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Most Efficient Solar Panels Guide

Most Efficient Solar Panels Guide

Australia is one of the best places in the world for solar panels because of our sunny climate, and because of this, we have a great range of energy-efficient solar panels available to us.

However, this can be tricky because so much choice means that finding the right option for you can feel overwhelming.

We’ve put together a list of the most efficient solar panels, as well as some important things you need to think about when deciding on a solar panel system.

Most Efficient Solar Panels Guide

Efficiency by brand

There are two main numbers that you need to pay attention to when comparing brands of solar panels and that is output and efficiency. The output refers to the amount of energy that the system is capable of producing, and the efficiency is the percentage of the sun’s energy that the solar panel can convert into electricity.

Topping the list of energy-efficient solar panel brands is SunPower, with an output of 400W at an efficiency of 22.8%. Next on the list is LG, with an output of 380W and an efficiency of 21.7%. Third is Q Cells with an output of 340W and an efficiency of 20.3%. All three of these sit well above industry standards for both measures.

What is the industry standard efficiency of solar panels?

Average efficiency for solar panel systems sits around 15% to 20%, with only the top brands sitting at about that 20% level. This increase in efficiency will often come with a price increase, but the higher price will result in more energy produced, and the potential for savings down the line.

It’s important to note that efficiency is not only about the brand of solar panels, but can also be influenced by how and where the panels are placed, as well as the orientation and temperature.

How can I make the most of my solar panels?

Because of the cost difference between higher and lower efficiency solar panels, it’s important to get as much bang for your buck as possible. If your home has ample roof space, it may be more cost-effective for you to invest in more, lower-efficiency solar panels. High-efficiency solar panels are likely to be the right option for you if you have more limited roof space, or if you have a particularly high energy need in your home.

In addition to the efficiency of your solar panel brand, you can make the most of the energy you receive by being considerate of the other factors that impact efficiency. You can work with your installers to ensure you maximise the efficiency by placing your panels at the best angle and orientation, avoiding any shading that will prevent the sun from reaching your panels.

How can I make the most of my solar panels

Will solar panels get more efficient?

Scientists and manufacturers are constantly innovating and advancing the technology used in solar panels. This intense scientific attention means that advancements are happening all the time, and this trickles down into the commercial market.

Even just 10 years ago, the industry standard for efficiency was around 12%, and today’s efficiencies of up to 23% would have been completely unthought of. That almost 50% improvement in such a short time is an indication of where the industry is headed. Experts have suggested that in the coming years, solar panel efficiency could go as high as 30%-40%.

In addition to the increases in efficiency, scientists are continuously experimenting with new materials to create thinner and better panels. Recent developments such as the introduction of the new semiconducting material perovskites have allowed for huge advancements, and are now present in most solar panels you can purchase.

Why consider more efficient solar panels?

More efficient solar panels generally do cost more than their less efficient counterparts, so is it worth it to invest in them? The most impactful reason why you might choose more efficient solar panels is that they will simply produce more energy.

More energy produced means more savings for you in the long term, and there are a couple of scenarios in which this might be of major benefit.

Why consider less efficient solar panels

The second scenario is if you are a home that uses a high amount of power and is looking to cut your electricity bill substantially. If you own an electric car, or one or more family member works from home, your energy consumption is going to be higher and higher efficiency panels are likely going to get you closer to your goal of minimising your energy bill.

The first scenario is one we already touched on briefly, and that is if you have limited roof space on which to install solar panels. Higher efficiency panels are going to get you a lot closer to producing the amount of power that you use throughout your home during daylight hours.

Why consider less efficient solar panels?

The cost of highly efficient solar panels is undoubtedly daunting, and it’s a big reason why a lot of people end up choosing lower-efficiency solar panels. As previously discussed, lower-efficiency panels may be a more cost-effective option if you do have the roof space.

The other important thing to consider is that solar panels’ efficiency rating doesn’t tell the whole story. Even the highest efficiency solar panels won’t produce electricity in the wrong environments. If you live in an area where the weather is frequently overcast or rainy, it will take you a lot longer to recoup your investment, so you may not want to choose the more costly option.

Can I increase the efficiency of my existing solar panel system?

The efficiency of your solar panel system will change over time and the right solar maintenance can help maintain the efficiency of your system over time. There are also a few gadgets you can invest in to increase the efficiency of your solar panels and ensure they capture as many of the sun’s rays as possible.

A solar tracker is a fantastic tool that rotates the panels throughout the day to follow the sun. This ensures that your panels stay at the most effective angle for capturing energy as the sun moves throughout the sky.

