as the first , but still well worth the effort now that we get credits instead of bills

    Panel pricing has dropped significantly over the last 12 months and especially since the AU Dollar has been going crazy , I can't imagine their being a better time to go as large as you can while making sure your supplier is passing on the benefits of the high AU Dollar.


    There are a few issues with starting off with say a 3KW system and then adding later even though just about every salesmen will tell you it's easy.

    1.If you buy a 5000KW inverter now using only 3kw of panels the inverter will not be operating anywhere near it's most efficient conversion rate., Inverter efficiency is designed and rated at it's maximum operating limits so ideally you should have at least 15% more PV output than the inverters maximum rating , about 3.5kws of panels on a 3kw inverter is perfect.
    3kw of panels on a 4 or 5kw inverter is like driving with the handbrake on.

    2. Have you got ample space in the same orientation to add more panels without shading issues ?

    3. Will you still be able to purchase the same type of panels as you are already using ? not so important if you have a Dual MPPT inverter and can put new panels on a separate input.
    The problems start if you want to add new panels to an older string , in order to add them in series they need to be identical , ( you wouldn't put a carbon battery ,and new alkaline battery and new lithium battery in series ) and when adding in series you need to watch you are not exceeding the inverters maximum open circuit string voltage.
    You also face the same problem connected a new parallel string , the voltage needs to be identical to the existing string ( you wouldn't connect a car battery and new motor bike battery in parallel ) .

    4. Consider that 99% of people start out with the idea of buying a larger inverter for later expansion , less than 1 % of people ever proceed to expand on their original system , the ones that do face the above problems and the remainder either give up or add a new complete system beside the existing one .( much better idea ).

    5. from a performance and return on investment point of view , if you have 3kws of panels and a 3kw inverter and are thinking about small scale future expansion , spend your money on a couple of extra panels , don't waste it on a larger inverter. , you can always add another smaller inverter later if you need it but those extra panels will start making you money straight away.

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    Just wondering how much more panels can you add to a 1.5 invertor?
    I currently have 1.520 of panels. (8x190)

    Can you get another 1.5 sytem and hook that up through another 1.5 invertor back into the fuse box?
    So you have 2 invertors

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dishtrackted View Post
    Just wondering how much more panels can you add to a 1.5 invertor?
    I currently have 1.520 of panels. (8x190)

    Can you get another 1.5 sytem and hook that up through another 1.5 invertor back into the fuse box?
    So you have 2 invertors
    Depending on the panel voltage and type of inverter , you may or may not be able to add any more at all , if you reply with the brand and model of inverter and also model and brand of panels it won't take much to find out.
    If you have had them up for a year or more chances are the same panels wont be available anymore.
    A lot of variables but nothing is possible without a lot more details .

    Sure you can have as many inverters as your power supplier will allow , WA is only 5kw in total , most of the eastern states allow up to 10kw , but if you are in NSW on the 60c scheme and add to your system you will lose the 60c buyback rate and go down to 20c.

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    You've probably mentioned it before Joey but what brands panels and inverter do you recommend? Especially if you want to add panels at a later date.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joey View Post
    Depending on the panel voltage and type of inverter , you may or may not be able to add any more at all , if you reply with the brand and model of inverter and also model and brand of panels it won't take much to find out.
    If you have had them up for a year or more chances are the same panels wont be available anymore.
    A lot of variables but nothing is possible without a lot more details .

    Sure you can have as many inverters as your power supplier will allow , WA is only 5kw in total , most of the eastern states allow up to 10kw , but if you are in NSW on the 60c scheme and add to your system you will lose the 60c buyback rate and go down to 20c.
    Hi I have a 2.5kw inverter and have 1kw of panels,it was registered as 2.5kw inverter with 1kw panels ,can i add upto 2.5kw panels and keep 60c scheme or will it revert to 20c by adding panels or is it taken on the 2.5kw inverter that is already registered ,,,I am in nsw

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joey View Post
    Sure you can have as many inverters as your power supplier will allow , WA is only 5kw in total , most of the eastern states allow up to 10kw , but if you are in NSW on the 60c scheme and add to your system you will lose the 60c buyback rate and go down to 20c.
    Just thought I would mention its also 5 kw in Victoria also......so thats also something I have to take in to account.

    wazza811, from what I understand you should have no problem being allowed to add extra panels to got as high as 2.5kw

