Installing solar panels to generate free electricity is a great idea. But do you know that the same set of solar panels generate different amounts of energy in different locations? Also, are you aware that the efficiency of a solar panel varies from season to season. Well, these are just some of the factors that affect a solar panel’s efficiency. Come let’s delve deeper and take a look at what other factors impact a solar panel’s ability to generate electricity.
Contrary to the popular belief that solar panels work better with increase in temperature, the fact remains that if the temperatures rise beyond a certain level, the efficiency of the solar panels starts to decline. That’s because solar panels are designed to work within a particular range of temperature.
To find out how much energy a solar panel can produce under different temperatures, we need to know the temperature coefficient of the solar panel. This data is provided by the solar panel’s manufacturer. The temperature coefficient is mentioned in terms of percentage and it gives you the percentage decline in efficiency for every 1°C rise in temperature.
2. Solar Irradiance
Another key factor that affects the efficiency of solar panels is irradiance or the intensity of sunlight. Higher the intensity, higher the efficiency at which solar panels work. The irradiance is the highest during peak sun hours.
What is peak sun hour?
Peak hour is that particular hour of the day wherein the Sun emits a minimum of 1000 watts of energy per square meter of area.
This means the amount of energy a solar panel produces doesn’t just depend on the total amount of sunlight it receives. It depends a lot on the number of peak hours it receives. Higher the number of peak hours, higher the solar panel’s efficiency.
In India, the number of peak hours in summer months is the highest. Similarly, locations down south receive more peak hours as compared to the locations in the north. That’s because the southern parts of India are closer to the equator, and are therefore closer to the Sun.
It’s a myth that solar panels don’t work in the shade. As long as you can see the panels, it means they are receiving sunlight which means they are working. The efficiency of solar panels, however, does get affected by shade. According to a general rule, solar panels when covered by clouds, produce almost half the energy that they otherwise produce when there are no clouds. Similarly, other sources of shade such as trees, buildings, tall chimneys on roofs, etc; they all cause shading and thereby affect the efficiency of solar panels. If you are getting a solar panel installed, ask your solar panel technician how to draw maximum energy from your solar panels while these obstructions are always going to be there.
Solar panels do not require a lot of maintenance, but that doesn’t mean they don’t require any maintenance at all. A little maintenance of your solar panels can work wonders in boosting its efficiency. A clean solar panel produces around 3.5 to 5 % more electricity as compared to an unclean solar panel.
Since solar panels are placed outdoors a lot of dust, dirt, debris and other particles get accumulated over the solar panels. Soiling has an effect almost similar to shading. Just like clouds, buildings and other objects that cause shading and lead to a reduction in the solar panels’ efficiency, similarly soiling due to bird droppings, dust, dirt, etc; significantly reduces the efficiency of a solar panel.
Since soiling can’t be avoided, a regular maintenance of your solar panel can help you avoid any drop in your solar panel’s efficiency. Usually, it is recommended that you clean your solar panel once every 6 months.
5. Relative humidity
The tiny water droplets or the water vapors that get collected on the solar panels reflect or refract the sun rays away from the solar panel. As a result the solar panel does not receive the amount of sunlight it would have received otherwise. Similarly, solar panels tend to degrade because of constant hot and humid weather.
The factors mentioned above do have an adverse effect on the efficiency of solar panels. And while these issues can’t be mitigated, completely, solar panels with better efficiencies have been able to mitigate these issues to quite some extent. Also, how the solar panels are installed is also one of the factors that can help limit the above mentioned issues to some extent. For example, installing solar panels on an elevated racking is one of the ways to limit the issue of shading caused due to nearby buildings or structures.
So if you are planning to get a solar power system installed on your residential or commercial space, we recommend that you go with a reputable brand such as Luminous. The brand has a wide range of highly efficient solar panels that offer severe weather resilience and excellent low-light performance.