Will Trees Affect My Solar Panels?
June 15, 2023
We all know trees provide that oh-so-valuable shade we need on those especially hot summer days. Put simply, they’re great at keeping things cool and comfortable. But their presence can also block sunlight in undesirable places — like on your solar panels.
When trees cast too much shadow on solar panels, it affects their performance (specifically their efficiency and effectiveness). This isn’t good news for your system’s overall energy output!
In this article, we’ll explore the impact trees have on solar panels and how to improve any potential performance issues from shading.
[Related: 50 Facts About Solar Power]
Shading and Solar Panel Performance
As we’d expect, solar panels work optimally when they receive direct, unobstructed sunlight. So any shading from trees may hinder their ability to generate maximum energy.
With that said, even partial shading on a small portion of your panels can influence the efficiency of your entire system. Why? It’s because solar panels typically interconnect (that is, connect to one another via intricate wiring).
So when one panel’s efficiency is lower or higher than another’s, it either improves or worsens the surrounding panels. And this eventually affects your entire system’s energy output.
Let’s explore some factors that contribute to shade on your panels.
[Related: Who Makes the Best Solar Panels?]
Tree Positioning and Solar Panel Orientation
Both the position and height of trees around your solar panels have direct impacts on how shaded — and thus less efficient — your solar panel system is.
For example, trees on the east or west side of your solar system will cast shadows during specific (and crucial) times of the day, when the sun rises and sets. Meanwhile, trees on the south end of your system will deliver more constant shading throughout the day, when the sun is high and gradually moving across the sky.
In sum, it’s important to assess the trees around your home or business, specifically their height and proximity to your system, before installing solar panels. Ultimately, you’ll better understand shading patterns and how much energy you can realistically produce without cutting down any of your beloved trees.
Other factors to consider are seasonal changes.
Depending on the season, trees can cause more or less panel shading. For example, your panels likely see less shade in the winter, when the sun’s lower in the sky, compared to the summer, when the sun’s higher.
It’s crucial that you consider these seasonal patterns (as well as climate characteristics in your geographic location) when determining your trees’ unique shade potential. That way, you can determine whether trees are affecting your solar panels’ performance.
Tree Pruning and Trimming
Proper tree pruning and trimming can nip any shading issues you might deal with. To do this, try trimming branches that cast direct shadows on your solar panels — this minimizes any obstruction of sunlight.
However, you should consult with a professional arborist or tree specialist before doing any work on your trees. (Better yet, hire the professionals to do it for you.) This ensures your trees get safe and proper pruning.
Solar Panel Design and Placement
Carefully considering the design and placement of your panels is vital because these elements can minimize shading impacts. For example, optimizing the panels’ orientation and tilt angle can completely (or partially) block tree shading.
Additionally, incorporating microinverters or power optimizers into each solar panel allows them to operate independently. As a result, you reduce any overall energy loss that shade causes.
[Related: What Is the Best Roof for Solar Panels?]
Consider Trees Before Selecting an Installation Site
If you’re planning a solar installation, it’s wise to evaluate the surrounding trees before selecting a site. Considering the location of trees and their future growth allows you to choose an optimal location that covers two bases:
- Minimizing shading concerns
- Maximizing solar energy production
Note. While trees can affect solar panel performance, it’s important to remember their environmental benefits. First and foremost, they contribute to cleaner air by reducing carbon dioxide levels. So think twice before you completely strip them from your property!
Contact Freedom Solar Power
Trees can have a noticeable impact on solar panel performance. But proper design and placement, as well as safe tree maintenance, help prevent any energy loss down the line.
So for those looking to gain energy independence and produce the maximum possible amount of energy, contact Freedom Solar. We offer SunPower solar panels — the most efficient panels on the market. We’ll ensure you get the most bang for your buck, regardless of whether you have trees on your property.
Call (800) 504-2337 or complete our online inquiry form for a free consultation. One of our energy consultants will be in touch!
Featured image via Unsplash