why are solar panels so inefficient

Why Are Solar Panels So Inefficient?

In the last few decades, the number of problems regarding the environment, or finding ways to use different sources of energy, gave us a few solutions.

One of them is the usage of renewable energy. Solar power has been regarded as one of the most highly praised in the society.

Solar energy is one of the cleanest resources out there which requires us to use and install solar panels.

Many of the environmentally-conscious homeowners tend to use them be it in the urban or rural setting.

They do of course bring plenty of benefits and we can easily be informed about the positive reasons to use them.

However, we must be aware of the slightly negative side of them.

They are equally worthy of our attention.

In this article, we would like to make a few points that might benefit you regarding the wide spectrum of reasons why solar panels are inefficient.

Is The Size Important?

We’re aware that panels can come in various sizes.

They can be used either by NASA or the average everyday homeowner.

The question some people do ask is, is the size important when installing the panel? 

Joking aside,  it’s important no matter how much this question might make few people chuckle.

In most cases, panels can be a bit massive, but that mostly applies to panels used either in space or solar farms, with thickness at around 10 or 11 inches.

But when it comes to the usage in a regular home, that is where things change a little bit.

The size of the house does play a part when it comes down to how much amount of solar energy is needed to supply it.

Two ways you can measure solar panels are both by their physical size and also the power rating, with the secondly mentioned measurement you have to pay very close attention to.

Much like light bulbs, the strength of the solar battery is measured in watts, so the physical size of the battery should not play the major role but rather its amount of watts.

The average size of the solar system in the US is 5kw or 5 000 watts, which is often made of several solar panels which measure 65 by 40 when connected in the most common cell formats.

For the most average-sized home solar panels can be more than enough, however, keep in mind that location is also important, which we will explain in further points.

The Cost Behind The Solar Panels

We can all agree that saving the environment should have no tag price on it right?

This is a widely shared sentiment indeed.

But on the other hand, if we want to make solar power energy widespread, we must keep in mind that the said power should be affordable to the average person.

The time and money invested in making a sustainable solar panel is not short nor cheap, and sadly not a simple task either.

One of the research studies shows that a few years ago in Virginia, the cost of installing the solar panels was 300,000$, you have to keep in mind that the life span of solar panels is between 10-15 years.

In that case, the end project will only be able to pay half of the investment, and when put on paper to count the costs of everything, was it all worth it?

The cost of solar power can be more than 200$, while the not so renewable energy source coal is between 53-63$, and with those numbers in mind, one can’t help but to feel a bit concerned about the prices despite wanting the best for the environment.

In the end, you can’t really blame an average worker for choosing to keep more money in their pocket, since everyone’s livelihood comes first, no matter how much they’re aware of common uses of solar panels.

Limited Efficiency

The answer might be a bit obvious if one will consider things from a logical perspective.

It is quite simple– the distance of Sun does matter.

And also the limited amount of sunlight we receive during the daytime is the key as well since with current technologies there are several issues.

As it’s well known, the sun does radiate a large amount of solar energy which can be indeed converted into electricity.

To add to this, there is another way to produce electricity from solar power and that is to heat up fluids using sun energy and with that, you can drive the turbines to produce electricity.

But it’s quite costly and not very effective so we strongly advise not to go for this choice unless you’re willing to take the risk.

The major factor that can affect the efficiency of solar panels is also weather conditions and seasons, as we’re all aware in some of the countries around the world during fall and winter seasons days become drastically shorter.

Which considering everything means that the panels will be able to store a rather small amount of solar power that may not be enough for everyday use.

So before installing the panel, it’s strongly advised to consider the area in which you live, for example, most Nordic countries have rough winter season so for them this sort of energy source is highly inefficient.

The last thing anyone wants is to suddenly face a fall season without enough electricity to keep themselves warm or even brew a cup of coffee.

How Does Location Affect The Solar Panel?

The first two points we have made might sound a bit discouraging, still, there are plenty of ways you can still use the solar panel but an ideal location is necessary. 

As we mentioned in the previous point, locations where there are not enough sunlight ,sadly, are wanting as to the efficient use of solar power.

