Trees in the long term

6 May

In our recent Arbor Day post on the importance of trees in our everyday lives, we touched on the idea that solar and trees can in fact complement one another. We promised to go into further details on solar, trees and your electric bill. So without further ado, let’s get to it.

Trees can provide one great undesirable effect on solar electric systems, direct shade. At the same time, they can also provide some great benefits, such as shade? That’s right, if trees are not directly shading the panels, but are shading the side of the house or building, your solar electric system and in fact electric bill benefit. The trees keep the home cooler, which reduces your AC needs, and also reduces the heat your home naturally emits through the walls and roof. The reduction of emitted heat means the panels and inverter are cooler, and like most electronics, solar panels and their inverters are more efficient at cooler temps.

Whereas directly shading panels in the solar world is a big no, shading inverters we cannot encourage enough, inverters production is at its optimum in the cooler temps trees and shrubs can provide.

If you do decide to plant new shrubs or trees, keep in mind that the best position for them in Los Angeles, (and in fact the northern hemisphere) is on the west and south side of the house. If you already have a solar electric system or are planning on installing one, its best to look for trees that are a little on the short side, ideally below the roof line, to extend the good relationship between solar panels and trees.  Also keep in mind that with shorter trees, it’s best to plant them closer to the house, so you can get more out of over the course of the sun’s daily path.

If you are interested in a solar electric system, but have large trees around your house, contact us for a free solar site evaluation, we have a tool in our arsenal called a solar pathfinder, that can actually tell us which trees, if any, will shade a solar electric system.

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