Solar panel efficiency will increase the return on your investment, but how to increase the efficiency of your system? Increasing the efficiency of a particular solar panel is impossible as this is governed by the solar cell. What can be refined is better selection and greater control over the elements which derate solar panel efficiency. Listed below are 6 proven ways to fast-track the return on your solar investment at little to no extra cost, for both new system shoppers and existing system owners.
1. Solar panel selection.
Avoid the Tier-1 trap. Any solar panel which justifies its existence by the term Tier-1 utilises outdated technology and the sellers know it is inferior to the better solar panels in module efficiency.
Above: The LG Neon R range has a 25% greater module efficiency at 20.8%, over the Tier 1 average at 15.7%.
Solar Panels are the number one item which will affect your solar panel efficiency and overall output. Choosing an established and trusted solar panel brand with a good warranty will be the first step in defining your solar powerhouse. A great example is LG Electronics. Currently, LG in very close competition with Sunpower manufacture the most efficient solar panels commercially available.
Fact: Live data analysis in real world conditions from multiple respected sources and institutes within Australia have proven the LG range of solar panels to be the highest yielding solar panels Watt for Watt.
2. Solar Panel Positioning.
The positioning and layout of the solar panels within a solar array play a big part in ensuring the efficiency of a solar panel is maximised. In a string configuration, If just one solar panel becomes compromised in any particular way, this will compromise the efficiency of the entire array.
In many cases, on a reduced daily time frame, individual figures may not appear significant, but compounded over time, compromised efficiency losses can equate to thousands of dollars in lost energy savings.
Efficiency compromising factors such as shading, building obstructions, etc. are unavoidable in certain cases. A great modern solution to this problem, which is more commercially viable than ever, is solar panel optimiser or micro inverter technology.
Refined, smart electronic technology, connecting directly to each solar panel, isolating the module and allow the array to reach full potential given the environmental conditions. In the simplest terms possible, if shading occurs over one or more solar panels for a period, the solar array potential is maximised to it’s greatest point. The impact of shading remains minimal.
Above: Optimiser technology such as SolarEdge maximise production.
Above: String inverter systems are limited by the weakest link.
1. The Best technology add on.
With the ability to increase affected production by up to 33%, one of the easiest and best low-cost ways to increase solar panel efficiency in a nominated environment, as mentioned above, is to install module-level optimisation. The techie term for optimisers, you’re welcome.
Above (example only): Solar Array efficiency can be increased by up to 33% with otimisers in compromised areas.
In a bid to increase solar panel efficiency and the overall power production of your string inverter solar energy system without going to extreme lengths, optimisers a great solution in the right scenario.
The best part. Utilising optimiser technology, you can optimise only the compromised solar panels to increase the efficiency of the entire solar array.
It gets better. Spread the cost over time. Once you’ve got the optimisation bug, you can add more optimisers over time, therefore reducing initial capital requirements and expediting the return on investment of your entire solar energy system. In certain optimisation systems such as Huawei or Tigo, once you’ve added solar panel optimisation, consider installing a communications gateway to view exactly how each optimised solar panel is performing. Then complete adding optimisers to solar panels which are less affected.
What appears obvious may not be good for your solar panels, so be careful. Superior solar panels are designed to be virtually maintenance free. Such modules, usually beyond the bulk Tier-1 spectrum are manufactured with a self-cleaning (with rain) film over the protective glass, while the internal elements are designed to navigate minor sediments with minimal detriment to module efficiency.
In most cases, cleaning solar panels will only increase the efficiency of heavily soiled solar panels significantly. Just be sure never to use a cleaning agent or scrubber likely to diminish certain protective coatings of particular solar panels, as the best intentions could have a less than desirable long-term outcome.
3. Environmental Control.
Every little bit counts. Consider the environment around you to be more than just trees and vegetation. TV aerials/ dishes and exhaust flumes can be affecting the entire solar arrays efficiency depending on the location. It sounds obvious but ensures every solar panel is in full sun for longer.
What do you think?
Have you had any experience ramping up the performance of your solar energy system for extreme yields through solar panel manipulation? If so, share your awesome knowledge below and become a solar guru.