Wednesday 30 November 2011

November PV Solar Panel Output Performance Update

 With a late surge as a result of a brilliant last day to end November the panels gave a final output for the month of 53.02 kWh. As the panels were commissioned late morning on 18th November this was produced over 11.5 days so the estimated production for the whole month of November would be 138 kWh.

So 3.01kWh panels have generated  an average per day of 4.61kWh. This compares well to the SAP calculated estimate of 3.6kWh but is below the figure quoted by PV Solar UK of 4.87kWh which seems overly opimistic - much the same as the rest of their figures!

Monthly PV Solar Panel performance for November

The 11 days of November that the solar panels were generating were a varied mix of sunny, cloudy and a couple of rainy days so appeared to be a typical spread of weather although we are now far more attentive to whether the sun is out or not!

It is now quite noticeable that shading has a significant effect and the graphs produced by the inverter clearly show the drop in output as soon as the panel area has any shade falling on it. I will post some eexperiences of how the shade affects the solar panel output later.

How to View Solar Panel Generation Data via Bluetooth from SMA Sunny Boy 3000HF Inverter

How to View Solar Panel Generation Data via Bluetooth from SMA Sunny Boy 3000HF Inverter 

Having just had our Sungrid PV solar panels installed by Solar Advanced Systems we were keen to be able to monitor the production of electricity by the PV panels without needing to visit the Sunny Boy inverter each time to view the display.
14 Solar panel array - Sungrid PV installation with Sunny Boy 3000HF inverter

SMA Sunny Boy 3000HF (as well as the 2500HF and 4000HF) inverters have the capability to display data using Bluetooth. SMA Sunny Boy supply a device called the Sunny Beam that will show the production from your solar panel system. However this costs around £175 in the UK and there are much cheaper alternatives to the Sunny Beam to show this data on your PC or laptop.

Step 1)

Firstly you need a laptop or PC that has Bluetooth capability. If your PC doesn't have this built in then you can buy an external USB Bluetooth dongle for approx £10. This is one such device from Ebuyer  A class 1 Bluetooth adapter would probably be a better bet than a Class 2 adapter as it will give a much longer range than class 2. The difference between a Bluetooth class 1 range of 100m and class 2 range of 10m is very significant and would mean the difference between being to view the data from any room in your house to only being able to view from the room next to the inverter.

Step 2)

Once the Bluetooth dongle is installed you need to download the free Sunny Explorer software. This is available as a free download from the SMA website.

Step 3)

Install the Sunny Explorer software, let it detect your system. You will need to enter its password which is set as default to 0000.

Step 4)

View your data and download the log files to your PC. By default these are stored in a folder called SMA under the My Documents folder.

Step 5)

Additional tools are also available to analyse and store the data from the SMA Sunny Boy 3000HF./2500HF/4000HF inverter range and I will cover those in another blog post.

You can find more info about viewing your SMA inverter data online without a Sunny Webbox here

Saturday 26 November 2011

An Open Letter to the Government about Solar Panel FiT Cuts

Marc Linch, Director of GreenEnviro Energy Systems has posted an open letter to the national press about the cuts in the Feed In Tariff. He makes some excellent points about the loss of jobs as a result of the FiT being slashed by 50% and the benefits to the UK economy of getting spending on green projects moving.

You can read the full letter here

Friday 25 November 2011

UK Solar PV Panel Performance - Daily Output per kWp

Our PV solar panels have now been installed for almost a week now and over that time the performance has varied considerably as has the weather. On an overcast day we still generated some electricity but it scraped in just under 1kWh.

PV Solar panel performance, daily outputs in Kent UK

Today has been the best performance so far. Despite an initial rainy start, the day quickly cleared to bright sunshine and the panels started generating from 07:40 this morning at 36W, giving a total output for the day of 8.176kWh. For a day in late November this seems to be a very good performance. So far the output recorded on the generation meter has totalled 32.67kWh in just 6 days, ranging from a low of 0.98kWh to todays 8.176kWh.

The maximum peak output at any one point during the day has been 2kW. Again this was achieved today, the highest previous output from our solar panels was 1.5kW which was reached on a number of days this week.

In the 6 days so far we have earnt the grand total of £14 in FIT payments - not a bad start for one of the worst performing months of the year for solar!

It is my intention to publish each month the performance of our solar panels, 3.01kWp from 14 Sungrid 215W panels with SMA Sunny Boy 3000HF inverter to give an indication of what can be achieved as an output from solar panels in Kent UK. Any comparisons with other panels in the UK would be useful, two friends also have now installed solar panels in the local area so I will endeavour to provide figures to compare the different setups and output performance achieved.

Thursday 24 November 2011

Time Lapse Video of PV Solar Panels taken before the Feed In Tariff Cuts happen in December 2011

This is a time lapse video taken of our solar panel installation being fitted by Solar Advanced Systems of Edenbridge Kent. The solar panel array is 14 solar panels of 215W capacity giving a total potential output of 3kWp.

The solar panels are now generating electricity and on 20 November generated a total of 6.46kWh of electricity, somewhat above the quoted average for November of 4.87kWh so it will be interesting to see how they perform over a longer period.

Review of Solar Advanced Systems panel installation.

Wednesday 2 November 2011

Choosing Best Position to install PV Solar Panels in Kent for Maximum FIT Payments

Are you thinking about installing solar panels in Kent to benefit from the FiT (Feed in Tariff) scheme? If you install solar panels you want them in the best position to get the most sun to generate maximum electricity and maximise your FIT payments for best returns. Kent is the Garden of England and has some of the sunniest days in the UK so is ideally positioned to get the best return on your solar panel investment from the payment of Feed In Tariffs.

We have had quotes for installing solar panels on our roof. We have two choices, the lower extension roof or the upper original house roof.

Installing solar panels on the lower roof would be cheaper as the access is much easier than the scaffolding needed for the upper roof. However we have checked the roof at different times of the day and the shading and sun levels are significantly different for the two roofs.

Sun on both roofs first thing in the morning but slight shading on the lower roof to the right hand side

Solar panel positioning to avoid shade for best FIT payments
 You can see on the roof later in the day that the lower roof is almost totally shaded, there is some shade across the upper roof but most of the roof is still covered in sun. We had three options for the panels. With a 3kWp system we could have solar panels fitted on the upper or lower roof or a mix between the two.
Solar panel positioning to avoid shade for best FIT payments
From the photos above we have decided to have the solar panels fitted on the upper roof only. The cost is higher due to the difficult access to the upper roof but from these photos of the shading of the roof the payback should mean that the FiT (Feed in Tariff) payments are significantly higher which will more than offset the increased cost of installing the solar panels on the higher roof.

Panels are now ordered so check back for progress reports on how they are doing!You can view the full article on the blog here