Experts say extreme heat cuts down efficiency for solar panels
OLATHE, Kan. — Solar panels produce the most energy during summertime because of three main reasons: longer daylight, direct sunlight and clearer skies, but Hunter Hoss with KC Solar says extreme heat in the summer can actually cut down on efficiency.
“It’s in the physics of the silicon — it just doesn’t conduct electricity as well as the heat increases,” said Hoss. “They function better with bright sunlight and cooler temperatures.
Hoss says because of this, they have found a few ways to keep solar panels cool from the heat. One way is by building them over water and another is by installing them on the ground.
“Something like a ground mount system allows airflow underneath and even on a roof top, when you have a gap, that allows airflow and therefore cooling,” said Hoss.
And lastly, utilizing the environment to the homeowner’s advantage.
“My plan is to do plantings and eventually gardening things through here that would keep a water source nearby and keep things cooler around the panels,” said homeowner Theresa Smithart.
Smithart switched to solar power about six months ago. Even with the chance of efficiency fluctuating, she says her bills have outweighed the possible negatives.
“Immediately saw my bills go down by close to 40 percent in the dead of winter and now almost at net zero for the last several months. I mean, I’m barely paying over 10 dollars a month. It’s hard for me to track efficiency at least for another year, but you can call me back next year and I will have tracked it,” said Smithart.
Hoss also says not only does the heat impact energy production, but it also impacts man power as well. Hot temperatures can mean dangerous conditions for workers, especially when they are working on roofs.
“Start early, end early and lots of breaks and lots of fluids,” said Hoss.
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