If a solar tracker isn’t right for you, you could instead consider adjusting the orientation of your solar panels to maximise their exposure to the sun. Here in Australia, facing your solar panels north could produce up to 20% more power as compared with other orientations.

Another tool that you can use to increase the efficiency of your solar panels is to use solar concentrators. There is a risk of overheating with concentrators, but they can increase the output by as much as 50%.

You can also increase your solar panel output with solar call glazing. This not only helps to protect your panels from the elements, but also reduces surface reflections and improves
performance.

Can I increase the efficiency of my existing solar panel system

In summary

The best way to maintain the performance and efficiency of your solar panel system over time is to have it maintained regularly by a professional. Ensuring that your system is clean and in good working order will ensure that you have the most energy-efficient solar panels you can for years to come.

Do Solar Panels Save You Money?

Do Solar Panels Save You Money?

Solar panels are fast becoming the standard for Australian homes, and you’re unlikely to see a new build or renovation without them. The benefits to our planet are undeniable, but the question of cost remains. Solar panels can come with a pretty hefty upfront price tag, but are they worth it in the long run?

The short answer to the question do solar panels save you money is yes, especially when you think about the 20+ year lifespan of most solar panel systems. They will pay themselves off within about 3 to 4 years, after which you are left with pure savings. Solar panels are also likely to increase the value of your home immediately, meaning you can sell or rent at a higher price.

Do Solar Panels Save You Money

How much money could I save?

How much money do solar panels save? The answer to this question depends on where in Australia you live. There are different policies affecting the price which vary state-to-state. The second factor which will impact your savings is how many panels you have since that determines how much energy your solar panel system produces.

If we average the savings out across the country, 6 panels will save you about $690 per year, 8 panels will save you $986 per year, and 12 panels could save you $1,478 per year. If you are investing in an even larger system, the savings continue to grow. At the largest end, 32 panels will save you an average of $3,952 per year, although of course that many panels is not realistic for most Australian homes.

The third factor that will impact your saving potential will be how much power you use in your home. If your home eats up a lot of energy, you are likely to save more than if your home is already energy efficient. Your home’s energy usage will also determine the size of the solar panel system that will work best for you.

How Does The Solar Saving Work

How does the solar saving work?

When we talk about saving money with solar panels, we are referring to paying less in utility costs, since you will be producing your electricity with your solar panel system. If you think about what you normally pay for electricity over the cost of a year and compare it with the savings outlined above.

What you are doing by using solar panels is cutting down on your home’s dependence on the power grid, creating your power either for direct use or by feeding power into the grid. There are a couple of different ways the savings could work in practice based on which of these options you go with.

If you are using the energy that you produce in your home then you will save money by not drawing from the power grid. Depending on how large your solar panel system is, you will likely not be able to cover all of your power using solar panels, but you should still see a significant saving.

If you are using feed-in tariffs, this means that you are selling the energy your home produces directly back to the grid, and your energy bill is reduced that way. Once again your bill is unlikely to be zero, depending on how good your home is at conserving energy, but you will still see significant savings.

When will I start to see savings?

Once your solar panel system is fully up and running, you will start to see savings right from your first power bill. It can be tricky to predict the exact saving that you should see, but a range of about 50 to 80% reduction is what you should be looking for.

The amount you save each month will fluctuate depending on environmental factors which impact your solar panel’s efficiency. During cloudy or rainy weather your solar panels won’t be able to absorb sunshine and will therefore produce far less power. This means that you can expect lower savings during winter or other overcast periods. Solar panels also struggle during high heat and are not able to work as efficiently. This means that your savings may also decrease during significant heatwaves.

Could I earn money with a solar panel system?

Using feed-in tariffs specifically could allow you to save money, but that would only happen if your home produces more power than you use, which is not the case for most homes with solar panels. It is also important to note that your contribution to the power grid won’t result in a cash payment. Instead, you will get a credit that is rolled over into your next month’s bill.

There is a more assured way to earn money through solar panels, and that is with the value bump your home is likely to see with solar panels. If you sell your home, your listing price will be higher, and if it is being rented, you will be able to charge more in rent because the savings will be passed on to your tenants.

Could I earn Money with a solar panel system3

How much does solar panel installation cost?

There are several factors to consider when trying to estimate the cost of a solar panel installation, including solar panel system size, type, and ease of installation. With all of those factors balanced out, you could be looking to pay anywhere from $2,500 for a 4-panel system, up to $13,000 for a 27-panel system. For a standard size home, the price is likely to sit around $3,500 – $6,000.

There are options for solar panel systems that sit below this price point, but with solar panels, it’s important to note that you do get what you pay for. Solar panel systems should run for around 20 – 25 years with proper maintenance, but that won’t be the case if the quality of your components is sub-par.

