While you may think that a hotter temperature translates into more energy generation, this is actually not the case.
If you’re wondering if solar panels get hot, the answer is yes. They do and this slightly decreases the energy output of your solar system.
However, there are many factors that go into this, and we’ll break them down now.
While solar panels do get hot, there is very little risk of damage to your solar panels, as they are designed to withstand extreme temperatures.
Temperature and Solar Panels
Solar panels are tested under Standard Testing Conditions (STC), which involves a temperature of 77° Fahrenheit.
These conditions are used to determine the optimum output of your solar panels. With most panels being 250-350 watts, you can use STC to determine the efficiency of your solar panels.
Solar panels generally have an efficiency of between 17-23%, meaning that 23% of the sunlight received by the panels is converted into electricity.
This does not mean that you will only get 23% of the wattage of your panels. Rather, you can expect about 80% of the wattage of your solar panels when you are operating in good conditions.
However, these conditions are the optimal ones and aren’t always reflected in real life. Luckily, solar panels can function at a variety of different temperatures,
The ideal temperature range for solar panels is between 55 and 95° F. This is when they will be operating the closest to their STC efficiency ratings.
Temperatures outside this range will make your solar panels less efficient, but the reduction is relatively minor, and won’t negate the benefits of your solar system.
Solar panels reflect heat. You shouldn’t touch the solar panel or its housing during the day, as they are hot.
A bit later, we’ll look into the temperature coefficient, and how you can calculate the output of your solar panel in higher temperatures.
Solar Panels Getting Hot
Like anything left out in the summer sun, solar panels do get hot. This is especially true because the purpose of solar panels is to capture sunlight which can then be turned into energy.
The fact that solar panels are dark, often black or dark blue, helps them to absorb more light. However, more light can translate into more heat.
If you’re wondering whether solar panels produce AC or DC, the answer is that they produce DC (direct current).
The process of turning sunlight into AC (alternating current) power you can use in your home involves using an inverter or a solar generator like the EcoFlow delta max portable power station.
This converts the direct current into AC that can be used to power your home appliances. You need to consider if a solar panel inverter makes noise.
Using an inverter or solar generator allows you to run more of your home on clean solar energy. This has a number of benefits, and can even help reduce your electricity bill.
Preventing Solar Panels from Overheating
While heat can somewhat reduce the efficiency of your solar panels, manufacturers have taken steps to ensure that your panels won’t actually overheat or be at risk.
Solar panels are designed to be able to withstand very hot and very cold temperatures so you don’t have to worry about the safety of your panels.
One way that solar panel manufacturers prevent overheating is through housing the panels in thermally conductive material. This better distributes the heat from the sun.
This also raises the question of whether solar panels reflect sunlight. This can be a concern, especially depending on the angles of your roof.
The angle of your roof can affect the output, as well as the light being reflected off your solar panels.
Another way to ensure your panels don’t overheat is to make sure that your panels are not directly on your roof. There needs to be sufficient space underneath the panels to allow airflow to cool down the panels.
A slightly different workaround would be to use portable solar panels for your home. This means that you can move them out of the direct sun if you are worried about them overheating.
Portable solar panels are also a great choice if you have an RV or are going camping.
Importance of the Temperature Coefficient
When buying a solar panel or DIY home solar panel kit, something to consider is the temperature coefficient. This tells you how efficient your panels will be in hotter temperatures.
The temperature coefficient varies between brands, so it can be a determining factor in choosing a specific brand of panel.
When looking at the specs of your solar panel, there will be both an efficiency rating and a temperature coefficient.
The temperature coefficient is generally around -0.4% to -0.5%. This means that your output power decrease by 0.5% for every degree above 77°F.
It is important to know that the temperature of your solar panel can be about 36°F higher than the ambient temperature.
To provide an example, a 200-watt monocrystalline solar panel with an efficiency rating of 19% and a temperature coefficient of -0.5% would produce around 180 watts in 1 hour of direct sunlight, provided the temperature of the panel is between 55 and 95° F.
However, at a higher temperature, like 149° F, you would have to multiply the temperature coefficient by the number of degrees about 95° F.
In this case, you are 54° F above optimal temperature would need to be multiplied by 0.5. That means that your system would be about 27% less efficient at 149° F.
For a 200-watt panel, this would mean that your panel would probably produce around 146 watts in one hour of direct sunlight.
This is also why solar panels have a peak power level.
If you live in an area with very high temperatures, you need to factor this maths into designing your solar system.
If the average household in the U.S consumes around 10,715 kWh (kilowatt-hours) in a year, and you want to run your home entirely off solar energy, you need a system that will produce more than that.
Now that you understand the temperature coefficient, you can look at your specific needs and situation and make plans to optimize your solar system.
Maybe you have a lot of very hot summer days and will need a slightly larger system to offset the reduction from the panels getting too hot.
Another option would be to invest in a deep-cycle solar battery. This means that you are able to store the energy produced by your solar panels.
Using a deep-cycle battery means that you can use the energy you’ve collected when the sun goes down but also allows you to have some backup energy for those days when the panels get a bit too hot.
In conclusion, solar panels do get hot, and this can affect the output of your solar panels.
However, once you understand the temperature coefficient, you can structure your system to work well in your specific temperature conditions.
The ideal condition for your solar panels is a day that is cold but sunny. However, your solar panels are still likely to produce more energy in the summer than in the winter.
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