Solar PV Products
What do you need for a Solar PV system?
There are three main components of a standard Solar PV system:
- Solar Panels
- Solar Inverters
Below is information on all three of these products.
Generation Solar have no affiliation with any other company or products. We will only choose a product if it is suited to you and your properties needs.
There are two main types of solar panels, polycrystalline and monocrystalline, and they come in various different shapes, sizes and colours. Both types of panels do pretty much the same thing but there are some differences.
Polycrystalline panels are made up of silicon fragments that are melted together. They have a blue colour to them and generally a silver aluminium frame. They may not be as aesthetically pleasing as a monocrystalline panel but they are generally cheaper.
Monocrystalline panels are made up of single wafer cells and are designed with a black colour to them. They are a more efficient panel compared to polycrystalline and are ideal for when space is limited.
At the end of the day, it is a personal preference. If you have plenty of space and a limited budget then Polys are the way forward but if you are short of space and want the panels to blend in more with their surroundings then Monos are the way to go.
There are also other types of panels, so If you are looking for something a bit more bespoke such as solar tiles or in roof systems get in touch today to find out more.
Inverters do the hard work in a PV system. The inverter turns the power being produced by the solar panels, which is DC (direct current) electricity into usable AC (alternating current) electricity, whilst also connecting to the national grid’s parameters.
If the system hasn’t been designed correctly the inverter won’t give you the yield from your system that you would expect. If it is put under excess strain it can also cause the inverter to fail early causing unneeded extra costs.
Inverters are designed to stop working if you have a power cut, so you won’t produce electricity in a power cut unless you have a battery storage system. Information on this can be found here. They do this to protect engineers who may be working on the power lines from getting electrocuted.
There are several different types of inverters so it is important to know what you are being sold. See below for more information:
Most solar PV systems you see around the UK will have a string inverter as part of the system. They use strings, which are a connection of panels in series, like the image to the left. Depending on the capacity of the inverter there can be numerous strings, but on a domestic system there would normally be 1 or 2 strings per inverter.
If a string inverter has one MPPT (Maximum Point Power Tracker), then the panels all have to be on the same orientation, pitch and the strings have to be the same length. If the inverter has two MPPTs then you can mix the strings up, as they work independently. This is ideal if you have an east/west facing roof.
Most string inverters come with a 5 year warranty as standard, these can be extended for a small extra cost.
Some of the market leading string inverter brands in the UK are SMA, Solis, Fronius and Solax
An optimizer system is a mixture between a string inverter and a micro inverter (see below) installation. This system has optimizer modules underneath each panel or every other panel on a commercial system. It also has a main inverter just like a string inverter.
The market leader for optimizers are SolarEdge. See some of the benefits below.
Benefits of an optimized system
- System is broken down to individual panels power rather than whole strings, increasing production
- Shading issues are reduced
- Ability to have a more versatile system on multiple roofs
- Excellent monitoring system, with the ability to see panel specific data and a quick easy way to pick up any faults.
- DC safety mode which switches to 1V per panel when the AC side is off
- Warranties of 25 years on optimisers and 12 years on inverters
- Fully intergrated system that links up with StorEdge, Tesla batteries and car charging.
Micro inverters a bit like optimisers and work on an individual panel basis. All panels work independently of one another, meaning they are ideal for complex roof layouts and areas where shading issues occur. Each panel has one micro inverter connected to it and are fixed to the mounting rail behind the panel. The difference between micro inverters and optimisers is that micro inverters have no central inverter, they are all effectively individual inverters and convert the power from DC to AC on the roof. This reduces the need for DC cables running into the building and can improve performance.
They have good online monitoring systems so you can see how your PV is performing and it will flag problems as soon as they occur.
The downside to this type of inverter is they are initially more expensive to install and future maintenance can be more costly depending on how easy it is to access the problem.
The current market leader for micro inverter are Enphase.
Solar PV mounting systems come in a variety of options depending on where you want to put your panels.
Generation Solar has access to a wide range of products and we can go through the best options for you an initial site visit. We only install mounting that are compliant with MCS and Building regulations so you are in safe hands.
Most solar system you see will be roof mounted for domestic properties, they are an ideal addition to a property, whether it is a retro fit or a new build and will in no way affect the integrity of the roof. The panels can sit on top of the roof with roof hooks and rails or be within the roof with some great looking in-roof systems.
If you don’t have a pitched roof or are looking for something a bit different there are many different types of flat roof ballasted systems or ground mounted systems that we can provide, just give us a call to find out what we can design for you.