Solar panels are one of the cleanest and most effective sources of energy. By drawing in UV rays from the sun, the panels can generate enough electricity to bring power to your home all year round. However, the energy that they can produce can be somewhat disappointing when compared to other sources of energy. Fortunately, there is a way to improve the solar panel’s efficiency. Below are just some tips to keep in mind to make this possible.
Reflect stray light beams with a mirror
In cases where the sun is still at a low level in the sky, the PV panels would, of course not, generate the same amount of energy than they could on a bright day when the sun is high. However, one can easily improve the panel’s ability to generate power by placing a mirror below it. The theory behind this is that the mirror can reflect the beams of the sun and direct it to the panel, increasing its efficiency by at least 50%.
To do this effectively, you must take note where the sun is positioned at certain times of the day and make sure that the angle of reflection will direct its rays to the panel as much as possible. However, keep in mind that it is ill advised to place mirrors next to the photovoltaic modules in summer as the extremely bright light can cause them damage.
Coat the solar panels with varnish
Recent studies have shown that light absorption in old and scratched solar panels can be increased by applying a coat of varnish over the surface. Surprisingly, the coat of varnish makes the surface reflective, making the reflection brighter and giving the panel double the light to draw energy from. Once the varnish is applied, it is expected that efficiency could increase 6% at best.
Cleaning the panels
One of the biggest culprits on the decreasing efficiency of a solar panel is the gradual buildup of dirt over the surface. Basically, the dirt acts like a cover, preventing the surface from absorbing the light being directed to it. To prevent this, take a look at the panels and have them cleaned from time to time especially if the panels are installed flat on the roof. Debris like leaves from trees can cover the surface so have someone sweep them or spray them with a garden hose.
Other yucky stuff like bugs and bird droppings can stick to the solar array´s surface. In such cases it is almost a must to use a damp cloth to wipe the area clean. To prevent damages, it would be a good idea to clean the panels on a cloudy day, early morning or any hour before they get too hot.
Trackers and Concentrators
Another way to increase the panel’s light absorption is adding concentrators all around it. Acting like magnifying glasses, the concentrator can magnify the light in the surrounding area, giving the panel more sources to draw energy from. Unlike varnish coating, concentrators work well even in a cloudy or rainy day. Though their effectiveness are still debatable as of now, it is still a good idea to use concentrators to optimize the light available.
You can also add a trackers to your solar system especially if you have several panels on the roof. These devices work by automatically tilting and turning the panels towards the sun, allowing them to soak up the maximum amount of available light at every particular time of day and year. They will also save you the hassle of manually tilting the panels to the correct angle several times a year.
In the winter months when the natural light may be scarce, both trackers and concentrators will increase the panel’s energy efficiency to a considerable degree.