Solar Panel Mounting and Ventilation
Important issues for mounting of solar panels
By Sustainability at University of Western Australia - credit Jonathan Thwaites
- Angle of mounting
- Shadowing effects of nearby buildings and trees
- Mechanical integrity
- Collection of dirt on panel surfaces and frames
- Compatibility of roofing, panel, screws and framing materials
- Natural convective cooling
This article looks at the last item only. Contrary to what you may expect, when solar panels become hot, their output is reduced.
Panel temperature has a large effect on efficiency. A 20° Celsius increase in panel temperature can reduce efficiency by as much as 40%. Natural convective air cooling around the panels is essential to ensure efficiency losses are minimised.
How NOT to mount solar panels
The old mounting system shown on the right, provided inadequate ventilation for cooling and also lacked mechanical integrity.
The cooler you can keep the panels the better their performance, particularly in summer. A gap between the panels and the roof provides natural ventilation. The maximum size of the ventilation gap depends on the quality of your frame, the surrounding terrain and topography, and the 'Wind Region' (check with local council). Obviously, cyclone prone areas require stronger frames and bolts.
See our range of solar mounting frames.
How to mount solar panels
Solar panel temperature and efficiency data
Temperature data collected off the panels for the old mounting system is shown below together with weather data from the Murdoch University weather station some 15 km from the power station.