Solar panels are great; you can enjoy an eco-friendly energy source while lowering your utility bills. If you’ve had your solar panel properly installed by a top-rated solar company, you can expect to enjoy its benefits for years to come. However, you may be wondering if your solar installation is working efficiently. You may ask yourself whether anything more can be done to improve its efficiency.
Factors Affecting Solar Panel Efficiency
Measuring a solar panel’s efficiency has much to do with its surface area. This means that anything that impedes exposure to such an area to sunlight will significantly impact its energy output.
The following factors greatly determine solar panel efficiency;
i)Temperature: The hotter the weather, the more likely a solar panel won’t perform to optimum levels. Cooler temperatures are more conducive, enabling the panel to generate more electric power.
ii) Sun Intensity: This refers to the light rays or radiation intensity reaching the solar panel from the sun. The angle at which the solar panels are placed, and sunny conditions will greatly determine how much of the sun’s rays hit the panel and produce power.
iii) Reflectivity: Solar panels are manufactured in such a way as to absorb as much light as possible. However, some materials may be more reflective than others. A significant amount of sunshine is bounced off the panels, reducing the energy produced.
iv) Soiling: This refers to the amount of dirt accumulating on the solar panels. Such dirt and debris will hinder the surface area available for sunlight, reducing energy generation.
v) Age: Inevitably, every solar panel will gradually lose its efficiency if it’s been in use for years.
Increasing Solar Panel Efficiency
As a homeowner, you must ensure that your solar panels are in the best working condition. This involves some vigilance and maintenance tips. These include:
1) Choosing the Right Solar Panels
The right kind of solar panels will determine how much energy efficiency and longevity you enjoy. For instance, monocrystalline solar panels are considered the most efficient but also the most expensive. In this regard, choosing the right solar panels for your house should balance cost and efficiency. As such, polycrystalline solar panels might be best. While not as efficient as monocrystalline ones, they produce decent amounts of solar energy while being less expensive. Being the first type of solar panels to be introduced to the public, they continue to be popular due to cost and longevity. Also, go for solar panels with a high concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) cell concentration. These cells are designed in such a way as to extract as much solar energy from a beam of sunlight. A regular solar panel works to about a 22% efficiency. Those with CPV cells have a peak efficiency of over 45%, making them better. Of course, with such increased efficiency comes a high cost. You can expect to pay up to four times the average price for solar panels with CPV cells. However, choosing the right solar panel will ensure you enjoy good solar energy production for years.
2) Proper Installation
Regardless of how expensive and high-quality your solar panels are, they’ll never work at optimum levels if not installed correctly. In fact, proper solar panel installation is so crucial that only professionals should do it. Several factors go into installing solar panels properly. For instance, installing solar panels at an improper angle can decrease efficiency by as much as 10%. This is one of several reasons why proper installation is important.
3) Avoiding Shade
Shades are detrimental to efficient solar panel functioning. You must ensure that your solar panels are not anywhere near a place that can cast shade onto their surfaces. This means an area with tree branches, chimneys, or electrical poles is best avoided. This is because some of these things might cause shades temporarily. For instance, a telephone pole close to the house might cast a long shadow that blocks direct sunlight to your solar panels for a few hours a day. This will mean that such panels won’t produce as much electrical energy during such hours, thereby hampering efficiency.
4) Avoiding Dirt
Dirt could be dust, mud, snow, or any other debris covering your solar panels, which will mean less energy production. This means cleaning your solar panels regularly to avoid accumulating such dirt. Even when your solar panels are on the roof, you can hire people to clean them once in a while. This should take into account the weather conditions. For instance, during winter, you may need to have the solar panels cleaned every few days to avoid snow accumulation.
Ultimately, maintaining your solar panels will greatly determine how much service you enjoy from them. While they won’t last forever, they can stay efficient for years with the proper maintenance techniques.