If $3,500 – $6,000 sounds like a lot of money to you, there are plenty of options to help you out. The first of these is the Solar Rebate Scheme, which allows you to get a subsidy for your installation.

For the rest of the outlay, there are several alternatives to paying out of pocket. You can add it to your mortgage at your current interest rates so you can pay it off over time. Depending on a few factors, you might even find that your solar panel system pays for itself immediately.

does the weather in my area impact my savings

Does the weather in my area impact my savings

We are lucky enough in Australia to live in a beautiful and sunny country, but some places certainly do get more sunlight than others. Solar panels only produce energy when they are exposed to direct, unobstructed sunlight.

If your area tends to be cloudier and rainier, then it may not produce energy every day of the year. The good news is that cloudier places tend to be cooler, and solar panels are more efficient in cooler weather. Above 25°C, solar panels become less efficient.

All types of weather in Australia have their pros and cons when it comes to solar panels. In a place like Queensland, where temperatures exceed 25°C most of the year, solar panels will still be a great investment because the consistent sunlight makes up for the loss of efficiency.

In the western states, where temperatures can be lower and weather can be more overcast, your solar panels may not capture as much sunlight but they will work more efficiently in the cooler weather.

If your solar panel system has a battery, you will also be able to store the energy produced for use during nighttime or overcast days. If you don’t have a battery you are likely to be utilising feed-in tariffs and because of that, you will still save money. The energy that you produce will be fed back into the power grid no matter the time of day. You will receive a larger discount when your solar panels produce energy during peak hours.

Regardless of the weather in your area, your solar panel system will pay for itself in the long run. It will just be a question of how long that takes.

Do Solar Panels Save You Money?

Without a doubt, solar panels will save you money in the long run. Your utility bill will immediately come down, and the initial outlay is likely to be repaid in around 3-4 years. Your solar panel system is likely to last up to 25 years, so after your investment is paid off, every utility bill from there will provide pure savings.

Not only will solar panels save you money, but they will also produce clean energy which has long-term positive impacts on the environment, and help make Australia a more eco-friendly place. Eco-friendly technologies are only becoming more popular, and it is likely that the value of your home will increase because of your investment.

Do Solar Panels Make Noise?

Do Solar Panels Make Noise?

Solar panels are becoming a more and more common feature of Australian homes, and they bring with them enormous benefits. They save their users money on their electricity bills, and they reduce emissions, helping all of us to create a more eco-friendly country.

Not only are solar panels great for the environment and your wallet, but they’re also very quiet. Solar panels do not contain any moving parts, and because of this, you can expect them to run and produce electricity without a lot of noise.

Do solar panels make noise when they are not running correctly? If you are noticing that your solar panel system is making noise, it could be a sign that something is going wrong. Read on to find out some of the likely causes of solar panel noise, and how you can easily fix it.

Do Solar Panels Make Noise

Loose Racking

Unless your home has a shingled or tiled roof, installers attach solar panels by placing racking directly onto the roof and installing the panels over these. They will then install inverter power kits, and run the cables through the roof into your home.

If this racking is not installed correctly or is not screwed in tight enough, this could cause noise as the system moves around more than it’s supposed to on windy days. If you’re hearing rattling or scraping noises, it’s likely this is the culprit.

The fix for this problem is easy. Give your installer a call and ask them to come back and tighten the racking on your roof.

Loose Cabling

With any solar panel system, cables running across your roof is very normal. These cables should be tightly secured so they don’t flap around and bang on the roof. If they come loose or are not installed correctly, these cables can become pretty frustrating and produce a lot of noise when the wind picks up. 

If you are hearing your solar panels making a banging noise, you could have loose cables. As with loose racking, the solution is to get in touch with your installer and let them know about the problem so they can fix it.

Solar inverters

Do solar inverters make noise? Solar inverters are the one part of solar panel systems that you can expect to produce a bit of noise. A solar inverter is the piece of the system that converts the direct power captured by solar panels into alternating current electricity that your home runs on.

If you’ve ever asked: do solar panels make a humming noise, the answer is yes. The process of converting power will see your inverter producing a humming noise, that will be audible only during the day when your solar panel system is actively capturing and producing energy. Different inverter types and brands will produce different levels of noise, but these noises should never exceed a whisper.

The two types of fan cooling systems might also be contributing to the noise. Inverters that use fans tend to be noisier, as the fans run faster as the inverter heats up. If you find the noise of the fan annoys you, it might be worth considering a heat sink inverter instead.

Are Solar Inverters Noisy?

For this reason, it’s important to consider the placement of your inverter. If it’s too close to living and sleeping areas, it may become a nuisance to those who are very noise-sensitive. Consider placing it or moving it as far from the commonly used areas of your home as you can. The garage is the perfect place to have an inverter if possible.

