⦁ Remove any areas of shading or covering
Shade is the solar panel’s number one enemy. Shading on just one panel, even intermittently or only at certain times of the day or year, can affect your overall system performance. Make sure you’re keeping on top of things like any new tree growth around your home, leaves falling onto your roof, or the placement of any new equipment like roof-mounted antennas or air-conditioning condensers.
⦁ Make sure your solar panels are clean and free of debris
Anything that covers up the effective area of your solar panels will reduce their output. Similar to shade, debris or dirt can also be the cause of a decrease in performance. Usually, rain is enough to wash off dust and dirt on a regular basis, but sometimes, especially for stubborn bird droppings, damp leaves, or panels that aren’t installed on some sort of incline, the job might need a bit more elbow grease.
⦁ Maximise self-consumption and reduce your demand from the grid
Use as much of your free, solar-generated electricity during daylight hours as you can. Recharge devices, such as laptops, tablets and mobile phones during the day instead of overnight. Use your washing machine, clothes dryer or dishwasher during the day, so you can come home to clean clothes and clean dishes when you get home from work. Set your air conditioner to work during the day – either by a smartphone app or a timer – to pre-cool or pre-heat your home while you’re out during the day. Ideally, if your home has reached the perfect temperature by the early evening, you might be able to turn it off and reduce the amount of power you draw from the grid.
To take this even further, try to limit the number of electric appliances you’re using at one time. The size of your solar system will limit the amount of electricity that you can draw from it at once. Using two high-demand appliances at once might mean you’ll end up drawing from the grid for the excess required. For example, if you’re running the dishwasher, wait until it’s finished before starting up the washing machine or the clothes dryer.