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Solar Panels – FAQ’s

How effiicent are solar panels when the conditions are overcast ?

When weather conditions are overcast or cloudy there is still enough diffuse sunlight for the panels to produce electricity effectively. However your panels are at their most efficient during clear sunny days. If the weather is slightly overcast your diy solar panels should still generate at least 50% of what they would on a sunny day. If conditions are very dark and overcast your panels might only be producing as little as 10% of their normal sunny day output. For completely “Off the Grid” situations deep cycle batteries are needed as a backup power storage system for non sunny situations. This is not a problem if your diy solarsystem can use the main grid if a backup power source is needed. Basically if you are using more power that your solar unit can produce then you can use your local power company to make up the shortfall. The same also applies in reverse. If your diy solar panels are producing more power than you need the remainder of the power can be pumped back into the main grid supply. In may cases you will even get paid for doing so.

Is it possible for the solar cells themselves to store electricity?

No, that is not possible. The power generated by PV solar panels must be used right then and there or stored in deep cycle batteries.

Is solar electricity a safe power ?

In many ways yes. Solar panels are made mostly from silicone and we all know what silicone is made from, sand.. Unlike many other power generators there is no nasty exhaust pipe belching out gasses. Even if the system get broken there is nothing toxic that will leech out of it. The power that ends up being produced by the inverter is no different to normal residential power. Treat it with the same respect as that and you wont have a problem.

Do diy solar panels require maintenance once they are up?

Naturally solar panels work better when they are clean. Always use a non abrasive cleaner when cleanong your PV cells.. A monthly check on battery levels, their overall condition, battery connections, fuses and wiring is recommended for safety upkeep. Check your diy solar panels for any defects or splitting and seal any cracks with a tube of silicone where applicable. For the most part your solar panels require very little upkeep. There are no moving parts to slowly wear out which gives them a head and shoulders advantage over other traditional power sources.

What is the biggest problem with diy solar panels ?

Without a doubt it is water damage. Water leaking into the panel itself or into the connections causing failure.  To ensure that this does not happen you will need to make sure that your panels are mounted the correct way. Many people have made the mistake of mounting their solar panels horizontally. This turns your solar panels frame into a water collector instead of a solar collector. It also pays to keep some room under the panel (between the roof and the panel) to keep your panels dry and free of debris like leaves and tree branches etc.

How well do solar panels work in wintery weather like snow ?

Well to start with, solar panels need sunlight not heat in order to produce electricity. In the winter there is less hours of actual sunlight so your output will reflect this as well. When solar panels get covered with snow they will almost instantly cease to work until the sun melts the snow and the sun reaches the modules surface again. Clearing the snow from around your diy solar panels will enable them to commence working again.

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