Differently shaped roofs

Roofs typically fall into one of three shapes, all of which can easily support solar panels. If your home is older or has a more unique roof shape, you may run into problems.

Some roof shapes push wind through the space underneath and around the solar panels. This can create a whistling or howling noise that can be loud and annoying. If the noise is unbearable, solar panels can be shifted on your roof, or potentially laid flat rather than sitting raised on racking.

Noise during rainfall

Solar panels should not make any additional noise when it rains, because they are raised slightly by the racking and don’t sit flush with your roof. The noise from rainfall may therefore even be reduced, but it should never increase.

When it hails, you may hear more noise, which is normal for solid objects like hailstones hitting your roof and your solar panels. If you a hearing more noise than is normal during rain or hail, contact your installer.

Noise during night time

Noise during nighttime

Solar panel systems don’t operate at nighttime because of the lack of sunlight, so inverter noise should be nonexistent. If your inverter is still humming or making other noises at nighttime, that is a sign of potential problems. 

You may still hear noises coming from the panels themselves at nighttime, whether from wind, hail, or animals moving around your roof. These noises should never be enough to wake you from your sleep. The only noise that may be able to do this is extremely high winds that cause a tunnel whistling effect. This should only ever happen during rare weather, and if it is happening frequently, that could be a sign your panels need to be adjusted.

Birds and other animals running over the roof

Animals running over your roof can create quite a racket, and if they cause your solar panels to hit your roof and make a crashing noise, it may even get you up from bed. This is a fairly common problem depending on where you live, and the great news is that there is a fairly simple solution.

Installing rubber or other soft pads between the solar panels and the roof will help absorb impact and significantly reduce the noise, not only of animals climbing on your roof but of many different kinds of movement.

Birds over the roof with solar panels

What if my solar panels get noisier over time?

Solar panel systems, depending on the type, generally have a lifespan of around 30 years. If you are noticing that your solar panel is getting noisier as it ages, this could be a sign of normal wear and tear. 

Wind and other environmental factors will wear at your solar panel system over time, which means that screws may come loose and noise might begin to increase. If this does happen, you can get your installer to come and tighten and fix things as needed.

For the lifespan of your solar panel system, you may opt for a maintenance plan so that these potential issues are fixed long before they become frustrating. You can chat with your installer about your options.

Fix solar panels with a qualified solar installer

How to fix solar panel noise

If your roof is making loud banging or scraping noises that lead you to think something has come loose, you should get in touch with your installer as soon as possible. The sooner you can get the issue seen to, the less likely it is to become a larger problem over time. 

If you are finding your inverter making noise, it’s possible that the noise you’re hearing is normal running noise. If your inverter cools itself using a fan, it will naturally create more noise as the fan works during sunlight hours.

If you’re finding that your inverter is making excessive noise, your inverter may need to be replaced. Solar inverters have a lifespan of around 10 years and generally will need to be replaced long before the 30-year lifespan of the whole system.

Solar panel farm noises

The major exception to solar panel systems not making any noise is solar farms or large solar panel systems. This is often due to the use of much larger inverters which, because of their size and the amount of energy that needs to pass through them.

The noise produced by these types of solar panel systems will always be far greater than any noise your at-home system will make, as these systems will generally be louder as they get larger.

In summary

Solar panel systems should be silent since there are no moving mechanical parts. With heavy winds or movement, there may be some sound but it should never be disturbingly loud. The only part of your solar panel system that may make some noise as it’s running is the inverter, which will hum quietly as it converts power into usable energy for your home.

How Does Solar Work?

How Does Solar Work?

Solar energy is the most abundant energy source we have. If we count up all of the solar energy that hits the earth’s surface, we could power the world 10,000 times over.

This energy abundance is why solar is fast becoming one of the most popular energy sources for homes and businesses alike.

Not only is solar power abundant, but it is also key in combatting climate change. It provides a clean, affordable, and environmentally friendly energy alternative to legacy power sources such as coal-burning and gas.

So how does solar work?

How Does Solar Work

What is Solar Energy?

When people refer to “solar energy”, they are referring to power from the sun that is converted into electricity using solar panels and other technology. Solar can produce both heat and electricity, depending on the technology being used.

Australia in particular, has the highest solar radiation of any continent, making it one of the most fruitful places to employ solar energy. Despite this, Australia has a long way to go to fully embrace this underutilised resource of ours.

Solar energy can power our homes and our businesses with ease. Many solar panel systems can even store excess energy production on sunny days that can be used at nighttime, or on overcast days.

How does solar energy work?

