As solar power has become increasingly popular, many individuals are starting to take a closer look at how much sun exposure their setups are receiving. The sun is the key component for solar power, but does this mean that your panels must always be under the hot sun? Can there be too much shade for your solar panels?
Solar panels require direct sunlight to produce electricity most efficiently. The energy generated by a solar panel decreases with increasing levels of shade. Even minimal shading on one part of the panel can significantly reduce its output. This is due to the 'bottleneck' effect, where the weakest cell in a series circuit limits the current of the entire chain.
Photovoltaic (PV) cells are interconnected in a series to make a solar panel, meaning that if one cell is shaded, the output of the entire panel drops. Worse still, several shaded cells could bring the panel’s output down exponentially.
Consequently, even the shadow from a nearby tree can significantly impact a panel's energy production. In other words, partial shading can disproportionately lower the panel’s total output, leading to sub-optimal efficiency of the whole system.
Does that mean solar panels are useless if you’re in shady areas? Absolutely not. Thanks to the advances in technology, solar panels can still generate energy under shady conditions, although at a reduced capacity. Nowadays, the majority of all solar panels come with integrated bypass diodes which minimize the 'bottleneck' effect allowing the panels to function at a higher level than they would without bypass diodes.
However, you should aim to have your solar panels under direct sunlight for the majority of the day for the most effective results. In most parts of the world, a south-facing panel gives the best results.
In conclusion, although shade does have an impact on the energy produced by your solar panels, this doesn’t necessarily rule out the possibility of using solar energy. Solar panels should not be dismissed just because of a few shadows. After all, every bit of generated clean, renewable energy contributes to a greener, more sustainable future.
Be Wise, Go Solar!