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joey View Post
    (portion deleted) Sure you can have as many inverters as your power supplier will allow , WA is only 5kw in total , most of the eastern states allow up to 10kw , but if you are in NSW on the 60c scheme and add to your system you will lose the 60c buyback rate and go down to 20c.
    Is this 10kw limit due to technical reasons, ie system overload or just an arbitary figure set by the Rebate scheme?
    How many panels would it take to generate that much power as a near by farm has a double row of panels on a long shed as well as on a free standing garage, both within 30 metres of each other and the house.
    The house is on the grid and still is as far as I know.
    I havent bothered to count panels but I will now.
    I stand unequivicably behind everything I say , I just dont ever remember saying it !!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joey View Post
    Depending on the panel voltage and type of inverter , you may or may not be able to add any more at all , if you reply with the brand and model of inverter and also model and brand of panels it won't take much to find out.
    If you have had them up for a year or more chances are the same panels wont be available anymore.
    A lot of variables but nothing is possible without a lot more details .

    Sure you can have as many inverters as your power supplier will allow , WA is only 5kw in total , most of the eastern states allow up to 10kw , but if you are in NSW on the 60c scheme and add to your system you will lose the 60c buyback rate and go down to 20c.
    System is 4 months old
    Suntech 190 panels
    Clenergy SPH 15 inverter
    Last edited by Dishtrackted; 04-05-11 at 02:50 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by weirdo View Post
    You've probably mentioned it before Joey but what brands panels and inverter do you recommend? Especially if you want to add panels at a later date.
    I wish I had a vested interest in these companies but I don't

    SMA inverters without question are first class ! , there are quite a few good panel around , my first choice is Suntech ( especially for later addition ), followed by Sharp.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gordon_s1942 View Post
    Is this 10kw limit due to technical reasons, ie system overload or just an arbitary figure set by the Rebate scheme?
    How many panels would it take to generate that much power as a near by farm has a double row of panels on a long shed as well as on a free standing garage, both within 30 metres of each other and the house.
    The house is on the grid and still is as far as I know.
    I havent bothered to count panels but I will now.
    It's really up to the provider , like in WA even though the maximum size is 5KW doesn't ensure you can connect a 5kw system , you have to apply for approval and it fit's in with their infrastructure they will approve it for connection.
    It seems all providers are trying to keep the grid as stable as possible without having large pockets of power being generated that's not under their control.

    10kw's of panels is going to take a lot more space than most homes can fit , there is no limit on the size of your system if it's not connected to the grid like you see on some rural properties etc.
    I read recently one guy setup an irrigation system on his property powered totally by solar , it was 8kw of panels not connected to the grid at all but the saving made it well worth the investment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dishtrackted View Post
    System is 4 months old
    Suntech 190 panels
    Clenergy SPH 15 inverter
    I'll have a look later tonight and let you know.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joey View Post
    It seems all providers are trying to keep the grid as stable as possible without having large pockets of power being generated that's not under their control.

    10kw's of panels is going to take a lot more space than most homes can fit , there is no limit on the size of your system if it's not connected to the grid like you see on some rural properties etc.
    Im looking at getting a 10Kw system for a NPO Community building it requires approval form Ergon and an upgrade to 3 phase under 10 is no problems.

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    Presuming each panel has the highest generating capacity available in Maximum Sun, how much power would about 40+ panels be able to generate?
    I counted 20 at least on each row on a long shed plus another 10 X 2 rows on a nearby garage roof possibly making some 60 panels all up.
    As far as I am aware, they are not connected to any storage batteries but fed back to the grid.
    I stand unequivicably behind everything I say , I just dont ever remember saying it !!

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    Quote Originally Posted by gordon_s1942 View Post
    Presuming each panel has the highest generating capacity available in Maximum Sun, how much power would about 40+ panels be able to generate?
    I counted 20 at least on each row on a long shed plus another 10 X 2 rows on a nearby garage roof possibly making some 60 panels all up.
    As far as I am aware, they are not connected to any storage batteries but fed back to the grid.
    that place would not be near Torque in Melbourne would it. i know some one down there who has some 80 plus panels installed ranging for 80w - 200w.

    last i knew he was producing near on 50kw per day

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    No diavalo, this is on a property in the Central Tablelands of NSW.
    According to one of the family who lives a few miles away, he too has installed a similar number panels.
    I take it 50 kws is a fairly good amount of power when taken off the bill ?
    I stand unequivicably behind everything I say , I just dont ever remember saying it !!

