W

hile solar panels are a smart and sustainable source of electricity, they do have their limitations. One of the most significant challenges is the impact of shading on panel performance. Here, we'll delve into the negative effects of shading on solar panels and explore various methods to mitigate them.

Solar panels in shade: why it's a problem

Solar panels in shade are a major concern when working with PV systems. The panels convert sunlight into electrical energy, so anything that obstructs the sun's rays will affect their performance. Even a small amount of solar panels shade can significantly reduce the output of a solar array. For instance, shading just one cell in a 36-cell module can reduce its total power output by up to 75%. This is because solar panels are typically linked in a series, so the energy output of each unit affects the entire system's performance. If one panel is blocked from direct sunlight, it can decrease the energy output of the whole string of panels, which can cause a substantial drop in overall energy production.

Furthermore, positioning solar panels in shade can cause hotspots, which occur when one part of the panel receives less sunlight than the others. As a result, the part of the module that is in shadow does not produce any energy, but the unshaded part continues to generate power. This creates a heat buildup in the area that lacks sunlight, which can eventually harm the panel. If left unchecked, hotspots can cause permanent damage to the panel and shorten its lifespan.

Mitigating the effects of solar panels shade

When overshadowed by neighboring buildings or foliage, solar panels can experience a drop in sunlight exposure, which can hamper their energy output and efficiency. This part will discuss effective strategies for mitigating the impact of solar panels shade, along with actionable solutions to ensure a solar system operates at its fullest capacity.

Designing a high-performance solar energy system

A practical method for reducing the impact of solar panels shade is through a thoughtfully crafted system. With cutting-edge software design, it's possible to strategically plan and design PV systems to work around obstructions. By intelligently laying out the array, the amount of solar panels shade can be minimized.

It’s essential to identify when and for how long shading occurs, as well as how it impacts overall performance. Ideally, a well-positioned solar array should receive minimal obstruction during peak hours and remain largely unaffected during the summer months, eliminating the need for additional adjustments.

Selecting the most efficient solar modules

The latest solar modules from top manufacturers have achieved unprecedented levels of efficiency, allowing them to generate more power even with minimal exposure to sunlight. This translates to a significant boost in power output, regardless of whether your property is shaded by trees or not. Moreover, cutting-edge technology for tolerating low light conditions has been developed, delivering up to 25 times more power in shadowy areas compared to conventional panels.

Utilizing solar microinverters or power optimizers

Another solution for dealing with the adverse effects of solar panels shade is to use microinverters. These small inverters are installed on each module, converting DC electricity into AC electricity that can power all your home appliances. Unlike traditional central inverters, microinverters allow each unit to work independently, ensuring that solar panels in shade won't affect the overall system's performance. Microinverters also come equipped with advanced monitoring capabilities that allow homeowners to track the performance of each module individually.

Power optimizers offer an alternative option. They are installed on individual solar panels, similar to microinverters. However, unlike microinverters, which convert DC to AC, power optimizers enhance the output without converting electricity. But they are still an excellent choice for those struggling with solar panels shade and can optimize solar systems to operate at peak efficiency, even under less-than-optimal circumstances.

Installing solar panels in parallel for optimal performance

When solar panels are set up in a series, the entire system’s efficiency can be compromised when even one unit is obstructed from direct sunlight. On the other hand, setting up solar modules in parallel can mitigate the effects of solar panels shade. In a parallel system, each panel has its own separate connection to the inverter, enabling them to function at their highest capacity without being influenced by the shading of other modules. So, even if one panel is obstructed, the other panels can still produce energy at their full potential, maximizing the system’s overall output.

Conclusion

To sum up, solar systems are a great way to generate clean electricity, but they aren't immune to the negative effects of shade. Even the slightest amount of shadow can significantly reduce their output, and hotspots can cause irreversible damage.

Fortunately, there are several ways to reduce the impact of solar panels shade. These include designing a high-performance system, choosing the most efficient solar modules, using microinverters or power optimizers, and setting up solar panels in parallel. By implementing these solutions, solar owners can make the most of their investment and maximize energy production.

Sources:

https://aurorasolar.com/blog/shading-losses-in-pv-systems-and-techniques-to-mitigate-them/

https://www.pv-magazine.com/2022/05/18/solar-that-works-in-the-shade/

Posted 
Jun 12, 2023
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