There is nothing more satisfying than the independence you get from off-grid energy production. But with that freedom comes the responsibility to fulfill your needs on your own. Resultantly, it is easy to become frustrated if your solar panel fails to provide adequate energy for your daily needs and activities.

Sometimes, your energy needs evolve, and at other times, your solar panels turn out to be incorrectly sized to accommodate all your needs. Regardless of the reason, now you have only one option left, i.e. to expand your off-grid solar system. Fortunately, technological advancements allow you to expand your solar panels either by adding extra panels or by increasing the battery capacity.

The following article covers everything you need to know about expanding your off-grid solar energy system and the best ways to do it.
When To Expand Your Solar System

Before understanding the ways you can use to expand your solar panel, it is essential to understand the situations that demand their expansion instead of replacement.

The following are the few situations where expansion pays off better than replacement.

Budget Constraints: You are surely like the majority that starts with a smaller system and then expands to overcome their budget constraints. In this case, the latter is an excellent strategy as it provides you with an opportunity to assess the efficiency of the system without a significant investment at stake. So, if you are satisfied and want to increase the energy production while remaining within your budget, expansion is your ideal option.

Increased Energy Consumption: your energy requirements can increase if more people move into your dwelling or you buy more electrical products in an attempt to achieve a smart lifestyle. Then you surely need to expand your solar panel system, especially in off-grid cases.

Insufficient Solar Production: if your solar system is not providing you ample energy to meet your daily requirements, it means your system is not appropriately sized for your property. Thus, expansion is the only solution to the problem.
Problem Areas To Check Before Expansion

If your panels aren’t putting as much energy out as expected, the problem might not solely relate to the wrong size of the solar panel compared to property needs. Other factors associated with the panel placement and mounting can also affect the system’s production capacity and efficiency.

In certain situations, reconfiguring and resetting your solar panel can solve the problem and bring your system’s energy production on track. So, if you see no apparent change in your energy needs but still the system is falling short, it is better to inspect and make changes to the following aspects before expanding. You should reassess and check;

System’s mount angel and slope
The amount of shade on the system due to surrounding trees.
Side of the panels facing the sun.
Local temperature (continuous clouds and colder temperatures can decrease the production).
Ways To Expand Your Solar Panel System

Since you found no problem with the aforementioned areas, you are ready to move to the expansion step. In this regard, knowing your options can make a huge difference. Some easy and common ways to expand your solar panel include;
Adding Panels To Your Rooftop

Adding panels to your rooftop array means adding additional panels to your system and connecting them with the existing combiner box and charge controller. This will be the easiest way to expand as long as your system is capable of managing the increased load. Also, keep in mind the weight-bearing capacity of your roof.

However, expanding the roof mount solar system can be a bit tricky because the space is limited, and the slope is not the same everywhere.

So what should you do if there is no space?

Firstly, you can replace some panels with the ones boasting a higher efficiency. Secondly, you can combine your array with an alternative energy source like wind power or hydropower. Lastly, you can shift to on-grid partially.
More Inverter Power

Another way to increase your energy production is by increasing inverter power. The latter is a viable option if you have stackable inverter power with an open option to add more power to the tap.

However, adding extra inverter power is not always straightforward. Your circuit system or wiring may not be capable enough to support increased power. Sometimes you have to rewire your entire system to accommodate extra inverter power. If you anticipated expansion from the start of solar panel deployment, you might have used an expandable power centre. If so, adding an extra inverter to the off-grid solar system should not be a problem for you.
Expanding The Battery Bank

Depending on the type of battery (lithium or lead-acid), you can expand the system’s battery bank. If you have a lithium battery, adding more will surely have a positive effect and increase the system’s efficiency.

However, in the case of lead-acid, the new batteries tend to acquire the characteristics of the old batteries. Meaning they will drain down to the level of old batteries involuntarily. This will make the battery addition a not-so-effective attempt of increasing solar panel production and efficiency.

In conclusion, expanding your off-grid solar panel system is a great alternative to solar panel replacements. However, it requires you to diligently consider your existing system to decide on the best expansion option.

Author's Bio: 

Off-grid solar panels beget both energy production freedom and responsibility. This article explains off-grid solar system expansion needs and ways in detail.