The sun is essentially a giant nuclear reactor that produces energy called photons. These photons travel through space and many eventually reach earth. Enough photons reach the earth’s surface every day that we could meet our energy needs for a year if we captured them all.

You may have heard of PV when it comes to solar panels before, but most people don’t know what it stands for. When photons reach the earth, some are collected by photovoltaic (PV) cells in our solar panels. The energy that this produces creates the electricity that we can then use in the electricity grid.

When photons meet with PV solar cells, they knock electrons away from their atoms. Conductors are attached to both the positive and negative sides of a cell which creates an electric field that is similar to a battery.

There has been, in recent years, a significant rise in the uptake of solar energy, but even with that, PV power accounts for only a fraction of a per cent of the energy consumed in Australia. As solar becomes more affordable and accessible, usage is predicted to increase. Solar energy is the fastest-growing source of power globally and continues to break growth records.

Solar Energy Use Increasing

How does a solar panel produce energy?

PV solar panels produce energy that flows in one direction around the circuit, known as direct current or DC energy. In the same way a battery works, electrons move from the negative side to the positive side, and then back around to the positive side. This movement generates electricity.

There is also a second type of energy production that a solar panel system may be performing, depending on the type. This is called alternating current (AC) electricity. With AC, electrons are sent in reversing directions, always being pushed and pulled to the positive and negative sides of the circuit.

Systems create AC power by spinning a coil of wire beside a magnet. The spinning coil is being turned by solar electricity, which is how it produces power. Several larger-scale solar systems use AC because it is easier to transmit over long distances. Most home solar panel systems, however, produce DC electricity.

What does a solar inverter do?

AC and DC power are not compatible with the same systems, and yet they somehow have to coexist on the same power grids. This is where solar inverters became essential. A solar inverter takes DC electricity produced by most home solar panel systems and converts it into AC power for use on the grid.

These are essential if your energy production is being fed back into the grid, which it often will be. Especially if you are using that feed-in to reduce your energy bills, a solar inverter is one of the most critical parts of your solar panel system.

Solar inverters also provide safety defence, such as ground fault protection. Additionally, they give essential system stats around voltage, current, energy production, and maximum power point tracking.

There are two main types of inverters:

Central inverters

Central inverters have long been the more present type of inverter because home solar panel systems have become more popular.

Micro-invertors

Micro-inverters can optimise each panel, rather than covering an entire solar panel system.

Having each solar panel optimised with an inverter allows each panel to perform at its maximum potential, allowing it to produce more energy. Central inverters, by contrast, can be impacted by a problem in one panel. This impacts the efficiency of the entire system.

Central and Micro Inverters

Can solar panels store energy?

Many modern solar panel systems can store energy using solar batteries. These allow solar panel users to store the excess power on-site. Solar panels will generally produce more than enough power on sunny days, which a battery will then store for use at night or in overcast ways.

This is a great option for people who want to get more ‘off-the-grid’, however, depending on your energy usage and the size of your solar panel system, you may not be able to produce enough power for your whole home all the time.

Most homes with solar panels are still connected to the grid to draw power from when they need it. There is another reason that you might want to remain hooked up to the grid, and that is to sell the energy that your solar panels produce back to the grid.

Net metering allows you to send energy that your solar panel system creates, but that you don’t immediately need back to the grid to be used by other homes and buildings. This is an alternative to having a battery connected to your system and can mean that you save a significant amount of money on your power bills. In some cases, depending on your energy usage and the amount of sun, you may even get a small payment from your energy provider.

Does the weather impact solar panels?

Solar panels rely entirely on photons produced by the sun to create energy, so how does solar work when the sun is hidden by clouds?

Lack of sun does impede a solar panel system’s ability to produce power, but it may not completely stop it. If there is still some light cutting through, solar panels will still capture that and create power. It will just be at a significantly lower output level.

The weather can also affect solar panels in a surprising way. If you think that the perfect weather for solar energy is a warm, sunny summer’s day, you’d be wrong. Solar panels do work best in unobstructed sunshine, but they also operate most effectively in colder weather. As temperatures rise, solar panel efficiency dips, and panels will produce less electricity from the photons hitting the panel’s surface.

On average, solar panels will still produce more power in summer than in winter, despite the heat. Summer tends to have more sunny days, and despite the drop in efficiency, solar panels will still produce more power over the season than in winter.

Will solar panels save you money?

Many factors will impact the amount you can save with solar panels. The first is the weather in your area. How much sun you get throughout a season and a year will impact how many photons your solar panel system can capture and turn into energy. Similarly, how warm it gets will impact how efficiently your system can perform that process.

