Improve Solar Panel Performance: 13 Simple Tips and Tricks
One thing about solar panels is that they may be a more environmentally friendly but less efficient way to generate energy. Many factors may influence how much power your solar panels can generate.
This means there are many ways and things you can do to improve its efficiency. A better-performing solar panel can generate more power, power more appliances, and help you save more energy bills.
This article will look into 13 ways to improve your solar panel performance and explore installation options, such as leasing or purchasing.
- #1 Remove Potential Shades From Your Panels
- #2 Use Panels With Grade A Monocrystalline Cells
- #3 Use Panels With High Concentrated Photovoltaic Cells
- #4 Use Anti-Reflective Coatings On the Panel
- #5 Orient Your Solar Panels
- #6 Calculate The Correct Angle For Your Latitude Position
- #7 Set Up Your Panels To Track The Sun
- #8 Install Battery To Store Excess Energy
- #9 Clean Your Solar Panels Regularly
- #10 Monitor Solar Output Using Software
- #11 Hire A Professional Installer
- #12 Reduce Power Usage When You Can
- #13 Consider Leasing Instead Of Owning
- Final Thoughts
#1 Remove Potential Shades From Your Panels
As a start, spend some time observing your solar panels and check if there is shade on them at any point of the day. This is because shade obscures sunlight on the panels, which reduces their power generation capacity.
Even if only parts of your panels are shaded, it can affect the energy generated by its neighbor panels or cells. This is because these shaded panels or cells can become a resistor when not generating power.
Generally, tall trees and other buildings are the main culprits of issues such as shading. Check the location to ensure proper sunlight if you have not installed any solar panels. If you have installed one, try to see if you can remove these shades.
#2 Use Panels With Grade A Monocrystalline Cells
There are several types of cells, such as crystalline silicon cells, Monocrystalline cells, Polycrystalline cells, or thin film solar cells. Even within these cell types, there may be grades. These cells are grouped together and placed on a solar panel for you to install.
When it comes to solar energy systems, the quality of your photovoltaic cells is the most important factor in figuring out how well your solar panels will work.
If efficiency is important to you, do not skimp on buying or leasing quality. The most efficient solar panels are monocrystalline, and I always choose top-grade ones.
Solar panels with cheaper cells might be cheaper to buy, but they will not work well and will not produce as much energy. This means that they will cost you more to run in the long run than panels with high-quality cells.
#3 Use Panels With High Concentrated Photovoltaic Cells
Aside from using the right cells, you also want to look for Concentrated Photovoltaic Cells (CPV). The idea behind CPV is to focus sunlight on a solar cell with a very high efficiency that would be too expensive to use directly otherwise.
This setup greatly increases the efficiency of your solar cells. Traditional photovoltaic cells (PV) can be as efficient as 22% at their best. Still, the cells in CPV panels can reach an efficiency of over 46%.
But a high level of efficiency comes with a high price tag. CPV panels are expensive and can cost up to four times as much as traditional PV cells. CPV also does not come in as many styles as traditional PV.
However, the panels should pay for themselves over time by generating free electricity. This means you want to consider CPV if you can find a provider and have the money to pay for it upfront.
#4 Use Anti-Reflective Coatings On the Panel
One of the ways solar panels’ efficiency can drop is when the sunlight is reflected by the glass panels instead of being absorbed into energy. If your solar panels do not have anti-reflective coatings, more than 30% of the light that hits them will not be absorbed and turned into energy.
Anti-reflective coatings can help to manage this problem, which means you want to have such coating installed on your panels.
Anti-reflective coatings are generally made of silicon or boron nitride, turned into a film, and then applied to the solar panels. High-quality or high-efficiency solar panels should have an anti-reflective coating applied.
Anti-reflective properties are also present in cells with a rough surface. When looking for solar panels, you should check with the salesperson to see if any anti-reflective treatment has been applied.
#5 Orient Your Solar Panels
Another way to maximize the performance of your solar panels can be to orient them properly.
This means if you live in the northern hemisphere, you should turn your panels so that the panels are facing geographic south. On the other hand, if you live in the southern hemisphere, your panels should face north.
This is to take advantage of the earth’s position relative to the sun. By orienting your panels properly, your panels get more exposure to the sun, generating more power in the process.
Do note that these directions are different from the ones you would get from a compass, which points you toward the magnetic poles, not the geographic poles.
If you can not put your solar panels facing south (or north in the southern hemisphere), you can put them facing west, where the sun goes down. If you can not do either of those, you can point them east or north (or south in the southern hemisphere) if that is all you can do.
#6 Calculate The Correct Angle For Your Latitude Position
From point 5, we know that we should orient our panels to the geographic south if we light in the northern hemisphere, and vice versa.