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    Quote Originally Posted by gordon_s1942 View Post
    No diavalo, this is on a property in the Central Tablelands of NSW.
    According to one of the family who lives a few miles away, he too has installed a similar number panels.
    I take it 50 kws is a fairly good amount of power when taken off the bill ?
    50kw per day certainly is good considering the average house uses between 20-and 30kw per day, i use a fair amount 40kw per day so if i had that setup i would still be earning money back

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dishtrackted View Post
    System is 4 months old
    Suntech 190 panels
    Clenergy SPH 15 inverter
    Sorry mate forgot to get back to you on this ,

    Your inverter has a huge input range , you can safely add another 2 panels without even coming close to the inverters max input voltage.
    You would find it operating closer to it's optimal range for much longer periods., the way you have it you would be lucky to ever see it producing more than 1300W., you will see over a KWH extra per day on average adding 2 more panels

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    Quote Originally Posted by gordon_s1942 View Post
    Presuming each panel has the highest generating capacity available in Maximum Sun, how much power would about 40+ panels be able to generate?
    I counted 20 at least on each row on a long shed plus another 10 X 2 rows on a nearby garage roof possibly making some 60 panels all up.
    As far as I am aware, they are not connected to any storage batteries but fed back to the grid.
    As panels vary so much in output it's pretty hard to tell just by looking at them what their rating is.
    As a general rule for every 1KW of panels they will produce 4kwh of energy per day averaged over a year., knowing what they do in ideal conditions isn't really important because some days 1kw of panels can make up to 7kwh but on other days less than 1kwh , so it's only the average over the year that truly reflects their production.

    So 10kw of panels should average you 40kwh per day all year round you can pretty much bank it , some days you will see up to 70kwh and days when it's cloudy all day you might see 10kwh or even less.

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    Default Undersized 1.5KW system?

    Quote Originally Posted by Joey View Post
    Mine started off as a 2.5KW and later updated to 4KW with 4.2kw of panels , It was a pain in the butt only 8 months after original install , I had to reapply for approval for the larger inverter and the panels I first used were already obsolete , so after a lot of searching I found the same type of panels to expand.
    The original inverter was a 2.5kw Transformer type inverter and the new one is a 4kw SMA4000TL Transformerless type ., basically it was like starting again with new mounting rails , double wiring for the extra array , larger wiring back to the meter box , new inspections and approval for REBS etc , it was just as difficult the second time as the first , but still well worth the effort now that we get credits instead of bills

    Panel pricing has dropped significantly over the last 12 months and especially since the AU Dollar has been going crazy , I can't imagine their being a better time to go as large as you can while making sure your supplier is passing on the benefits of the high AU Dollar.


    There are a few issues with starting off with say a 3KW system and then adding later even though just about every salesmen will tell you it's easy.

    1.If you buy a 5000KW inverter now using only 3kw of panels the inverter will not be operating anywhere near it's most efficient conversion rate., Inverter efficiency is designed and rated at it's maximum operating limits so ideally you should have at least 15% more PV output than the inverters maximum rating , about 3.5kws of panels on a 3kw inverter is perfect.
    3kw of panels on a 4 or 5kw inverter is like driving with the handbrake on.

    2. Have you got ample space in the same orientation to add more panels without shading issues ?

    3. Will you still be able to purchase the same type of panels as you are already using ? not so important if you have a Dual MPPT inverter and can put new panels on a separate input.
    The problems start if you want to add new panels to an older string , in order to add them in series they need to be identical , ( you wouldn't put a carbon battery ,and new alkaline battery and new lithium battery in series ) and when adding in series you need to watch you are not exceeding the inverters maximum open circuit string voltage.
    You also face the same problem connected a new parallel string , the voltage needs to be identical to the existing string ( you wouldn't connect a car battery and new motor bike battery in parallel ) .

    4. Consider that 99% of people start out with the idea of buying a larger inverter for later expansion , less than 1 % of people ever proceed to expand on their original system , the ones that do face the above problems and the remainder either give up or add a new complete system beside the existing one .( much better idea ).

    5. from a performance and return on investment point of view , if you have 3kws of panels and a 3kw inverter and are thinking about small scale future expansion , spend your money on a couple of extra panels , don't waste it on a larger inverter. , you can always add another smaller inverter later if you need it but those extra panels will start making you money straight away.
    Hi, I read your email with great interest as have just had a 1.5KW system installed by Origin on the Gold Coast and am only getting 1.2KW max. It has 7 Sharp 215W panel with a Clenergy SPH15 Inverter. I spoke with the installer suggesting fitting an extra panel, but he says when summer comes that would exceed the max rating for the Inverter. He then went on to recommend replacing the inverter. Sounds like a sales pitch to me so thought I would seek advice from yourselves me being a newbie to solar. Also is there a rule of thumb percentage increase of the summer versus winter power output? Like 10% increase or something like that?

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