High voltage impact on electricity costs and solar system efficiency.
ES News / 23 May
Most people just assume that the electricity supplied to your home is a stable component and you only pay for what you need.
What most people don’t understand is the supply fluctuates within a range of 220 and 250 AC volts with a nominal voltage of 230. This fluctuation of voltage is a cost you bear in several ways.
The impact on your energy usage via appliances
Your appliances run better when receiving a consistent supply of electricity and will run comfortably at 220 volts. When voltage goes above this you are paying for energy you and your appliances do not need and it will likely reduce the life of the appliance if voltage is at the higher end of the range.
In the case study below Anton saved $750 00 per year in reduced energy costs from the grid by regulating the power voltage received to a steady 220 volts. While he is a heavy power user most average homes would save money each month through a more stable supply and better energy management.
The impact on your solar system
One of the more common issues we are seeing at present is the number of solar inverters that are failing due to high input voltages from the grid. This could be the result of the very high demand placed on suppliers due to prolonged low and high temperatures and the need to push supply down the network.
Whatever the reason the result is many inverters switching off when voltages pass 255 volts or higher. In most cases this is a safety cut out and can be remedied by resetting the inverter and homeowners contacting their supplier to report the issue and getting the fault fixed at the pole.
In some extreme cases the voltage spike can damage components within the inverter and these may need to be repaired or replaced. While some damaged components may be cheap to replace the labour cost to do this can add up to many hundreds, if you can find a specialist to do it.
Covered by warranty you say – you may have a product warranty, but some will not cover you for the actions of others such as your energy provider and voltage spikes are deemed as not covered by some solar warranties – check your cover. Going to your energy provider may also provide difficult unless they agree that voltage went above 255 volts in the recent past.
So what can you do?
First up check to see if high input AC voltage is an issue
With your solar inverter check the error reports or red flashing lights. If your inverter is off reboot it to see if it restarts and settles down as normal. If this does not work, get a solar installer in to check your system. They will be able to measure your incoming AC voltage and determine if the inverter can be saved.
Contact your energy retailer and ask them to check the voltage coming into your home. They can manage this at the street though they will always work within a range. They will try to keep below 250 volts which they know will protect appliances and maximise efficiencies but as we all know this is not guaranteed.
The EDGEIQ Solution
An option well worth considering is the installation of a power factoring unit between your switchboard and the inverter. This small unit flattens out the incoming voltage to a steady and consistent 220 volts. This will reduce your energy bill by only using what is needed to power your appliances and will also protect your solar inverter. The unit will increase your solar energy production by up to 15% according to the manufacturer and will also extend the life of your appliances. This unit also provides full monitoring across both the grid and your solar system making it easier to manage your energy use.
If you would like more information on EDGEIQ then go to their website or call us on 1300 656 205.
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