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What Is Panel Temperature Coefficient? Ways to Reduce Its Impact

The term “temperature coefficient” is commonly encountered when working with solar panels. This is usually presented with a chart and a graph.

In this article, we will look at the temperature coefficient and how it relates to the performance quality of solar panels. Included here are other tips and tricks that you can use to prolong the solar panel’s performance.

What Is Panel Temperature Coefficient? Ways to Reduce Its Impact

What is the Solar Panel Temperature Coefficient?

The optimum performance of a solar panel is its advertised efficiency. Temperature changes impact solar panels, just like any other electronics. The varying temperature, no matter how small the change is, will affect the solar panel's performance.

The solar panel temperature coefficient simplifies users' understanding of what to expect from performance and quality. It measures a panel's output depending on the environment's temperature. For every degree of increase in temperature, it has been observed that there is a corresponding percentage decrease in the power production of the panel. The following section will teach you on how to calculate for the temperature coefficient.

How is the Solar Panel Temperature Coefficient Calculated?

Below are simple steps on how to compute the temperature coefficient:

  1. Set the standard test condition (STC) at 25°C. to measure the conversion efficiency of a solar panel.
  2. Observe the panel’s performance as the temperature increases.
  3. Power output is expected to decline as the temperature rises.
  4. Temperature coefficient = % power loss / number of degrees above 25°C

For example, if at 28°C (which is 3°C above the standard test condition), a solar panel shows a power loss of 1.08%, that loss is divided by 3 (the number of degrees above 25°C), resulting in a temperature coefficient of -0.36%/°C. 

In Physics, this is caused when electrons are excited, resulting in higher resistance within the solar cells.

This parameter can aid in comparing the performance of various solar panels.

Temperature Coefficients Between Different Panel Types

The invention of solar panels dates back to the 1950s. Since then, solar panel technology has evolved a lot, with every innovation geared towards being more efficient and achieving a lower temperature coefficient.

Each solar panel has a different temperature coefficient. A similar solar panel from a different manufacturer can also have varying coefficients.

Some types of solar panels are crystalline silicon (c-Si) and CIGS. C-Si has a temperature coefficient of -0.3% to -0.5% per degree Celsius and is the dominant photovoltaic technology, making up more than 97% of the market.

The CIGS solar panel presents a more promising thin-film solar panel and is considered to have a better temperature coefficient of -0.2% to -0.45% per degree Celsius.

How to Reduce the Impact of the Temperature Coefficient?

The slightest deviation from the solar panel's conversion efficiency and power output cannot be taken for granted. Solar panels are not installed as standalone. Hence, every reduction counts and can make a big difference, especially if the solar panels are installed in a large power plant.

Even if we cannot alter the solar panel quality, some factors can be controlled to reduce the impact of the temperature coefficient.

The first is to assess the weather condition of the installation site, which includes factors such as high and low temperatures, duration of sunlight exposure, and seasonal changes. These things will help you decide which solar panel to use.

Solar Panel Installation Technique

After choosing the solar panel type, installation techniques should be done to minimize performance drops, such as the following:

  • Elevated Mounting: By leaving enough vertical space between the roof/ground and the solar panel, there will be better air circulation and less heat buildup. Try the elevated mounting for the solar panel to minimize temperature changes.
  • Panel Orientation and Tilt: Maximize sun exposure by tilting the panel angles strategically and ensuring the panels do not overheat.
  • Shading: Place the solar panels in the best position so that they do not overheat during the hottest times of the day, but, at the same time, guarantee enough exposure.

If the techniques above become challenging and overheating might be expected, below are some cooling solutions that can be useful.

  • Active Cooling Systems: Water or air circulation systems can help dissipate heat to avoid overheating the solar panels. This is an effective method but can be more costly and complicated.
  • Passive Cooling: Ask the manufacturer if the panels can be customized with light-colored back sheets or a light-tone frame since lighter colors absorb less heat.

You can gain vital information to balance the coefficient by monitoring panel temperatures and system performance. Using a single-axis or dual-axis solar tracking system makes the whole optimization process smarter and more precise.

Final Words

Temperature coefficient is a critical characteristic of solar panels that we cannot control.

Aside from the brand and technology utilized, the performance of the solar panel depends on other facts that can still be controlled.

Even if solar energy is a renewable source and green energy, it is still a way from being truly competitive in power output compared to traditional sources.

However, mitigating the negative impact of the temperature coefficient by adjusting the factors we can control can make the entire setup more financially possible.

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