Whether you choose to use net metering or store your excess energy in a battery is also likely to have an impact on how much money you can save. With either system, you are still likely to need to draw power from the grid on occasion, so your energy bill will be significantly lower, but probably not zero every season.

Will Solar Save You Money

Solar panel systems also require regular maintenance, which will keep them running at a higher capacity for longer. Your solar panel provider should be able to discuss with you your options for a maintenance plan to help ensure periodic checks are being carried out.

The type of inverter you choose to use will also have a significant effect on how efficient your solar panels will be. A central inverter may mean that your whole system loses efficiency when there’s a problem with one panel, whereas micro-inverters can ensure top efficiency for all panels without issues.

In summary

Solar panels are a fantastic investment, and over the long term they will not only save a lot of emissions from energy production, but they can also save you a lot of money. With enough sun, a good maintenance plan, and great solar equipment, you can ensure your solar panel system is always running at high efficiency, producing power, and bringing your energy bill down.

Do Solar Panels Work At Night?

Do Solar Panels Work At Night?

Solar panels are becoming more and more popular as more people begin to see their enormous value. Not only do they make your home more environmentally friendly and sustainable, but they also can save you a huge amount of money on electricity over time.

It’s important when considering investing in solar panels to have a good understanding of exactly how they work and what they can and cannot do. One of the most common questions asked by people who are new to solar panels is: do solar panels work at night?

The short answer to this question of do solar panels work at night is no, solar panels don’t produce electricity at nighttime.

Do Solar Panels Work At Night?

Solar panels need light from the sun to create energy. They can use other sources of light, such as moonlight and street lamps to generate power, but the output is negligible from these sources. Because of this, most solar panels are designed to turn off at night, meaning they will not produce any energy outside of sunlight hours.

So without any energy production, how does solar work at night to keep electricity flowing in your home? Solar panels work efficiently during the day to produce energy, and often produce more power than your home needs. Consider that during the day, when your home is naturally lit and warmed by the sun, you likely aren’t using a lot of electricity anyway. Especially on weekdays where the whole family is at work or school and there’s no one home to use power. This excess power is then stored for later use.

How does your solar panel system store electricity with a battery?

Most solar panel systems have a battery as part of their hardware. This battery stores surplus power produced during the day, which is then available to power your home at nighttime.

There are several different types of batteries with different storage capacities, which impact how much energy you can store and use at nighttime. Some larger batteries allow solar panel homes to operate completely off-the-grid, meaning that they don’t have to draw any external power.

How does your solar panel system store electricity without a battery?

Not every solar panel system has a battery to store energy built into the system. Those that don’t can still take advantage of the excess electricity produced during the daytime using net metering.

Net metering is a system where your excess energy is exported to the power grid for use elsewhere. You are then rewarded with credits that reduce your power bill. You aren’t storing the power your solar panel system produces but in effect selling it.

Net metering is not the right solution for those people hoping to permanently get off the grid, because it relies on the grid to both give and receive electricity. Instead, it works well for those in urban areas who are wanting to live in harmony with the infrastructure around them.

How Net Metering Works Diagram

Do solar panels work when there’s no sun?

Solar panels aren’t producing electricity at nighttime, but what about on days where the sun is hidden behind clouds, rain, or snowfall? As long as there is some UV filtering down, your solar panels will continue to produce energy, just at a reduced capacity.

Rainfall in particular, though it reduces your solar panel system’s output, may still benefit your solar panel system in another way. Rain washes away debris, dirt, and anything else that may be covering parts of your solar panels. This means that next time the sun is out, your panels will be able to work more efficiently.

In Australia, we are lucky enough to live in a country where lack of sunlight is far less of an issue than in other parts of the world. Depending on where you are, your panels are likely to be soaking in plenty of sunlight year-round. If you are in a cloudy area though, the reduced capacity during overcast days does not mean that solar panels are only worthwhile in sunny areas. Your solar panels will still be producing energy, and may even benefit from the cooler temperatures.

In overcast conditions, your system is still producing the electricity that it can from the sunlight available, but it may still rely somewhat on a battery or on the grid to ensure your home is getting the power that it needs.

Factors that impact solar panel efficiency

Several factors impact the efficiency of your solar panels during the daytime, which will then impact how much electricity you have available to use when the sun goes down.

Hours of sunlight

The first is the amount of sunlight that your panels can absorb during daylight hours. Shorter winter days will produce less energy than long sunny summer days. Similarly, cloudy overcast days will reduce output significantly. You can expect output around 10-25% of sunny days with cloud cover.

Daytime temperature

Perhaps counterintuitively, solar panel output is also reduced by very high temperatures. Although most systems are designed to be resistant to heat, productivity does take a hit above around 25 degrees celsius. This means that cloud cover can benefit your solar panel system if it is helping keep the temperature down.

