Living in the 21st century has caused us to realize we all need to live a greener lifestyle. This type of lifestyle really revolves around alternative energies, such as solar panels. That being said, have you ever wondered how much energy does a solar panel produce? Well to determine this, we first have to look at how a solar panel works, and then we will analyze how much energy it produces.
Solar Panel Design and Functionality
The main function of a solar panel is that it collects radiation from the sun and then proactively converts all of that energy into electricity. The cells or ‘solar cells’ that are located on the top of the solar panels make use of a small fraction of energy from the sun that passes through the earth’s atmosphere. After the energy is passed through the solar panel, it then strikes the cells on the ‘solar collector’.
The true operating efficiency of these solar panels really depends on a number of factors that include climate, geography location, and other weather-related factors that may arise. The ideal climate for a solar panel to operate under, where it will show all its advantages, would be arid climate. Arid climate will allow a solar panel to produce more energy, since this climate usually occurs when there is direct sunlight under clear blue skies.
One important factor to keep in mind is that even when a solar panel is operating at ‘optimal’ efficiency, a solar panel is only able to convert and make use of a very small percentage of energy that strikes the solar cells. However, more advanced solar cells, like the ones used on the Mars Rover or Voyager spacecraft, have a much larger efficiency rating, and thus can convert more of the suns rays into usable energy. Now that we have a better understanding into the functionality, let us answer the more prominent question of how much energy does a solar panel produce.
Solar Panel Energy Production
Since we now understand that a solar panel only makes use of a tiny fraction of the energy provided by the sun, it is still very important to determine how much energy that actually is. And further more, how exactly is that energy produced.
You might be wondering, how exactly is energy produced from the sun? Deep thermonuclear explosions cause energy from the sun. Hydrogen fused atoms of helium explode and cause this rush of energy towards the earth. This explosion causes an enormous amount of radiation to travel throughout our galaxy. To make this event even more amazing, this radiation travels at the speed of light, and even at that speed, solar panels still make use of the energy.
How Much Energy Can a Solar Panel Produce
Now that we know how the energy reaches a solar panel, lets quickly discuss how much energy Is produced.
The average solar panel produces about 200 watts of electricity per square meter, however depending on how the panel is built, it can reach over 315 watts .
The wattage difference is dependent on:
- the size of the solar cells (square meters or square feet)
- volume of solar energy (irradiation) coming to this particular place (kWh per square meter of surface per year)
- efficiency of solar panel (percentage)
- temperature (the hotter the panel, the less output)
Generally, on a solar panel there is a label entitled ‘Watt-peak’. This number means how much energy a panel can produce under the standard laboratory conditions.
Normally, it is calculated for areas with 1000 kWh of solar irradiation per square meter per year at 25 degrees Celsius. How large the figure of solar irradiation for your area, you can find on this map. Overall, these are normal conditions for the Middle of Europe or North of US.
Usually, these are far from normal life conditions. And difference can be both positive and negative.
On a poor condition day with fog or snow, solar panels will produce less power, than if the sky was clear.
Also, less power can be produced if the solar cells become dusty or get covered by various outdoor nature items, like leaves on your caravan solar panel under a tree. That’s why cleaning your panel regularly would be very important and adds up to the cost of your panel.
More power can be produced is sunny and clear areas, with no dust and reasonably cool weather.
It really is best to ask your local installer for the specific wattage that the solar panels you will get installed will produce.
Now you should be much more prepared for the next time you ask your self how much power does a solar panel produce.
Renewable energy and finance expert