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The Truth about Shade and Solar

Updated: Jun 6

Thinking about going solar?


Not so fast!


Solar is a long term investment, so make sure you know what you’re getting before you venture into the sunlight.


Your system must be designed correctly in order to produce optimally.


Which means shade must be calculated correctly.


Here is the quick and darkly about shade.

Solar panels turn sunlight into electricity, but shading on the panels reduces how much the panels will produce.


If you have too much shade, solar may not be an option for you, but some shade is okay.


So what happens when your panels are shaded?


Well each panel is made up of 72 cells (sometimes 64, but usually 72) and your panel is divided into 3 sections of 24 cells each.


If any of the cells in that section is shaded the whole section will stop working, but the other two sections will continue to produce electricity.

And only a small amount of shading is needed to affect a panel section, like the branch of a tree or a telephone wire.


But what if a whole panel is shaded? Will that affect the production of your entire solar array?


That depends on your inverter.


Real Quick!


An inverter converts DC power produced from your panels to AC power which is what your home or business needs to operate.


And there are 3 inverter options.


A string inverter, which is the least expensive, is not optimal for shade because if even part of one panel is shaded it will affect the output of all of the other panels.

A string inverter with optimizers allows each panel to operate independently, so if one solar panel is shaded it won’t affect the production of the whole array.

The third option is a microinverter which goes underneath each panel so each panel operates independently.


When one panel has shade it doesn’t affect the output of any other panel.


Micros are optimal for homes and businesses with considerable shade, but they are more expensive too.

In a nutshell, sorry for the cliché. Shade will affect your solar system.


So a thorough shade analysis of your property done by your solar installer is important.


Joe Collins is the owner of CIE Solar Energy, LLC.


For a more in-depth understanding of solar and shade please link to Sarah Gambone’s, article here.


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