Do solar panels work in the shade?

Fast read

Shading and dirt are major obstacles to efficient energy production from solar systems. Even if only a tiny portion of the array is affected. The main problem with shading and dirt occurs when a solar system uses string inverters. This is caused by the efficiency of the whole string in an array being affected when one panel is affected.

To avoid this problem, splitting the array into multiple strings or using microinverters is recommended. In addition, a good solar installer will analyse shading during the site inspection to evaluate potential obstacles, such as buildings or trees.

To avoid shading and dirt issues. Consider using a local, quality installer, microinverters or optimisers, and high-quality solar panels that limit shading loss to the shaded area.

I have a lot of shade on my roof – will this affect my solar panel’s performance?

Two major challenges in ensuring the efficient operation of solar panels are dirt and shading. Even a minor disruption to your solar panel system can have a noteworthy impact on its energy production.

Shade, in particular, can significantly affect your system’s energy production, especially if it happens during the key energy production hours, usually from 9 am to 3 pm. If shading happens beyond these hours, experts consider the impact less severe.

The problem becomes more significant when your solar system uses a conventional string inverter. This type of inverter impacts the efficiency of the entire array of shading or dirt affects one panel. This is because all the panels need to operate at the same voltage, and if one is not working well, it pulls down the performance of the whole system.

So, keeping your solar panels clean and minimising shading is crucial for getting the most out of your system. Regular maintenance and choosing the right equipment, like microinverters that handle shading better, can help ensure your solar panel system runs at its best efficiency, providing you with more clean energy for your home.

One of the main ways to avoid this problem is to split your array into multiple strings or have microinverters instead. This can be explored in our article.

What types of shade will affect my panels?

Since shading and dirt are prominent threats to your solar panel system’s energy production, they become vital to the design process. During your site inspection, your solar installer must perform a shading evaluation to assess potential obstacles such as larger buildings or trees. First, let’s examine the various types of solar panel shade, with one, of course, arising from dirt.

  • Temporary solar panel shade – Temporary shading occurs when things like dirt, bird droppings, or leaves cover your solar panels. To prevent this, it’s a good idea to clean your panels regularly. By doing this, you make sure the sunlight can reach your panels without any obstacles, keeping them working well.;
  • Self-shading – This happens when the tilt, or angle, of your solar panels isn’t just right. Imagine if you and your friends were standing in a line, and someone in the front held an umbrella that blocked the sun from reaching those behind. Making sure the tilt of your panels is optimised prevents this self-shading. Arranging everyone so everyone gets enough sunlight is like;
  • Shade from a location – Sometimes, the area around your home, like other houses or trees, can cast shadows on your panels. These shadows can affect how well your panels work. To minimise this, it’s important to place your panels where they won’t be blocked by nearby things. Think of it like finding the best sunny spot for your plants to grow well;
  • Shade from buildings – Shading from buildings happens when structures like satellite dishes or chimneys cast shadows on your solar panels. When setting up your panels, it’s good to consider these structures so they don’t cast shadows and your panels can capture sunlight properly..

Shade over the top of Panels

How can a solar system owner avoid these issues?

Many ways exist to avoid these problems and ensure that your solar panel system produces the most energy possible.

Firstly, make sure you go for a local quality installer. A reputable solar system installation company can assess your shading risk and design the most efficient solar system, taking into account your surrounding environment if solar mapping is involved. Consequently, the company can dramatically minimise the effects of solar shading.

Secondly, if you cannot avoid shading and you are unable to install the solar power system in other parts of the block, consider installing microinverters or optimisers. These options can partially alleviate shading issues compared to using string inverters, where shading impacts the entire solar string’s production. However, with microinverters or power optimisers, shade only affects the solar panels that are directly shaded.

Go for quality panels

Ensuring your home has quality solar panels on the roof is crucial for maximising energy production and making the most of your solar array. Quality plays a crucial role, and certain solar panels actively minimize the impact of shading on energy production.

Partial shade has the potential to influence your solar system’s energy generation, but utilising the right solar panels can confine this impact solely to the shaded area. These advanced panels excel even in lower-light conditions, ensuring consistent performance. Unlike standard, lower-cost solar panels, the higher-quality ones continue to generate more energy, delivering better overall performance for your home.

Investing in these high-quality solar panels is like giving your solar system a power boost. They not only handle shading more efficiently but also excel in producing energy even when sunlight is not at its peak. This means you’ll experience more consistent and reliable power generation throughout the day.

In the quest for optimal solar efficiency, it’s worth considering the long-term benefits of these superior solar panels. While they might have a slightly higher upfront cost, their enhanced performance, especially in shaded or low-light conditions, ensures that you’ll reap the rewards with increased energy production over the life of your solar energy system. Prioritising quality in your solar panel choice is a smart investment for a brighter, more energy-efficient future.

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