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Location Location Location: Why Shading is Bad for Solar Systems

Posted by SEPCO on 9/20/11 9:30 AM

Lighthouse Point Solar Light

Shade is a wonderful thing, especially in the summer; however it is bad for off-grid solar power and solar lighting applications because shading robs the solar panels of its peak energy production capacity, which in turn has an adverse affect on overall system performance. Therefore, when scouting installation locations for off-grid solar powered lights and/or solar power systems, the key is to find an area that has no shading. If the needed light or powered application is located in the shade, the solar can be remotely installed and the device can be located where it is needed.

Shading issues are not always immediately apparent given the sun’s path during different times of year. Shade from trees, poles, buildings, and many other obstructions can seriously diminish the performance of solar systems.  Summer months have the sun in the highest point in the sky. However, in the winter months, the sun is lower, and if not taken into account during installation, the sun path can cause shading issues.

Lighthouse Point Solar Light

If desired installation location is hampered by shading issues, note that the solar power system can be remotely located in a non-shaded area and simply wired to the power or lighting application.  If trees are presenting a shading issue, in many cases simply trimming the trees back will eliminate the problem altogether. If buildings are what are blocking the solar from receiving full sun, install the solar on the roof of the building to maximize the efficiency.

Shade causes the solar not to absorb enough solar energy during the day to fill the batteries for use at night. Even small amounts of shade can have a great impact on the performance of the system. Making sure the solar panels face south and are not blocked by any obstructions is key to getting the most out of your solar panels.

Topics: Solar Lighting, Solar Power, Installation

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