Understanding and Mitigating Solar Panel Hotspot Effect in Your Solar System | Demuda

April 12, 2024

The solar panel hotspot effect, a critical phenomenon within photovoltaic (PV) systems, occurs when certain solar cells in a series circuit of a solar panel act as a load, consuming the energy produced by other illuminated cells under specific conditions. This results from shading or defects that cause a portion of the solar panel to convert less sunlight into electricity, instead converting it into heat.

In essence, the solar panel hotspot effect refers to a situation where a shaded or partially shaded solar panel component consumes part or all of the energy generated by its illuminated counterparts, thereby reducing the overall output power of the solar system. Left unchecked, this can lead to permanent damage to the affected solar cell module or even complete burnout.

The underlying causes of the hotspot effect primarily include the presence of malfunctioning cells, poor solder connections between electrode tabs, battery cracks evolving into fractures, localized cell degradation, or partial shading due to obstructions. When a solar cell is partially shaded, the current and voltage characteristics of some cells in the module change, causing a local increase in the product of current and voltage, which leads to a temperature rise in those areas.

To counteract this issue effectively, a bypass diode is commonly installed in parallel between the positive and negative terminals of each solar panel in a solar system. Under normal circumstances, the bypass diode remains reverse-biased, thus not affecting the panel's regular operation. However, when a cell becomes shaded or dysfunctional, the other cells force it into reverse bias, turning it into a high resistance path. At this point, the bypass diode conducts, diverting the excess current produced by the illuminated cells away from the shaded cell, thereby preventing overheating and potential damage.

By integrating bypass diodes into your solar panel design, you can significantly enhance the reliability and durability of your solar system. Understanding and mitigating the solar panel hotspot effect is crucial for maintaining optimal performance and extending the lifespan of your solar panels, ensuring a more efficient and sustainable solar energy solution.

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