tree shade impact solar production

Does shading impact solar panel power production? 

The basis for solar panels is that they require radiation from the sun to generate electricity. Therefore, your solar panels may not be nearly as efficient if the sun is not shining. Solar panels perform the best in full, direct sunlight, but your solar panels will still function in cloudy weather. 

Do you have trees, chimneys, or vents causing shading on your roof? Read how Forme Solar ensures the perfect system design to minimize the impact of shading!

home surrounded by trees shade

How do trees and shade affect solar panel power production?

When looking at solar for homes or businesses, the most critical design consideration is a thorough and proper shading analysis. The reason this is so critical is that improper shading analysis can cause drastic production variances. Most solar companies provide production guarantees, and not fully understanding the impact of shade on your home can impact that guarantee. 

shade home solar gets impacted

Solar companies will have different shading analysis for your property if there is a possibility of shading impacting your solar energy system. Forme Solar system design engineers take full consideration of the impact of shade. This analysis is critical because a solar PV system’s financial payback is based on real-world production numbers. If the production estimate of your solar energy system estimates is widely off, that system’s expectations may be completely distorted. Homeowners may find that their energy system built to offset 100% of their electricity costs only offsets 50%. That is why Forme Solar takes under significant consideration the impact on shading to provide our customers with the best options possible. 

If you feel your home has many trees and that they might affect production, contact us! Our solar design professionals will be happy to guide you.

Best Equipment to Minimize the Impact from Shading

Lower exposure to sunlight is the most significant contributor to lowered efficiency. The design layout of your solar installation and type of inverter significantly impact lower exposure to sunlight. If your home’s roof is shaded for most of the day, specific solar inverters may not work well for you. 

The inverter is essentially the brain of the solar energy system. Inverters convert direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) and are essential to the panels’ performance. The right inverter will help minimize efficiency losses from shaded solar panels. 

String Inverters

An inverter is a device that changes electricity from DC (direct current) into AC (alternating current). String inverters are the most basic inverter technology type. A solar energy system that uses a string inverter setup connects a series of solar panels to the same inverter. This means that the entire solar array will operate at the power of the lowest solar panel. For solar panels that consistently get different amounts of sunlight throughout the day, string inverters are the worst type of inverter to go with. 

String Inverter with Power Optimizers

Power Optimizers allow string inverters to overcome their biggest flaw. Power optimizers work like a microinverter in that the power is optimized at the panel level and sent to the single string inverter. They are essentially acting as a combination of a string inverter and a microinverter. Like a microinverter, power optimizers can help negate the effect of a single panel being shaded on an entire system. Plus, you only need a single inverter, which is a lower cost. 


Solar panels with microinverters are best equipped to deal with shading issues. This is because, with a microinverter setup, each solar panel has an individual microinverter attached. If one solar panel is completely shaded, it will not impact the other solar panels in the same array. 

Consider Other Areas to Add Solar Panels

When people think of solar panels, they typically think of the roof mounted type. But that is not your only option. A ground-mounted array allows you to have more control over how much sunlight your solar array receives because you can put it in direct sunlight.

Shade Analysis Software – Lidar Data Based

home shading analysis
Homes with Shade Need Proper Analysis

If you have shading issues, work with a company that uses shade analysis software. After installing thousands of solar energy systems, we have found that the most accurate software to analyze commercial and residential shading is Aurora Solar. Aurora Solar provides real-world LIDAR (radar) data to provide the height, foliage depth, and shape of trees and structures to cause shade. Their two core features that allow us to optimize the solar potential for your home is through their two core shading tools: 

  • Irradiance Maps enable a visualize the sun potential of a site 365 days a year for 20 years.  
  • Shade Simulator visualizes shading impact by objects on the site and to get shade analysis remotely.
solar lidar analysis software light
Irradiance Calculation Determines Best Layout

Aurora’s high-resolution remote shading simulator generates a shading report to see the full impact of the shade. It allows us to determine the solar energy system’s best layout on their specific home and location. Aurora constructs a 3D model from the home’s 2D structure and simulates the sun’s orbit over its 3D model. This provides a full view of how the sun’s orbit impacts the solar energy system’s shading 365 days a year for 20 years. 

This irradiance calculation is further enhanced by incorporating LIDAR. 

What is LIDAR? How does it help?

Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) is a technology used to model building heights, roof slopes, and tree heights. LIDAR modeling provides the ability to calculate sunlight (irradiance) and shading. They are providing a more accurate site and shading analysis.

These tools allow solar companies like Forme Solar, to determine the impact of shading on system energy production. Once shade causing structures are correctly accounted for, we can accurately assess their impact on your solar energy production.

The Best Solar Design For Shade

Forme Solar considers all different parameters and shade modeling tools to identify and optimize your solar energy system’s design. Our design experts will carefully layout your solar energy system to minimize the impact of shade on your system’s performance. Get a solar quote or call us today at 714-694-2262 to see how we can help you maximize your solar energy system’s production potential.