3 Ways To Get More Power Out Of Your Solar Panels

Having solar panels installed on your home is definitely a good idea. Using solar power is an environmentally friendly choice, and becoming less dependent on fossil fuels for your home's energy needs can also save you money. However, the initial investment can be high – solar panels are expensive. That's why it's also a good idea to ensure that your solar panels are as efficient as possible, so that you get the best bang for your buck. The more efficient they are, the fewer you need to buy to get the power you need. Check out some tips that can help you increase the efficiency of your solar panels.

Ensure Your Panels are Installed Correctly

Nothing reduces the efficiency of solar panels quite like having them installed incorrectly. For optimum performance, your solar panels should face true south, assuming that you're in the northern hemisphere (solar panels in the southern hemisphere should face north). They should be angled in a way that allows them to get unobstructed sunlight through most of the daylight hours. Also, your solar panels should be raised far enough off the roof that air can move easily in the space between the panels and the roof – this prevents the solar cells from overheating, which lowers their efficiency.

If you're installing your solar panels yourself, it's important to keep these tips in mind during your DIY installation process. However, the best way to ensure that your solar panels are installed correctly and will work efficiently is to have them professionally installed by an experienced solar panel contractor.

Use a Solar Concentrator

If your solar panels are already installed and you really want to boost the power of those solar cells, you may want to look into getting a solar concentrator. These devices are usually made with mirrors, or with dyed glass. The purpose of a solar concentrator is to harness the light that's falling onto a large area, and condense it into a small area, like an individual solar cell. This way, the cell has more light to work with and can produce more power. This increases your solar panel's energy output and means that you need less cells overall to get the job done.

Someday soon, you may be able to use your old Blu-ray discs as solar cell concentrators. Researchers from Northwestern University in Illinois have discovered that the pattern encoded on Blu-ray discs to hold information is effective at trapping and concentrating light for solar cells. Applying Blu-ray patterns to solar cell surfaces was shown to improve broadband absorption by more than 21%.

Keep Your Solar Panels Clean

After you install your solar panels in a way that ensures maximum efficiency and boost the capability of your solar cells with a concentrator, you should be set, right? Well, not quite. Over time, the cells in your solar panels may begin to accumulate dust, dirt, and grime. As you might imagine, a layer of dust on your solar cells will reduce their efficiency. When the light hits those dust or dirt particles, it will dissipate, reducing the amount of light your solar cells have to convert to energy. So, for ongoing efficiency, you'll want to make sure that you're keeping your solar panels clean.

Luckily, in most climates, solar panels require little cleaning. Regular rain washes them often enough that you don't need to worry too much about them. However, if you live in a particularly dry, dusty climate, or if your area is experiencing a seasonal dry spell, you may need to do some cleaning yourself. First, brush off the dry solar panels with a dry cloth or soft brush. Then use a soft plastic squeegee or a coarse cloth sponge dipped in water to clean the panels. Avoid detergents and abrasive cleaners, as well as metal scrapers. If you scratch the panels or leave streaks, that will also impact the efficiency of your solar panels.

As long as you're investing in solar power, you may as well go all the way and make sure that you're getting the maximum amount of power out of your solar panels. You'll save money in the long run, and you'll be impressed with how seamlessly you can replace fossil fuels with solar power.