How do I get the best out of my solar system over winter?
With winter now also upon us, solar panel owners will be experiencing the drop in solar power output that comes in the cooler months. With shorter days, more cloud cover and the sun shining at a different angle, you may lose up to a third or half of your solar system’s usual output. While this will impact on your power bills — some things can be done to make sure your panels continue operating as efficiently as possible all through the winter.
Winter weather doesn’t necessarily mean less solar power in all locations (i.e. North Australia) – as your solar system can function better in cool sunny weather than in the very hot summer days (on hot days production is hampered). Solar panels are tested at 25 degrees Celsius — so for every degree, the temperature climbs above that, the panel’s output efficiency is reduced from the brochures you may have reviewed. In that regard, winter weather has an advantage over summer — though it needs all the help, it can get with the added challenges of shorter days and increased cloud cover mean for most customers, other action needs to be undertaken to offset the lower production.
With that in mind, there are some ways you can offset that winter drop, starting with the most low-tech solutions and working up to the ones that might require a little extra investment.
Clean your panels
While taking good care of your solar panels should be a regular affair, autumn is a particularly good time to give them some extra attention. Winter is when you’ll be needing that little bit extra, after all.
If you haven’t done so recently — and if it can be done safely — you should give your solar panels a good clean in case of any built-up grime, dirt or other unwelcome additions to your panel like spots of bird poop. You should avoid using harsh chemicals or rough brushes to clean PV panels — instead use some warm water and a sponge wrapped in a cloth, or a soft brush. If you can’t get to your solar panels easily (or if you just don’t have the time) contact us and we will put you in touch with a specialist panel cleaner.
Get the most of the winter sun
Now is also a good time to make sure your panels are still getting access to all the sunlight they need. Generally, your panels should be receiving full sun from 9 am until 5 pm — and taking into consideration the angle of the winter sun, you may find that stray branches or overgrown trees are shading part of your panel array. This is especially important to address if you’re running on a central inverter rather than a microinverter. If you can, trim any branches that may be interfering with your precious sunlight.
Time for a checkup
Like your car, your solar system should be maintained and checked at least once a year – at most every two years is recommended, though many work on the ‘set and forget’ principal. Some early systems may need repair in that isolators, inverters, wiring and sealing may need attention as a large majority of solar PV systems were installed more than five years ago now. If you have not had your system checked for a few years, then we suggest you do this over the next few months. If you are in Victoria or Queensland, we can provide a full system audit by an accredited CEC installer. Contact us today using the form if you need this service.
Warm your house during the day
Look to set your home temperature to an average 20 degrees, and it is best to do this during the day when solar energy is available, so you are in a maintaining mode when the sun goes down. This will save valuable energy bringing the temperature up in the evening when you get home. The reverse is true in Summer; we encourage customers if practical, to utilise solar PV energy internally, before passing the energy out for a low FIT (Feed In Tariff).
Most heating systems have programmable settings that enable you to start up when not at home, and if you have high export, consider this as a way to avoid heating or cooling costs.
Keeping the house at the ideal temperature also means tracking downdrafts, and even the old fashion door draft stoppers will assist here. If not home during the day look to keep blinds and curtains closed to keep the warmth in.
Consider Smart Solar: More than Monitoring
By utilising a Smart home control devices to control the appliance’s in your home when you want. This is the surefire way to increase your energy savings, comfort and security. All from one app or device ( actually weather on the property or not).
The benefits of such devices include:
• Remotely control your air conditioning
• Turn your lights on/off
• Monitor and control connected appliances
Smart Energy Stuff
The team at Energy Stuff pride themselves on providing our customers with a ‘Smart” solar system with full system monitoring. A solar PV system without monitoring would be like a car without a dashboard. For example, the SolarEdge monitoring platform provides free, real-time visibility into the performance of each panel on your roof. Access is available from any computer or mobile device, anytime, anywhere.
Energy Stuff specialises in Residential Solar with emphasis on Repairs, Replacements and upgrades. We also provide new systems, battery storage, Small Commercial, Off-Grid systems and smart monitoring systems. Energy Stuff only uses CEC accredited installers and we fully comply with the Victorian Govt. Solar Rebate Program.
For further information please call us on 1300 656 205 or go to our website at http://www.energystuff.com.au
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