What Factors Affect Solar Energy Production?

In this article, we're answering the commonly asked question "What factors affect solar energy production?". Here are 6 Important Factors Affecting Solar Energy Production to help you maximise your solar panel efficiency.
December 10, 2023

Are you curious about what factors affect the production of solar energy? If you're considering installing solar panels there are six important factors that you need to consider when it comes to solar energy production.

In this article, we'll explore these 6 factors and more, giving you the knowledge to make informed decisions about your solar energy production.

What are 6 Factors That Affect Solar Energy Production?

We’ve put together a list of 6 key factors that will affect your solar energy production and determine how much energy your solar system is likely to generate, so it’s important for you to consider the following six key elements.

1. Solar Panel Placement

Solar panel placement significantly impacts solar energy production. The direction in which you position your modules is crucial. South facing is the best option, followed by west and then east facing. North facing roofs are generally not recommended for optimal production.

While some north-facing azimuths can still provide enough production to make it worthwhile to install panels, it is more common for them to yield lower production numbers. However, you can still be strategic about how you use your available roof space to optimize the production of your system.

Remember, the tilt of solar panels should also be adjusted based on the sun's position throughout the year. By considering these factors, you can maximize the efficiency and output of your solar energy system.

2. Orientation of Solar Panels

When positioning your solar panels, it is important to consider how their orientation affects solar energy production. The orientation of solar panels refers to the direction they face, specifically towards the sun. The best orientation for solar panels is south-facing, as it allows them to capture the maximum amount of sunlight throughout the day.

West-facing and east-facing orientations are the next best options, followed by north-facing roofs, which are not recommended for optimal production. By strategically using available roof space and considering factors such as azimuth and roof space availability, you can optimize the placement of your solar panels.

Remember, the goal is to position the panels in a way that allows them to be perpendicular to the sun's rays, maximizing their energy capture and overall efficiency.

The Tilt Angle of the Solar Panels

Adjusting the tilt angle of your solar panels is crucial for optimizing solar energy production. The tilt angle determines how effectively the panels capture sunlight throughout the year. In general, a tilt angle of 30 to 40 degrees is recommended for south-facing panels in the Northern Hemisphere.

This angle ensures that the sunlight hits the panels perpendicularly, maximizing energy output. Additionally, the tilt angle should be adjusted according to changes in seasons, latitude, and longitude, as well as the number of sunshine hours.

By adjusting the tilt angle, you can ensure that your panels are always positioned optimally to receive the maximum amount of sunlight and produce the most energy.

3. Your Geographical Location

To maximize solar energy production, it is important to consider the geographical location where the solar panels will be installed. The earth's rotation around the sun on a tilted axis means that areas farther from the equator, such as higher latitudes, will have lower levels of solar energy production.

For example, systems installed in the southwest generally produce more energy than those installed in the northeast. Additionally, weather conditions like precipitation, pollution, and fog can impact the efficiency of solar panels. While clouds can reduce production, they don't eliminate it completely.

Even on a cloudy day, solar panels can still produce energy from indirect sunlight. Moreover, snow can affect production by covering the panels and significantly reducing or halting energy output. Therefore, geographical location plays a significant role in determining the potential solar energy production of a system.

4. Weather & The Climate

Considering the weather and climate of your region directly impacts solar energy production. The amount of sunlight your area receives, as well as the temperature, can affect the efficiency of your solar panels.

In regions with a lot of cloud cover or frequent rain, the amount of sunlight reaching your panels may be reduced, leading to lower energy production. Similarly, extreme temperatures, whether hot or cold, can also impact panel performance. High temperatures can cause panels to overheat, leading to a decrease in efficiency.

On the other hand, cold environments can improve efficiency by preventing overheating, although snow should not bury the panels.

It is important to understand how the weather and climate of your region can impact solar energy production in order to optimize the performance of your solar system.

5. Type and Quality of Solar Panels Used

The type and quality of solar panels used in your solar system is also a major factor that will impact the amount of energy that your solar system will produce.

It's important for you  to understand the distinction between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels.

Monocrystalline panels tend to have higher efficiency, making them a great choice if you have limited roof space. On the other hand, polycrystalline panels may be more suitable if you have a lot of mounting space and prioritize performance over aesthetics.

Monocrystalline vs Polycrystalline Solar Panels

As mentioned above, there are two main types of solar panels you would typically consider: monocrystalline and polycrystalline. Monocrystalline panels are made from a single cylindrical crystal of silicon and tend to be more expensive.

On the other hand, polycrystalline panels are made from cast molten silicon and are usually cheaper. The higher price of monocrystalline panels is justified by their superior efficiency and better temperature coefficient.

Monocrystalline panels have an average efficiency of 15% to 23%, while polycrystalline panels have an efficiency of 13% to 16%. Additionally, monocrystalline panels have a higher output in heat compared to polycrystalline panels.

So, if you want panels that are more efficient and perform better in heat, monocrystalline panels are the way to go.

6. The Maintenance of the Solar System

To maximize solar energy production, it is crucial that you regularly maintain your solar system. Proper maintenance ensures that your panels are clean and free from any obstructions that could hinder sunlight absorption.

Over time, dirt, debris, and even bird droppings can accumulate on the surface of the panels, reducing their performance. Regular cleaning, following the manufacturer's guidelines, is necessary to maintain optimal output levels.

Additionally, the age of your solar panels can also impact their efficiency, with a decrease in performance of around 0.5% per year. By keeping your solar system well-maintained, you can ensure that it continues to operate at its maximum potential, allowing you to benefit from the full power of solar energy.

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About Author

Bekani Thulani

Bekani, founder of 99Solutions Marketing, seamlessly combines solar energy expertise with digital marketing acumen. Through compelling content, he simplifies concepts, motivates action, and communicates the tangible benefits of solar power.