Common Solar and Battery Myths Busted
Myths have always been around, ranging from sacred cultural narratives to traditional stories and popular misunderstandings. Even in the world of solar and batteries, myths still exist and are believed to be true. Let’s bust some of the most common solar and battery myths today.
Myth: Solar panels don’t work on partly cloudy days
Although typically solar panels generate more electricity on sunny days and with direct sunlight, they still operate efficiently when the weather is less fortunate. Generally, solar panels can produce approximately 10 to 25 percent of their normal capacity on cloudy days, depending on the type of solar. On partly cloudy days, solar can be affected by a phenomenon known as ‘the edge of cloud effect’. This term refers to the sunlight being magnified by the edges of the clouds which can result in a temporary boost of the solar system’s power output, busting this myth.
In case you’re still not convinced, have you ever spent a day outside on partly cloudy weather thinking you wouldn’t get sunburned? This ultraviolet light – which solar panels use to produce electricity – is still able to reach us through the clouds. Take a look at our previous blog post 'How Do Solar Panels Work?' for more information about how sunlight is converted into electricity.
Myth: Solar panels require high maintenance
Generally, it is suggested to hose off the panels approximately once a year, and to ensure surrounding trees are cut back to prevent the solar panels from being overshadowed. Also, check there are no leaves, or bird droppings covering the panels as these may impact the amount of sunlight reaching your panels. Solar panels mounted to the ground may accumulate more dirt and dust, and may need more maintenance than other panels.
To clean your panels, you can use: warm water, some non-abrasive liquid, Windex, a brush, or a high pressure hose. Basically, it’s the same method as cleaning your windows. If you prefer, you can also contact specialist window cleaning companies to clean your panels for you.
Myth: Monocrystalline solar cells are better than polycrystalline cells
Monocrystalline solar cells have been superior for many years due to their higher peak efficiency and their availability. However, stating monocrystalline solar cells are better than polycrystalline is incorrect. Let’s briefly compare both types of cells.
According to some, monocrystalline solar cells have a more aesthetic appearance due to their black cells. Typically, one square meter will generate approximately 190W which makes the panels slightly smaller than polycrystalline panels. Monocrystalline cells operate well (and often better than polycrystalline cells) under perfect weather conditions: during clear, sunny days.
Polycrystalline solar cells have a blue colour with some patches that are lighter than others (due to multiple crystals) although their look has become gradually darker. They also reveal a better performance on days with less ideal sunlight and higher temperatures. Thanks to their multiple crystals, polycrystalline cells can produce more electricity as sunlight is reflected within the crystals. One square meter of polycrystalline cells generates about 180W which results in slightly bigger solar panels to allow an equal amount of wattage compared to the monocrystalline cells.
Myth: Batteries will discharge when placed or stored on a concrete floor
This common belief results from an ancient fact. The first batteries were made of glass cells enclosed in wooden boxes, and placing them on a concrete floor would cause the wood to swell and damage the battery cells. Later, those boxes were replaced by porous rubber consisting of carbon. When these batteries were stored on a concrete floor, the combination of the carbon and concrete could create an electrical current between the cells causing the battery to discharge.
However, modern batteries are made from harder materials, such as polypropylene, and seal better. Therefore, you do not need to worry about placing your batteries on a concrete floor. In fact, these days it is recommended to store them as such. Not only are ground temperatures cooler, concrete also provides an extra thermal mass protecting them against any temperature shifts in the battery.
Myth: Storing my deep cycle batteries for a short time will discharge them
Typically, storing deep cycle batteries for a month will discharge them with only a small percentage (AGM 1-3 percent), so putting them away for a short time will not discharge them. However, all batteries self-discharge. The rate of their self-discharge depends on the temperature they’re exposed to: the higher the temperature, the faster your battery will self-discharge. When storing your AGM batteries at 25°C, a freshening charge is recommended after approximately six months.
Myth: AGM deep cycle batteries need to be drained before charging them
This belief results from the battery memory effect which occurs in nickel cadmium (NiCd) and nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) rechargeable batteries. The term ‘battery memory’ refers to the steady loss of maximum energy capacity whenever a battery is being charged after a partial discharge; the battery only remembers the smaller capacity. In other words, batteries with a battery memory should be drained completely on a regular basis to maintain their full capacity. However, AGM batteries do not have a battery memory and as such it is not necessary to drain them. In fact, the less you drain the battery each time before recharging, the longer the battery will last.October 28, 2014 | By Nathan Gathercole| Comments
Nathan is the owner of Aussie Batteries & Solar, and has been immersed in the battery industry for many years. Growing up on the Sunshine Coast, he enjoyed taking full advantage of the spectacular outdoors on offer, and has turned this passion into a thriving business. As the saying goes, "Find a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life".