Can I Add More Solar Panels to My System?

By Kami Turky

Last Updated:

In the last few years, solar power has been on a steady rise in popularity. In fact, it is one of the most popular forms of alternative energy available!

As we speak, more and more people are installing solar panels on their roofs to generate electricity for their homes.

So can you add more solar panels to your existing system?

Well, the answer is yes, you can always add more solar panels to an existing system. However, this question isn’t as straight forward as you might think.

Luckily in this article, we will go through all the factors that determine whether you can add more panels to your solar system is possible or not.

Further, we will help you figure out if your system needs an upgrade or not!

So without further ado, let’s jump right into the first factor.

1. Can Your Roof Withstand The New Solar Panels Weight?

Before you can even think about adding more solar panels, the first thing that must be evaluated is whether or not your roof can handle a new addition to it.

After all, if your roof can’t support any more weight from another panel installation then how can we expect it to hold up?

Luckily modern solar panels are quite light and can be installed without too much of an issue.

The heaviest solar panel the average homeowner can expect to have on his or her roof is around 30 pounds, which can be easily handled by most residential roofs.

However, before you go ahead and order more panels online, it’s important to check if your home can support them first!

Most roofs can support a few new panels, however, some homes that suffer from too much heat or are already under stress can’t handle any addition.

So before you get ahead of yourself and start installing more panels on your home, make sure to consult an expert to see whether your roof will be able to withstand the new weight or not.

2. Does Your Roof Have Enough Space?

Another factor that can determine if you can add more solar panels to your existing system is the space available on it.

After all, not every roof can accommodate another panel installation or two!

However, this problem can be solved relatively easily by rearranging how your current panels are installed.

Most roofs have a few areas where one can add a few more panels and still maintain the same power output.

So even if you can’t install another panel on your roof, there is always an option to rearrange how they are placed!

However, if your home doesn’t have any suitable areas for new solar panel installation then it might be time to look at other options such as ground, pole mounted panels, or even use the free roof space on your pergolas or gazebos.

It can’t be stressed enough how important it is to plan where your future solar panel installation can go before purchasing them!

So if you have a little bit of space available on your roof, then there’s no reason why you can’t add more panels to an existing system with ease!

Related article: Do Solar Panels Damage Roof?

3. Do You Need A New Inverter?

While adding more panels can be relatively simple, the inverter can often cause some trouble.

This is because most residential solar panel installations are either microinverters or central inverters since they can handle the standard installation of up to around 12-20 panels at a time.

However, if you’re only adding a portable solar panel to an existing system, then this isn’t a problem.

The real issue can arise if you are adding more than one panel to your installation!

Since most inverters can only handle a certain number of panels, it’s important that before purchasing new ones you check with the manufacturer how many can be installed at once.

You can also rearrange the panels’ installation in series to match the inverter’s voltage.

This way you avoid having to upgrade your current inverter, which can be a long and arduous process that can take up to several days.

So before you go out and purchase new solar panels for your home, make sure the inverter can handle them first!

Otherwise, it might not be worth buying anymore at all.

4. Can Your Breaker Box Handle The New Addition?

One thing that can determine whether you can add more solar panels to your current system is the breaker box.

Most homes have a standard 200 amp service which can be upgraded in some cases or use a solar ready panel, but for most homeowners, this isn’t enough.

This can cause issues when trying to install new solar panels since your new system can output more electricity than the bus can handle, which can lead to fires and damage to your home appliances.

In this case, it is highly recommended to consult an electrician about upgrading the breaker box if you want to add more solar panels!

So before buying any additional solar panels make sure to consult a professional and upgrade your breaker box first!

5. Does Adding More Solar Panels Require Additional Permits?

In some cases, it can be required to get a permit if you want to add more solar panels.

This can depend on many factors such as the size of your system and how much power it put out, but in most cases, this isn’t necessary.

So before going ahead with any new panel installation make sure to check with local authorities since it can require a permit in your area.

The whole process can be relatively quick and painless, but it’s always best to check first before making any major changes!

6. Will You Be Eligible For Incentives?

Increasing the size of your existing solar system might not make you eligible for some rebates such as tax credits.

Further, you might face some problems with your PBIs (performance based incentives) such as your feed in tariff and you might need to apply for a new one.

