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Difficulties Upgrading PV Systems

  •  New batteries cannot be added to and old battery array to upgrade capacity.  Mixing old batteries and new ones reduces the new batteries to the performance of your old batteries.  ...that is IF they are identically rated batteries.  There are considerably deeper problems if you mix battery capacity.
  • The solar charge controller probably is not large enough to accept more or larger panels. 
  • Most people start with small solar panels.  Many smaller, older PV panels can not accept the higher voltages or current.  They may have different voltage characteristics than the panels available today. 
  • Older inverters were usually designed for smaller battery storage systems within boats and RV's and adapted to off-grid .  Their battery charging may not be up to the task of adequately handling today's larger battery banks used within off grid systems.

In Summary
In many cases mixing smaller, older PV panels with new ones and old batteries with new m,may be inefficient.

Your alternatives may be to sell the old equipment, dispose of it or relegate it to a sub set within your present system.  HOWEVER, just because your needs have grown doesn't mean your older components which are still serviceable can't be usefully employed.  If you just need more capacity consider reusing the what you have for a sub system such as water pressure and outdoor lighting or maybe the old system can be used to power the bunkie.

Adding to Old Batteries
If you're in an area where with other off grid systems you may be able to purchase batteries old batteries of similar age and exactly the same make and model to expand your system.  If you purchased the system yourself, the vendor who sold you the batteries may have contacts for you. Place an add or call the store and see what turns up!

Adding more PV panels
PV panels of similar electrical Voltage characteristics can be added added together in a parallel wiring configuration to provide more power. If the older panels cannot handle more current (amps) they can be joined in a parallel configuration at the combiner box which then leads the power to the solar charge controller.  If you're not sure of the older panels' charge characteristics if shaded, a diode can be imposed to protect the output from other panels from being consumed by the older panels.

Older panels with differing voltage can be combined if joined in a series wiring configuration as long as the voltage and current rating of the panels isn't exceeded.  Not many solar charge controllers can handle and convert higher voltages without power loss, however, the Outback MX60 is will.

 

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Last modified: March 01, 2017