For solar panels, using temperature probes to monitor production is extremely important. Understanding how and why temperture impacts solar panels enhances the usage and performance of this valuable renewable energy source.

The optimal outdoor temperature or, in other words, the temperature at which a panel will maximize production of energy is 77°F or 25°C. Why that temperature? Because the industry standard is to test and rate solar panels at 77°F. It turns out that locations that stay at or below that range and enjoy consistent amounts of sunshine are best for solar panels.

Why is that the case? The current and voltage output of a solar panel is impacted by changing weather conditions, and must be adjusted to ensure proper operation for the specific location.

What is voltage? Voltage is the difference in electrical charge between two points in a circuit. This difference in charge allows electricity to flow.

What is current? Current is the rate at which electricity flows through the system.

As the temperature increases, it reduces the amount of energy a panel produces. This is due to an increase in resistance. High temperatures slow the speed of the electrical current. Similarly, as temperature decreases resistance is decreased and energy production goes up.

Consider the example of exercising outside on a hot day, a temperature of 85ºF or higher. Exercising in this type of weather is harder and requires more energy. Do the same exercise on a moderate temperature day of 70ºF and compare the two experiences. It is a lot easier to do the same exercise in the cooler weather since the body is not forced to work as hard. Solar panels work in the same way. On a cool and sunny day, panel voltage is higher and current flows faster than on a hot and sunny day.

Utilizing temperature probes to monitor the range of temperature can help manage the solar panel production. That saves money and maximizes the investment in solar panels.

Solar power plants are a related yet distinct environment for the use of temperature probes. In the plants, there are normally two types of temperature probes:

  • Module temperature sensors to monitor the solar panel’s temperature
  • Ambient temperature sensors to monitor the environment’s ambient temperature

For example; while the ambient temperature could be 95ºF degrees in the peak of summer time, the module temperature can be in the range of 70ºF degrees which is fine for good solar panel production. If monitoring decisions are made using only one of the two temperature probes and actions taken deriving from that decision, it could be a mistake and impact performance negatively. These type of errors are avoided by using both types of temp probes.

Please contact us for custom temperature probe design, assembly and manufacturing for solar panels or many other applications.