Deciding to install solar panels on your home's roof is becoming an increasingly popular way to save on energy bills, reduce reliance on the national grid, and become more sustainable.
But what if trees, buildings, or other obstacles cast shadows over your solar panels at certain times of the day? Is solar energy still a viable choice for you?
It's a valid concern. Shade can significantly reduce the efficiency of solar panels if you don’t take proactive steps to address the issue.
In this article, we’ll explain how and why shade can limit the energy production of your solar panels and how installing Optimisers can help overcome it - so you have all the information you need to decide if a solar panel installation is the right choice for you.
Why are shaded buildings challenging for solar panels?
Most solar panel installations across the UK use a string inverter, where each of the solar panels is connected in sequence.
In this type of solar panel system, the electric current originates from the first panel, flows to the second, then to the third, and so forth, until it reaches the inverter. This is where the direct current is converted into usable electricity.
However, there's a limitation with string panel systems: the efficiency of one panel can influence the entire system's performance. For instance, if shade covers even just half of a single panel, causing its efficiency to drop to 50%, then the whole system effectively operates at just 50% of its potential.
Luckily, this challenge can be solved with Solar Optimisers.
What are solar optimisers, and how do they work?
A solar optimiser is a small device that is installed on each of your solar panels and helps improve (or optimise) the overall performance of your installation.
Integrating optimisers allows you to get around the 'chain is only as strong as its weakest link' dilemma—instead, every panel in your setup functions optimally, independent of how other panels perform.
So, with optimisers added to your installation, you no longer have to worry about one shaded panel affecting your whole solar panel system.
To go into a little more detail, optimisers use something called Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) to monitor and maximise the power output of each individual solar panel in your system, regulating the voltage before the current is passed to your solar inverter.
Choosing optimisers for your shaded roof solar panel installation not only boosts your system's energy yield but also offers more freedom in choosing where to position your solar panels.
Are there different types of optimisers in the market?
There are several different companies that manufacture optimisers for solar panel systems, with two of the most popular being SolarEdge and Tigo.
At Projects4Roofing, we usually recommend Tigo optimisers as they are incredibly easy to install - simply clipping into the frame of each of your solar panels, and connecting at the junction box. They are also water and corrosion-resistant and come with a 25-year warranty for complete peace of mind.
Tigo optimisers also come with additional functionality, such as a rapid shutdown system to help mitigate any fire and safety risks.
Are optimisers compatible with all inverters?
The Tigo optimisers we install for most solar panel installations are compatible with more than 2,000 different types of solar inverters.
So, for anyone thinking about retrofitting an existing solar panel system - it’s definitely worth checking out Tigo.
But for any new solar panel system installed by Projects4Roofing, you don’t need to be too concerned about compatibility.
During your initial consultation, we’ll take note of what you’re looking for from your solar panel installation, take a look at things like the elevation of your roof and if you’re likely to experience shade across one or more of your panels - and then recommend the perfect, fully compatible system for your home.
Are optimisers worth the investment?
When it comes to the cost of adding optimisers to your solar panel installation, there are a number of factors to take into account.
First of all, there’s the cost of the optimisers themselves. For the Tigo system, each optimiser costs roughly £60. So, for a 10-panel installation, you’re potentially looking at an additional £600 that will be added to the price of your solar panel system.
And if you want the visibility to monitor the energy generated from each of your solar panels in real-time, you’ll need a Tigo Cloud Connect module, which will likely add £200-300 to your quote.
So, there will be extra costs for installing optimisers. However, it’s estimated that installing optimisers to a solar panel installation can improve the energy generation capabilities of your system by as much as 25%, which will enable you to generate a faster return on investment from the cost of your installation - especially if the roof of your home is likely to be in the shade for part of the day.
When you choose Projects4Roofing for your installation, you don’t have to be concerned about making any kind of complex calculations.
Our solar panel experts will provide a customized quote for your installation based on your specific requirements and things like the elevation of your roof and how it’s impacted by shade - including whether we believe it’s worth the investment to install optimisers.
Looking to install a solar panel system for your shaded building?
If you’ve been considering a solar panel system for your home but have previously had questions about how effective it might be because of the shade on your roof - hopefully, this article on the benefits of optimisers has put your mind at ease.
Now you’re ready to take the next step toward your solar panel installation. It’s important you choose an installation partner you can trust.
At Projects4Roofing, we have over a decade of experience managing roofing projects, and we’re proud to be listed as a Which? Trusted Trader.
We’re also MCS registered. This means you can enroll in the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) scheme from your installation.
All solar panel installations completed by Projects4Roofing come with a 10-year workmanship guarantee, and we’re registered with the Consumer Protection Association (CPA), so you can have peace of mind about the quality of our work.
Want to find out more about how we can help with your solar panel installation and receive a tailored quotation? Just give our team a call on 01638 507730.