We managed to experience one of the hottest years in 2019 and 2020. Europe alone faced a record-breaking heatwave, and the temperatures are expected to continue rising over the next few decades. You would think given the amount of heat and sunlight that is now becoming a norm for us (thanks to global warming), you would think solar panels would be used more frequently.
Solar panels could absorb all of the sunlight and then convert that energy into electricity, so that would be a great way we could make the most out of an otherwise grim situation. Of course, it isn’t that simple. Solar panels have their terms and conditions where they work better, and then have circumstances where they might not work at their best. If you are interested in learning more about the mechanics behind solar power use, and when solar panels appear to work at their best, you can keep on reading the rest of the article below.
How Do We Make Electricity?
If we talk about how we have usually produced electricity, then the answer tends to stay the same. Gas or water is usually heated by fuel, coal, or nuclear energy. Once the gas or water is hot enough, turbines are used towards the end which will convert the power that was generated by the gas or steam to ultimately create electricity.
Of course, solar panels work a little differently. The biggest difference in how we normally generate electricity and how we generate electricity through solar panels is that there are no turbines needed with solar panels. The panels get heat directly from the sun, and this is why you will instead need a good capacity battery to store that energy properly. Sunlight should ideally fall directly on the panel to generate more energy.
How Does a Solar Panel Operate?
There is a common misconception that solar panels work by using heat that is absorbed by the sun, which is not true. Solar panels tend to absorb sunlight, mainly called photons, and then turn that photon energy into electricity.
The photons tend to be absorbed in varying amounts and intensity, depending on the wavelength of the sunlight, and then electron movement is added to the solar panel, both of which are important components in creating electricity.
Of course, some solar panels do happen to use the heat of the sun to heat water or as a heating alternative to a normal HVAC system. So you have to decide whether you want a heating solar panel or one that helps to generate electricity. In case you find yourself not being able to decide between the two, then the answer is pretty simple, you let the prices decide. So if the price of normal heating is too much for you then opting for a solar panel that generates heat will be more useful. However, if the normal electricity prices are much higher, then you can opt for a solar panel that helps to generate and produce electricity.
If you happen to be interested in learning more about electricity-generating solar panels, then you can keep on reading the rest of this guide.
The Best Time to Use Solar Panels
You must get an estimate, and then keep in mind the upfront costs, along with maintenance and upkeep when it comes to solar panels so that you can make sure that it falls under your savings and general budget.
Now it is important to remember that there is no point in opting for solar panels if they will not work efficiently in your area or home. So the efficiency of the solar panel needs to be evaluated before you go ahead and buy them.
Living in a hot area does not automatically mean that solar panels would work well in the area. Cities like Portland and Seattle, which are known to rainy for most of the year have been increasing the number of solar panels in their city.
At the end of the day, you will need to bring in a professional evaluator and have them figure out whether or not solar panels would work well for you.
Do They Work Properly on Rainy Days?
We have discussed at the beginning of this article that sunlight is required to generate electricity, not heat, so solar panels are usually able to work in different weather conditions. So, solar panels can still work during winter, cloudy days, and rainy days as well.
You might question how a solar panel can work on a cloudy day, and that is fine. The answer here lies in the different wavelengths of light that sunlight tends to contain. So even if we are not able to see any light because of the clouds or rain, there is still light around, and these photons of light are then absorbed by the solar panels, which will in turn help to generate electricity. This principle applies in all weather conditions be it rain or snow. If anything rain can help clean the surface of the solar panel, which will only increase its efficiency later on.
Of course, this does not mean that your solar panels will be just as energy efficient in this weather as they normally would be during sunny days, of course, if you want a better answer then you will need to have an expert come and do the math and take into account the exact location of the placement of the panels.
You cannot just get your solar panel installed without opting for a technical analysis first. The technical analysis will include your location, the placement area of the panel, the size and type of solar panel that might be needed for your energy or heat needs, and so on. If you do not get the analysis done then the likelihood of you having an inefficient solar panel that is not generating as much power as it can is very high.
Can Solar Panels Be Placed And Used Everywhere?
We cannot just put solar panels everywhere around the world since the profitability of solar panels is dependent on the price of electricity in your location, and the prices tend to vary amongst different regions and parts of the planet.
We cannot vouch for every part of the world, but if you live in an area where electricity prices are high, or where a cost-profit analysis proves fruitful for you then you can install solar panels in your location.
Solar Panels: A Means to Save The Planet
If we push cost and profit related concerns behind, then the truth is that we need to start opting for solar energy because it is something the world needs.
