Solar PV update

Our solar PV array has been installed for a few days now so I thought I’d post an update with a few more details now that we’ve had some time to get to know it.

The PV panel array itself isn’t actually as large as I had originally imagined. It consists of 20 x LINUO 195Wp panels mounted onto Schüco Lite rails, but they are slightly smaller than some other panels and so don’t take up as much space. Here are pictures of the roof before…

and after…

I’m very pleased that we were able to install the internal components – inverter, generation meter and isolator switches – in the service cupboard next to our secondary electrical distribution board and heat pump / cylinder as it makes for a tidy and hidden installation.

In the pictures below you can see the inverter (the big red and black box) with the two DC rotary isolator switches below it to the left, and then the AC rotary isolator and generation meter below it to the right.

The inverter that we have is an SMA SunnyBoy 4000TL-20 and this features a bluetooth link as standard allowing various performance stats and configuration to be accessed remotely. I’ve downloaded the free Sunny Explorer software from the SMA web site and monitored performance over the last few days. Here’s the generation graph from yesterday so you can see it’s peaking around 3kW output – I don’t think that’s too bad for a late Winter’s day. It’s also quite addictive (I guess until the novelty wears off!) monitoring the performance throughout the day, praying for the sun to come out!

While the Sunny Explorer software is useful and easy to use, I am very keen on writing my own tools to extract this information from the inverter so that I can do more with the data in a more automated way. I’ve already started playing with some open source Java libraries for interfacing with SMA inverters via bluetooth so hopefully I’ll have something up and running soon. At some point I’d also like to look into an interface into our IVT Greenline HT+ heat pump so I can do a similar thing with that.

We now have solar PV

In the space of 6 months we’ve gone from having nothing to do with renewable energy to now having a ground source heat pump providing hot water and heating for our house, and as of today a solar photovoltaic (PV) array generating electricity for our consumption and export of any surplus back to the grid.

Our solar PV installation consists of an array of 20 LINUO 195W (peak) monocrystalline silicon panels arranged in landscape orientation on our 30° pitch South facing roof feeding back into an SMA SunnyBoy 4000TL inverter. It is rated at 3.9kWh peak and has an estimated annual output of 3,560kWh.

The supply and installation was carried out very efficiently and professionally by Greenday Renewables based at Fort Dunlop, Birmingham. Thanks to them for managing to get the installation completed before the 3rd March cut-off for reduced Feed in Tariff rates.

Within a few minutes of the installation being completed and the inverter powered up, it was generating electricity at a peak of 2.5kWh! Almost exactly on cue, after a day and half of dark skies, wind and rain, the sun came out and shone brightly 🙂