Higher solar panel efficiency matters, and to a great extent when you are thinking about installing a solar power system. There are numerous factors that can affect the performance of photo-voltaic cells, and of course, harvesting more energy as well as storing the surplus power is always a good idea. After all, when you already have the solar panels, then why not optimize them to so that they generate electricity at the most efficient rate possible. In this article, we will be discussing the factors that affect your solar panels' efficiency and how to optimize it for improved output power.
Solar panel efficiency history. via energysage
1. Type of solar panels
Improvement in solar panel efficiency is no big news these days. Every year manufacturers and researchers are actively coming up with even more efficient solar panels. Therefore, whenever you plan to install a solar power system make sure you go for panels with the highest solar panel efficiency in the market. Of course, this decision is tightly related to your budget, but as a general rule remember that higher solar panel efficiency means more energy generated in less space consumed by the cells.
2. Location of your solar panel system
Energy from the sun? Contrary to what most people think, heat from the sun is not used to generate electrical energy. It is the radiation from the sunlight that acts as the fuel for solar panels.
Shade on solar panels. via pveasy
Therefore, it is of utmost importance that your solar panels are placed or mounted in such a location that gets maximum sunshine throughout the day to achieve higher solar panel efficiency. Any shadows onto the solar cells would drastically decrease its generating capacity. Most of the solar cells are arranged in a series connection, and a decrease in the generating capacity of even 1 solar cell will affect the overall output power, severely.
3. Solar cell angle towards the sun
As mentioned above, direct sunshine is the most critical factor when it comes to solar panel efficiency and the generated power. So at solar noon is when you can have the most power generated from your solar panels as at that time the sun is perpendicular to the solar panels, and at dawn and dusk, it is the vice versa. Therefore the angle of the solar panels is vital to getting a good performance from your solar power system.
Solar panels' angle towards the sun is important. via azom
Ideally, solar panels must be at a 90-degree angle to the sun, but that cannot happen when your solar panels are fixed on a ground mount or your roof. Therefore, to get the best out of such a situation you have two options:
Find out your latitude. For summers, subtract 15-degrees from it, and incline your solar panels in the resulting angle towards the sun. And for winters, add 15-degrees to the latitude. Make sure that the photo-voltaic cells are facing south (for the US).
Get a sun tracker installed on your solar mounting system. This way, the cells will always face directly towards the sun and will be generating the maximum possible power at any instant during the daytime. This is one of the most beneficial investment you can add to the system to increase the solar panel efficiency.
4. Heat dissipation and air circulation
Solar cells are tested and rated for their output power at a standard 77 F (25 C), and that is the temperature at which they produce the maximum energy out of the available sunshine. But at the same time keeping the solar panels under direct sunlight for the entire day will increase its temperature which results in decreasing the solar panel efficiency.
In such a condition the optimal step is to install the solar panels at least 4 inches off the roof (if it is a roof-mounted system) or else the ground mounting already has ample space for airflow to dissipate the heat of the solar panels and keep them cool for better performance. It is also recommended that there must be an inch gap between neighboring panels, as this will help even more with air circulation for heat dissipation.
5. Copper wire length and quality
The most energy losses that occur in the solar power generation system are due to electrical line losses. Longer and poor quality wires are responsible for losing voltage and thus decreasing the power that reaches the inverter or the charge-controller. To tackle this issue, try to install the solar system near to the charging station or the inverter, and use pure copper wires with a thick diameter to ease the flow of electric current and harness almost all the energy generated by the solar cells.
A thick and good quality wire is better so higher solar panel efficiency. via slavta-rda
6. Keeping your solar panels clean
More sunlight equals more power generated, and for this reason, it is a good idea to inspect and clean your solar panels. If you live in an area that has frequent dust storms and heavy particulate matter pollution then cleaning your solar panels once a month would be a good idea. However if you live in an area that usually has clean and clear skies than for the most part natural rain will keep your solar panels clean, but still a maintenance check every 3 months would be a good idea to clean the cells of any leaves, dust, birds droppings and other debris with warm water and dish soap.
Dirty solar panels perform bad. via cansterblue
To achieve the maximum performance from your solar power system, you are recommended to
Buy highly efficient solar panels for higher generation capacity per unit area.
Keep your solar power system away from any shadow cast.
Optimize the solar panel's angle so that it is directly perpendicular to the sun rays for maximum time during the day.
Allow for airflow between and under the panels for heat dissipation via convection.
Install the solar power system close to your storage and controller. Use highly-pure copper wires with thick diameters to avoid voltage drops.
Keep your solar panels clean for more sunlight to reach the cells under the glass.
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