In Currently the number of individuals and companies that are opting for the use of solar energy is growing exponentially , many of them encouraged by the incessant growth in electricity prices, as well as by climate change and the new environmental awareness .
How to get the most out of solar panels
But before carrying out the investment, it is important to know that there are numerous factors that directly affect the performance of solar panels , a fundamental aspect that influences energy production and that refers to the ability of the solar panel to convert energy from the sun into electrical energy. The higher the percentage of performance of a plate, the energy produced will also be higher.
All solar panels do not offer the same performance, varying depending on different aspects, such as the materials of the modules, their orientation, the type of roof where they are installed or the climate. Below we detail all the factors that we must take into account to achieve maximum performance in our photovoltaic installation.
Factors influencing the performance of an installation
The energy available to consume in our home will depend on the performance of the solar panels. There are several factors that make performance increase or decrease, and that we must take into account before installing solar panels. Let us see below what are these factors that directly influence the performance of a photovoltaic installation to obtain its maximum potential:
- Photovoltaic installation materials. The energy produced by solar panels depends largely on the materials they are made of, being more profitable the higher their quality . But the materials of the rest of the components such as the inverter, the wiring and the battery are also very important. The performance of an installation is reduced by up to 20% when the appropriate materials are not used. Choosing quality materials extends the useful life of the panels.
- temperature and climate. Performance is affected by the temperature and climate of the geographical area in which the photovoltaic installation is located. Very high temperatures reduce the performance of solar panels, with 25ºC being the ideal temperature for solar panels to obtain maximum performance. The productivity of an installation decreases by 1% for every 2ºC that the temperature increases.
With regard to the weather , strong wind is not a good ally of solar panels since their flattened shape makes them more vulnerable to its action. It is important to know that there are currently high-quality solar panels that perfectly resist adverse weather situations, such as cloudy days , since the rays of sunlight pass through the clouds, although their performance decreases. Snow is also not a problem because it reflects sunlight and improves the performance of the plates.
Most manufacturers include the Power Temperature Coefficient in the technical data sheet for solar panels, which indicates the loss of power generated for each degree that increases above the ideal temperature of the solar panels (25ºC). The lower this percentage, the better the performance of the solar panel because the loss will have been practically imperceptible. This coefficient varies depending on the type of panel and the technological features it has.
- Solar irradiation and geographical location. Spain has between 2,000 and 3,000 hours of sunlight per year. Each geographical area of the country receives a different amount of solar radiation, which directly influences the performance of solar panels. Solar irradiation is directly related to the inclination, shadows and climate of the geographical area.
There are three types of radiation:
- Direct radiation . It comes directly from the sun and depends on the clouds that are produced and the time of year in which we find ourselves.
- diffuse radiation . It is the effect generated when solar radiation reaching the surface of the atmosphere is scattered from its original direction by molecules in the atmosphere.
- reflected radiation . It is produced by bounced or reflected radiation from the surface. Only buildings located perpendicular to the earth’s surface receive this type of radiation.
Each geographical area of the country will receive more or less amount of solar radiation, directly influencing the performance of the solar panels.
- Orientation and inclination. The south orientation of the solar panels is the most optimal, since the perpendicular rays that are reflected on their surface increase the productivity and profitability of the photovoltaic installation.
Inclination is a factor that further influences the performance of photovoltaic solar panels . Depending on the area of the country in which we find ourselves, the solar panels should be tilted to a certain degree to make them efficient and improve their performance.
- Maintenance. Solar panels can suffer damage due to adverse weather events such as hail, wind, pollution or dirt, reducing their performance. For this reason, carrying out proper maintenance is essential for the performance of the installation.
We must keep the solar panels clean and in good condition , which does not require a significant investment of time and money. In this way we will be able to extend the useful life of the photovoltaic system and generate greater production of solar energy.
The maintenance of solar panels involves two aspects: the cleaning of said panels and the replacement of system parts that are in poor condition. To clean we will only need water and a sponge, and with only 3 or 4 cleanings a year it will be enough.
- Seasonality. In summer, solar panels receive more sunlight and therefore generate more energy. But in winter these installations are also profitable, since the solar panels capture sunlight regardless of the heat received, although this profitability is reduced by the fewer hours of sunshine per day. In addition, in winter the position of the sun varies and has a less direct impact on the solar panels.
- Shades. They greatly affect the performance of solar panels and therefore it is a very important factor to consider. Shadows on the solar panels should be avoided as much as possible, since the power can suffer a reduction of up to 30%.
- System losses. Up to 20% of system losses can be caused by poor orientation and inclination of the plates. In any case, these losses will be reduced if we take into account the factors that we have just mentioned.
It is essential to take into account all these factors that will allow maximum performance in the photovoltaic installation , thus generating the greatest possible energy.
Technical aspects to improve the performance of solar panels
The following technical aspects of photovoltaic installations must also be taken into account to improve their performance:
- Proper wiring size. Cables must always be used that are suitable and suitable for the extension of the installation and that are located between the inverter and the battery.
- Disconnection of the inverter if it is not used for several days . The current inverter is the one that transforms the direct current into alternating current so that the electrical appliances of the house work. To extend its useful life, it should be disconnected when it is not going to be used for a long period of time.
- The type of investor. Depending on the type of inverter that we use in the installation, its performance will be higher or lower. In the case of a string or chain inverter, the panels are connected in series and if one of them is affected by shadows, it will immediately affect the total performance of the installation. For this reason, it is convenient to use another type of more advanced technology, such as power optimizers or microinverters .
The microinverters control each panel individually and therefore only the production of the failed panel is affected. In this way, problems such as leftovers, dirt, various types of inclination or orientation, will not affect the entire installation but only a specific panel.