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Solar panel efficiency is all about the output of a solar panel in relation to the space it occupies. While most solar panels have an efficiency of up to 23%, other less-economically viable alternatives boast efficiencies of more than 40%. As more and more people use residential solar in Austin, many express their heightened interest in the factors that impact the efficiency of their solar panel systems.
Determinants of Solar Panel System Efficiency
Type of Solar Panels
Solar panels come in three different types: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and amorphous (thin film). Since monocrystalline solar panels are made from a single silicon ingot through the Czochralski method, they have the best efficiency.
Polycrystalline solar panels are made from multiple fragments of silicon that are melted, treated, and molded into uniformly sized rectangles. Moreover, the amorphous solar panel is the least efficient and least expensive type. It’s created from a photovoltaic substance applied to a substrate such as glass.
Solar Panel Age
Solar panel efficiency declines with age. However, your power system won’t show signs of slowing down until after 25 years of use. Although your existing solar panels won’t be quite as efficient as the newer ones, they’ll likely still work great even as they get older.
Moreover, the average solar panel’s annual degradation rate is typically around .05% to .07%, depending on the manufacturer. Since most panels have a warranty, manufacturers provide a guaranteed rated production output. In other words, homeowners have the assurance that the solar panels will function at that output for a predefined period of around 25 years.
In most cases, solar tracking systems are used for free-standing solar installations and ground-mounted solar panels. Although they’re most popular in the utility-scale and industrial or commercial solar market, some use them for residential solar projects.
Since these single and dual-axis solar panels aren’t fixed, they can tilt with the sun’s movement. As the solar panels’ positions adjust to face the direction where they can get maximum sunlight exposure, they reduce shadowing, increase the number of sun peak hours, and optimize the solar angles to ensure cell exposure to sunlight.
Efficiency of Solar Accessories
Solar accessories that include energy controls, solar converters, and cables can significantly impact your solar power system’s performance. You can’t expect to maximize your system’s output if you don’t choose quality accessories compatible with the type of solar panels you use. Additionally, compromising these gadgets will prolong your return on investment (ROI).
You can avoid excessive resistance that leads to reduced efficiency by paying attention to your appliances’ cable sizes. For example, you can’t expect a 48V solar power system to function at its peak performance if you’re using a 220V device.
It’s important to note that solar panels perform best if they get maximum exposure to sunlight. One of the biggest questions homeowners ask before installing a solar power system is if their roof is the right fit. While most roofs are considered solar-friendly, some roofing materials provide a more suitable foundation for solar panel installation.
Since asphalt shingles are made from a flexible and durable cellulose mat or fiberglass, industry experts agree that this roofing material is ideal for solar panel installation. The process of installing solar panels on asphalt shingles involves a straightforward procedure. Solar experts drill the studs into the shingles and attach the mounts to these studs before sealing the space between the panel and the studs with flashings to prevent water from entering the house.
A metal roof with standing seams is perfect for solar panel installation. The standing seams reduce labor costs by eliminating the need for drilling to attach them. Additionally, metal roofs help keep the house cooler by providing additional reflection where sunlight doesn’t hit the panels.
It’s best to install solar panels on clay, slate, or concrete-tiled roof because these shingles are slightly more waterproof than other options. However, the cost of solar panel installation is considerably higher because it requires the removal of the tiles to prevent breakage.
Tar and Gravel
While most gravel and tar roofs are flat, they’re still suitable for solar panel installation. These types of roofs have extra layers of asphalt that provide additional panel support and prevent leaks or cracks. Moreover, you can ensure optimum power production by installing the panels at a 30-degree angle.
Roof orientation refers to the direction the roof is facing. After the solar company assesses the roof, they’ll identify the system’s ideal placement on it. Since solar panel installation is a long-term investment, some homeowners may have to redesign their roofs to achieve maximum system efficiency.
Solar panels installed on south-facing roofs generate more power because they get exposed to the greatest of solar radiation over extended periods than other roof orientations. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that other orientations are useless for generating electricity. As long as the solar panels are carefully installed at the right pitch, they can still offer economical results.
Solar panels are sensitive to solar shadings. For this reason, shading conditions can have a significant impact on their ability to deliver energy.
Luckily, solar installers are there to offer guidance on the ideal placement of their solar panels to avoid blockage by shadows. You can increase the efficiency of your solar power systems by cutting branches or removing anything encroaching their roof.
Since solar power systems work best under specific temperatures, extreme weather conditions can affect their performance. The higher the temperature, the less efficient they are. Conversely, their efficiency increases when the temperature drops.
Although solar panel systems are durable, with warranties lasting for up to 25 years, they won’t be able to absorb the maximum amount of light available if they’re not regularly maintained. However, with frequent physical inspections and regular solar panel cleaning, you can prevent unnecessary power disruptions, increase the lifespan of your power systems, and get the most out of your investment.
Considering Residential Solar in Austin?
Did you know that more than 2 million American homeowners have reduced their energy bills and environmental impact after installing solar power systems?
If you’re looking to find an easier path to sustainable green living, SuperGreen Solutions can give you everything you need in one place. Our dedicated team of solar experts will provide you with access to technology, strategic guidance, and ongoing support. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you.