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Maximizing Solar Panel Performance

For some of us, it is not enough to install a solar power system and generate electricity. We want to get the most out of our investment and maximize production for our small business or homestead. There are several things to keep in mind to maximize solar panel performance. Below are just a few ideas to think about when setting a system up for the first time.

1) Eliminate any trees or obstructions that come between the suns path and your solar panels through the most productive hours of the day. In general this means 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m (daylight savings time)

2) Run your solar panels as cool as possible. Solar panel output can decrease by up to 20% at elevated temperatures. This means install your solar panels on a ground based structure rather than a shingled roof that absorbs heat.

3) Add a tracking system to your solar panel mounting system. A passive one axis tracking system can yield gains of up to 20% by fine tuning the orientation through the seasons. An active one axis tracking system (East-West motion) can yield gains of up to 45% by following the Sun's path through the day. Two axis tracking systems can provide even more performance, however their cost is seldom justified for most every day users.

4) Make sure you use the right size power cables for the current rating of your solar panel array. This will eliminate excessive electrical losses while delivering power to your battery bank. Likewise, locate the solar panel array as close to the battery bank as reasonably practical.

5) Use a Maximum Power Point Tracking charge controller. This type of controller will load the solar panel array at it's optimum voltage, then deliver the energy to the battery bank at the proper charge voltage. These types of controllers are quite common in the modern day.

If you cover these 5 steps, then you are well on your way to a rock solid solar panel installation! Good Luck!

MicroGrid Living

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- Things to Think About
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MicroGrid Solar Power

- Solar Power Applications
- Photovoltaic Solar Panels
- Increasing Solar Panel Performance
- Mounting PV Solar Panels
- Solar Power Tracking Systems
- One Axis Solar Panel Tracking (Passive)
- Solar Power Cost & Payback
- Sizing your Solar Power System

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- Marcellus Jacob Wind Turbine

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