How to Keep Solar Panels From Overheating

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Solar panels have the potential to overheat when there is an abundance of sunny weather and the energy produced is not being used. The fluid inside most solar panel systems consists of a glycol-based antifreeze, which can break down and circulate improperly if overheated. Installing panels with breathing room and diverting energy for use to other parts of your home can help keep your solar panels from overheating, optimizing electrical production.

Things You'll Need

  • Thermally activated venting
  • Bypass valve plumbing
  • Make sure there is enough space between the roof and the solar panel above it. William Kemp, author of "The Renewable Energy Handbook," recommends keeping "an air gap of 2 to 3 inches, which will allow cooling air to circulate under the array, providing maximum power output".

  • Install or retrofit thermally activated venting to your solar paneling. Solar manufacturers have developed heat-triggered ventilation systems that can be installed underneath solar collectors. When fluids inside the collector become stagnant, reaching higher temperatures, vents open to let additional cool air inside the solar panel.

  • Have a plumber set up a bypass valve that will direct energy to other areas of your home. Excess hot fluid can be redirected by installing bypass plumbing to a baseboard heater or perhaps even a pool/hot tub.

  • During extended periods of hot, sunny weather, use a garden hose to spray your solar panels with a light mist. This will temporarily keep panels from overheating and maintain optimal energy efficiency. The University of Southern California recently recognized a science project that demonstrated increased electrical production from solar panels cooled with water.

Tips & Warnings

  • It is possible to retrofit bypass plumbing and thermal vents to existing systems, but it will be much less expensive to have these options installed beforehand.

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References

  • Photo Credit kleine photovoltaik anlage image by Otmar Smit from Fotolia.com
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