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High Voltage: The real reason your solar savings don't add up

At Edge Electrons, we talk a lot about the negative impacts of High Voltage for your solar system, electronic appliances and power bills. While High Voltage effects more than 640,000 solar homes across Australia, it’s a relatively unknown issue for consumers. So, here’s a simple breakdown of the problem, and why it could be killing your solar savings.

What is High Voltage?

High Voltage describes the level of volts delivered to your home from the electricity grid. As more people adopt solar (a wise investment!), Electricity Networks are struggling to cope with this new injection of power onto the grid. This is a highly complex and contentious issue, but the bottom line is that it’s causing your home to receive a much higher voltage than it needs, and the Network is not yet equipped to fix this problem.

“Some blame the fact that utilities are deciding to deliberately pass through high voltages to consumers – effectively ‘force feeding’ them electricity – because for them it is the most efficient way of managing the system.”

- Giles Parkinson, Renew Economy

It is proven that your appliances and solar system work most efficiently when they receive 225 volts from the electricity grid, but the average voltage delivered to Australian homes is much higher, at 246 volts. Furthermore, one quarter of homes which participated in AGL’s recent Virtual Power Plant trial experienced voltages of 256 or more.

What are the impacts of High Voltage?

Appliance Damage - High Voltage ‘force feeds’ your home more power than it needs, causing your appliances to burn out faster. This Queensland Government report confirms that high voltage levels are “…increasing the risk of appliance damage, poor performance and reduced product life.”

Reduced solar savings - Running High Voltage into your home also means you need to use more of your solar power to supply your own needs, leaving less solar power to sell back to the grid. The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) says “If no action is taken to address these issues, customers will suffer…Their existing investment in solar or batteries may take longer to pay back if they are constrained regarding the amount of electricity they can take from, or feed back into the grid.”

Poor solar performance - Worse still, High Voltage causes solar systems to degrade and even disconnect altogether, meaning no savings even when the sun is shining. This paper states that “High AC grid voltages can have a detrimental impact on the performance of PV systems” and demonstrates that overall solar output can be reduced by up to 25%.

What is the solution?

If you’re not getting the savings you’d hope for from your solar system, or if you’ve noticed your appliances running hot, it’s highly likely your home is receiving expensive High Voltage from the electricity grid.

Unfortunately, waiting around for your Electricity Network to fix the problem may take a while. Currently only a few Networks manage voltage at substation-level, and have a very small voltage adjustment range of 3-4% that delivers minimal savings.

Luckily, Edge Electrons has developed a low-cost device which manages High Voltage at premise-level with a voltage adjustment range of 12%, meaning bigger solar savings and reduced power consumption.

EdgeIQ globally patented Voltage Optimisation technology:

  • Improves solar performance by up to 20%

  • Provides 24-hour house wide voltage protection

  • Preserves lifespan of appliances and solar inverter

  • Provides real-time monitoring of savings, solar and energy performance

  • Reduces carbon emissions

What is the science behind Voltage Optimisation?

Voltage Optimisation is an established technology, commonly referred to as Conservation Voltage Reduction (CVR), which achieves energy savings by reducing incoming voltage.

Each electrical appliance has its own CVR factor. For example, a CVR factor of 1 means that for every 1% decrease in voltage there is a 1% decrease in electricity consumption. Appliances which benefit most from Voltage Optimisation, and therefore yield the greatest savings, include washing machines, clothes dryers, LED lights, pool pumps, refrigerators, water heaters and vacuum cleaners.

The Australian Government recognises CVR as a proven energy saving method, and is funding Demand Response programs which include CVR at a Network level.

Don’t settle for lousy solar savings and expensive High Voltage. Contact us today to find out more!


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