How Hot Do Solar Panels Get? Temperature, Cooling and More
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If you’ve come across this article, you’re probably wondering, “How hot do solar panels get?”
Solar energy is one of the greatest ways humanity achieves benefits from the energy the sun has been producing for billions of years, and it’s a great way to be eco-friendly and efficient.
Solar panels have photovoltaic cells or PV cells that absorb sunlight to produce electricity that can supply power on a large or small scale, depending on how many panels you have purchased.
The PV cells produce maximum effectiveness at around 35°C and the least efficiency at about 65 °C for a home solar panel, but the efficiency can vary between quality and quantity (the size of the panel) of different types of solar panels.
Although the main job of a solar panel is to change the hot rays of the sun into something useful, a question arises: What if the solar panels get too hot or overheat?
How Hot Do Solar Panels Get?
So, let’s look at the reasons why a solar panel overheats, what happens when it overheats, and then identify different ways you can avoid overheating.
Why Do Solar Panels Overheat?
A solar panel is built to withstand strong heat and energy, but sometimes it does not really work out the way it should.
There can be a few ways a solar panel overheats, and you should make sure to avoid these mistakes.
First of all, faulty and weak connections and components, arc faults, and poor workmanship can cause malfunctions in solar panels.
Arc faults usually occur when there is an extremely high leakage of electricity between conductors, which then produces heat that can cause damage or break down the wires’ insulation, activating an electric fire.
This is mainly a technical issue that takes place inside the electrical components.
Arc faults can occur due to:
- Harsh weather such as cyclones, floodings, etc.
- Poor quality appliances and connections
- Damaged wiring or inexperienced workmanship
- Absence of plastic fittings that leads to UV exposure
A too strong current leads to insulation failures between phases, which can cause some areas to in the panel to get too much heat.
These heated areas are called hot spots, which overheats cables and wires, damaging them.
It is dangerous to use just any material to manufacturer solar panels.
Certain types of materials should be used so that you don’t have to experience just how hot solar panels get.
When manufacturers use cheap quality materials, problems like plastic frames that melt can occur.
In contrast, a metal or silicon frame is a more beneficial and safer alternative because it does not melt easily with its high melting point, unlike plastic.
Make sure to find out what type of material your solar panel is made from and if it is durable before you buy it.
Poor maintenance can lead to fatalities and damage.
Although solar panels are highly advanced technology and one might assume maintenance is costly, it is a surprisingly low-maintenance appliance.
This does not mean that it should not be taken care of because without proper maintenance, like cleaning, its efficiency rate decreases.
Since dirt and grime can get stuck in all solar panels parts, you should clean it thoroughly and not just the actual panels.
Incorrect Placing Of The Panel
A solar panel can not be placed just anywhere; it needs specific areas for them to work optimally.
Usually, solar panels need large open areas to function accurately.
If a solar panel is provided with a small and congested space, the panel will not have enough area for the process of convection to occur.
This means that it can cool down more easily that leads to the accumulation of heat, causing components to overheat and get damaged.
Weather Or Climate
The more intense the heat from the sun, the more the output of energy is decreased.
This is kind of surprising, keeping in mind that solar panels work better in areas with a sunny climate.
But, the thing is that PV cells only use the light from the sun, so when it is too hot the PV cells get damaged.
This causes a certain percentage of inefficiency, depending on how hot the area is and how high the efficiency rating of the solar panel is.
According to an article by the Times, Qatar’s climate is too hot for photovoltaic solar panels to function in, and also because Qatar is a desert country, there can also be damage caused by sandstorms and dust.
What Happens When A Solar Panels Gets Too Hot?
If proper care and requirements are not provided to a solar panel, it can backfire completely and cause destruction and harm.
It Stops Working
If there are problems with the internal components of your solar panel it might stop working.
On top of that, if you have a safety fuse and circuit breakers connected to the solar panels, electricity will be cut off if there is an excessive flow of energy, which can prove to be quite dangerous.
Its Efficiency Decreases
In the theory of circuits and electricity in Physics, when temperature increases, resistance also increases alongside with it and vice versa.
