In a very global way we have 3 main technologies:

1. Chain Investors
2. Microinverters
3. Optimizers.

The effect that causes a shadow in a solar system behaves very negatively and differently in each technology. A typical mistake that is often thought of is that if there is a shadow obstructing part of the solar panel, the panel will still generate energy equivalent to its other area that is still exposed to the sun.

Typically the solar panel cells are in series inside the module, so it is enough to obstruct a small part of the module so that it drops sharply.

In a case where there is a shadow impacting a single module with a Chain System, the effect of this shadow will act as a bottleneck not only in the shadow module but also in the entire row (chain) of modules connected in series connected to this module. So in these types of systems, a shadow and site analysis should be performed to avoid significant losses due to these factors.

This same case, but with technology of Micro-inverters and Optimizers, the shadow effect always impacts but on a smaller scale. Since these devices optimize energy in a modular way; that is, for each module and NOT for each chain: a shadow that hits a panel will affect only the shadow panel and not the entire group.

“Similarly, you must be cautious when deciding where to place the modules, always trying to avoid important shadows.”

However, if there are shadows that we cannot avoid at any specific time of day, we can rest assured that the losses will not be as abrupt as with other types of technologies. These systems are often used when we have obstacles that cause shade and that we cannot avoid one hundred percent. For example: Fireplaces, antennas, nearby buildings of greater height, among others. However, it should be rescued that they are more expensive technologies.

In general terms, shadows should be avoided at all costs. Well, having solar modules so that they produce less than expected is a failure directly in the generation of projected energy annually.

Other important points to consider:

  • It has been frequently seen that modules are placed near high-rise trees. Not only the shade of the same tree will be a problem but also the leaves that will fall and cover the modules causing more frequent maintenance.
  • The position of the sun with respect to the installation site throughout the year plays an important role in the subject of shadows since the sun varies its angle of inclination of both East – West and North – South causing the shadows to move during the Day-to-day course of the whole year.

“Let us always make good decisions when installing solar panels. It is not just about filling the roof of a building (without taking the precautions of the case).”

By: Engineer Luis Carlos Salas Platero

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