Solar panels evidently depend on sunlight to do their job. Still, there are many controversies surrounding their functionality during cloudy or less optimal conditions.
Due to Australia having great weather for most of the year, millions of Aussies have installed panels in their homes. There are numerous benefits of solar panels, including reducing your carbon footprint and energy bills. But the golden sun isn’t always out, and Australians do experience some not-so-great days too.
If you are planning for a solar panel installation, you may be wondering how different weather conditions affect efficiency of solar panels , so let’s break it down below.
How do solar panels perform under varying conditions?
The Best Conditions
As expected, bright sunlight experienced at the height of summer fosters maximum output from any solar system. As the summer days are longer, there are more hours per day that offer peak performance. Usually, the best periods are 10 am to 4 pm. However, in summer, you can incorporate an hour or two before or after this timeline.
Naturally, clear and unobstructed sunlight for extended periods provides optimum results from solar panels Sydney.
Does Temperature Matter?
Outdoor temperatures affect solar energy production. But you’d be surprised that it’s contrary to what you think and what makes sense. Your solar energy production works best with a perfect temperature of 25 degrees Celsius. Instead of optimal energy output when the temperature rises, the opposite is true. An increasing temperature alters solar panel efficiency negatively.
Each solar panel has a coefficient listing on them. This is usually between 0.20 and 0.50 in percentage. Substantially, this is the rate at which your solar panel will lose its efficiency for each degree Celsius over the favourable temperature.
If we put it into perspective, a degree of 35 degrees may promote a loss of approximately 5% efficiency in your solar system. Therefore the more it rises, the more you lose.
The Impact Of Clouds
Generally, clouds’ presence minimises the amount of sunlight delivered to your solar panel. In return, this lowers the efficiency of your system. It’s challenging to point out the difference in energy output on cloudy days since clouds have great variation. Thick, consistent clouds undoubtedly affect your systems’ performance. Still, the cloud covers move quickly on windy days, making it possible for your panel to receive direct sunlight.
With different brands of solar systems on the market, it is practical that their functionality and longevity will also vary. Some systems perform better than their counterparts on gloomy or cloudy days. If you’re looking for the best performing panels during low light conditions, those that utilise the N-Type solar cells are ideal.
Optimally, a cloud-free day is best for maximum output. Prevalent clouds characterise winter, and you may lose anywhere between 10% to 25% efficiency depending on the type of cloud cover. You can utilise your solar energy monitoring app, which is usually attached to the solar inverter, to check performance in varying weather conditions. An example is the mySolarEdge app in SolarEdge systems.
You can take your energy independence up a notch with solar battery systems like the Tesla Powerwall Home Battery system. They allow you to store excess energy for use at night and in seasons of low-light conditions. There’s more. You are able to sell the power back to the electric grid for some profits while significantly lowering your energy bills.
What Other Factors Affect Solar Energy Production?
Typically, the amount of solar energy production depends on the number of solar panels and the capacity of your solar inverter. However, other factors come into play, thus, limiting efficiency and, therefore, energy output.
Let’s take a look at more factors that affect your energy output.
While many may miss it during their solar panel installation, your system’s exact location on the roof is crucial. If affected by shade, this may significantly minimise the amount of energy produced. It gets worse if you are using the traditional string inverter solar system. When a single panel is affected by shade, so are all the panels on the same string. The output of every panel diminishes to match the lowest performing panel. That said, it’s best to install your panels on the roof sections that aren’t blocked by trees or any other shade.
If you experience shade issues that are not avoidable entirely, you can opt for a system with power optimisers attached to the solar panels. Optimisers allow every panel to attain an individual maximum output. Therefore, if one panel’s performance is influenced by shade, the other panels still give their best.
- Position Of Solar Panels
Your panels’ direction, specifically to the north, can also affect the power output. A certified and professional solar retailer utilises a special satellite-based solar mapping tool. It comes in handy in efficiently mapping the panels to your roof. It factors in the direction that your panels face and your geographical area. It also computes the system’s estimated power output.
There are proposed angles for solar panel installations in every Australian state for increased efficiency. Most roofs in the country are pitched to particular angles. Panels are made to match your roof’s pitch during installation. But if your roof is flat, your panels can be mounted onto tilted mounts to meet the approved angle for optimum results.
- Solar Panel Cleanliness
Solar panel cleaning is crucial for them to perform at their best. In particular, professional cleaning is highly recommended at least once every year. It clears bird droppings, grime, dirt, and dust that negatively affect your system’s efficiency.
If you go with a DIY approach and get all the necessary tools and accessories like mild soap, warm water, and a ladder, it’s essential to prioritise your safety.
Do not incorporate any harsh cleaning product like an abrasive detergent or a hard-bristled brush.
Ready to go green and reap the benefits of solar panel systems? If so, it’s important to have your panels expertly installed by a licensed solar retailer with high-quality solar panels, inverters, and batteries. This ensures better efficiency and functionality for years to come.
Read Also: Quick Guide to Solar Panel Use