Over the last decade, there has been a huge increase in the use of solar energy in the global energy sector. While this is an encouraging trend in the fight against climate change and pollution, not everyone is positive about this energy revolution. Many myths and misconceptions have been created around renewables, undermining the viability and potential of the photovoltaic sector.
In this article, we will try to dispel the most common myths about PV installations that appear in the media.
Myth 1. PV panels do not work on cloudy days
Fact: Even on cloudy days and in ‘ugly’ weather, photovoltaic panels will still generate electricity. Clouds do not completely block the sun’s radiation – otherwise darkness would fall with every overcast day. The degree to which sunlight is blocked depends, among other things, on the type of clouds covering the sky.
It is worth noting that the efficiency of a photovoltaic installation on cloudy days will be lower than on sunny days. This is because clouds obscure some of the sunlight reaching the panels. Clear, high clouds allow more light to pass through, while low and dense storm clouds create a stronger barrier (less electricity production).
Below is our completed photovoltaic installation and a report of electricity production on a sunny and cloudy day.
Myth 2. photovoltaic panels quickly lose their usefulness
Fact: Photovoltaic panels are very durable, fireproof, lightweight and weatherproof, so they can last for a long time. On average, many photovoltaic panel manufacturers offer a 10-year product guarantee and a 25-year performance guarantee. This means that you are guaranteed that the panels will produce electricity at no less than 80% of their output for a period of 25 years. High-quality photovoltaic modules often come with a 25-30 year product guarantee and a 30-year performance guarantee above 86%.
Myth 3: Solar panels cause fires
Fact: Solar panels are themselves very safe devices. They are designed to withstand extreme weather conditions, including high winds, hail and intense sunlight. Furthermore, photovoltaic modules do not generate heat or sparks that could ignite. Thus, photovoltaic panels themselves are very rarely the cause of fires.
However, in addition to the panels, a photovoltaic installation also includes inverters, cables and connectors, which must be properly installed and maintained. Faulty installation or insufficient maintenance can lead to problems such as overloading, short circuits or overheating, which could theoretically lead to a fire. However, most PV installations have built-in safety features such as automatic circuit breakers to prevent fires.
Therefore, although fires caused by photovoltaics are rare, it is important to have the installation carried out by professional and certified companies. Carrying out regular maintenance and keeping the photovoltaic installation in good condition is also key to ensuring its safe operation.
Myth 4. Photovoltaic panels do not work in extremely high or low temperatures
Fact: Photovoltaic panels absorb energy from solar radiation, not solar heat. This means that photovoltaic installations can still convert solar radiation into electricity, even at sub-zero temperatures.
High temperatures can actually reduce the efficiency of PV cells when converting solar energy into electricity. Therefore, PV installations are more efficient at lower temperatures. For example, when a panel reaches a temperature of 60℃, its efficiency can drop by around 16% compared to a panel at 25℃. However, this does not mean that the installation stops working at extreme temperatures. Rather, it would be accurate to say that certain temperatures can slightly reduce its efficiency.
Myth 5: Photovoltaic panels are too expensive
Fact: The price of photovoltaic panels has dropped significantly over the past decade or so, thanks to advances in technology and increased competition. In addition, many governments and organisations offer subsidy schemes and tax credits to help reduce the cost of purchase and installation. Although the initial expense may be higher, the long-term savings on energy bills make the investment worthwhile.
Myth 6: Having a photovoltaic installation will provide me with electricity in the event of a power failure
Fact: A photovoltaic installation alone will not provide power in the event of an emergency. If you are interested in having emergency power in the event of a power failure or outage, you need to consider purchasing energy storage. Sometimes emergency power is available as a standard feature of the storage, but sometimes it requires additional configuration. When talking to your installer, ask about the availability of backup power for your system.
Myth 7: Photovoltaic panels require a lot of space
Fact: Although a larger surface area allows for more energy, photovoltaic panels can be installed even in a limited space. There are various mounting options, such as installation on the roof, the façade of a building, on fences or on special structures on the ground. In this way, the installation can be tailored to the investor’s individual needs and possibilities.
Myth 8: Photovoltaic panels require expensive maintenance
Fact: Photovoltaic panels are relatively maintenance-free. Their maintenance mainly comes down to regular cleaning to ensure maximum sunlight reception. Most panels have a long warranty and can last up to 25-30 years. Therefore, the long-term benefits of energy production outweigh the potential maintenance costs.