Panel placement

Solar panel placement is another factor that hugely impacts electricity output. Solar panels cannot work at maximum efficiency if they are in a shaded area, and they also can’t be as efficient as they could be if they aren’t placed facing the sun at the hottest part of the day.

Age

Age is another factor that will impact your solar panel system’s efficiency. Systems generally remain at peak efficiency for the first 25 years, with proper care of course. After this, they will generally still function, just at a continuously reducing capacity.

Maintenance

For those first 25 years, you are likely to have some sort of maintenance agreement with your solar panel provider. Proper maintenance is another important factor in ensuring maximum output from your solar panel system. Make sure you are working with your provider to ensure they are doing everything they can, and you are doing everything you can to make sure your solar panels stay in great condition and have maximum energy output.

Factors Effecting Solar Panel Efficiency

All of these factors, plus the capacity of your battery, will have an impact on how much electricity you will have available for use at nighttime. If you don’t have enough power stored, your system will automatically switch and draw power from the energy grid. This will increase your energy bill, so it pays to keep an eye on how frequently this is happening. It could be a sign to look at reducing your power consumption, allowing you to keep your energy costs down.

Are solar panels still worth it if they aren’t producing power at night?

Do solar panels work at night? They don’t produce electricity but they can store and distribute it, or they can sell power back to the grid. Solar panels allow you to run a more eco-friendly home, whilst also saving money on your power bill. Most households use significantly more power in the evenings after the sun goes down, and without your solar panels to produce energy during these dark hours, it’s understandable to wonder if it’s still worth it.

With batteries or net metering to help take advantage of all the excess power your system is producing during the day, your solar panels will certainly still be worth it come nightfall. Batteries or net metering work well for different kinds of homes, and your solar panel provider can help you understand which option is right for you.

Solar panels will also help protect you from the rising cost of electricity because any power that you produce with your system will cost you nothing to use. You may still need to pay for some electricity at nighttime, but solar panels will ensure you pay far less. If you want to pay nothing, you’ll want to consider the efficiency factors we discussed above, and also look at how you can reduce your energy consumption during the daytime and nighttime.

In summary

Do solar panels work at night? Solar panel systems do not produce energy at night, but they are well equipped to ensure that your home is powered while the sun is down, by using either a battery to store power or with net metering to sell power back to the grid.

The amount of energy that is available for use at nighttime is dependent on a range of factors that impact the efficiency of your solar panel system during the daytime. There are factors such as cloud cover, sunlight hours, and temperature that are out of your control, but there are also factors that are within your control. Keeping up with solar panel system maintenance, making sure panels are positioned correctly, and removing any shade over solar panels are all steps you can take to ensure high efficiency. Great solar panel efficiency during the day ensures more energy to use at night and a lower energy bill.

Solar Panel Output: Winter vs Summer

Solar Panel Output: Winter vs Summer

Solar panels are a significant investment, and in summer when the sun is shining everyday there is no doubt that you’ll be getting your money’s worth. But are solar panels less efficient in winter?

Solar panels produce more power in summer, because there is more direct sunlight. Solar panels are however, more efficient in winter because of the cooler temperatures.

There are also a number of tips and tricks you can use to help make sure your energy output isn’t hampered by the colder weather. Taking care of your solar panels in the winter, and understanding the incentives available to you will help you save money on your power bill.

Solar Panel Output Winter vs Summer

Solar panel efficiency in winter

The solar panel output winter vs summer in most locations is a lot more similar than you might think. In most locations, solar panels still function in the winter, just at a lower production level. You can expect a reduction in energy production of about 32% on average due to the reduced sunlight hours and increased cloud coverage.

This is not, however, the end of the story. When the weather dips, solar panels work more efficiently. Solar panels get less efficient in temperatures higher than 25 degrees so winter allows them to produce power more easily. They will still produce a lower overall output generally, because of the reduction in sunlight, but the lower the temperature, the more efficiently your solar panels will work.

Air temperature greater than 25 degrees, which is most summer days in many parts of Australia, decreases the efficiency of your solar panels. In fact, for every degree above 25 degrees, the efficiency of your solar panels drops by 0.5%.

Overall, your solar panels will still produce more power in the summer, but with less efficiency because of the higher temperatures. Winter months, when temperatures are colder, is far better for your solar panels to produce power with a higher degree of efficiency.

Solar panel output winter vs summer: Daytime Hours

From the months of November to February, the days get longer and solar panels can soak up almost 6 hours more sunlight on those long summer days. Conversely, as the days get shorter moving towards winter, your solar panels don’t receive the same amount of light.

