Does Your Solar System Need an Upgrade?

Does Your Solar System Need an Upgrade?

A while back, you were excited to install solar on your home or business to generate clean power. It’s been working well for what it was designed to do – save you money on electricity bills while efficiently powering your place. But things change…maybe the aging system isn’t producing as much power as you want, or you’ve introduced new electrical devices that are straining its effectiveness, or you’re simply ready to upgrade to a new, more powerful system.

All of these and more are legitimate reasons to consider a solar system upgrade. We’re here to help you make that determination when the time comes. Let’s take a closer look at some of the pros and cons of a system upgrade and let you be the judge.

Why Would You Upgrade an Existing Solar System?

When considering an upgrade of an existing solar system, one of the first questions you’ll ask is how many additional panels will be needed? The answer is important because it will affect the system design as well as the overall cost of the project. Deciding on the right number of panels depends on factors such as your electricity bill after the installation, where you live, what equipment you select, and the overall system design. Providing electric bill information will help the installer determine the number of panels you need to add.

What Challenges Can You Face When Upgrading Solar Panels?

One major challenge to an upgrade is that an older system could have panels, cabling, an inverter, or other equipment that no longer meets current standards. Today’s standards require earthed panel frames and systems that use a non-polarized isolator, as well as the way in which cables are housed (high-density conduit and no plastic cable ties).

One question to ask yourself is whether there’s enough space on your roof for more solar panel installation. A rooftop system that is already suffering from constrained space probably means that’s a no, but ground mount systems may give you some leeway for adding panels. Even if you’ve run out of roof space for your business or home solar system, you can look at installing supplemental solar arrays using other structures on your property. These might include sheds, carports, or gazebos.

Another issue you could run into is panel compatibility. Since solar panels should generate electricity for more than 25 years before losing their effectiveness, you probably won’t need to replace all the panels of the original system unless you’re looking for newer, more efficient ones. It’s still a good idea to ask your installer to evaluate the entire solar energy system, including the wiring and racking before you commit to an upgrade.

Once you’ve decided to proceed, it’s best to install the same type of panels as the original array so you can ensure everything matches aesthetically. You’ll also want them to have the same power outputs and efficiencies as the existing panels. If you can’t install the same type, then be sure to choose new panels that share the same or similar power output because otherwise, it could damage your existing array.

How Much Does It Cost to Upgrade a Solar Panel System?

This question is best answered by determining what you want to upgrade. If you’re only looking to add or replace a couple of panels then the cost will be relatively small, but if you want an entire system replacement then it will run close to the price of a new installation.

Consumer Affairs reports that for Nevada in 2021, the starting cost for a 6kW system is around $15,000. This is offset by the 2021 federal tax credit value of 22 percent, or $3,250. It really depends on what you want from your upgrade, so consult us for an estimate.

When Would You Want to Upgrade a Solar System?

It could be that your solar system was undersized from the outset, or your electricity usage has increased since the original installation from additions to your house or business, you’ve added new appliances, or even purchased an electric vehicle. Let’s look closer at some reasons to upgrade.

Not Enough Solar Output

We get a lot of calls from customers with small 1.5kW systems who want more output from a larger system. Because panels live a long life and installation prices have dropped to about half of what they were 10 years ago, a larger system can deliver a solid return on your investment. Also, many people are moving away from gas to more efficient electric appliances and want their system to cover this increased electricity usage.

Panel Failure

While grid-connected panels generally live up to 25 years, they can and do occasionally fail earlier than that. A 2017 study shows the median annual failure rate is only five out of 10,000 panels for panels installed between 2000 and 2015, and double for those installed in the 1990s or earlier. You may be seeing decreased efficiency due to one or more panels failing, particularly if they are older, so it’s worth having us come to inspect them for you and give you a professional recommendation.

Inverter Failure

The inverter converts DC electricity absorbed by the panels into the AC to power your house and if it fails, you’ll have to replace it. They are usually warranted for a much shorter life than panels, sometimes only five years, though most should last at least 10 years before needing replacement.

Newer Panels and Inverters Are More Efficient

Just as all technology advancements move fast, so too does solar. Newer panels and inverters are more efficient, and practically every year they gain some advantage over older ones. If your system is at the 20-year mark and you feel it’s starting to lose efficiency, it’s worth having us perform an inspection and provide you with a recommendation.

You Want to Add Battery Storage

Batteries allow your system to store excess energy to use during cloudy days or at night. They also allow you to harness the power that may then be sold back to your utility provider. When upgrading their solar system, many home and business owners also choose to add more battery storage.

Let Bell Solar Upgrade Your Solar System

Since 2007, we’ve been a leader in the renewable energy revolution. Our women-owned and operated company was awarded “Best Contractor of 2014” and we’re currently rated in the top 3% of all Nevada contractors. Each of our experts is a journeyman electrician and our solar crews all carry photovoltaic licenses. You can count on our experience and passion to give you the best possible service for all your solar needs! Contact us today to learn more about our residential solar panel installation services and our commercial solar panel installation services.

New call-to-action