Can Solar Panels Get Too Much Sun?
With clear skies and almost constant sunlight, Florida should be the perfect place for solar power, right? Well yes, but there is a caveat.
While solar panels need ample sunlight to produce electricity, the extreme heat that comes along with Florida’s sun is not a friend to solar production. Our team at Solar Bear Orlando explains why.
Heat and Solar Panels
To fully understand why high temperatures, zap solar panel efficiency, we first have to discuss how solar panels work.
In a nutshell, solar panels use the sun’s photons to produce electricity. Photons push electrons out of the atoms that make up solar panel cells. These electrons then zip around the circuit within the solar panel. It is this movement of photons and electrons that produces an electric current.
One factor that plays a role in how much power each electron creates in its original state before it gets knocked out of its electron. On a cool, electrons are in a nice, relaxed state and when the photon kicks them out of the atom, they become more energized. This change from low energy to high energy produces a high current.
The situation is different on a hot day. The heat within the solar panels already has the electrons in an excited state. This means that they can’t pick up much energy when they are dislodged by the photons.
So even though the solar panel may get the same amount of sunlight on a cool or hot day, the panels will produce more energy on a cool day.
Plus, depending on your solar panel brand, and the temperature of your roof, high heat may steal away as much as 10% of your solar system’s efficiency.
How Hot is Too Hot?
So how much heat can solar panels really handle? Well, it depends on the solar panel brand and the panel’s temperature coefficient.
Each solar panel brand has an efficiency rating, with an average of 15%. This number refers to how much sunlight it can convert into usable energy. Each solar panel brand also has a temperature coefficient, which explains how well the panels will perform in high temperatures.
Generally, though solar panels need ample sun to function, they don’t begin to lose their efficiency until the temperature rises to 77 degrees. When the temperature reaches this point, for every increase in temperature above 77 degrees, a solar panel loses efficiency by the rate of its temperature coefficient.
This explains why on hot summer days, the performance of your solar panels can be diminished. This can be problematic during these hot days when you want to use your solar energy to help keep your home cool.
Beating the Heat
So, is there a way to beat the Florida heat to ensure that your solar panels are working efficiently?
Choosing the Right Solar Panels
The best way to manage the issue of heat is to choose solar panels with a low temperature coefficient. Most PV panels offer a temperature coefficient between -0.35 and -0.5.
There are also solar panels called thin-film panels or (TF). One of the biggest benefits of these kinds of panels is that they can handle heat better than their PV counterparts. Most TF panels offer a temperature coefficient of around -0.2 and -0.25. There is a catch though.
PV panels are more efficient than TF panels, so unless you live in an extremely hot area, they won’t match PV panels’ efficiency.
Choose the Right Solar System Size
When you work with Solar Bear Orlando, we will calculate your average monthly energy usage to determine the ideal size of your solar system. We will also keep your area’s average temperatures and temperature coefficient in mind when making our recommendations.
This is another reason why you should consider working with a local solar panel installation company like Solar Bear. We are familiar with the weather patterns in the Central Florida area, and understand how hot summer months affect the efficiency of your solar system.
Choose High-Quality Installation
While there is no way to prevent diminished solar panel efficiency during the hottest days in the summer, your solar installation company can install your panels to keep them as cool as possible to limit lowered efficiency. For example, it is common for installers to house panels in a thermally conductive substrate to help vent heat away.
Also, roofing like Spanish tiles and asphalt shingles absorb heat, so your installer may mount your solar panels a few inches above the roof to counteract the higher ambient temperature.
Choose Solar Bear Orlando
Ready to go solar in Central Florida? Call Solar Bear Orlando to learn more about our solar panel systems and how we can boost your system’s efficiency.
Call us today for a solar consultation; (727) 471-7442!