Temperature and resistance are directly proportional to each other, and when resistance increases, the current decreases.
This decrease in current leads to a decrease in voltage, which is needed for electricity to properly move around a circuit.
Temperatures will also rise because of materials used, such as metal and silicon, which are good conductors of heat.
So when the temperature gets too high, the efficiency of solar panels dwindles.
It is ironic that solar panels are made to work better in sunny areas but runs the risk of producing less power in those same areas.
Although modern solar panels are designed to withstand high temperatures, the rules of efficiency being lost will still apply because not all technology is designed to overcome all efficiency losses.
The PV cells take in sunlight, so when the heat is too much, it will decrease their work in converting light to electricity.
It Catches Fire
Not a Hunger Games reference but actual burning down of panels and even houses.
An incident occurred last year when solar panels manufactured by SolarCity reportedly caught fire due to faulty connectors that were not able to control the rise in heat, forming temperature spikes that caused the panels to catch fire.
It is extremely dangerous when solar panels catch fire because not only are the panels themselves harmed but infrastructure and lives can also be affected.
These solar panels act like mechanical arsonists, leading to the burning down of buildings.
And the fire does not only occur on the panel itself but on wires and other internal components as well.
It Damages Other Appliances
Since solar panels supply electricity to most appliances on the premises, depending on the load the solar panels can hold, overheating will damage these appliances.
This damage will not only be costly but also devastating as it can lead to house fires as well.
How To Avoid Damage
It is always safer to be cautious and take protective measures to avoid issues.
And of course, it is always best to stay out of harm’s way from the start rather than after the damage is done.
Alas, prevention is better than cure, so it is better to take these steps beforehand to avoid any problems in the future.
These are just a couple of ways you can achieve safety from the overheating of solar panels.
Use Good Quality Panels
Purchase some good quality panels that will last you a lifetime.
This will ensure safety and not cause any damage, unlike cheaper panels.
Cheap solar panels will cost you less but will cause a lot of problems and probably malfunction, which is expensive in the long run.
Good quality solar panels have the following:
- A metal framing that is non-combustible
- Good insulating wires
- Components such as fuses and circuit breakers for extra measures
- Are a light color, which absorbs heat fairly slowly and are better insulators than dark colors
- Has a high-temperature coefficient that is safer and you can get more use out of it
Each solar panel brand has its own efficiency rating stated on the panel.
It shows you how efficient they are at certain temperatures as well as their own temperature coefficients.
This tells you at what temperature the solar panel will show its maximum work, so be sure to check out the coefficients on any solar panel you purchase.
The right solar panels are a one-time investment that you do not have to worry about later on.
Install Your Solar Panels Correctly
If you are experienced enough and know how to properly handle and install solar panels, you can do it yourself.
This is more cost-effective.
Be sure to take a look at the instruction manual provided if you are attempting to install it by yourself and follow all the important instructions.
But if you find it difficult, contact any numbers that are given on the booklet and rather ask for assistance.
On the other hand, for a hassle-free installation, it is best to contact a professional to install the solar panels for you.
This is the easiest and safest way.
You can contact the company you purchased the panels from to send someone to install your panels for you, but you usually indicate this option when with your purchase.
They will know how to install the panels with no problem and also know where it is best to install them.
Cool Down Your Solar Panels
There are a couple of ways you can cool down your solar panels, one of which is natural convection.
Through natural convection, there are holes made in the panels so the hot air from the lower surface of the panel rises up more easily.
The colder air then comes in contact with the panels and cools them down.
This prevents overheating and brings about faster cooling.
Another popular way of cooling is through the hybrid system.
A cooling agent such as air or water is circulated around the solar panels so that the PV cells come in contact with it and cool down.
You can also try installing cold water pipes around the solar panels.
Heat exchange is another way to circulate water for a pool or geezer to pass through the exchanger.
That way you can have a nice, warm pool and a much cooler solar panel.
Maintain Your Solar Panels
Get as much information on how to take care of your solar panels as possible and ask for advice from the solar panel installer on how to accurately maintain and clean the panel.
Find out about the warranty information from your contractor, so that if any inconvenience occurs, you can contact the company and ask them to help you.
