What is a solar PV optimiser?
A solar PV optimiser, also knows as a PV booster, PV immersion controller, solar immersion controller, PV Immersion switch, PV hot water controller, solar hot water controller or just simply a solar switch, is a gadget that diverts surplus electricity generated by your Solar Panels to a storage device in your home, such as your hot water tank, via the immersion heater.
The reason why you would want to use/store this surplus electricity is that it would otherwise be exported to the nation grid. Seen as you get paid for 50% of your generation as export, no matter how much you actually send to the grid, it makes financial sense to use as much generated electricity as possible.
Solar PV optimisers monitor the amount of electricity being produced, used and exported a few times per second and divert accordingly, which means that you export the minimum, import the minimum and use the maximum amount generated.
Which Solar PV optimiser is for me?
The Solar PV Optimiser market is competitive and there are a few companies and models to choose from. Basic controllers to wireless versions and even ones that you can track on a day-to-day basis are all available at differing costs.
While you may want some features, others may not be required, so it’s important picking the right one, so you don’t pay more than you need to. Here at TheEcoStore we offer a quality range of different Solar PV Optimisers. The important thing to look at are, starting Wattage – the amount of surplus needed to be diverted, whether the unit is wireless, the price and additional features.
First off is the Apollo Compact, which is fairly limited in terms of additional features. It is solely a basic switch that kicks in and diverts electricity to the immersion heater when there is a surplus of 70 watts or more – not too bad. It is our only Optimiser that is below £250, which is a fantastic plus point as the whole aim behind Solar PV diverters is to save money! Small and compact, it is the perfect model for those who aren’t bothered about flashy display units and real-time following.
The great thing about the Apollo Gem Compact, or Apollo Gem-C wireless is that it is such an easy unit to install. This makes it the best DIY Solar PV diverter.
The next are the Apollo GEM wired and wireless versions. They provide a nice LCD display that shows real-time export and import data on an easy view. Both versions start diverting at 80 watts surplus but can both control water temperature & timing and can be expanded to larger systems. They are a touch more expensive than the Compact, at around £339.99 and £439.99 respectively.
Which solar PV Optimiser does TheEcoStore recommend?
Having sold Solar PV Optimisers/Diverters for around 5 years, we have a bit of experience in terms of customer favourites. We find that the Apollo Compact is very popular due to it being the cheapest, but without lacking in quality. The additional benefit of it being a DIY option is great as well.