If you’re upgrading or thinking of upgrading to a solar powered energy system for your home then you’re probably seen the designation “WP” on certain components. This marking usually has a number next to it and a rating for the system. This has caused many people some confusion as they aren’t sure what exactly WP means.

WP means “Watts Peak” and is the rating given for the total wattage output when the system is operating under perfect conditions. Your system won’t always operate at this level of performance as there are too many environmental variables to take into consideration. However once in a while you’ll have that perfect day where everything will be calm, quiet, and sunny which will result in your system producing this amount of power. solar panel fitting in Rhode Island

Solar Install panels1-Engineering students help install solar grid systems at houses in Desert Hot Springs during their Spring Break. March 24, 2015

Now don’t get excited and start slamming panels with high WP ratings all over your roof. There are other parts of your system involved with converting this energy and if their WP rating isn’t as high as the panels then the panels can overload them. Let’s say that you have 5 panels that have a rating of 50 WP each. This is a total of 250 watts under perfect conditions.

Now say your converter box only has a rating of 200 WP. When your panels work at full capacity they will be producing 50 watts over what the converter can handle and will overload it. This can result in all sorts of nasty things happening and the last thing you want or need is an electrical fire. In order to prevent this event and keep your home from going up in smoke you need to do some math and some smart buying.

When you buy your solar panels make sure you write down their WP rating and then multiply that by the number of panels you buy. Then when you go to buy the other electrical support equipment for the system make sure their WP rating is slightly higher than the total figure you have for your panels. This will make sure that the other components in the system won’t be overloaded and will also have some breathing room to work with.

You want to leave this breathing room for your components due to the fact that as electrical systems get older they can’t handle as high of a load as when they were new. While not essential this step can help you get a few more years out of your components before having to replace them. Even solar panels and their related components have a life span and when they reach this lifespan they will need to be replaced.

Fortunately if the panels and the related equipment are made properly you won’t have to worry about this for a decade or so. If the panels are made really well you may not even have to worry about this problem at all as the system might outlast you.