You can clean the solar panels using water, which you can either spray on by installing a sprinkler with high proximity or by simply using a hose to clean it.
These are the easiest alternatives to wiping the solar panels with a damp washcloth, which takes longer.
Furthermore, try not to pour water on the solar panels when it is very hot because this damages the panels and makes the glass panes crack.
Pour water on them to clean them during cooler parts of the day instead, when the panels themselves are also cooler.
Choose A Suitable Area
You will need to find an appropriate area for your solar panel.
You will also need to elevate the solar panels around 6 inches above the surface so that there is easy airflow for cooling to occur quicker.
When choosing a suitable area it is important to remember:
- It has to be somewhere open and with abundant sunlight
- Put them on a slightly tilted angle for maximum use
- The roof of a building is a good place because this is where the most sunlight is
- Make sure the surface is strong enough to bear the weight of the panels
- Mount them on the side of the roof where you know the maximum sunlight is
- See where maximum sunlight is by observing the sun’s rising and setting in your area
- A large open field with no obstructions such as large buildings or trees will also work
It is important to keep other components of the solar panels such as the inverters and conductors in the shade.
When these components are exposed to high temperatures and rain, they will stop working.
Get A Ventilation System
A ventilation system is usually used to cool down appliances from getting too hot because it provides an easy path for convection to occur.
Adding a ventilation system will help cool out any hot spots and prevent excessive overheating.
Systems such as fans and valves/openings are good for ventilation since cool air will come in contact and hot air can escape easily so you can install those as an extra precaution.
Do Regular Checkups
You should check on your solar system regularly to ensure that no problems are occurring.
If there are any issues you will know before any major inconvenience takes place and that way the problem will be taken care of immediately and effectively.
You can also call a professional to check if anything is wrong with the panels every few months.
Add Safety Components
Adding safety components such as earth wiring will prevent electric shocks by carrying currents into the earth.
Fuses and circuit breakers are great ways to ensure safety because they will not let excessive energy cause damage.
They create a gap in the circuit that will not let any current pass through.
There will be no damage done to the user because they do not have to turn off the switch that will probably shock them if none of these safety components was present.
The wires should be properly insulated and waterproof in case they come in contact with water through rain etc.
This can cause electric shocks.
Some solar panels go through a coating system called doping, which absorbs light and reflects heat back to the surrounding area so that it does not get too hot.
But doping is a fairly new process that is not thoroughly researched upon and used.
CSP is short for Concentrating Solar Power, which can be used as an alternative for just solar power although they both have the same source of light: the sun.
However, in CSP, mirrors are used to focus the sun’s light onto a receiver that turns the light to heat.
The heat is then used to create steam from water.
The steam helps in operating and turning a turbine, which creates electricity that will be supplied to any appliances for any specific use.
Another renewable alternative is to use wind power through turbines.
So whenever there is a strong wind, the wings of the turbine will move and produce electricity that can then be used for various purposes.
One problem with renewable energy is that it might not always be available, like wind and even the sun.
It might be cloudy or windy, and some places are not suitable for such alternatives because they lack those resources.
This phenomenon is called intermittency; however, biomass does not face that issue as it can be available anywhere and all the time.
Final Thoughts On Solar Panels
To sum up, solar panels have more benefits than negative effects, and incidents caused by solar panels are usually very few and far between.
If anything unfortunate does occur, it’s mostly because of carelessness and cheap products.
Overall, solar panels are more modern and greener alternatives to using fossil fuels, which are running out.
Sunlight is a much safer alternative that does not cause harm to the environment when used properly.
Solar panels have been gaining a lot of popularity recently and are not only used by large corporate companies but also in homes and smaller buildings due to the variety of solar panels sizes manufactured and the fact that it is so eco-friendly.
Another major advantage of solar panels is that they can provide electricity even during rolling blackouts when power is shut down in your area.
Solar power is stable and consistent as well as renewable, plus sunlight will not run out, so if you take good care of your solar panels, you don’t have to find out how hot do solar panels get.
If you have any other thoughts on how hot do solar panels get, let us know in the comments below.