Solar panels are seeing widespread adoption all over the world. Not only is solar technology becoming more and more affordable with time, it is currently humanity’s best bet to stem the tide of climate change. In the future, solar technology is going to only become more and more popular and ubiquitous. Solar panels today last far longer, have better performance and are far more efficient than panels of the past. With governments from America to Europe and China to Australia setting ambitious net zero goals, it is safe to say that solar technology is all set to be humanity’s next staple source of energy. Commercial enterprises have already caught onto the idea of free energy and many businesses in not just Australia are spending fortunes on installing solar panels. Business leaders have long since decided that solar energy is the next logical step to increased profit margins, and we are seeing more commercial purchases. Solar panels not only help big corporations increase profit margins, but they also empower small businesses by reducing overhead costs and increasing energy independence. In 2018, Australian businesses had installed 78,000 commercial and industrial rooftop solar PV systems. As it stands, Australia leads the world in rooftop solar installations for residences and businesses. Every day, 2000 small to mid-sized solar panels are installed on the roofs of Australian businesses. Most businesses, however, are not doing enough to maintain the efficiency of their solar panels during their lifespan. Not properly maintaining your panels can reduce their efficiency and cost your business money. Fortunately, Integra Solar is here to help you maintain the efficiency of your solar panels for as long as possible and obtain the maximum possible output from your PV systems.
Tip 1: Buy the Best Solar Modules You Can Afford
Solar panels are made of photovoltaic cells. These cells are what covert sunlight into electricity. And while it would be awesome, unfortunately solar panels cannot convert all the sunlight that strikes their surface into electricity. Nevertheless, solar cell technology has come a long way. Modern solar panels can convert far more energy into electricity than before. Panel efficiency has gone up from 10% to 17% and even 20% in some cases. But not all panels are made equal, as you may imagine, some panels are just better than others. The material used, the structure of a module, and the price usually determine the efficiency of a solar panels. Expensive solar panels are usually more efficient and last longer.
However, don’t let the price of a panel put you off purchasing it. Solar panels in Australia usually have many financing options available. And if you look past the initial price, you will find that the pros of purchasing a high-quality panel far outweigh the cons. As far as longevity, efficiency and overall use is concerned, choosing the right solar panels is the single most important choice you will have to make. While you can upgrade later, it makes less, and less financial sense given that solar panels are expensive, and they have a lot of financing options available. Think of it as buying a car. It always makes more sense to pay a bit more for a good car that will serve you well, than to buy a car that will break down much sooner and require expensive repairs. Solar panels, unlike cars, pay for themselves over time. While a cheap panel will pay for itself much sooner, an expensive panel will pay for itself and produce a profit for far longer than the cheap one. In the long run, expensive panels end up saving you more money overtime, which is what most consumers should be considering. At Integra Solar, we do our best to source any panels that a customer would want. We do not limit ourselves to a particular set of brands, yet we always recommend the best panels to our customers, from companies like RECOM, Aleo and Jolywood. In 2022, these are some of the most efficient, widely adopted and most easily available panels available on the market.
Tip 2 – Pay Attention to Panel Placement
This may seem obvious at first glance, but it really is not, unless you know how to conduct a shade analysis. Most customers do not need to know these things, since professionals will just do all the work for them, which is perfectly fine. However, if you are reading this article, then you are probably interested in maxing out the efficiency of your panels. To state the obvious one more time, solar panels need sunlight to generate electricity. Furthermore, if one panel is shaded, and if you do not have the right inverter setup to mitigate this, it will affect the efficiency of your entire system.
Most businesses operate in commercial zones in buildings or high-rise complexes. If your building or place of work is surrounded by taller buildings, your solar panels efficiency may suffer. It is best to consider every possible angle of shade before installing a panel, to make sure that your expensive and efficient panels get all the sunlight they can for as long as possible. Take all the time you need to conduct a thorough shade analysis, because it will save or cost you a lot of money depending on how it turns out.
