How To Make Sure You Have The Highest Solar Panel Output Possible
Many factors affect the power output of a solar panel on your home. Knowing how to avoid some common mistakes can help you generate as much free power as possible from your solar power system.
The BIGGEST Factor
The biggest factor in determining how much power your solar panel will provide is its efficiency. This specification is something that varies widely between solar panels and will give you a good idea of how well it converts the sunlight that strikes it to power. In simple terms, the better the efficiency of a particular panel, the more power you can expect it to generate for your home from a given amount of sunlight. While the more efficient solar panels for homes are more expensive, they are really a better value for you over the long-term. This is because a little bit of a larger investment now can generate far more power for you over the course of the solar panels' life. This extra power will allow you to eliminate more of the power you are currently buying from your local utility. A good rule of thumb is to try and buy the highest efficiency solar panel you can afford for your system. Striking that perfect balance between affordability and efficiency.† Even if you have to buy fewer panels initially because of your budget, you can always add more panels later and expand your system.
Proper System Alignment Is Essential
The next deciding factor for solar panel output is the alignment of your solar panels with respect to the path of the sun across the sky. The perfect alignment will have your solar panels facing south and at an angle equal to your line of latitude, to give them the best possible exposure. The challenge is that many homes may not have adequate roof space with a southern orientation. In some cases the perfect roof for mounting the panels may be on the front of the home, and aesthetics could prevent some homeowners from mounting the panels there. Even though modern solar panels are more forgiving on their need to have a perfect alignment, you should still try to provide as close to a southern exposure as possible for optimal efficiency.
Mounting System Options
To help you make this adjustment, there are a variety of mounting systems that enable you to tilt the solar panels in any direction to help improve their exposure. While these may add some cost to the average system they will increase your total output and pay for themselves over time. This alignment will also change seasonally and having a mounting system that enables you to vary the tilt of the panels is essential to keeping their output as high as possible.
The Enemies: Shading and Debris
Other factors that can affect your solar panels' output are shading and dirt. You need to be careful to avoid any shading that can block the sun from your solar panels. Many times a tree may grow over time and present a shading hazard that wasn't a problem when the solar panels were first installed. Even a small amount of shade can have a dramatic affect on the solar panels' output. In some cases it can reduce the power a solar panel provides by 30% or more, which can really reduce the total solar power for your home. Dirt and debris can also present a hazard for solar panels and need to be eliminated quickly. Most modern solar panels for homes have a surface that will resist the buildup of dirt. These panels are coated with a material that will clean the dirt and fine particles that land on it when it rains. The real challenge is from pollen and bird dropping. Both of these tend to bind to the surface of a solar panel and will need to be cleaned off with a hose.
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