8 Climate Factors That Affect Solar Panel Performance
Optimum performance is the top priority when solar panels are created. Solar panel designers take into consideration a number of factors that could affect how the technology does its job. And since weather only expresses what today’s phenomenon is while climate describes the weather pattern in a period of time, climate factors are the ones that affect solar panel performance. Here are 8:
- Sunlight. Climate will tell you how much sunlight you can expect in a year. For instance, the Southwest part of the country gets the most sunlight while the states in the North get the least. This is expected since the sun is higher when you’re down south, so the days last a bit longer than when you’re up north.
- Snowfall. It is advisable that you pick the part of your roof that gets the least affected with snow when you’re figuring out where to put your solar panel. There’s always that area where the snow build-up is shallower, or areas in your roof that are warmer because of the nearness to heaters, chimneys, etc.
- Cloud cover. Cloudy areas still get sunlight, so solar panels can still be used. The collection is not as critical, though, since the light comes in many different directions (sunlight spreads out when it’s cloudy).
- Smog. Smog is another factor in solar panel performance. Areas with heavy air pollution should expect less energy from their solar panels.
- Air density. Your solar panel can produce more energy when the light is not scattered. Light scatters in dense air, so areas in the mountains have better solar exposure than near sea level. If you want to check how dense the air in your area is, see how blue the sky is on a clear day. Dense air scatters red light, so the sky would look predominantly white; not so much blue.
- Temperature. Unlike solar water heaters, the semiconductors on PV systems work more efficiently on lower temperature. The output you get is better when it’s clear and cold rather than when it’s sunny and warm.
- Fog frequency. Residents of areas that are foggy and misty in the beginning of the day, but gets clear at noon should position their solar panels a bit more to the west since this optimizes the output.
- Wind. There are two main reasons why wind can play a huge role in making the performance of your solar panels.
- Strong wind can harm your equipment. If you live in areas with strong wind, you need to ensure that the mounting you install are heavy-duty. Repairs can sometimes cost more than initial installation – not to mention the cost a serious mishap might incur.
- Wind is a very efficient cooler. If you’re thinking of using solar panels to heat your swimming pool but you live in a windy area, make sure that your landscaping allows a break from wind that will cool your pool. Solar panels might do its job, but it’s not logical to spend a lot of money on this technology when wind can negate the output. Planting a couple of trees to break the rush of wind cost less and can basically do the job of warding your pool from cold.