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Do solar panels work better on hot days? © Getty Images

Do solar panels work better on hot days?

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Although solar panels absorb energy from the sun, hotter temperatures actually make them less efficient.

Asked by: Liam Farmer, Birmingham

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Surprisingly, they perform worse as the temperature rises! Solar panels work by using incoming photons to excite electrons in a semiconductor to a higher energy level. But the hotter the panel is, the greater the number of electrons that are already in the excited state. This reduces the voltage that the panel can generate and lowers its efficiency.

Higher temperatures also increase the electrical resistance of the circuits that convert the photovoltaic charge into AC electricity. Modern hybrid solar panels are designed to suffer less from the heat, but they can still lose 10 per cent of their rated efficiency on hot days.


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Authors

luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.

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