James Elston

James Elston

Published June 8, 2024

There are many ways to increase solar panel efficiency to improve their energy output and further lower your energy bills. These include positioning your panels in a south-facing orientation and using mirrors to maximise sunlight exposure.

Considering the high upfront installation cost, ensuring your solar panel efficiency is as high as possible is vital.

In this article, we will discuss 12 ways to optimise solar panels’ efficiency and how to implement them. We will tell you how to safely implement these efficiency hacks, without compromising your safety or your solar panels.

1. Opt For High-Efficiency Solar Panels

Compared to standard solar panels, high-efficiency ones use advanced solar cell technology to absorb maximum solar power. This results in more converted energy for your household. Solar panels of this variety can be around 20% more efficient.

Monocrystalline solar panels have a higher efficiency compared to polycrystalline panels. Monocrystalline cells are made up of just one crystal, which allows the electrons to have more room to move and create electricity.

However, the more efficient your panels, the higher the cost. Monocrystalline solar panels cost between £1,000 and £1,500 per kW and polycrystalline solar panels cost £900 per kW on average.

While high-efficiency solar panels may have higher upfront costs, their efficiency means that fewer panels and less roof space will be required during installation.

2. Face Panels In A Southern Direction

UK residents (and anyone residing in the Northern Hemisphere) should have their solar panels in a south-facing direction. This gives the panels access to the maximum amount of direct sunlight.

The second best orientations are east and west. However, panels with this directionality are 15% less effective than those facing the south.

The orientation of your solar panels will rely on the direction your roof faces. If your roof is not south-facing, the panels can be adjusted to tilt at an inclination that maximises efficiency. Alternatively, solar panels can be fitted to other structures, like carports or sheds, with better directionality.

3. Use The Correct Tilt

For UK residents, the tilt or angle of the solar panels should be the same as the latitude of your property. Most UK homes and businesses require a vertical tilt between 30 and 45 degrees.

Solar panel experts, like Eco Happy, are well-versed in adjusting your inclination and angles to ensure the potential power output is maximised. Varying factors, such as roof orientation, shape and slope, will be factored in.

4. Keep Your Solar Panels Clean

The build-up of dirt, dust, leaves, bird droppings and debris on your solar panel system will hinder its ability to absorb the maximum amount of energy, resulting in less electricity production. Solar panels can lose between 25% and 30% of their efficiency if they are not cleaned properly and regularly.

Clean your panels with water, using a soft cloth or sponge. Avoid harsh chemicals and brushes as these may scratch the surface of the panels and reduce their efficiency.

5. Keep Shading To A Minimum

Any shading will obstruct direct sunlight and lower the efficiency of your solar panels. This could come from surrounding trees, other structures or buildings.

In the case of trees, cutting back branches to allow for more sun exposure is a quick and easy way to combat shading. Be sure to receive permission before cutting back any branches if the tree is located on a neighbour’s property or in a communal area.

Buildings that cast shade onto your panels pose a bigger problem. In this case, the solar panels would need to be moved and angled appropriately.

In some cases, shaded areas are only a problem when the sun is in a certain position. Moving the panels a bit to the left or right may result in shadows being cast on your array later in the day. Track and assess the shaded areas throughout the day to determine which area on your roof or property allows for maximum efficiency.

6. Use Strategically Placed Mirrors

Mirrors or solar panel reflective systems can be strategically placed to increase and redirect sunlight exposure to your panels. This is a solar concentrator technique that should only be done by certified professionals.

If the mirrors are angled even slightly incorrectly, you risk:

  • Damage to solar panels
  • Excessive glare to neighbouring properties, birds, animals, or planes
  • Excessive heat
  • Starting a fire

This method is ideal for houses with limited access to direct sunlight, and for regions with fewer daylight hours during winter months.

7. Invest In A Solar Monitoring System

Solar monitoring systems are a great way of tracking your solar panel output, efficiency and overall performance in real time. You will receive live readings and alerts that provide invaluable insight into the functioning of your system.

These monitoring systems also provide data on each individual solar panel and system components. If your solar array isn’t meeting your energy requirements, you will be able to pinpoint exactly where the problem is and fix it immediately.

8. Choose A High-Quality Inverter

Inverters are a key component in turning your solar power into usable electricity. These systems convert direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC), which is what is used in your home. Invest in a high-quality inverter and ensure that it is properly maintained to keep your solar panel efficiency at its highest.

9. Select Panels With High Concentrated PV Cells

Solar power systems with highly concentrated photovoltaic cells (CPV) are 46% more efficient than standard solar PV cells, which have an efficiency of 22%. With this level, you can expect to pay a bit more. The upfront costs of CPV solar panels can be 4 times more than standard solar panels.

However, they produce triple the amount of electricity in comparison and require less roof space due to their smaller structure. If you consider the lifespan of a solar system, CPV panels end up costing over 30% less than PV panels because of their high efficiency.

10. Keep Up With Maintenance

Solar panels have a lifespan of 25 years, provided they undergo regular annual maintenance. These services are a crucial way to keep your solar energy system in top working condition.

Other components, such as solar batteries and inverters, should also be checked during the yearly routine maintenance. Solar batteries have a 5 to 15-year lifespan depending on the brand, and solar inverters should be replaced every 12 years.

11. Use Solar Batteries

Solar batteries are a great way of getting the most out of your solar system and boosting their efficiency. Stored solar energy can be used when no direct sunlight is on your panels. This is also a great implementation for those wanting to reduce their payback period. However, solar batteries are an investment as they cost between £1,500 and £7,000.

12. Use Certified Installers

Using certified solar panel installers ensures all of the abovementioned ways are covered when it comes to solar panel efficiency. Eco Happy’s expert solar panel team have dealt with installations of all shapes and sizes.

Each installation is unique and the external factors must be considered during the process. Our certified installers will provide guidance on the safest, most cost-effective way to achieve maximum efficiency of your solar panels.

FAQs

Can I clean my solar panels myself?

If your roof is easily accessible and you have the correct cleaning materials, you can clean your solar panels yourself. However, for your safety, solar efficiency and the sake of your warranty, it is advised to enlist the help of professional solar panel cleaners.

Can you install solar panels on a north-facing roof?

North-facing roofs are the least favoured for solar panel installation in the UK. However, this does not mean that installation is impossible. North-facing properties can make use of ground-mounted solar panels, or other roofing structures with better orientation. Using these alternatives alongside the methods mentioned above should provide sufficient solar energy.

Do solar panels absorb moonlight?

Yes, solar panels can absorb moonlight. However, any light absorption from the moon is nowhere near powerful enough to produce electricity. During a full moon, only around 10 W of electricity would be produced.

Conclusion

Ensuring maximum efficiency of your panels provides clean, free electricity, lowers your energy bills and reduces your carbon footprint.

However, increasing your solar panel efficiency is not a one-size-fits-all situation. Contact Eco Happy today for information on home or commercial solar panels. Our expert team is ready and waiting to get your panels performing at their optimum efficiency.

James Elston

James Elston

Boiler Expert


James Elston is the top boiler replacement and heating expert at Eco Happy. He has over 20 years of experience in the industry, focusing on Gas Safe boiler installations and offering home-heating and energy-saving solutions to homeowners across the UK. From sourcing the most energy-efficient combi boiler to providing specialist heating advice, James ensures that Eco Happy maintains the highest standards and best customer service.

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