Export limiting is determined by your local electricity network operator and involves using additional hardware to throttle the inverter output if certain solar export limits are reached, typically around 5kW.
The network companies have been progressively introducing this rule for several years for a variety of reasons, including to reduce the effect of too much solar entering the network on strong solar production days (impacting electricity quality, creating surges, affecting transformers etc).
How does an export limit affect me?
If you have a 5kW Export Limit on your 10kW solar system, this will be controlled in one of two ways. Firstly, your Inverter will simply “throttle” the production of your system so that you are not exporting more than 5kW of power per hour. Meaning, if at the time the household requires 2.7kW per hour to run base load appliance and say an air conditioner, your system will produce a maximum of 7.7kW per hour. 2.7kW to service the household needs and 5kW of excess power to export back to the grid.
Alternatively, your solar system will simply produce power as per normal for the conditions of the day, servicing the household requirements firstly, then exporting a maximum of 5kW per hour back to the grid, Any solar energy that your system has produced on top of that, (using the example above 2.3kW) will be wasted by the inverter or the export limiting device, typically as heat.
What are the Benefits of Export Limiting?
By using a high quality inverter with export limitation programming you may be able to install a larger solar system than you would otherwise be approved for whilst still complying with your network distributors export limits.
A larger system will produce more power throughout the entire day but will generally only reach an export limitation during the peak of the day. You will benefit from the full capacity of your solar generation whenever your households current demand + export limit is less than the current solar generation. Typically this will be during the mornings, late afternoon and whenever you have high usage throughout the day.
How to maximize your savings.
As with all solar systems, the greatest benefits come from restructuring your household demands and load throughout the day, during optimal production periods. This may include:
- Setting your pool timer to run during the day from 9am-3pm
- Changing the tariff of your hot water system and putting it on a timer, so that it is running purely from solar.
- Do your household work during the day such as washing, drying ironing, air conditioning and some cooking.
These are just a few ways in which you can ensure you are optimizing the demand and production of your solar throughout the day.
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