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Monday, March 18, 2019

Super solar electric conditions

This time of year my solar electric panels produce well above their normal ratings. A number of factors come together.

One thing many people don’t realize is that solar electric panels are actually more efficient in cold weather. During warm months having good airflow around them is important. That reduces something called electron scattering. Long story short, hot weather reduces efficiency.

When the leaves come into the trees they provide some partial shading on the panels. While it’s possible to cut them down their loss would be worse than any power gain. The fact that I have trees for shade eliminated my need for air conditioning. Gathering a bit more light at the cost of having to add a power hog air conditioner would be a bad deal.

Right now there is still plenty of snow cover. Reflected sunlight gives the panels a huge boost. Sunshine on snow is so powerful that the condition known as snow blindness is a real threat. The energy that can cause eye problems for outdoor enthusiasts does wonders for my battery bank.

Once the snow is gone that big solar boost will disappear. However, I have some smaller solar electric systems that will make use of reflected sunlight. The solar panel on my boat gets a boost from sunlight reflected off the water. That reflected sunlight is one reason sunscreen at the beach is so important. My solar panel on my shed next to the lake also benefits from water reflected sunlight. Unfortunately my main house panels are too far from the water to benefit.



  1. Had I had the $$ and the knowledge I would have had solar panels installed since my house faces South. Good in the winter but not so much in the summer. - Momlady

    1. There are some small plug and play systems that might make for good backup in emergencies. Of course, it really helps to have someone close by with some experience. Back when I did it most of the literature on solar was written for professional electricians. That was a pain.