Solar / February 25, 2019

Why Your Solar Installation Is Relatively Inefficient

If your solar system is inefficient, you need a diagnosis to identify the causes so you can remedy them and get the power you deserve. Below are some of the common reasons solar systems experience inefficiency problems.

Thin Cables
Some of the electricity that your solar panels generate on the roof does not reach your electrical outlets. The size of the electrical cables that transmit electricity from the roof to the service panel is one of the factors that determine the amount of electricity the cables will lose.

Thin electrical conductors have higher electrical resistance than thick electrical conductors. As such, extremely thin wires waste more of your electricity and lead to higher inefficiency. The best way to avoid this problem is to have a professional electrician design and install your solar system; the technician will use the right wire thickness.

Solar panels transform light energy into electricity. The light energy comes from the sun. The more light your solar panels receive the more power the panels produce (up to a point), and the reverse is also true. Thus, when shadows fall on your panels, they block some of the light and the panels’ efficiency drops.

Install your panels where shadows won’t affect electricity generation. For example, if part of your roof is in the shadow of an adjacent building, choose a different location for the panels. Trim trees around the house so that tree shadows won’t block light.

Poor Orientation
The orientation of the solar panels refers to the angle, relative to the sun, in which the solar panels sit. The shortest distance from the sun to the panels allows tight photons from the sun to hit your solar panels with maximum energy. In fact, some commercial solar panels have integrated systems that allow the panels to follow the sun across the sky.

For typical residential systems, the best thing is to install the panels with an orientation that allows maximum electricity generation most of the time.

High Temperatures
Contrary to what people might think, solar panels lose efficiency under extremely high temperatures. The light energy from the sun is what generates the electricity, and not the heat energy. Thus, your solar panels may lose some efficiency if the weather is too hot or if your roof is overheated — if the panels are on the roof.

You can’t do much about the weather, but you can influence how much of the environmental heat your panels absorb or retain. For example, you can raise the panels above the roof to encourage proper air circulation under the panels. Air circulation will cool your solar panels and help them maintain their efficiency.

Solar panels are fairly durable, but they don’t last forever. You may witness a drop in efficiency after a couple of decades or so. You can’t do much about age-related inefficiency except to buy quality panels in the first place. The good news is that the drop in efficiency is not dramatic.

Lastly, your solar system may experience a decrease in efficiency if you let the panels get dirty. Debris accumulation blocks light, and without light, your panels can’t generate power. Your panels will inevitably get dirty due to dirt and windblown debris. Clean the panels regularly to get rid of the dirt.

If a professional electrician designs and installs your solar system, then you shouldn’t have to worry about efficiency as long as you keep the panels clean. Mauzy Heating, Air & Solar can help you with the design and installation. Contact us for all your solar system needs plus any other electrical services you may need.

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