It is possible to get more solar electricity during winter and on cloudy days. These are times when your solar power production drops. But you can enhance the performance of your solar power generator using a few techniques.
During cloudy days and when there’s fog or haze, sunlight becomes diffused and arrives at your solar panels from many different directions. Therefore the facing of your PV panels is not as important during these times for maximum power production.
Even during cloudy days, you can expect to receive about 50% of your original power output. When the sky is completely overcast, you should still receive about 30% of the solar electricity.
Even though light intensity drops during cloudy days, the reduced ambient temperature causes your solar panel efficiency to increase. Therefore the reduction on solar energy production is offset by the increase in photovoltaic efficiency. This is especially true during winter.
There are a few ways to get more solar power during times of low light intensity. Here is a summary for your reading pleasure:
1. Use High Efficiency Solar Panels
Many different types of solar panels are available in the market. If your PV panels have high yield, they’ll naturally be able to perform better in any light condition.
Home solar panels are broadly classified into 3 categories: polycrystalline panels, monocrystalline panels and ribbon panels.
Polycrystalline panels are the best buy. Even though they are not the most efficient, they can yield as much power as monocrystalline cells per square feet due to their physical shape.
They are also not as expensive as monocrystalline solar cells. During low light conditions, they can provide as much electricity for you.
Each polycrystalline solar cell is made from molten silicon that is carefully cooled and solidified. Its manufacturing process makes it less expensive to produce than single crystal silicon cells.
Monocrystalline solar cells are made by cutting thin layers of silicon from cylindrical ingots using the Czochralski process. They yield more electricity than polycrystalline cells but are more expensive. Also, because they are round, they leave gaps at all four corners. This reduces the potential power output of each monocrystalline solar panel.
Ribbon silicon is formed by drawing thin films from molten silicon. This process facilitates a multicystalline structure in the final product. Although its manufacturing process is cheap and there is less silicon waste, solar cell efficiency is compromised.
Among these 3 types of solar cells, polycrystalline is most widely used for obvious reasons.
2. Use Reflectors
Even though light is diffused by clouds and fog, they have a certain general direction. As such, you can use reflectors to get more light onto your PV panels. This method, however, makes your roof a little unsightly if the reflectors are not installed (or chosen) with good taste.
With this in mind, you can site your reflector some distance away from your house. As long as more sunlight falls on your PV panel, you can generate a little more electricity.
3. Clean Your Solar Panels
Dirt, dust and leaf can block sunlight from reaching your solar cells. This can reduce your power output by more than 30%. Simply by cleaning your solar panels, you can have more electricity during winter and on cloudy days.
Cleaning your PV panels doesn’t take much time. All you need to do is spray water on it generously to loosen the dirt and wash off the dust and leaf. This will help your energy output by a huge margin.