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What time of day are solar panels most efficient?

When buying a solar panels it’s a good idea to know how efficient they are. The efficiency of solar panels usually depends on the amount of absorption they can get.

Solar panels are most efficient when the sun is hitting them directly and not on an angle. That would be around 12noon each day.

Max efficiency is more of a range than an exact time of day. See the below inforgraphic for an illustration.

solar panels output

The thing to consider about solar panels and their efficiency is the light intensity. The lower in the sky, the more atmosphere the light has to cut through to reach your panels. When it is direct overhead, the light is more intense.

The efficiency of solar panels is also affected by seasonal changes. This is because during some seasons the sun shines for longer hours than during other seasons. So October through to April, the energy levels of the solar panels will be higher. During these months the sun shines for longer and that translates to more brightness for the solar panels to absorb.

During autumn and winter the panels will not be as efficient as they are during the said months.

However, solar panels don’t need the direct sun to function efficiently. As such, even when it’s cloudy, light still penetrates the clouds and your solar system can function just as well. Some manufactures even claim the work better as the temperature of the panel itself affects energy production. A cool panel with good light works best. So on a cloudy day you get the benefit of the light and skip the disadvantage of overheated panels.

Solar output vs. time of day

Although solar panels can start emitting energy during the morning hours, the level of energy differs with the time of day and month of the year as discussed above. Some of the factors affecting the energy output and must be considered include the type of illumination whether it is diffuse or direct, weather, the efficiency of the solar cells and your geographic location. Since these factors change, the output also changes.

During the morning hours, the output level is usually low as the light intensity is at a minimum. As the day progresses and the suns light intensity increases, so does the output of your solar system. Most solar panels produce the most energy between late mornings to early afternoon with the nighttime seeing the energy production dropping to zero.

Best months of the year for solar production

Solar panels produce the most energy during periods when the days are longer and the sun is therefore available for longer. Those are therefore the best months for solar production because the solar system usually triples in its production. The best months are therefore ranging from October to April in the Southern hemisphere.

daily-solar-energy-production-5kw-solar-system-by-state1

Is too much sun a bad thing?

Contrary to popular beliefs, solar panels don’t need the heat from the sun.

They don’t have insulation and therefore lack protection from excess heat absorption.

This is usually detrimental to their functionality and that’s why they can work optimally during the cold season.

Do solar panels work best in summer?

Indeed, solar panels work most efficiently during summer, but it’s not because of the extent of the heat during that season. It’s usually because the sun shines for longer, brighter and hit your solar panels on the best angle for max absorption.

What is the best orientation for maximum efficiency?

Some of the factors that affect the efficiency of solar energy production are beyond control, but you can choose the most ideal orientation to maximize output.
You should have your panels facing north. This will allow the longest axis to be facing east and west. Don’t just have the profile facing “the sun” where it sits now as that will change during the year.

Pitch is also important. The optimum range is 20 – 30 degrease for optimum power generation, but you could go down to 10 degrease without losing much efficiency in power output.

A minimum of 10 degrease is recommended so the panels are self-cleaning when leaves fall and when it rains.

best-solar-panel-direction-in-australia-infographic