Now, if we are to expand and go more precisely than that rule, we will need to calculate the correct angle. This can be done by looking at your latitude position. The idea is to ensure your panels face closer to the equator, meaning your panels get maximum sunlight.
The best way to get this done is to set your panel angle to your latitude. For example, if you live in Carlsbad, California, at 33° N latitude, your solar panels will work best if they are set at a 33° angle to the geographic south.
The 33° angle, however, also needs to consider the angle of your roofing. For instance, if your roof sloped 20 degrees and you wanted your panels to be at a 33° angle, you would put them on your roof at a 13° angle.
#7 Set Up Your Panels To Track The Sun
If orienting and angling your solar panels are too much of a problem, consider installing solar panel systems that come with sun-tracking motor systems.
These tracking motor systems usually work with a computerized system that tracks the sun’s movement. The system directs the motor to adjust the position and angling of the solar panel, to maximize energy generation.
This means your solar panels can maximize their power generation potential, no matter what time it is during the day. Of course, this still depends on the sun exposure the panel gets. Still, at least you have the satisfaction that you have milked out every drop of the potential power from the panels.
This system can be expensive, but they usually pay for themselves over time when you save on your energy bill.
#8 Install Battery To Store Excess Energy
Now that you have maximized the power generation potential of your solar panels, you can move into the next stage of efficiency. This means you can think about how to store the excess power generated.
This can be done using a battery. With a solar panel set up, it just makes sense to have batteries installed together. This is because, in many situations, we are not using electricity the way the solar panels are giving us.
For example, we may use a lot of energy in the morning to make coffee, take hot showers, turn on heat pumps, warm up our houses, etc. But the morning sun usually is not as strong, which means your solar panels may not be able to provide the power.
However, during the afternoon, the sun is straight up, and panels are producing tons of energy. Yet nobody is at home since you are at work, and Scooby the pooch does not use much electricity either.
Having a battery means this excess energy can be stored and used later in the day, such as at night or in the morning.
#9 Clean Your Solar Panels Regularly
Solar panels are usually placed outdoors, exposed to the environment. This means that debris and dirt may crowd on the panels over time, reducing sunlight exposure to the cells and power output.
This means you want to clean your solar panels regularly. Experts have recommended that you clean your solar panels about 2-3 times a year. You may need more frequent cleaning if you live in a dusty environment.
Clearing your solar panel should be a simple, straightforward process. You should be able to clean them well with water and some non-abrasive sponge.
Avoid anything harsher than that, such as pressure washing or using abrasive cleaners. These may strip the protective film and damage the PV cells.
#10 Monitor Solar Output Using Software
Another way you can maximize the performance of your solar panel is to use software to monitor how it is doing. This may be more important if you rely on manual methods or orienteering your solar panels.
The software can usually tell you information such as the power each panel generates, energy used at the moment, and more.
Usually, you can use the information to orient your solar panels to adjust the panels and get the highest energy generated from your panels.
When installing your solar panels, ask your installer if they come with software for you to use.
#11 Hire A Professional Installer
Now, if all the above options sound like they are complex and time-consuming, you can always hire professional installers to help you do the job.
Instead of having to bolt on every panel, wire, and equipment, you can rely on the experience of these installers to get the job done well.
Engaging professional installers usually involve a sit-down, where you decide on the systems, options, and installation location and time. The guys will come in and have it all set up for you.
#12 Reduce Power Usage When You Can
What solar panels can do to you is to remind you that you are running on limited electricity, even more so if you have an off-grid system. This means you live only on solar power and are not connected to the national power grid.
Reducing power usage ensures you have enough power to sustain your solar battery. You also get to avoid putting your battery on too many charge-drain-recharge cycles, which may help prolong your battery life.
This can be achieved by using appliances one at a time. For example, you run the dryer before powering the dishwasher later.
#13 Consider Leasing Instead Of Owning
Another way to improve solar panel performance could be to minimize the cost outlays. The way you can do this is to consider whether leasing may cost less over time, compared to buying.
This is because, in many cases, when leasing solar panels, the solar company is the one responsible for its upkeep. Plus, many solar companies may happily lease you the panels with no money down. This alone could have saved you some money.
Plus, not many of us are knowledgeable about maintaining solar panels, so having a solar company to help may be a good idea.
The key is to check on the lease terms, and the options if you are to sell your home. In many cases, leasing arrangements are at 5 years or more, which means you need to calculate things correctly before entering any agreement.
Improving solar panel performance doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive.
Taking the time to clean your solar panels, checking the orientation of your solar panels, and making sure to use the right mounting hardware are just a few of the tips you can follow to get the most out of your solar panels.
By following these 13 easy tips, you’ll be sure to see big improvements in the efficiency of your solar panel system.
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