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10 May 2024

How to maximise your solar panel performance

Anna Dearden
Home Sector Specialist
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Solar panels offer a sustainable solution to meet energy needs by harnessing the power of the sun. They convert sunlight into electricity, providing a clean, renewable source of energy that can significantly reduce electricity bills and decrease carbon footprints. As solar technology advances, understanding the basics of solar panel installation and maintenance becomes essential for anyone looking to invest in this green technology. 


Whether you're a homeowner, a business, or just curious about how solar panels can benefit you, exploring how these systems work and the advantages they offer is a great first step towards a more sustainable lifestyle.


Why does maximising solar panel efficiency matter?


Maximising the efficiency of solar panels is crucial for several reasons, each contributing significantly to the overall value and effectiveness of your solar energy system. Here’s why you should consider it a priority:


Cost savings


The most immediate benefit of maximising solar panel efficiency is being able to reduce your electricity bills. Efficient panels generate more electricity, allowing you to save money by drawing less power from the grid. Over time, these savings can substantially offset the initial cost of the solar panels.


Environmental impact


By optimising your solar panels' efficiency, you're directly contributing to reduced carbon emissions. Efficient panels convert more sunlight into energy, meaning you use less fossil-fuel-based power. This reduction in dependency on non-renewable energy sources is key to combating climate change and reducing your ecological footprint.


Space efficiency


Not everyone has the luxury of large spaces to install numerous solar panels. Maximising the efficiency of each panel ensures you get the most power possible from a limited space. This is particularly important in urban areas or for properties with small roofs.


Improved ROI


The efficiency of solar panels is directly tied to their return on investment (ROI). More efficient panels mean more power generation, which translates to quicker paybacks on your investment. This makes solar technology not only more attractive from an environmental standpoint but also from a financial perspective.


Increased energy independence


As you enhance the efficiency of your solar panels, you increase your independence from traditional power grids. This independence can be crucial during power outages or fluctuations in grid-supplied electricity prices.


Supporting innovation


By pushing for more efficient solar solutions, you can encourage manufacturers to continue advancing solar technology. This cycle of innovation not only leads to better products but also helps drive the solar industry forward, making sustainable solutions more accessible to everyone.


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8 tips to enhance your solar panels’ efficiency


Boosting the efficiency of your solar panels can lead to higher energy production and greater savings. Here are our favourite tips to ensure your solar system operates at its best:


1. Regular cleaning


Solar panels can accumulate a layer of dirt and debris that obstructs sunlight, which is vital for energy production. Pollen, dust, bird droppings, and leaves can all reduce the efficiency of your panels. Regular cleaning, ideally every six months or after significant dust storms or pollen seasons, can help maintain optimal performance. Consider using a professional cleaning service or doing it yourself with appropriate cleaning kits.


2. Shade management


As trees grow or new structures are built, they can cast shadows that may affect your solar panels. Even a small amount of shading on one part of the panel can significantly decrease its output. With this in mind, trimming trees or even relocating your panels might be necessary to ensure maximum sunlight exposure.


3. Upgrade your inverter


The efficiency of solar inverters, which convert DC electricity generated by your panels into AC electricity usable in your home, has improved significantly over the years. Older models might not be as efficient, leading to energy losses during conversion. Upgrading to a newer, more efficient inverter, or considering microinverters that optimise each panel individually, can enhance your system’s overall performance.


4. Use solar monitoring systems


Solar monitoring systems allow you to track the performance of your solar panels in real-time. These systems can alert you to inefficiencies or problems in the array, such as a panel not performing up to standard due to dirt accumulation or shading. This immediate feedback enables you to take swift action to rectify issues, maximising energy production.


5. Optimise the panel arrangement


The physical arrangement of your solar panels can affect their efficiency. Avoid placing panels too closely together, as they might shade each other as the sun moves. Instead, spread them out strategically to ensure each panel receives maximum sunlight throughout the day. This might require a bit of trial and error or professional guidance to get right.


6. Consider a solar battery


Solar batteries store excess power generated during peak sunlight hours. Without a battery, this excess energy might go to waste, especially if it’s produced at a time when it’s not needed. By storing it, you can use this power during less sunny periods or during the evening, which enhances the overall efficiency and effectiveness of your solar power system.


7. Adjust the tilt and angle seasonally


The sun’s path changes with the seasons, so adjusting the tilt and angle of your solar panels to match these changes can lead to significant gains in efficiency. Although adjusting panels can be labour-intensive, the increase in energy production can make it worthwhile.


8. Perform regular maintenance checks


Beyond keeping panels clean, it's important to regularly check other aspects of your solar system. This includes ensuring that mounting brackets are secure, electrical connections are tight and free of corrosion, and no parts of the system are worn out or damaged. These solar panel maintenance checks can prevent larger issues and ensure your system operates smoothly.


Can professional audits help your solar panel’s efficiency?


Professional solar panel audits are invaluable for optimising solar panel efficiency. A comprehensive audit by a trained professional includes a detailed performance analysis that can pinpoint underperforming panels and identify whether issues like shading or equipment faults are to blame. 


Auditors also check the structural integrity and safety of the system, identifying potential problems such as loose fittings or worn-out wiring.


Following the audit, you will receive a list of specific recommendations on how to improve the efficiency and extend the lifespan of your setup.


Additionally, the auditor will ensure that your system complies with all local codes and regulations, which can be crucial for insurance purposes and eligibility for subsidies or rebates.


Choosing the right inverter for maximum output


Selecting the appropriate inverter is essential for maximising the efficiency of your solar system. The inverter's job is to convert the DC electricity produced by the solar panels into AC electricity that can be used in your home or fed back into the grid.


Consider the differences between string inverters, which connect all panels in a series and are ideal for unshaded roofs, and microinverters, which are installed on each panel and are perfect for roofs with varying angles or shading issues. Inverter efficiency, typically rated above 95%, indicates how effectively it can convert solar power with minimal energy loss. Modern inverters also often feature system monitoring tools that allow homeowners to track energy production remotely.


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Accessories to boost solar panel efficiency


Enhancing solar panel efficiency can also be achieved through various accessories designed to optimise performance. 


Solar concentrators: Focus sunlight onto the panels, intensifying the light and increasing power output, which is particularly beneficial in less sunny locations. 


Microinverters: Can be installed on each solar panel to maximise output by optimising each panel individually, ideal for roofs that experience partial shading. 


Solar trackers: These are another effective accessory; they automatically adjust the panels' position to face the sun directly throughout the day, significantly boosting daily energy production. 


Energy management systems: Help you monitor and manage your energy use more efficiently, allowing for the integration of solar power with other home energy systems.


These accessories not only improve the efficiency of solar panels but also contribute to a more robust and effective renewable energy system.


Compare solar panel installers with SpotDif 


At SpotDif, we make it easy to compare quotes from trusted solar panel installers. Simply fill out our solar panel comparison form, and we’ll help you save money on top-quality installations from leading providers. Alternatively, contact us to find out more. 


Finding the best solar panel deals couldn’t be simpler, and you’ll be enjoying enhanced energy efficiency and savings before you know it. 

author
Anna Dearden
Home Sector Specialist
Combining in-depth research with an interest in all things home improvement, I aim to keep SpotDif readers up to date with interior design trends, renewable energy options, and more.
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