Choosing solar as the main source of electric power supply benefits you with considerable cost savings. Also, you contribute towards protecting the environment. However, choosing the right electric control panels and other accompanying equipment for large residential and commercial solar projects is a prerequisite. Generally, a new electric panel needs to be installed, or the existing one needs to be upgraded.
If you are thinking about going solar, having a good knowledge of solar panel electrical requirements can help you make an educated decision. In this blog, we’ll cover everything you need to know to pick the right electric control panel for a large solar project.
Electric Control Panels: Why Do You Need Them For Your Solar System?
Electric control panels are a combination of electric devices that use electric power to control the mechanical functions of equipment or machinery. Solar panels are only the first step to collecting the solar energy falling on your business property (or home) and putting it to good use. When this energy is fed back to the building’s electric grid, there are several safety and compatibility issues.
Robust electric control panels are able to connect with solar panels and solar battery storage systems. Industries and businesses require a large amount of energy to operate; installing an electric control panel or making an upgrade will make the power use easier to handle.
Moreover, a solar power distribution unit or solar power distribution panels help prevent power failure and increase safety. Besides, installing electric control panels for a solar system adds value to the property. Therefore, it is advised to install or upgrade the one.
Top Factors When Choosing Electric Panels For a Solar Project
Now that you know why it is necessary to install a good electric control panel or upgrade the one, you want to know electric panel requirements or considerations for a solar project. Let’s start with the basic terminology-
Kilowatt-hour is the unit of measurement that tells how much energy you use over a specific period of time. 1 kilowatt=1000 watts. The electricity consumption is billed on a cost per kilowatt-hour basis. If you know how much kilowatts of energy your residential or commercial setup requires, you can size the solar system properly.
Voltage drop is the amount of current that is lost due to resistance in wires. It results in a slight production loss in the solar system. Longer is the wiring run; the more is the voltage drop. However, you can tackle this problem in a few ways. For example, you can reduce the length of the wiring run, use a bigger-sized wire, or design your system with higher voltage.
Remember – Wire sizing in a solar panel is an important thing to consider. Therefore, if you are planning a solar project, make sure to take voltage drop into account. You can also seek expert assistance from a solar designer for planning the next solar system project better.
The size of the electrical panel places some restrictions on the solar system size, especially for grid-tie solar systems. If there are no such restrictions, the combined energy from the solar system and utility grid will overload the electric panel. This is where the 120% rule for sizing the solar system according to the electrical panel comes in!
The 120% Rule For Sizing The Solar System Accurately
This is something you should keep in mind while looking for an electrical control panel and sizing the solar system in accordance with the panel.
The 120% rule is the rule that calculates the maximum size breaker that can be interconnected to the electrical panel. This helps you determine the maximum size of inverter you can use. It says that you can’t have more than 240 amps (120%) running through the busbars of the main breaker. When it comes to designing a PV system or a solar system for a residential or commercial setting, this rule comes in extremely handy.
Let’s understand this with the help of an example-
Suppose there is an electrical breaker and standard service rated 200 amperes. You want to know how large of a solar breaker you need for this system. Well, you can’t exceed 120% or 240 amperes of the rated service. Thus, the solar breaker could be rated at 40 amperes maximum. This way, the solar system can handle up to 7,600 watts.
The 120% rule is applicable only if the main breaker that is backed is on the opposite side of the busbar. But if the main is in the middle, you can’t exceed 100% of the busbar rating.
Thus, a good electrical panel for a big solar project is the one that meets the requirements for the 120% rule.
How Much Will An Electric Panel Upgrade or Installation Cost?
Generally, an electrical panel installation or upgrade is the costliest part of any solar project. However, it enables the solar system to function properly and has additional benefits too. Both labor and material costs vary greatly from one project to the other; it depends on several factors. Do sub-panels, split-circuits, etc. need attention? Is there a need for re-wiring? Do you need to install a new power supply and a meter?
It may take hundreds to thousands of dollars to complete the entire electrical paneling work based on these factors. Also, the total solar project varies. In addition to these factors, many other things come into play. You may need inverter upgrades for increased solar power.
A monitoring system may also be needed to upload the solar production or usage data for monitoring it on-site. This will allow you to manage solar power more wisely and alert you when the system slows down. Addressing such issues will also prove to be beneficial for you in the long run. Besides, you may also require permits for solar system installation projects.
Thus, the electric control panel is just one of the many other factors of making a large solar project work successfully. Look for the experts who can assess the current electric system and let you know if the electric panel needs an upgrade.
Top 5 brands of Electrical Panel for Solar Projects
Using solar energy for generating electricity has become a trend nowadays. The increased focus on using renewable sources of energy, and various financial, environmental benefits it offers, are the obvious reasons why harnessing solar energy has gained popularity. Solar panels are being installed in residential, as well as commercial settings to reap the benefits.
But how do you find the right electrical panel manufacturers for your solar project needs?
Don’t worry! Here, we have lined up top electrical panel brands for your domestic and commercial needs, so you can choose the right company to partner with.
Solar Supplies UK
This reputed manufacturer is your one-stop shop for eco-friendly products for your solar project needs. They have been serving clients in the UK, Australia, and South America for 16 years. Their range of products include solar storage batteries, solar panels, marine solar products, solar thermal water heating, and more! They ensure a free shipping to the clients residing in the mainland UK to their desired area after they place the order.
SolFex Energy Systems
Established in 2006, this company specializes in supplying solar products in wholesale. Earlier, they used to distribute thermal solar power products by European manufacturers. Later, they collaborated with other top brands/manufacturers which enabled them to stock top-notch products. Their stocks’ price is highly competitive, and their team offers dedicated services to the clients. Please keep in mind that they don’t supply to end-users or DIY markets.
AF Switchgear is another important name among the top electrical panel manufacturers for solar projects. Being one of the UK’s largest switchgear manufacturers, they have set a standard for power distribution and LV gear. Their range of products include electric control panels and ATS, busbars, modular solutions, PDUs, and more! From control and monitoring, maintenance to surveys, they provide their clients with excellent services and support.
Midsummer Energy is a top manufacturer in the UK that offers solar products and equipment in retail, as well as wholesale. The company started as an off-grid supplier to online and offline customers, and later grew into a wholesale solar company. In addition to solar, the company offers technical support, software development, and other services too.
It is a renowned British solar company in the UK that has been delivering reliable solar energy products since 2015. They assure a generous warranty of up to 30 years on their products and services which reflects their confidence in their brand. In addition, the company is also known to design panels that align with the current technology in the industry. This ensures that clients get the maximum ROI and reap the best benefits from their solar projects.
There are many other brands that manufacture electric panels for solar projects; however, these are the top ones to consider.
In the fight against the climate crisis, Willie Jiang believes that content marketing can push the energy revolution along at a faster pace. Having helped countless brands grow their organic traffic by 10X and became the CMO of SolarFeeds.com, he is sharing his insights with the solar energy industry. If you want to publish your articles on SolarFeeds Magazine, click here.