You can definitely produce power by using solar panels. But just how much your panels produce is dependent on several important factors.
The first and most obvious consideration is how much sunlight your region gets. If you live in a desert area or at a higher altitude you’re in luck. For those in other parts of the country, be aware that the brighter the sun, the better.
For solar panels to harvest enough sunlight to produce more than a little electricity, what’s required is full, bright, shadow-free sunlight. Without it, your panels will not generate as much power. So if your area tends to be cloudy, be aware that not as much power will be harvested at certain times.
The major problem facing homeowners with solar panels is shadow. That is just what it sounds like. When your panel or even part of your panel is shaded, the voltage output becomes lower. And even a small bit of shade can affect output quite dramatically.
During certain times of the day shadows are to be expected, like early or later on the day. This is not a concern because at these times the sun is at an extreme angle, so there is little power being generated anyway. However it is important to avoid shadow during the midday hours of between about 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. when the sun is directly overhead.
Panels should be installed on mounts that are angled toward the sun. By doing that you can ensure that you are getting the most production from the modules. If possible make an adjustment to the angle of your mounting rack on a seasonal basis. That’s because the sun’s position is different in summer than it is in winter.
Finally, it’s important to properly maintain your solar panels. The good news is that because there are no moving parts there is really very little maintenance required. Basically, you just have to keep them clean.
Rain will do the job for you if it comes on a regular basis and lasts long enough. If not, all you have to do is to take a hose to them to be sure that dirt doesn’t build up. One tip, so you can avoid any problems, is to only use a hose during cooler parts of the day, and never during prime energy generating hours when the panels will be hotter.
Originally posted 2010-10-31 12:23:18.