Maximize your solar savings – Tips for increasing panel efficiency

Installing solar panels on your home provides tremendous savings on your energy bills for years to come. However, to maximize your return on investment, it’s important to optimize the efficiency of your solar panel system. Even small adjustments lead to noticeable increases in energy production.

Proper orientation

The orientation of solar panels impacts how much direct sunlight they receive throughout the day. For optimal efficiency, panels should face true south at an angle equal to your latitude. However, deviations as great as 45 degrees east-west or south still allow panels to produce 90% or more of their rated output. Avoid excessive shading from trees or structures to the south of the panels. Installations with fixed roof mounts are limited in orientation options, but adjustable ground or pole mounts offer more flexibility.

Carefully consider where you place solar panels on your property. Install panels on the roof area that receives the most annual direct sunlight. It will vary by factors like surrounding trees and buildings. Also, ensure air circulates behind the panels to prevent heat buildup, which degrades performance. Leave at least a 3-4 inch gap between panels and roofing. Similarly, allow space between panel rows to avoid shading panels behind. Higher panel clearance increases airflow for better temperature regulation.

Regular maintenance

how solar panels are rated? While today’s solar panels are durable and weather-resistant, periodic cleaning and inspections optimize productivity. Check for debris buildup like leaves or dirt that causes partial panel shading. Clean panels 4-6 times per year or whenever they appear visibly dirty. Use a soft brush and avoid abrasive cleaning agents. Also, have a solar professional inspect all electrical components annually for damage or wear. Replace worn parts like wiring or inverters to maintain safety and efficiency. Many solar installations utilize microinverters or DC power optimizers to maximize energy harvesting from each panel. Upgrading old string inverter systems allows for panel-level monitoring and optimization rather than entire arrays. Microinverters also convert the DC output into usable AC power at each panel. It prevents single underperforming panels from dragging down the performance of a whole string. Smart inverters provide a fast payback through increased productivity.

Panel level monitoring

Recent advances in metering technology enable homeowners to monitor the productivity and health of individual solar panels through performance dashboards. This tool helps you identify damaged or malfunctioning panels quickly, as well as excessively soiled and shaded panels. Monitoring software also tracks metrics like solar harvest times, system efficiency rates, and return on investment. Review your solar dashboard regularly to verify optimal system operation. Trees that were not an issue when solar panels were initially installed grow to block sunlight. Professional tree trimming is recommended to remove branches shading solar arrays while preserving the health of surrounding trees. In some cases, tree removal is justified for panels experiencing chronic shading issues, especially if the trees are unhealthy or invasive species. Just be sure to consider the ecosystem impacts. Strategically planted shade trees also benefit solar production by providing cooling that improves panel efficiency.