Solar Panels and Shading

It’s common knowledge that solar panels and shading don’t work well together. However, you might wonder how much of an effect shade can have on solar panels and if it will be worth installing a solar panel system if your home or business is in a shady area. 

In this blog, we’ll answer some top questions about solar shading, its effects and how you can combat it with smart installation for maximum solar efficiency. 

What Are The Effects Of Shading On Solar Power?

Solar panels are generally related with a series of ‘strings’. This string keeps them connected, meaning that if one panel loses energy, all of its connected panels will suffer from that loss.

Solar panels are wired to be a communicative infrastructure – this is great when they’re all working together, but when one fails, they’re all reduced to that capacity. If a cell within the panel is obscured by shade, meaning the sunlight can’t reach it, the whole panel is reduced to this energy output. 

If you want your solar panels to work to their best potential, you will need to ensure they’re installed in a way that minimises the effects of shading and allows them to take in as much sunlight as possible. 

What Causes Solar Shading? 

There is a range of different things which can cause solar shading, some of which include:

  • Temporary Shading – temporary shading can be caused by dirt or bird droppings on the solar panels. This type of shading can be easily resolved by cleaning the panels or when it rains. 
  • Self-Shading – self-shading is a big issue with bad installation jobs. Sometimes the racks of solar panels will shade the ones behind them, causing a lot of energy loss. This can be fixed by ensuring you get an expert installation that considers this. 
  • Shading From Surroundings – shading from the surrounding areas can be more difficult. This includes things such as if your home is surrounded by tall buildings blocking the sunlight or has a chimney or antenna. 

These are classed as either ‘dynamic’, which is something changeable, such as leaves falling on the solar panels, and ‘static’, such as your home being next to a large building that blocks your sunlight. 

How Do You Prevent Solar Shading?

Solar shading doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t get solar panels for your home; it just means that you will have to be cautious about your installation methods. Some things you can do to prevent solar shading include:

Take Static Shading Into Consideration 

If you have a chimney or your home is next to a building which blocks some of your sunlight, it’s important to consider the effects this will have on your solar panels.

If you live in a house that doesn’t get any sunlight at all, it may not be worth investing in solar panels. However, if your light is only blocked in one area (for example, from a chimney), there will most likely be a way to install your panels that avoids this area and still gets the light. 

You can, for example, install solar panels in parallel by installing microinverters (a type of solar optimiser). This will help you operate all of your panels to maximum power, avoiding the area in the shade. 

Use Solar Panel Optimisers 

There are a few technical ways to optimise your solar panels to produce as much energy as possible. For example, a DC optimiser can help you to maintain a substantial amount of solar power by boosting the current to match the current flowing through the unshaded modules. 

Most solar optimisers will be installed at the same time as your solar panels, and they can be installed as an upgrade. However, this may require more re-wiring. 

Solar Panel Maintenance 

To prevent dynamic shading, semi-regular solar panel maintenance can help. In most cases, this type of shading will be solved by rain naturally cleaning the panels, but a regular cleaning service can effectively ensure they’re working to the best of their abilities. 

Smart Installation Planning With Smartly 

The best thing you can do to avoid solar panel shading is to get an expert installation. When you shop for a solar panel system with Smartly, we can help you with everything from purchasing your solar panels or tiles to finding you an installation design which prevents the effects of shading. 

Get in touch with one of our expert solar advisors to learn more. We’re happy to answer any questions or concerns regarding solar shading and can help you find a solar system that works for your needs.