Do Solar Panels Generate Electricity Using Light or Heat?

by Jan 9, 2020industry news, Residential Solar Panels

For some people, the confusion about the effects of heat and light on solar energy begins with the fact that there are various types of solar power sources to choose from. One type of energy, known as solar thermal, uses sunlight to produce heat that can be used, for example, to produce hot water or produce steam to drive turbines and produce electricity. However, this type of panel has a sophisticated integration into a water system for functionality. A Kosmos Solar in Grand Prairie, TX our team of experienced solar panel installation and maintenance specialists understands just how confusing it can feel to get started on a project without the right knowledge and resources available.

The other type of solar energy that is produced comes from photovoltaic (PV) solar modules that use light to produce electricity directly. Many people think that the most efficient place to produce energy with photovoltaic solar panels is a scorching hot desert where the sun burns everything. The reality is though, that this is nowhere close to being right. Yes, there is plenty of sunlight to make use of, but electronics – like devices in a photovoltaic system – work more efficiently in cold weather, not during the blistering hot days of summer.

The standard temperature for testing the nominal output of a photovoltaic module is 77 degrees Fahrenheit. On hot days, solar panels gradually lose efficiency as the thermostat rises. However, sophisticated solar modules can be designed to minimize this loss. In fact, more and more advanced solar panel systems are developing innovative methods of overcoming this concern every year. Even so, cold weather is still the ideal when it comes to generating electricity through a PV system. Imagine a clear, sunny winter day. This is the ideal time to produce solar PV energy. 

As you might have guessed, photovoltaic solar panels use the visible spectrum of light to produce energy. Some of this light is visible to the human eye and some – like infrared and ultraviolet light – are invisible. Clouds can block most of the visible light, but they don’t block the entire spectrum (which explains why you still get sunburned when it’s cloudy). Solar panels also use infrared and UV light to generate electricity.

Other Factors that Influence Energy Production

The temperature and spectrum of light can be a big influence on how much energy solar panels can produce. Also, the angle of the sun can be a strong influence on the overall capability of a solar system. Angles become a big concern when planning a solar PV system for homeowners. Every home installation is unique because every home faces the sun differently and a well-arranged panel can help capture more sunlight at peak times of the day. You see, the performance of the panel is measured directly from light. On most roofs, the sun rarely sits perpendicular to a panel for long, so it’s important to plan for angled performance – for example when the sun is low in the sky.

The amount of light also plays a role in producing energy. In general, there is more sunlight during the middle of the day than at any other time, and home location can play a large role in the amount of light entering the solar panels. For example, a house on a hill can be very bright in the morning, but not too late in the afternoon. Many houses have problems with shading from trees and other obstacles. Dust or leaves can also reduce production.

Contact Kosmos Solar in Grand Prairie, TX Today to Get Started on Your Project

If you’re planning a solar panel installation for your home or business, the last thing you want to do is to try and understand the complexities of the system on your own. With years of experience and access to the latest industry knowledge and techniques, our team of skilled solar panel specialists is always ready to work with residents of the DFW Metroplex to help them with a wide variety of projects including new installations. To find out more about our services, or to get started on your project don’t hesitate to contact us right away!