Solar panels slightly covered by trees

What Hinders The Best Performance Of PV Systems Output? 

Solar PV systems panels are devices for converting the sun’s radiation into electricity. As we all know, on the one hand, solar power may be unlimited, but on the other hand, it’s not limitless to use. 

The solar photovoltaic system’s output varies depending on factors such as weather and temperature, load, and so on.

This article will focus on several factors that affect the PV system output. Read on to get some insight.

Cable Thickness of Your PV System

The thickness of the cable of the PV system affects the output of the solar panels. This is because thicker cables have more electrical resistance, which means they will produce less current. 

The thicker a cable is, the less energy it can carry, so selecting the right cable size for your system is vital.

Therefore, a thicker cable will yield less power for a given installation area than a thinner one. The table below shows how different cable thicknesses affect output.

Load Imbalance in PV Systems

If the load is unbalanced, the power output will be lower. This is true especially if you’ve connected only one or two modules in a series. 

You can solve the problem by connecting multiple parallel strings, which reduces the voltage drop across each string and increases current flow through them (and hence power output). 

This also minimizes the effect on efficiency due to mismatching cells within each string. This is because parallel strings always connect at higher voltages than individual strings. 

So any mismatch would affect all parallel strings equally and thus not significantly affect output current flow through any particular string.

Age of the Solar PV System

The output of a PV system greatly depends on many factors. One of the most important is age. As solar panels get older, their efficiency will decrease. 

The degradation rate is approximately 0.5% per year for crystalline silicon panels and 0.75% per year for thin film panels. 

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This means that after 10 years, a crystalline silicon panel will have lost about 10% of its efficiency and a thin film panel about 20%. 

This is a vital factor to consider when comparing systems with different lifetimes.

Latitude

PV panels are generally at their most efficient in areas close to the equator, where there is a lot of direct sunlight all year round. 

As you move away from the equator and towards the poles, less sunlight reaches your panels during winter. 

For example, if you live at 40°N (e.g., London), you will only receive around 60% as much direct sun in winter compared to summertime, which means it’s less efficient.

Operation and Monitoring Maintenance

The most important factor affecting solar system output is the PV panels’ maintenance, especially when exposed to harsh weather conditions. 

Solar panels need regular maintenance to avoid dust on their surface. Dust buildup reduces the amount of sunlight that is absorbable by the panels and thus reduces their output.

In addition, If there is any problem with the wiring, inverters, or other PV system components, it can affect the system’s output.

Electrical Losses In The Wiring

Two men working on solar PV systems
Courtesy: Aurora Solar

The electrical losses in wiring can also affect your PV system output. The wiring used in solar panels should be good quality wires that are not prone to corrosion or rusting. 

The voltage drop across long cables can cause a loss of power, which lowers the overall efficiency of solar panels. 

This is why it is essential to use quality cables when installing solar panels in remote areas without access to electricity supply or power grid lines.

Inverter Efficiency

The most important factor affecting PV output is the inverter efficiency. Inverters are the heart of a solar power system. 

They convert DC (Direct Current) electricity produced by solar panels into AC (Alternating Current) electricity that we use in our homes and businesses. 

The efficiency of an inverter is measured in terms of “percent of peak power.” For example, if you have a 5kW inverter rated to produce 5 kW of power at maximum output, it would be 100% efficient. 

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This means that all 5 kW produced by your solar panels will be converted into AC power by the inverter. 

If you have a 3KW rated inverter, it would only be 66% efficient because it would only produce 3 kW at maximum output.

Read More: Easy definition of a solar inverter and its working principle

Shading of PV Systems

Shading is among the main factors affecting the PV system’s output. It can be caused by a number of different things, including trees and bushes, which are often found in residential areas. 

Any object that casts a shadow over your PV system’s panels will reduce the amount of sunlight they get and thus reduce their output.

For example, if 20% of your panels are shaded, your output will be reduced by 20%. The best way to avoid this is to keep the panels as close together as possible and choose an install location with minimal shading from trees or other structures.

Charge Controller Characteristics

The charge controller is a critical component of a solar energy system. It regulates the charge flow to the batteries and determines how much energy is stored. 

The most common types of charge controllers are PWM and MPPT (maximum power point tracking). 

PWM controllers are less expensive but are less efficient than MPPT controllers, which are more expensive but more efficient at converting DC power into AC power and vice versa. 

Both controllers should be installed with fuses or circuit breakers that protect against overcurrent conditions.

Read More: How to best evaluate string inverters and how they work

Battery Efficiency

The efficiency of a battery is the ratio between the amount of energy stored by the battery and the amount of energy delivered to it by the charging source. The higher this number is, the better. 

The efficiency of a PV system with a single battery will be around 80%-90%, depending on how much power you take out. If you have two batteries, each connected in series (so they charge one after another), their combined efficiency will be around 70%.

The efficiency of batteries also varies greatly depending on the type of battery and its state of charge. For example, it is common for lead-acid batteries to have an efficiency of 85%. 

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However, if they are only 50% charged, their efficiency can drop to as low as 60%. This means that a 10% loss in power from your solar system can easily add up over time!

Temperature

Temperature also affects how much power your solar panels produce. For example, suppose you live in a hot climate with a high temperature. 

In that case, this will reduce the output of your solar panels as heat makes them less efficient at converting sunlight into electricity. 

On the other hand, cold weather can improve efficiency as low temperatures cause less damage to solar panels. 

This allows them to last longer than in warmer climates, where they are more likely to break down quickly due to excessive wear and tear caused by constant exposure to extreme heat or cold.

In practicality, when the temperature outside increases, so does your energy bill because your air conditioner works harder to cool down your home or office space. This exact aspect is what solar uses.

Read More: Advantages and disadvantages of solar energy you didn’t know about

Solar Radiation

Solar radiation is the main factor affecting PV system output. The more direct sunlight you get, the more electricity your system will produce. 

However, solar radiation can be affected by many factors, including cloud cover, season, and time of day. 

If you live in a cloudy area, then it is unlikely that your PV system will produce as much electricity as it could in a sunny climate.

Conclusion

It is safe to say that you want to invest your money in PV Solar panels that will be right for your needs. Which panels will best meet your needs? 

That depends on several factors, particularly the ones we identified in this article. 

If you can understand what is important and what isn’t when choosing solar panels, you’ll increase your chances of being happy with your purchase.

Read More: What Is a Solar Power System? 

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