So before you buy any additional solar panels it can be highly beneficial to consult an expert as they can help you avoid such scenarios and can provide guidance on how much power your system can handle.

Related article: What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Solar Panels?

7. Does Your Solar Installer Accept Add On Projects?

Finally, when you want to add more solar panels to your current system it can be a good idea to check with whoever installed the original one.

In many cases, this can require an entirely new installation which can take up time and money so it’s always best if they can handle adding additional panels as well.

This way instead of having two different companies come to your home you can have one which can handle it all.

So before purchasing additional solar panels make sure that whoever installed the first ones can also install more!

Otherwise, it might not be worth buying any new ones at all.

So, Is Adding More Solar Panels To My System Worth It?

The answer is yes and no! It all depends on the installation you have and what can fit best in your home if anything at all!

Adding more solar panels can definitely be beneficial and can give you a lot of extra power, however, there are many factors that can determine if it’s the right choice for your home.

So before making a purchase, make sure to consult an electrician or professional about whether it can work for you or not!

Kami Turky

Kami is a solar engineer with nearly a decade of experience in researching, testing, and reviewing various solar products.He has also provided technical consultation to several organizations on the best ways to incorporate solar energy into their operations.When he’s not busy helping others find the best solar solutions, Kami enjoys spending time outdoors, hiking, camping, and exploring the natural wonders of his home state.

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4 thoughts on “Can I Add More Solar Panels to My System?”

  1. Hi, I had a 10 panel solar system installed about 5 years ago. I can’t easily find the original invoice, but if memory serves right, it cost $10,000 with a 30% tax credit. We shortly receiving an electric car, thus we thought we could “slap” a few panels on to the existing system. BTW, the sizing of the system to our existing needs was pretty darn close to our current usage.

    So I contacted the original vendor and they bid $17,000 for 7 additional panels. They said XCEL would not allow the panels to be hooked into the existing system, therefore it was like getting a 2nd system installed. If true, I was still finding it hard to believe that a smaller new system was more expensive than the 1st one. Hasn’t the cost of panels come down significantly. And if so, where is the higher cost…..in labor?

    My wife and I are retired and don’t drive locally very far. Combined we drive maybe 8K miles per year locally. We do expect to take a couple of road trips with the EV totalling another 8K miles, but that would obviously be using power when away from the house. So I think we need 2-4 additional panels.

    Can you give me your opinion and observations?

    Thanks, Alan

    Reply
    • Hi Alan,

      Oh, $17,000 seems like a lot. That’s the cost of a 5-6kW solar system and since you are only installing 7 panels, then my guess is that they are charging you $17,000 for a ~2-3kW system.
      Just so you know, the average cost of solar in the US is about $2.50, so there must be something wrong with that estimation.

      For how many solar panels you need, it really depends on your car model (how many miles does it travel with 1kWh) and where you live (the amount of sunlight you get.)
      Here is how the calculation is made: Solar system size = How much energy does your car need per month/Average of sunlight hours you get per month.

      For example, if your car uses 300kWh per month (you travel ~1.2k miles per month) and you get 200 sunlight hours per month, then you need a 1.5kW solar system (300/200.)
      In other words, this 1.5kW system should be enough to charge your EV with 9kWh, which is enough to drive around 40 miles (assuming your EV uses 1kWh per 4.5 miles.)
      You get the idea.

      Note: The numbers are far from accurate, I just used them for demonstration.

      I hope this answer helped you. If you need anything else please let me know :D

      Reply
  2. I purchased a solar power system with 12 panels about 12 years ago. In my perception, the promised savings never showed up. The power company pays me the wholesale price and charges me dearly for third-tier rates. I want to add four panels, but I was told there would need to be a permit, and they wouldn’t do less than 12 panels. I’m disappointed. I feel like I was sold a bill of goods, and they lied. Each panel has its own micro-inverter, and I was told that an extra panel or two could just be snapped in. I have plenty of room on my roof. I’d like to buy another 4 panels and snap them in like I was told was possible.

    Reply
    • I’m really sorry to hear that Allen.
      Who told you that you need at least 12 more panels to get a permit? I’ve never heard of something like that.
      I recommend checking again with your local building authority because this is absurd.

      Reply

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