Year: 2018

  • solar panels under a blue sky

    Cold vs Warm Climate Regions for Increasing Solar Panel Efficiency

    It is a given that solar panels installed at high elevations perform better than units installed at low elevations, by an estimated 20 percent. This is due to less obstructions and minimized distance for the sun’s rays to travel and reach the panels. But what about cold versus warm climate regions? How does temperature affect solar panel efficiency? Find out below.

    Cold Climates for Increased PV Efficiency

    Scientists tested such factors in a study published in the journal of Environmental Science and Technology. The researchers were able to conclude that exceedingly high temperatures negatively affects solar panel systems. As a result, the unit’s lifespan and performance are severely hindered.

    Interestingly, the group pointed out that heat is a primary destroyer of solar panel components. One of the best ways to minimize exposure is by taking the environment into consideration during installation. Comparing PV systems in deserts and mountainous locations, the latter is exposed to more sunlight, at low temperatures.

    From a cost perspective, solar panels in cold-climate regions may also last longer, due to decreased degradation rates.

    Cost of Distribution

    Installing PV panels in cold, remote locations is not a complete solution to PV efficiency. This is because if the end-user is located far away from the system, costs associated with sending power and transporting materials (during construction) could be overwhelming.

    Ultimately, the recommendation is suitable for usage within the installed location. For instance, Nepal is a frequent consumer of solar energy, due to its mountainous location. The country utilizes solar panels to power airports and infrastructure. Local residents are also fond of using solar cookers at home.

    For increasing PV efficiency in hot-climate regions, the focus should then be keeping the panels cool. Furthermore, this could also be the main reason why large-scale PV systems are setup in lakes, for areas prone to hot temperatures.

    This article is sponsored by Larson Electronics

  • solar panel mounts

    Types of Solar Panel Mounts

    For solar-powered lighting systems, where or how you install solar panel mounts matters. Some mounting options offer better exposure to natural sunlight, while others actually reduce efficiency by incorporating incorrect tilt angles.

    With this in mind, below are top selections for mounting solar panels.

    Ground Mounting

    As the name suggests, ground mounts hold PV panels close to the ground, in a tilted configuration. There are a handful of advantages to ground-mounted solar panels. First, the units are easily accessible for maintenance and cleaning. Next, the system is less prone to accidental drops from elevated positions.

    However, because the panels are openly accessible, they are more prone to theft and contact with animals in the area. Additionally, ground-mounting is not suitable for locations with limited space or rocky terrain.

    Roof Mounting

    Roof mounting is a very cost-effective and efficient solution for solar-powered systems. This option keeps the panels elevated and away from harmful elements on the ground. Moreover, the units can be mounted flat on the roof, since the surface is already tilted or flat. Roof mounting solar panels may also provide insulation for buildings.

    A drawback with roof-mounted solar panels is accessibility. Operators must use a ladder or roping mechanism to reach the units. This can be extremely dangerous for high locations, during storms and wet weather.

    Pole Mounting

    Lastly, pole mounted solar panels incorporate the best features of roof and ground mounting configurations. The panels (up to 16) are secured on a pole, roughly 4 to 12 feet from the ground. This option is perfect for buildings with limited space on the roof and ground.

    Pole mounting is recommended for locations with several obstructions (such as trees or large ornaments), as a standalone pole can be setup in open sections of the space. Operators can maintain the PV panels without needing to climb a high location.…

  • How Does Cold Weather Affect LED Lights

    How Does Cold Weather Affect LED Lights

    Winter seasons come with extremely low temperatures, with can negatively affect the performance of LED lights. Although the fixtures are more powerful and reliable than traditional lighting options, such as incandescent and fluorescent lamps, it is important to factor in such environmental conditions to prevent premature failure during operation.


    Cold Weather Environments and LEDs


    LEDs are particularly efficient in locations with low temperatures. The units come with components, such as drivers, that can operate as low as 30°C to –40°C. Some specially engineered LED drivers can withstand temperatures down to –55°C.


    By comparison, fluorescent fixtures do not perform well in cold environments. As a result, the units are more suitable for applications in indoor locations. The lights have a performance threshold of roughly 5°C. When exposed to temperatures colder than this range, output becomes degraded.


    For example, exposing a fluorescent light to –10°C environments may result in a 50 percent loss in performance. At –40°C, the lamp would prematurely fail at 10 percent (or less) illumination.


    Protecting Outdoor LED Lights


    Protecting LEDs from cold temperatures require sturdy materials and seals. This is because snow and ice have a tendency to melt on the surfaces of LED lamps. When this occurs, water or moisture can get trapped inside the light, causing internal damage. A breather or proper ventilation can be applied to the enclosure of the fixture to reduce the buildup of moisture.


    In addition to protecting LED work lights, it is equally crucial to ensure the unit’s other components are well accounted for at all times. Wirings and pipes supporting the lamp should also feature some form of weatherproof or waterproof protection, such as a NEMA 4X rating.


    Lastly, as cold temperatures can affect the performance of switches, pushbuttons and lubrication, it is recommended to test LED fixtures periodically for consistent output.…