Tip 3 – Installation is Best Left to the Experts
After placement, installation is the most important consideration. If solar panels are not installed correctly, will not receive optimal sunlight and thus their power output will suffer. This is one of the worst mistakes a business can make: purchasing an expensive and highly efficient solar panel, and then just not installing it properly. This is a preventable mistake that can end up costing your business thousands of dollars in savings. One of the key things to consider when installing panels is the tilt. Typically, solar panels should be tilted at an angle between 18 to 36 degrees to maximise sunlight exposure, and they should be facing north. Residents of the northern hemisphere should orient their panels towards the south. There are other factors to consider as well, so you might as well just call in a professional to do it for you instead. Integra Solar has over a decade of experience installing solar panels of all sizes and capacities across Australia. Give us a call and have a chat with our representative with no sales commitment.
Tip 4 – Consider Lowering the Temperature of Your Panels
One of the best things you can do to improve solar panels efficiency is by lowering its temperature. An experimental method that can work for rooftop solar panels in a commercial setting, particularly on a building with a flat roof, is using plants to reduce the surrounding ambient temperature of your solar panels. Now, we say experimental because the jury is still out on how effective this can be in the long run, but preliminary results are promising. Placing plants around a solar energy system has been proven to noticeably improve panel efficiency by reducing the temperature. In experiments conducted (we’ve written a whole article about this by the way, you might wat to give it a read), the plants not only acted as excellent methods for temperature control, but also eventually became an entire ecosystem for various non-invasive insects and birds. Th one downside was that the increase in bird traffic invariably increased the rate at which these panels had to be cleaned because of bird droppings. Nevertheless, if regular maintenance does not put you off, you might want to consider growing plants on your rooftop. Now, this is not nearly as complicated as it sounds. There are many sturdy breeds of plants that require almost no maintenance that can grow just fine on a rooftop, (again, check out our in-depth article on this). Other benefits include air filtration, (plants are excellent at keeping the air clean) and reduced stress. It is a matter of scientific consensus that exposure to nature, plants and animal life helps combat stress and anxiety. For a commercial building, this may not be a bad bargain at all.
Also be sure to have a large enough gap between your solar panels and your roof. This will allow for sufficient amounts of air to flow around your panel and prevent overheating. Sometimes, like on residences with slanted roofs, it may not be possible to leave a space between the panels and the roof. However, since most businesses are based out of buildings, this is something to keep in mind.
Tip 5 – Maintenance is Key
Speaking of cleaning your solar panels, be sure to. Solar panels do need a lot by way of maintenance and cleaning them is usually a straightforward task. All you really need is a low-pressure hose, water, some form of soap and a mop. Even just hosing down a panel will clean it adequately. Normally, panels need only be cleaned once or twice a year. Their tilt usually just causes dirt or snow to slide off, and if it rains in your area, the rain acts as another free cleaning service. That said, you should at least clean your panels at regular intervals to keep up their efficiency. Even with the rain, depending on your area, dirt accumulates on the surface with time. Over a year, without maintenance, you can expect to see a 5% drop in output, but in very dusty areas with little to no rainfall, this can be as high as 20%. Even so, cleaning you panels one a year should fix this. More than once every six months is a tad excessive, unless you live in an area where the weather makes this necessary.
Tip 6 – Monitor Your Output Through Software
Many solar panel suppliers will install solar PV systems, check the initial output and then leave. This can leave the door open for a plethora of problems, and it is not something integra Solar recommends. In contrast to this ‘install and forget’ approach, Integra Solar has a customer first approach through robust after-market sales and comprehensive customer support. If you do not monitor the amount of energy that your solar panels generate, spotting efficiency drops becomes difficult. Integra Solar helps you keep track of your power output through a number of methods listed below. But regardless of who you do business with, it is best that you are aware of the importance of tracking power output.
One of the best ways you can track your power output is through software apps. Companies like Jolywood, Aleo and RECOM offer apps that can help you keep track of your output, but there are also many third-party management software available if you want another option. Regardless of what you choose, it is best to choose a management software that is streamlined, easy to use, and can give you all the relevant data in easy to consume and understand portions. For obvious reasons, preferences are very subjective. What works for one user may not necessarily work for another, so we recommend you take a look at some apps and see what suits you best.
Well, there you have it. These are the main points you should keep in mind when considering how to increase the output of your solar panels. Remember that commercial solar panels are an excellent investment, but if they are not maintained and operated correctly, they will not be able to live up to their potential and may just become a drain on your resources. A little bit of information can go a long way, and that is why it always pays to be informed. Following these tips will help you keep your output at its maximum.