Summer Solar Performance
It’s never too early to celebrate the fact that summer is on the way. Whether it’s an island vacation or the long break from school, or whether the summer could be good for your health. Everyone has something to look forward to, especially for solar system owners. As we kick back to enjoy the warmest months of the years, it’s easy to assume that California’s summer months are the most lucrative time to generate solar energy. We know that sunlight plays an important role in solar production, but does the heat from the sun help improve your summer solar performance?
Does the hot weather mean more energy?
The concept of solar power is pretty straightforward. Solar panels capture light from the sun and is then converted into useful energy that can provide power to your home. Because solar panels work directly with the sun, they are often exposed to high amounts of heat, especially during long, hot summer days. Common sense might indicate since solar panels rely on sunlight to function, they also need the heat to help solar panels run more efficiently or with more power. However, that isn’t always the case.
Although solar panels use sunlight to produce energy, they don’t require heat in anyway. In fact, solar panels may run about 10 to 25% less efficient on warm, dry days reaching to 90 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. The hotter your days are, the less efficient your solar panels will be. For example, if you have solar panels with an efficiency rating of 17% and a temperature coefficient of -0.45, they will lose about 0.45% of their efficiency for every degree above 25 °C. If the surface temperature of your roof increases to0 30’C, your solar panel’s efficiency will fall to 16.7%. If it increases to 35°C, efficiency falls to 16.3%.
Reducing the heat on summer solar performance
There will always be some energy output loss due to heat. But, there are several ways to mitigate the negative effects of high temperatures:
- Install panels a few inches above the roof to allow convective air flow to cool the panels down.
- Ensure that panels are constructed with light-colored materials, to reduce heat absorption.
- Move components like inverters and combiners into the shaded area behind the array.
An important note to keep in mind about temperature coefficients is that if a panel is operating in temperatures lower than 25°C, the temperature coefficient will actually be positive. This means that solar panels will have optimal energy production on cold, sunny days. This efficiency gain in cold weather helps offset losses that occur during the summer months, especially for homeowners living in regions with distinct winter and summer cycles.
Although solar panels use sunlight to produce energy, they don’t require any heat. In fact, solar panels may run about 10 to 25% less efficient on warm, dry days reaching to 90 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. The hotter your days are, the less efficient your solar panels will be. For example, if you have solar panels with an efficiency rating of 17% and a temperature coefficient of -0.45, they will lose about 0.45% of their efficiency for every degree above 25 °C. If the surface temperature of your roof increases t0 30’C, your solar panel’s efficiency will fall to 16.7%. If it increases to 35°C, efficiency falls to 16.3%.
Maximize summer solar performance with HelioPower
Although there is a lot to consider in terms of optimizing efficiency during certain seasons, there’s still quite a lot of benefits solar panels provide. One way to get the most out of your solar panel system this summer is to use your large appliances during the daytime. Solar panels produce the most energy during daylight hours. Washing clothes and running your dishwasher in the middle of the day will help you take advantage of that energy surge. Try and limit your energy use after dark as another way to conserve energy. Long days and short nights during the summer make this easier to do.
It’s important for you to understand the ins and outs of your solar panels and what that means for your future energy bills before having your panels installed. If you are considering installing solar panels on your roof or if you have questions about hot weather, please contact us today!