As a true solar geek, I can’t think of anything better to do at 7:30 on a Friday evening, than log in to my solar panel monitoring system. While most folks are settling down to Friday Night Footy, you’ll find me checking out how much power my 6kW of micro inverter solar panels are producing as the last rays of evening sun scatter across my roof.
As I logged in tonight to see a respectable 1.2kW being pumped out, I noticed that the monitoring system was providing a great example of one of the benefits of microinverter technology.
If you have a gander at the live monitoring screenshot below you’ll see that I’ve highlighted the position of my wood burner’s flue and the approximate shadow it casts as the sun goes down.
Now, the interesting thing to note (for a solar-geek anyway) is that the panel next to the flue is at 10W and the panel next to it is 37W. This compares with all the other panels which are sitting pretty at about 54W. Obviously the 2 underperforming panels are suffering from the flue’s late-evening shadow.
But the cool thing is that the shadow is only affecting those 2 panels. The other 22 panels are rocking along without any reduction in power giving a total of 1.2kW in the late-evening sun.
If I had a central inverter and all these panels were in series, then all the panels would be forced to the same power as the worst performing panel.
In other words I’d only be getting: 24 x 10W = 240W from the system as a whole. 80% less power!
For a rundown of both the advantages and disadvantages of microinverters I’ve put together a summary infographic here.