Factors you must keep in mind when installing the solar panels are local weather, time of the year and finally the latitude of your home.

The peak time for the use of panels is of course during the summer seasons when temperatures around the world are the highest.

Another relevant factor you should consider is what sort of roof you have or what kind do you plan to build?

Carefully consider the pitch or aka the angle of your roof, ideally, the right angle can make the most of the panel and absorb plentiful of solar energy.

Of course, you should avoid shade as much as possible.

To do that, try avoiding building a home or weekend retreat in an overly forested area.

But if you still want to continue to make sure to trim the area of your choosing.

Energy Storage

Despite being quite an effective renewable energy source, solar power itself needs to be used right away

Many know that the solar panels have large batteries that come with them in the same package.

During the daytime batteries can charge with ease and yes, of course, you can use them all day long and night if needed.

Nobody is stopping you from using the electricity based on solar energy through the night, however, one must keep in mind how much is that going to cost?

The best thing you could do is to freely use solar power during the daytime and limit the usage to the minimum in the nighttime.

Thankfully, energy isn’t overly necessary during the nighttime since, for the most part, you will most likely be in the cozy warmth of your bed.

Furthermore, you have to be aware that the average lifespan of the solar battery is around 5 to 15 years, which only means it will have to be frequently replaced during the lifespan of your solar panel, and that can indeed cost.

Another useful piece of information we would like to share that current batteries on the market are made from lithium-ion which is used for batteries in mobile phones, just bigger

So for this point, we just want to put emphasis on proper usage and to be mindful of how to properly split the energy during your day and night, but if that is not enough there are indeed other ways to store energy, just make sure to do your homework.

Impact On The Environment

Even though solar energy is one of the most commonly recommended renewable sources, and without meaning any harm, it does sadly, in fact, have a bit negative effect on the environment as we already mentioned.

When building up solar farms you have to consider the area, and tragically it does happen that for having solar farms to be built, often times the natural environment has to be cut down.

This means the land itself will be damaged and habitats of the wildlife will also be affected in the said process.

A dangerously hazardous material is another strong disadvantage when building up solar panels, that some people may find it hard to believe.

The PV cells themselves contain a large number of toxic chemicals which do include a variety of acids that can cause a threat to the environment and even workers who might inhale them by accident.

It’s crucial that these materials are taken care of or disposed of as they should be, otherwise we could face dangers to the public health.

Believe it or not, there is also a danger of emissions in regards to different stages of creating solar panels.

These stages include the manufacturing process, transportation, regular maintenance, installation and finally decomposition.

In one of our previous points we did mention that the lifespan of the solar panels is limited, so during this limited time take into consideration how much damage they could bring if not properly used or installed.

Balance Is The Key

While we did mention several strong points that would throw you off from the path of giving solar panels a try you should not completely give up on that!

Current technology is still behind to properly enhance and use solar energy so a piece of honest advice is to use both solar or any other not extremely harmful energy source for your home.

In the future, there is still a good chance that solar energy will improve with new and upcoming technology

One of those upcoming technologies or features is the gallium-arsenide triple-junction cells which can easily have high resistance to moisture and radiation, performs really well in low light and above all is quite light and flexible!

Another important factor when owning a solar panel for your own home and it’s solo usage is how well you take care of it.

To keep its efficiency high it’s important to keep the panel clean and far from the shade, on those factors unlike the weather, you can easily influence.

Much like in any residential area, you only have very limited influence and if you truly wish to depend on the solar panel, don’t be afraid to experiment and see how can you improve its efficiency and make it work for as long as possible.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to specific answers to the question if the solar panels are inefficient or not– the answers are unclear and it’s still up to debate.

There are far too many variables that can affect the efficiency of solar panels, which can both be taken as benefits or dangers.

However, when using in the housing area, you still need to put on paper what is most important to you and how to split the costs and usage.

The environment is important.

Keeping our planet and energy free of pollution as well.

But one has to be realistic about his own abilities and do only as much as he can without endangering his own livelihood.

Finally, we can only say that you should definitively stay informed on the current trends that are going about solar panels, carefully do your research and then decide what suits your lifestyle the best.


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