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Nov 30th 2014

Solar Panel Installation Factors that Affect Levels of Solar Energy Generation

Many variables affect the amount of solar energy output generated by your system. Though some are out of your control, knowing what these factors are before scheduling your facility’s solar panel installation can help you combat those that you can change.

Location

The more sunshine, the better! Latitude matters; your proximity to the equator affects the power generated by your system. Solar panels generate more electricity the closer you are to the equator.

Top 20 Solar Cities by Total Installed Solar PV Capacity

1. Los Angeles, CA
2. San Diego, CA
3. Phoenix, AZ
4. San Jose, CA
5. Honolulu, HI
6. San Antonio, TX
7. Indianapolis, IN
8. New York, NY
9. San Francisco, CA
10. Denver, CO
11. New Orleans, LA
12. Sacramento, CA
13. Jacksonville, FL
14. Albuquerque, NM
15. Portland, OR
16. Austin, TX
17. Las Vegas, NV
18. Newark, NJ
19. Raleigh, NC
20. Boston, MA

Weather

Fog, clouds, rain, snow and haze can all majorly impact the energy output by your solar energy system affecting the amount of sunlight that reaches your panels. As a result, the amount of energy generated can be reduced. One way to combat this factor is to ensure your system has a battery bank which can save excess energy produced on clear and sunny days.

Time

The time of day is directly correlated to the amount of solar energy produced. Although it will still produce power in the morning and late afternoon; solar energy is at its peak at noon. Summer days are longer which will offer more energy generation than shorter winter days.

Orientation of the Azimuth Angle

In the U.S., your roof ideally should face south, but a quality design can often compensate for other directions. The Azimuth angle is the compass direction from which the sunlight is coming and refers to the level of deviation from the southerly orientation. The azimuth angle varies throughout the day and varies with the latitude and time of year. The smaller it is, the higher the efficiency of the solar panel generation.

Orientation of the Tilt

Orientation of the tilt for solar panel installation is an important element to know. To get the most from solar panels, you need to point them in the direction that captures the most sun…capturing the most energy. Maximum power comes when they are perpendicular to the sun’s rays. Typically, fixed (non-adjustable) PV arrays should be tilted toward the sun’s “average” elevation—equal to the latitude of the array’s location—to capture the most year-round solar energy.

Shading Elements

Shading elements such as chimneys, ventilators, construction, etc should be taken into consideration. Inevitably, shading reduces the performance of a solar panel’s energy generation; even if just a small section of the panels are shades, the energy generation output will be reduced. Shading intervals between module rows should be considered so they do not throw a shadow on each other. Trees and neighboring buildings can affect the performance of solar panel energy generation when they cast shadows (one reason why it is so popular to place solar panels on rooftops).

Pollution

Pollution and dirt can both limit the amount of solar energy generation. Urban air pollution, smoke from forest fires and airborne ash from volcanic activity can reduce the solar resource by increasing the scattering and absorption of solar radiation. And since solar panels harvest light, it’s a given that anything that obscures light’s passage, like dirt, could affect the energy output. Even though dust can build up on solar modules, solar panels are generally self-cleaning. In most cases, you can let Mother Nature do her work and let the rain clean the modules for you. But over time, Grime and bird poop can build up. It doesn’t need to cover an entire panel to have an effect.

Understanding the solar panel installation factors that affect the amount of solar energy output generated by your system is important for your bottom line. Proper planning and smart design will help you get the most out of your PV system and improve your rate of return. Our Solar engineers will give you full analysis and let you know how much energy can be drawn with considerations such as location, obstructions and orientations. We will also provide you with the best designs that will give you maximum output.

KMB Design Group is at the forefront of the escalating solar industry, and is considered a leading consulting firm in the renewable energy field providing photovoltaic design and engineering services. Licensed in 49 states, we have the ability to work nationally without limitations.