Several characteristics of a solar installation can reduce the potential amount of electricity it can produce. These factors include, but aren’t limited to, physical orientation of the primary mounting structure, light to electricity conversion ratio, and climate. Since there’s little to be done about the weather, focus your efforts on addressing the challenges presented by the north-south orientation of your structure and the conversion efficiency of the solar cells.
Making the Most of Less-Than-Ideal Structures
No one is going to suggest that you re-orient your home or business to align more with the path of the sun. Even so, there’s nothing forcing you to rely on a fixed mounting position. Solar trackers and motorized solar panel mounting racks, which can add between $6,000 and $7,000 to an install cost, allow the free movement of solar panels to ensure optimal alignment with the sun as it moves across the sky. As a result, efficiency and production are increased throughout daylight hours.
Though several products are available on the market, the basic assembly is relatively consistent. These trackers rely on an upright pole mount fitted with an electric motor that re-orients the panel vertically and horizontally. This ensures that the maximum surface area is being struck by incoming sunlight. Very sophisticated mounts may also have a tilt-axis to accommodate non-standard panel shapes or arrays, such as squares or composite panel assemblies.
Setting Expectations for Panel Efficiency
When choosing to add solar power to your home it’s important that you avoid the urge to jump at the lowest price point rather than shopping around for quality products. The efficiency rating of solar panels should be your top priority, as this represents just how much of the sun’s energy the panels can convert into usable electricity for your home. For consumer-grade solar panels, the peak efficiency available as of 2016 is just a bit over 20%.
While this may not seem like a high efficiency system, it’s roughly twice the efficiency rate of the first solar cells. With advances and innovations coming on a daily basis, some laboratory tests have produced cells that achieve over 40% efficiency, and new products are becoming available all the time. Keep your eyes open, do your research, and you might be shocked at what hits the market in the coming months.
Solar power spent a long time in its infancy, but so did coal and hydro-electric power. There’s currently a boom in the field of solar technology, and many ways to overcome even the most challenging aspects of your install location. For more details, check out companies like AAA Solar Source.