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Is Solar Panel Efficiency Affected by Temperature?

Nov 28, 2017

Solar panels, also known as photovoltaic panels, create electricity by collecting visible sunlight and converting it into energy. Because solar panels work directly with the sun, many people wonder whether ambient air temperature plays a role in how solar panels operate. For example, if the ambient air is hot, is a solar panel more efficient or less efficient? Even though strength and duration of sunlight matters more, temperature also plays a large role in your solar panel’s efficiency.

Hot Air and Your Solar Panels

Common sense might indicate that since solar panels rely on sunlight to function, warmer air would help solar panels run more efficiently or with more power, but that’s not the case. Although solar panels use sunlight to produce energy, they do not require heat in any way. In fact, solar panels may run about 10 to 25 percent less efficient on warm, dry days reaching 90 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

The hotter the ambient air becomes, the less efficient your solar panels will be. When temperatures reach triple digits, most panels will start to lose about one percent of peak output for every additional degree the temperature increases. Homeowners who experience high temperatures during the summer can understand how their panels will respond by checking the temperature coefficient of their solar panel system.

Cold Air and Your Solar Panels

Cold ambient air can also affect your solar panel’s output, although not in the same fashion as warm air. In fact, cold ambient air can provide increased output as long as the sky is mostly clear. So those who live in brightly lit, cold environments can see their solar panels performing much better than those who live in either cloudy environments or very warm climates. Winter is typically the best season for producing energy with solar panels, but since winter weather often comes with heavy precipitation and thick cloud coverage, it’s not always the case. Tests have shown solar panels operate at their most efficient in about 77 degrees Fahrenheit.

Solutions

If you’re in the market for solar panels, the first thing you should do is consider the climate where you live. If you live in an area where temperatures are often about 90 degrees Fahrenheit or higher in the summer, or an area that experiences heavy cloud coverage throughout the year, be aware that your solar panels won’t work as efficiently. Sacramento-area temperatures are generally great for solar panels, for example.

Certain solar panels work better in high heat than others. For instance, solar panels that employ monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar cells have a lower temperature coefficient, so you can expect them to perform better in high temperatures. Other design options that can help a system run more efficiently in the heat include amorphous silicon and cadmium telluride panels.

Other options for increasing efficiency include cooling your panels off with water. Although, if you’re concerned about conserving water, that might not be a great option. It’s also recommended homeowners position their panels in such a way that they receive good ventilation, and consider keeping indoor energy usage to a minimum. This will help increase output from the solar panels.

Solar Panel Consultation

Although there is a lot to consider in terms of optimizing efficiency during certain seasons, there’s still quite a lot of benefits solar panels provide. It’s important you understand the ins and outs of your solar panels and what that means for your future energy bills before having your panels installed. The experts at Energy Saving Pros can help you find out if solar panels are right for you and your home. Contact Energy Savings Pros at (866) 497-6527 or by going online today!


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