5 Ways to get the best from your Solar PV

You’ve made your investment, got your nice shiny Solar PV system generating lots of free electric, so how are you going to ensure you reap all the benefits?

This guide is designed to help you understand what options there are for getting the best out of your planet saving Solar PV system.

When Solar first arrived on the scene it was all about Feed In Tariff, everyone used phrases like “Return on Investment” and “payback period” but saving on your bills was an afterthought, if it was even a thought.  There are however more benefits to be reaped from having Solar PV, indeed the main driver for new Solar PV customers is reducing their reliance on dirty grid electric.  Here’s 5 ways you can increase the benefits you’re getting from your Solar PV.

Solar happens, be there when it does.

daily monitoring of solar pv system

1. Match Demand with Supply

The cheapest way to ensure you make more of the free electric you’re generating is to use your monitoring to see how much electric is going back to the grid.  For example, if you see that there’s 2kW of excess power, you could start the washing machine, the dishwasher, do the hoovering, or mow the lawn.   These appliances tend to use about 2kW of power.  Buy using your monitoring you’ll be able to learn how much power is needed by each of your appliances and make good decisions about what to switch on…. But there is more you can do.

This tip relies heavily on monitoring, if you don’t have monitoring installed you can still try to match demand with supply but it would result in a lot of guess work.

2. Monitoring: keep your finger on the pulse

Firstly, is it working?

In the FIT years, many installations went ahead without monitoring because people just cared about the amount that was generated and this figure could be read from their TGM (Total Generation Meter) every 3 months so they could claim FIT payments.  Naked frequently receive calls from FIT customers who’ve gone to take their 3 monthly reading only to find out the system isn’t working, and they’ve no idea how long it’s been down.

Monitoring systems would show you the system is generating and some will even send owners and/or installers an alert if any faults are detected.  So you can be reassured that your system is up and running if you’ve got the right monitoring system installed.  (If your system isn’t working, check our fault finding page).

Reduce wastage.

Monitoring also shows you when there’s excess electric being exported to the grid.  Knowing this means you can switch appliances on to make use of your free Solar PV generated energy.  Increasing the use of free energy means you’ll draw less from the grid and reduce how much you give away to your energy supplier.

It will also help you to understand your energy as you’ll start to see how much power each of your appliances uses.  Turn the washing machine on and you’ll see that it uses about 2kW early on in the wash, reduces to a few hundred watts until the end of the programme when the spin cycle pushes the power back up to around 2kW.

Understanding the energy consumption in your house is easy and very empowering.

Spot faults with Monitoring

Spot faults with SolarEdge Monitoring

How Immersion diverters heat your water

How solar pv immersion diverters work

3. Immersion diverters

Of all the products on the energy efficiency/renewables market, these devices often give the fastest payback of all.

The death nail of Solar Thermal systems, in 2011 the first Immersion Diverters started to appear on the market.  Quickly proving to be a very effective way of getting free hot water from Solar PV.  By monitoring incoming supply from the mains, these devices see when electric is going back to the grid and redirect that energy to an immersion heater, making better use of your free Solar PV energy.

Some of these systems like the My Energi suite of products now extend to add monitoring, remote control of the device and even add an EV charger that works along side it.

4. Battery Storage

The perfect way to capture every drop of energy and keep it for a rainy day, or night.

Battery storage works the same way as immersion diverters by monitoring when there is excess energy being exported and diverting it in to a battery.  When the property starts to draw from the grid, the battery will step in and supply the energy saved from earlier.

Since Tesla announced the first Powerwall in 2016, the battery storage market has accelerated which has also meant a lot of choice, and some very bad choices too along with less scrupulous installers aiming to pull the wool over some customers eyes.

Our Battery Storage page is one of our most popular pages and will guide you through everything you need to consider when choosing a battery storage system for your Solar PV.

94% Energy independence is achievable

Graph - Annual impact of Solar PV

Free motoring is EV -PV

Solar PV - EV charging

5. EV chargers

Free motoring is a very common request from our customers, and now it’s possible with more and more EV chargers being able to take advantage of excess solar in the same way that immersion diverters and battery storage does.  Allowing you to charge your Electric Vehicle from the excess electric that your Solar PV system generates.  You can find out more about EV – PV chargers on our EV – PV page.