4 Tips to Increase Efficiency of Roof-Mounted Solar Panels
Your decision to install solar panels is without doubt the smartest thing you can do to bring down power bills and save money. It is also great for Mother Earth and reduces the damaging carbon footprint we leave behind.
The cost of installing solar panels has decreased greatly, and coupled with tax credits and subsidies, an average home can be solar-powered for less than $20K.
Solar panels are comprised of tightly packed photovoltaic cells that can capture solar energy and convert them into electricity. The solar array alone cannot accomplish this task. You also require a controller to regulate flow of solar energy, an inverter and a battery.
With new and more aesthetic solar panels available, homeowners literally have to scour for reasons as to why they should not consider going solar. Also, federal solar tax credit of about 30% is set to lapse by the end of this year. If ever there was a time to seriously consider going solar it is now.
But the most important thing remains that you must ensure that your solar panel system is capable of performing at maximum efficiency. Here are a few tips to ensure that you are in the know about the key factors affecting solar array efficiency.
1) Invest in Quality Panels
The quality of solar panels you choose affects the efficiency of output. Work with the best solar installation Ontario providers to get good results.
Solar photovoltaic cells are almost entirely comprised of silicon today. Purity of silicon is an important determinant affecting output.
Crystalline silicon solar panels vary in their efficiency and output depending on purity of silicon cells. In monocrystalline solar panels large cylindrical-shaped silicon ingots are used which are then sliced into four to make up the solar cells.
Mono crystalline solar arrays have distinctly uniform color and rounded edges. They are comparatively more efficient that polycrystalline solar panels and are also more expensive.
If space is not an area of concern you can go for polycrystalline solar arrays. Molten silicon is poured into square molds. Once cooled, perfectly square silicon wafers are cut out to form solar cells on arrays. This is a cheaper production process and hence polycrystalline solar cells are cheaper than monocrystalline solar cells. The cells are not very aesthetic in appearance with a slightly speckled blue color.
In most parts of the US temperature is not a matter of concern for homeowners. But in parts of the country where summer temperatures can go very high, a point to note is that monocrystalline solar panels are more heat tolerant and efficient that polycrystalline arrays in warm weather.
2) Shading Affects Output
The location and sun exposure of residential solar arrays have a big impact on efficiency and energy output.
Efficiency is the percentage of sun’s energy falling on solar cells that gets converted into electricity. Output is the electricity that the solar array produces from sunlight.
Usually solar cells are wired in series in a panel and if even a single cell is shaded or receives less sunlight than others, it can pull down the output of the rest of the cells in the series. Solar panels are also typically wired in series and can pull down the output of all panels in the array.
You should ideally aim for a spot where there is no shade to align the solar array. If shading cannot be avoided at any cost, then try to avoid wiring the solar panels in series to limit damage.
3) Orientation and Placement of Solar Panels Is Important
Solar arrays need to be oriented in the right direction to receive as much sunlight as possible in a day. In the US optimum orientation is when solar panels face south where they receive sunlight for longest part of a day.
The position and elevation of your home need to be taken into account when deciding on the alignment of solar panels. Experienced and qualified installers will be able to mount arrays optimally and offset any disadvantage in pitch of your home.
Solar trackers allow solar arrays to adjust position according to changing movement of the sun, but they are often too expensive for home use.
If it is difficult to orient solar panels correctly on your roof, you can consider installing solar panels in your yard. Ground-mounted installation allows you to escape issues regarding shading, orientation and space restriction that sometimes affect roof-counted options. Also installation of solar panels on the ground is much cheaper and can even turn out to be a DIY project. But keep in mind that a licensed electrician is needed to tie the array into the house/grid wiring.
4) Be Regular with Maintenance Activities
Timely maintenance is important for the optimal functioning of your solar array. But this does not mean that you need to take sponge and soapy water to the rooftop every weekend
Hosing down the panels every few months is all that is necessary in most cases. Some panels are self-cleaning in that rains can wash away most dirt from the surface.
Accumulated dust, bird droppings and leaves affect efficiency of solar panels by clouding the surface and blocking sunlight. Monitor the output of your solar panels and if you notice significant drop in efficiency it may be time to clean them.
Clean, renewable and safe energy is the way to sustainable future. We all are aware of global warming and fast-depleting natural resources, but we are even more acutely aware of soaring utility bills. Solar panels help you create energy from free and abundant solar power. You can depend less on the grid and work your way towards self-sustainability, and your investment will pay back in less than a decade.
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