The other major factor that influences your solar panel output winter vs summer is the time of day. The angle of the sun’s rays have a significant impact on the power output of solar panels.

In summer, the sun sits higher in the sky, allowing rays to hit solar panels more directly. This results in a higher energy output than in winter, when the sun sits lower in the sky and rays hit the panels at a less direct angle.

During the winter, the sun’s rays also travel a little slower, and by the time the light reaches the solar panels it has spread out and covers a larger area which also reduces the direct rays and decreases energy output.

Average Daily Sunshine Hours For Popular Australian Cities

The impacts of snow

In Australia, very few places have to deal with snow luckily, but there are a few exceptions. So do solar panels work in the winter if it’s snowing? When snow falls and covers areas of your solar panels, it will reduce the output to zero. Snow blocks the light from hitting your solar panel at all, which can make solar panel’s winter output even lower.

The good news is that even if the output is lower, snow won’t damage your solar panels. Solar panels are built to be incredibly resilient and can withstand the weight of snow with ease.

If your solar panel output is being impeded by snow, there is nothing you can do but wait for it to melt so that your solar panels can be exposed to the sunlight again. Clearing snow off your solar panels manually by brushing it off is not recommended. Clearing snow manually can void the warranty of some solar panel brands because of the damage clearing snow can cause.

Because solar panels are dark coloured, and designed to soak up heat, they will melt any snow that’s rested on them quickly. You may lose an hour or two of electricity production, but that will luckily be the only negative impact of snow on your solar panels.

Frost, a more common concern for Australians across the country, is also not harmful to solar panels. Frost also has the effect of blocking rays of light from being absorbed by solar panels. Frost will melt quite quickly in the sun, so the only thing to do when frost coates your solar panels is wait.

How to keep your power bill low in winter

Do solar panels produce less in winter? Yes, but does that mean your energy bill will skyrocket in the colder months? Not necessarily. The lower production can be offset using net metering, or just by rethinking the way you heat your home in winter.

Australian summers generally require an aircon to be running at least most of the day, but in winter there are more options. Heating your home with gas or an open fireplace will straight away reduce your bills in winter.

Impacts Of Snow On Solar Panels

You can also feedback excess energy into the grid and get credits for this power that you can use when the sun isn’t shining. Because you are generally not using as much power in winter as you are in summer when the air conditioner runs all day long you’ll likely have more credits to use at night time.

Using feed-in tariffs

Another great way to reduce your energy bill is to find the best feed-in tariff available. You might have to rely on the energy grid for power during the winter, but feed-in tariffs allow you to take advantage of rebates from utility companies. They will take the energy you don’t use and feed it back into the grid.

These are incentives that are designed to encourage more people to install solar panels, and they can also help you save a lot of money. Different energy providers offer different feed-in rates so it’s important to shop around to make sure you’re getting the best rate possible.

If you find a great tariff rate, your energy bill will be dramatically reduced. You may still have to pay a small amount in winter depending on how much power you use.

Keeping your solar panels in good condition

You don’t need to be too worried about your solar panel output winter vs summer, because the lower output is somewhat balanced out by lower power usage, and higher solar panel efficiency. There are, however, some things you can do to help keep your solar panels in great condition this winter.

Before winter begins, take some time to clean your solar panels, cleaning off any accumulated dirt. Be careful when you do this to only use non-abrasive cleaning products and tools to help preserve your panels.

You can also prune any leaves or branches that overhang your solar panels. This will prevent any scratching and will also allow your panels to capture as much light as possible without any shade in the way.

Keeping Your Solar Panels In Good Condition

Making the most of the winter sun

The sun still shines in winter, especially if you’re lucky enough to live in places like Queensland. It shines for fewer hours in the day, and is generally more dispersed and less direct, which is why even in the sunniest places, output still decreases during the winter.

If you can change the angle of your solar panels during winter, this is another excellent way to capture more light in winter. When the sun is lower in winter, you ideally want your solar panels to face north. You can get even more precise and turn them to the exact right angle for your city by checking with the Clean Energy Council.

Do Solar Panels Work In The Winter

How to achieve energy independence during winter

Energy independence is when you no longer need to rely on the power grid to produce energy for your home. This is trickier during winter when your solar panel’s energy output is lower. A battery can help solve the problem of energy inconsistency by storing excess energy.

With a battery, you can store excess energy produced during sunnier days, and use that power during overcast days and nights. This won’t take you all the way to energy independence, but it’s a big step in the right direction.

In summary

To sum up, solar panels are an excellent investment all year round, despite a decrease in sunlight during the winter. Because solar panels are more efficient in producing power during winter and homes generally use less power during winter, you may not notice a huge difference in your power bill during winter.