Jessica PirroMay 14, 20195770
Solar energy is one of the most popular, sustainable energy sources. The way that solar energy works is by converting the natural sunlight into electricity. Solar panels work to power buildings with electricity, creating a work environment that allows the employees to continue their day-to-day activities while relying on a renewable energy source.
By adding solar panels to a infrastructure, it is one the most environmentally friendly actions to take for a building. Solar panels are not only good for the environment, by eliminating the greenhouse gas emissions and not using any fossil fuels, they also help save a lot of money on electric bills.
While solar panels are a very good, environmentally friendly option, they do not perform the same under all circumstances. There are different conditions and certain factors that can affect the efficiency of a solar panel.
Though the circumstances and conditions can pose as an obstacle, there are ways that you can improve the efficiency of a solar panel. There are also ways that you can increase the amount on solar energy that your solar panels produce by eliminating these four issues.
Problem #1: Shade
Shade is a huge factor that inhibits the amount of solar energy is produced by your solar installation. The main reason that it is an inhibitor is because it serves as a sun blocker.
Shade isn’t as problematic for solar energy production from your solar installation as clouds are, but it does effect the efficiency of a solar panel. With shade, the panels still are able to get sun and convert the sunlight into solar energy, it’s just a smaller amount of solar energy is produced from the solar installation.
The reason that shade is a problem for the efficiency of a solar panel is because of how the solar panels are installed and created. A single panel has its cells grouped together in a way that is created for increasing the voltage. Even if it’s a minuscule part of the panel that is shaded, the entire module will have less solar energy production.
True shade can be one of the most harmful things for the efficiency of a solar panel. It usually comes from trees or infrastructural barriers, such as a chimney or a vent. If the chimney is the reason that the panels are being shaded, there isn’t much that you can do about that.
However, if it’s the tree’s that are causing the shade they should be trimmed. If trimming the tree’s doesn’t help the cause, if able the tree should be removed all together.
Problem #2: The Weather
The weather conditions play a major role in solar panel performance. Two weather ailments that hinder solar panels performances are snow and hail. These to factors hinder the efficiency of a solar panel but the do not halt the performance.
When it comes to snow, snow panels will have enough heat to melt the snow that is piled on them off. The hail, while it is an inconvenience, it will not break the solar panels glass, because the majority of solar panels in the United States are made to withstand a hail storm.
There is another weather ailment that surprises most people when they hear that it slows down the efficiency of a solar panel, the heat.
The fact that heat can slow down the efficiency of a solar panel, shocks most people because they associate solar energy production with the sun and the sun is typically associated with the heat.
A study was done in the UK found that there was a 1.1% drop in the conversion of solar panels for every degree after 107 degrees Fahrenheit. The decreased efficiency of a solar panel usually happens during the summer time, starting at temperatures between 87-91 degrees Fahrenheit.
The reason that high temperatures negatively effect the efficiency of a solar panel is because the electricity production relies on the electrons movement. The heat slows the energy production down.
The solution to this issue is that on hotter days, there us less energy that is needed to ignite the electrons so less energy is transferred from the sun to the solar cells. The ideal weather for solar energy production would be cool, sunny weather and it results in high efficiency of a solar panels.
Problem #3 The direction
The issue with the direction of a solar panel is that if they aren’t south facing, the efficiency of a solar panel may be very low.
Direction is so important when it comes to solar panels is because of how reliant they are on the sunlight. Certain positions and/or direction are do not result in optimal sunlight exposure.
When installing solar panels the solar installer should position the solar installation in a way lets the solar panels receive the optimal amount of sunlight. In the United States the optimal direction is south. The panels should also be facing west, especially because the peak power demands, which are in the summer.
Multiple debates have ensued over which direction is ideal, south or west. The fact is solar energy production benefits from both west and south facing panels. The difference in conversion is between the two positions were based on the time period.
For example, between the hours 3-7pm they have the maximum sunlight conversion when the panels are facing west. In the summer, the west-facing panels also have greater conversion rate. However the best position annually was determined to be south facing.
Problem #4: Solar panel congestion
Solar panels aren’t immune to common congestion such as dust and dirt. Both dust and dirt have an impact on the efficiency of a solar panel.
The reason that dust and dirt effect the efficiency of a solar panel is because they block the solar cells. The solar cell blockage results in less sun exposure equaling lower levels of the efficiency of a solar panel.
Over time the dust and dirt build up and result in more blockage. The overall outcome of the blockage is less solar energy is produced.
A way to prevent the build up and keep the efficiency of a solar panels levels high is to maintain your solar panels. Solar panels don’t take much maintenance or upkeep, they just call for light, regular cleaning.
You can remove the build up of dust with some soapy water and wipes and there are times when rain will wash the panels clean of any dust. There isn’t a certain requirement that determines how often you have to clean your solar panels.
The frequency in which you will have to clean your solar panels really will depend on their power output. The older they get, regular cleanings will keep them free of dirt and grime, it will also help extend their life.
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