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5 solar panel performace factors

You have to think of the performance of solar panels like cars, obviously a Porsche 911 will outperform a Toyota Corolla. There are five major factors that contribute to how much electricity a solar panel will produce, understading the factors below will help you get the most performace out of your solar panels. The material of the solar cell: Solar panels are composed of different cell materials such as monocrystalline silicon, polycrystalline silicon, dye based solar cells, organic, plastic and even hybrid, which is a mix of different cell materials. Each type of solar panels have a cost and efficiency trade off based on their cell composition. Load resistance: Resistance becomes a factor with off-grid systems and grid-tie with battery backup. When you charge a battery with a solar photovoltaic panel. Connecting a solar panel to a battery causes the solar panel to operate at a higher then normal voltage which causes the solar panel to exceed the Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) and decreases the power output. Most residential and commercial solar electric systems are simple grid tie so they avoid the batteries all together. Intensity of sunlight: Pretty obvious? The brighter the sun the more you will produce, quite simple. Technically as solar radiation decreases the solar panel’s current output will decrease as well, although the voltage output of the solar panel will not be affected as much by the intensity of sunlight. The temperature of the cell: The ambient temperature has a significant effect on how much electricity a solar panel will generate. During the hottest days in the summer, when the intensity of the sunlight is the brightest, common sense tells you on those days you’ll be producing the most electricity. Although that is far from true, the hotter solar cells become, the less efficient a solar panel becomes, silicon does not perform well in high heat. Heat is a electrical resistance to the flow of electrons within a solar panel. If your solar panels are mounted on top of your roof, airflow around the solar panels are very important to keep them cool. Ground mount and pole mounted arrays have less of an issue with airflow. Sanyo solar panels are unique because they have a higher temperature coefficient which enable Sanyo to outperform competing brands by 10%. Shading: Have you ever broke a one light bulb on a string of Christmas lights? Typically, when you break one light bulb, the a whole row of Christmas lights will go out. Even if one solar panel in a solar array is partially shaded the performance of the entire system will decrease significantly. It’s important when you...

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SMA Sunny Webbox – Visualize your performance

Typically once a solar power system owner installs solar panels, they get enjoyment of seeing their meter spin backwards. Although more system owners these days want more detailed output of how the solar power systems are performing. Customers who have purchased a SMA grid tie inverter have an easy option to add detailed performance monitoring through an add on device called the SMA Sunny Webbox. The Sunny Webbox can interface with up to 50 SMA grid tie inverters which connects to the internet through your router and uploads performance data to the free Sunny Portal. Historical data is also recorded on the Sunny Portal therefore installers and system owners can keep an eye on the system from anywhere in the world to make sure the solar panels are operating most efficiently. The internet is a great place to share information and critical data such as a solar power system performance should be easy to access, analyze and share to extend the experience of a solar power system after the installation is complete. The data can be access through any standard web browser, which is great because it will work on all types of operating systems. The Sunny Webbox connects to your SMA Sunny Boy through a RS485 cable and gives the solar power system owner the ability to remotely configure the...

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Monitoring Tools for your Solar Power System

Typically after a person or organization installs a solar power system, the first thing they want to do is see how much they are producing in real-time. If the inverter has a digital display, one can take a look at the inverter to see how many kWh (kilowatt hours) were produced. Although what if you want more analytical data about your system’s performance? Fat Spaniel Technologies offers a hardware and software package so you can monitor your system’s performance in real time. The hardware typically connects to the clean energy system, collects data and communicates with your computer system and also Fat Spaniel. With the ability to remotely monitor your system, an installer can check the system performance, diagnose problems, and take corrective actions right over the internet! A clean energy monitoring system can help you reveal trends, take care of issues and open your eyes to cost saving opportunities through the long lifetime of your solar power system. Check out the following solar power systems that have shared their real-time data on the internet: Loma Linda Fire House Warner Brothers Studios Nextek Power Queens Botanical...

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SolarMagic – Get more out of your solar panels

Earlier this week, we talked about how shading can be a big issue for solar panels. Even your neighbor’s trees can cause shading issues that can significantly reduce the performance of your system. SolarMagic a product being developed by National Semiconductor adds onto existing solar panels to increase the efficiency up to 50% in real world environments which face shading and dirt and other issues. Solar Panels are typically wired in a string fashion, what does that mean? Well remember those pesky Christmas lights? When one of your bulbs went out the whole string of lights would also go out, this is similar to how solar panels work, If even a little part of the system gets shaded, well the whole solar panel system becomes less efficient. One of these SolarMagic Units sits behind every solar panel, literally working its magic to keep each solar panel in order to maximize the energy harvest in shady or dirty conditions which would typically have a negative effect on the system. According to SolarMagic’s Website: “National’s SolarMagic technology uses our expertise in power conversion and advanced algorithms to get the most energy possible out of each panel in a solar array. Today’s systems are limited by the weakest link, and one or two compromised panels can take down the entire string or array. This is somewhat similar to a section of Christmas lights that go out when one light fails. However, with SolarMagic technology, if one panel in a solar installation is shaded, dirty, or otherwise compromised, that panel is allowed to produce what little energy it can while the other panels continue to operate at their full potential.” According to the company the SolarMagic unit measures 10 x 12 cm and is currently being field tested and is already proving that the technology works in real world conditions. Field tests show a 45% increase in solar pv panel efficency! The product will be on the market next year! We’re looking forward to getting our hands one a couple of these puppies to see how they...

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How well is your solar panel system performing?

Lucky you, you got your solar panel system up and running. now what? how do you make sure over the years your system is producing the most electricity it can. Is there a benchmark, how do you measure the performance of your system? WattMider.com a free online PV (photovoltaics) performance benchmark has created a solution to help you test the performance of your system by using their online benchmark calculator. The benchmark calculator is easy to use, just plug in your variables and compare the results with the output on your system’s inverter. Steven Yang, one of wattminder’s project leaders has hit a very important need. As more systems go up around the world an accurate installation benchmark needs to be in place so consumers can compare installations and a bar can be set. This is a great tool if you install your own solar power system and want to compare your installation with professional installs, with wattminder at least you know how well your install compared to others. Users can also contribute to the database so benchmark is fueled by user submitted data. The benchmarking calculator uses the Sandia National Laboratory model to process the results. The calculator can be customizable to your needs, once you create and account you can add your system setup and save your system specs for future...

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