Fossil-fuel based and non-renewable energy sources have been our choice of fuel since we started industrializing ourselves. Sadly this reliance on fuel-based energy has resulted in harmful greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, and slowly accelerating the earth’s temperature, and if we do not stop this soon, we will end up at a no-turn point where we will be unable to reverse or stop the damage we have done.
Scientists have spent centuries trying to find a cleaner and better energy source, and for the time being, solar energy proves to be that answer. So if you want to live an eco-friendly life and work on better the planet, then making the switch to solar might prove to be fruitful.
Storing The Electricity That is Produced
Solar panels cannot be expected to provide your electricity for 24 hours a day, regardless of how sunny or solar-panel friendly your location might be because at the end of the day, the night will fall, and when night begins your solar panel becomes inherently useless.
Of course, you should not lose hope here because most solar panels produce in excess, and you use the excess electricity produced by your solar panel during the day at night. This is only possible by opting for a good capacity battery that will help to store the electricity that is generated by your solar panel during the day. This way you can use electricity produced by your solar panel during the night as well. These batteries do tend to be rather costly, so consider it a major investment if you do plan on getting one.
The Best Solar Panel Placement For Efficiency
Solar panels are usually placed on top of buildings, so usually the roof, and this is where we have to consider a few things.
If you are going to get a solar panel installed then you need to make sure that your roof is in good working condition and that you will not be needing to get any repair or renovation work done for the next 3 decades since 30 years happens to be the minimum lifespan for a majority of solar panels.
There is also the chance that your roof might not be a good spot because of the angle that it might face the sun, possible blocking by surrounding buildings, and so on. So you need to make sure that all of these calculations are done and that all the necessary information is considered before actually getting a solar panel installed or else you will end up being disappointed.
When it comes to roofs you also want to make sure that your roof can stand the extra weight of the solar panel along with an additional weight that might come with the weather like snowfall, heavy rain, and so on.
If you happen to live in a shared building then you cannot get your solar panel installed unless you have taken permission from the other people that share the building.
So if you have considered all of the possibilities and made sure that you had an expert do all of the necessary calculations, and have gotten the seal of approval from them, then you will find your solar panel investment to be a fruitful one for a long time.
In case you are not looking to have a team of professionals gets involved in the installation and setup of your solar panels, then you will need to keep a couple of things in mind.
First of all, the actual direction of your solar panel is important. The direction you place your solar panel alone will determine whether or not your solar panel will work efficiently or become a waste of many. To make sure that your solar panel performs efficiently, you need to remember that the sun rises from the East and will set at the West. This makes a huge difference and while you might be tempted in making solar panel face either West or East, we are here to tell that neither is a good option and your solar panel will not be able to work as efficiently. However, if you place your solar panels towards the South, then your solar panel will be able to absorb light through the rising till the setting of the sun.
Direction matters, but it is not the only thing that matters, in fact, the angle that you set your solar panel is important as well. Solar panels work at their most efficient when the sunlight can hit it at a 90-degree angle. So the angle of the solar panel needs to be perpendicular to the sunlight.
By being at a perpendicular angle, the solar panel will be able to absorb all of the light that is coming in at different wavelengths, leading to the generation of more electricity and your solar panel working at full efficiency.
Of course, you cannot keep changing the angle of your solar panel throughout the day and once you have installed your solar panel you cannot keep turning and moving it around. If you are looking to find the perfect sweet spot then angling your solar panel between 30-40 degrees will prove to be the best possible angle for you. You should also avoid placing your solar panel in an area in which there is no shade, especially throughout most of the day.
Initially, you will find that your solar panel is working great and efficiently but over time you might begin to notice a decline in its overall performance, and this might cause alarm bells to ring in your head, but we can assure you that you do not need to be alarmed. The most likely explanation in this scenario is that your solar panel is probably covered by dust and that is what is affecting its performance.
You can choose to call in professionals and have them clean your solar panel for you or you can just do it yourself. Solar panels do not require regular maintenance or upkeep but they do need to be cleaned of dust and debris now and then.
You now have a basic idea of the mechanics of solar panels and how one can make the most out of their solar panels, and it is safe to say that solar panels can prove to be a great investment. Of course, you will need to make sure that you get all of the necessary research and calculations then, find a good supplier, find a good installer or install it yourself correctly, set up a cleaning schedule and then make the most of the electricity that is offered to you at what will prove to be a much lower cost over time.