Renewable energy, such as solar, has extensive applications in the household and commercial sectors. Solar panels use the sun’s energy to power an entire property, making them highly useful and affordable. However, the effectiveness and efficiency of a solar power system are dependent on various factors such as the type of solar panels, their direction, angle, type and design of the roof, and climatic conditions. Each of these factors can affect the efficiency of a solar power system.
What is the Best Direction for Solar Panels?
The best direction of solar panels for maximising performance may vary depending on which global region you reside in. As a rule of thumb, solar panels should face south in the northern hemisphere and face north in the southern hemisphere. Solar panels should face southwards as the United Kingdom is entirely located in the Northern Hemisphere. It should be noted that solar panels may gather enough sunlight during the daytime to power your property, even if facing west, east, or even north. However, the maximum amount of sunlight will be collected when your panels face southwards. The sunlight gathered by the panels only partially depends on their orientation and other factors.
What is the Best Angle for Optimum Performance?
The performance of solar panels also depends on their angle. The angle of the panels should be adjusted according to your location and the time of the year. This implies that the angle for maximum efficiency will be different in winter than in summer. The latitude of your location will also play its part. Adjusting the angle is to gather the maximum amount of sunlight. If you are located in a region precisely on the equator, your panels will receive maximum sunlight if installed horizontally at an angle of 90 degrees. Many experts believe that tilting your panels at an angle similar to your latitude will allow your panels to get the maximum sunlight. For example, if the latitudinal angle of your region is 40 degrees, then tilting your panels at the same angle will optimise the performance of your solar power system. Experts also suggest increasing the panel’s tilt angle by 15 degrees during winter enhances energy production. During the summers, the tilt angle should be reduced by 15 degrees. Remember, these are all tips for maximum performance, and keeping your panels tilted at 30 to 45 degrees will allow you to gather sufficient sunlight for powering your property.
Does Roof Design Affect the Performance of Solar Panels?
When installing solar panels on your roof, the roof design plays an important role. The orientation of your roof and its angle play a part. For optimum performance of your panels, the roofs should be either south-facing or north-facing, but if they are not, you can still install solar panels and power your property. The roof slope is even more critical as it decides the ease of installation and the maximum sunlight your panels can collect. Steeper roofs will require complicated installation methods, such as mountings. To get the correct tilt, the mountings may have to be adjusted. You don’t need to be discouraged if your roofs are built differently. Experts will find a way around it for you.
Should Solar Panels Be Installed on the Roof Only?
Although the rooftop is the most common installation location for solar panels in residential properties, other locations can offer optimum solar performance. At times, your roof might not be the best location for installation. For instance, the roof slope may be too steep, and installation might be very challenging. If you have open space, such as a lawn or a backyard, ground-mounted panels may be a better choice for installation. Ground-mounted panels have another benefit. They can be easily accessed for repairs or servicing. Ground installation is also relatively more straightforward, and you can find the right angle and direction relatively easily.
Types of Solar Panels and Their Performance
Several types of solar panels are available in the market, and some types might be more effective than others. The type that suits you best depends on your requirements and preferences. You have to consider your power requirements, budget, and available space.
Photovoltaic Solar Panels
Photovoltaic solar panels consist of numerous photovoltaic cells which employ a process known as the photovoltaic effect. These cells use semiconductors such as silicon, which produce electricity when bombarded with sunlight.
Mono and Polycrystalline Solar Panels
The two most common types of photovoltaic solar panels are monocrystalline and polycrystalline. The former has a sleeker and darker look as they are formed from a single crystal structure, while the latter looks less uniform as they contain multiple crystals. Both these types are highly efficient and are commonly used; however, polycrystalline panels are considered more efficient. Both these types require less space, exhibit consistent performance, and are highly durable. They are the preferred choice for most residential installations. One of these types’ most significant advantages is their ability to work even in low-light conditions.
Thin Film Solar Panels
Although these panels also use photovoltaic cells, they offer several advantages over mono and polycrystalline panels. They are made by applying an excellent semiconductor material layer on plastic, metal or glass, so they are considerably thinner than other panels. Their special constructions make them highly flexible and suitable for curved structures and complex locations. They are incredibly lightweight and less expensive. However, they are less effective than crystalline solar panels and require more panels to generate the required electricity. This implies that they need more installation space. They are generally not preferred for residential installations and are considered more suitable for industrial settings or unconventional architectural structures.
Bifacial Solar Panels
Bifacial solar panels have solar cells on both their faces. They can collect sunlight from the front as well as the rear side. The rear side is designed to collect light which is usually lost by falling on nearby structures, walls, and the ground. These panels can generate a higher amount of electricity compared to monofacial panels. They work exceptionally well in low-light conditions and can tolerate shading more than other panels. They can be more expensive than traditional panels and require elevated installation.