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How Does Shade And Bad Weather Impact Solar Panels?

Solar panel systems generate clean, renewable energy by converting sunlight into electricity. However, direct sunlight is not compulsory for the panels to work against common misconceptions.

It is basically the photons emitted through sunlight into the atmosphere that gets absorbed by the photovoltaic (PV) cells in the panels. This is how solar systems can still generate energy on overcast days, though with reduced efficiency.

Solar Company Hervey Bay can suggest necessary inspection and maintenance of solar panel systems for optimum efficiency under various conditions.

Let’s discuss the impact of shading and weather conditions on solar power generation.

Impact Of Shading

Shaded obstructions on solar panels can lower the generation of power for that particular solar section. This is referred to as the shade loss for PV systems. Nearby trees or antennas can cause partial shading over panels during the day. Sometimes it can be caused by the self-shading from alternate panel rows as well.

The efficiency of a whole system can be hugely impacted by even a minimum amount of panel shading. This happens due to the series interconnection of the panels. When one or more panels are shaded, the electricity through an entire cell string is lowered. Even the unshaded panels are forced to operate at the level of power set by the shaded ones. This reduces the efficiency of the whole system in the process.

Solutions To Counter Shade Loss

Microinverters: Microinverters are installed on the backside of solar panels and allow for panel-level power generation. This provision is suitable for individual solar panels to operate with independent efficiency irrespective of the rest.

Thus, shading on a few panels will not affect the output of the other panels. Microinverters can be an excellent choice for solar installations in shady areas but cost more than normal string inverters.

String Inverter With Power Optimizers: Similar to microinverters, power optimizers assist panel-level optimization in solar modules. These are not exactly inverters but add ons to a more typical string inverter.

While string inverters’ suffer from partial shading losses, these optimizers can nullify such effects. It is done through independent production of power by the panels. The cost of optimizer-enabled string inverters is somewhere between normal string inverters and microinverters.

Impact Of Bad Weather

Cloud And Rain: Energy production does continue for solar panels, even on cloudy days. But the density of cloud cover and condition of the panels dictate the overall efficiency. Optimally angled installation of solar panels can, in fact, benefit from the rains.

Accumulated dust and grime can be washed away by the rainwater to improve panel efficiency during monsoons. Depending upon the severity of cloud and rain coverage, the system efficiency for power generation can degrade to 25%-45% of their rated capacities.

Snow And Hail: Until solar panels are completely covered by thick snow, the power generation efficiency remains unaltered. Instead, a light cover of white snow can improve photovoltaic performance through reflection. During cold weather, the peak sun hours are considerably reduced.

As a result, there might be a corresponding reduction of power generation at the panel end as well. On the other hand, hail can cause physical damage to panel surfaces and associated connection depending on severity. This can lead to a serious lowering of efficiency for the solar system as a whole.

Temperature Extremes: Operating temperatures are crucial to the efficiency of solar panels. Consequently, proper ventilation between modules is indispensable during installations. Quality panels are designed to withstand extreme temperature variations caused by weather changes.

Unlike common notion, sun and not heat is good for the panels to generate electricity. The efficiency of panels decreases invariably with increasing temperature in the modules. This can be a major concern, especially during extreme Australian summers.

Solutions To Counter Bad Weather Impacts

  • Protective covers can be a great way to reduce the risk of hail, dirt, and rain during the monsoons. Using such covers compromises the efficiency, though, by blocking a certain amount of sunlight. So it is advisable to use panel covers only for the rainy season for necessary protection from major losses.
  • A layer of methacrylate over solar panels can provide protection with easy access to sunlight. It is a strong bond of polymer plastic that can form a visible foaming-type protective coating on exposed panel surfaces.
  • Appropriately angled installation of solar panels can be a natural way of protection against damages from rain or hail. Angled panel faces can slide away hail with more comfort.

Solar panels can work through bad weather and handle shading problems. Technological advancements are making panels much stronger and resistant to these impacts on efficiency as well. Following some tips can help sustain solar production at optimum levels throughout the year.