We can’t emphasize enough the importance of installing a solar system correctly. There are several components that make up a solar system, including a solar panel, batteries, charge controller, and electric component such as a light fixture. All components of the system need to be installed properly for the whole system to work efficiently, and reliably.

The solar panel is the most important component in the system in regards to correct installation. The solar panel is the main power source of the system, so if it is not installed as it should be, the system is not going to function as expected. 

The solar panel needs to face due south (for installations in the Northern hemisphere) and be installed at an appropriate angle. The solar panel needs clear direct view of the sun, and can’t be shaded.

If the solar panel is not installed to the above requirements, it will absorb less energy than expected and will result inconsistent operation. Most solar systems (including ours) are supplied with additional back-up power to accommodate for several days of unfavorable weather conditions, but they are not designed to consistently function with lower than expected sun-levels due to consistent shading.

Above is an example of a solar panel installed incorrectly. At first glance, you may not see a problem, but upon closer review you can see that the solar panel is being shaded from the palm frowns above it. Shortly after this system was installed, the customer contacted for suggestions as to why their system was not illuminating consistently. After gathering the stored data from the charge controller, it was determined that the solar panel was absorbing half the expected energy due to the shading. Once the solar panel was moved to a position without shading, the system worked as expected.

If a solar system has a shaded solar panel for an extended period of time, it is likely to cause damage to the batteries in the system. You don’t want that, and we don’t want that either!

In addition to the example above, we have pictures of additional installations where the solar panel has been installed in shaded locations. These are some things to avoid when installing the solar panel.

The solar panel in the installation has been installed facing the wrong direction, and directly behind the sign. It was in the shade throughout the day, which resulted in the light not performing as it should. Upon review of the pictures, we provided the customer recommendations for better solar panel placement ultimately resulting in the system working properly.

When installing a solar panel behind a sign, if you want to install it to the back of the sign structure make sure the back faces south. If it’s not, you’ll need to mount the solar panel far away enough so that the shadow from the sign does not reach the solar panel. Keep in mind that shadows are longer / bigger in the winter months when the sun is lower in the sky.

Click here (link) https://www.suncalc.org to determine the shadow length in your location. You’ll want to select December 21st, and include the height of the sign or obstruction (in meters).

We understand that not everyone is like us and wants to see solar panels everywhere (but we think they’re pretty!). If the solar panel is installed around foliage and/or shrubs make sure the leaves are not covering the solar panel. Even if one leaf is covering a 1” x 1” area on one cell of the solar panel, it will dramatically affect the performance of the solar panel. Take into consideration how the plants will grow, and keep an eye on them over time to make sure the panel is not covered.