Adding Solar Panels to an Existing System | Click Energy

Blog Post Monday 02 December 2019

Everything You Need to Know About Adding Solar Panels to an Existing System

Everything You Need to Know About Adding Solar Panels to an Existing System

Are you looking to add more solar panels to your roof in order to expand your existing solar system? If you have added to the family, increased your use of electrical appliances or simply want to maximise your current savings, then adding more panels or upgrading can be a great option. But there are a few considerations you’ll need to understand before you get started, and as you go. Here’s what you need to know...

Assessing your current solar power system 

Before expanding upon or upgrading your solar power system, the first thing you should do is monitor your current system. Assess how your current system is performing and its overall condition. If you have a detailed system manual, assess the energy generation predictions and compare it to how it's currently performing. The process of adding more solar panels onto your existing system isn't going to be the same as installing a whole new original system. Because of this, there are a few factors to consider. Firstly, you should have an idea of why you want to upgrade your existing system. 

Possible reasons for adding more panels can include:

  • You have an oversized converter that was installed to your original system and now you want to make use of that remaining capacity
  • You’ve lost access to a premium feed-in tariff and want more solar capacity
  • You have spare space on the roof for more panels
  • You want to add battery storage and need extra panels to increase energy dependence

Factors to consider before adding new panels to an existing system

1. Your current inverter size

Up until mid-2012, the most popular solar power system size sold in Australia was a 1.5W. Because of this, Australia has the smallest average installed system size in the world. Unfortunately, the small size means that it won't offset half of your electricity usage. If your current inverter size is smaller or greater than the capacity of your solar panels, you may want to upgrade your current system. 

Before upgrading your solar system, check to see if your inverter is large enough to accommodate extra solar panels. Depending on how many panels you require, you may need to replace your inverter. If you’re adding quite a few more panels and your entire solar power system is much larger than its original size, it may generate more electricity than your pre-existing inverter can handle. 

2. Your current feed-in tariff

Feed-in tariffs are designed to encourage people to go solar by allowing them to sell excess energy back to the grid. Your feed-in tariff agreement is determined by the inverter capacity your home has originally been approved for. For this reason, it may be possible to further increase your credits by utilising any spare capacity in your current inverter. In most cases, even if your inverter is no longer approved, there will be options to keep your feed-in-tariff while increasing your capacity, as well as adding extra solar panels. 

3. Your current energy use

If you are considering adding more solar panels, you may want to first have a look at your current energy use. If you’re currently exporting over 50% of your solar energy back into the grid, it’s probably not worth updating your system. However, if you are on the old 40 cent feed-in-tariff, you may wish to overload your solar panel array to maximise the output of your inverter. 

Once you’ve determined your current energy use and your energy needs, you can begin to calculate how many extra solar panels you may need. The number of panels you add will depend on several factors, including your power bill post-solar power, where you live, the equipment used, and your current system design. 

Updating an existing solar panel system

Solar panels are designed to generate electricity for more than 25 years, and while you may see dips in energy production, it’s unlikely you’ll have to replace the panels of your original system. If you are getting extra solar panels added onto your existing system, it’s a good idea to install the same type as your original panels. Generally, your original installer is equipped to do ‘add-on’ jobs, and it’s in your best interests to contact them first to see if they can do the work. 

The bonus of hiring your original installer is that they are already familiar with your existing system and property, and will also be better equipped to add solar panels onto your original array. If you don’t have an original installer to call upon, you can shop around for a new installer. Keep in mind that some contractors may not do add-on work to handiwork that isn't their own, or if the size and project aren’t big enough. 

Get the best solar feed-in-tariff

If you are updating your solar panel system and want true value for your solar power, contact the experts at Click Energy. We’re a market-leader of solar feed-in tariffs and energy plans to suit your unique requirements. Find your fit today and start getting the most out of your solar power!