Maximizing Solar Power Production Through “Peak Clipping”

Maximizing Solar Power Production Through “Peak Clipping”

What is “peak clipping”?

The inverters control the total kilowatts that a system produces regardless of the total power production of the solar panels. When the combined (DC) wattage exceeds the rating of the inverter, it creates “peak clipping”.

For example, you might have two 320 watt solar panels connected to a 500 watt inverter. During peak sunlight hours, you are overproducing by 140 watts. The maximum “peak” production that the inverters let through to your electrical panel is “clipped” by the inverter rating.  However, the extra production gained on either side of the “peak” is greater than what is lost by the “clip”.

Why would I want to “over-produce” solar power?

It comes down to the cost of solar panels. In the last few years, we have seen solar panel prices drop by more than half. This price drop has made peak clipping an advantageous strategy. It now makes more sense to install additional solar panels, rather than add other older and more expensive solar efficiency technologies (like sun-tracking and tilt variation).

The solar power inverters limit the size of the array, so putting more solar panels on is better for production. As higher wattage inverters and solar panels are used, fewer of them are needed to generate the same amount of power. That brings the overall price of a solar installation down.

The Benefits of Solar Power Over-Production

  • Since solar panels reach “optimal conditions” less than 5% of the time, your overproduction is giving you more power the other 95% of operation time.
  • As solar efficiency declines over the years, you are capturing more power, even as your annual peak power production drops.
  • As the cost of panels per kW continues to drop, it makes over-production a viable option.
  • The inverters clip the array at it’s maximum “rated” size, so the addition of more panels does not effect rated output.

Below is an example of a solar installation that was over-built to maximize solar power production, at the cost of the little “peak” clipped off at the top. The system was purposefully sized to provide more power during the ramp up, ramp down, and non optimal times by using larger wattage and more panels to overproduce.

Click here for the Allamakee-Clayton Electric Cooperative Live Feed Example of Power Clipping

Note that clipping will only be visible during optimal peak daylight hours and you might have to search the daily production history during summer hours to see peak clipping

By |2018-05-26T20:05:34+00:00July 25th, 2017|Categories: Frequently Asked Questions|Comments Off on Maximizing Solar Power Production Through “Peak Clipping”