Solar Panel Glare FAQs

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Solar Panel Glare: FAQs & Answers

One of the more common objections leveled against solar installations is that panels produce an unseemly amount of glare. This glare is said to be a nuisance and to cause any number of horrible things. However, when we dig beneath the surface, we find that many of these criticisms don’t hold up. To clear the air, we have assembled some of the most common questions about solar panel glare and answered each in turn. We hope that you find this useful in your own solar journey. 

Residential Solar Glare FAQs

Most people worried about solar panel glare are those who live in residential areas. Some of the main issues with a solar glare that they are concerned about are driving hazards, increased heat, bad aesthetics, and potential health risks. In this section, we will cover these and more.

Does Solar Panel Glare Cause Driving Hazards?

One of the first things that people wonder about is whether solar panel glare might impede traffic. Some claim that solar panels can pose a hazard to drivers. This is not the case. Because of the angle of solar panels, light is generally reflected away from the road. Additionally, solar panels work better when they absorb more light. Because of this, solar panels are almost always treated with anti-reflective measures. The average reflection from a window is around four percent. However, with solar panels, the percentage of light reflected is around two percent. This means that solar panels actually cause less of a hazard than the windows on your house

Does Excess Heat from Solar Glare Harm the Panels? 

Some worry that the sunlight reflected from solar panels will make surrounding buildings hotter. While solar panels do radiate some amount of heat, a residential solar installation will not have an overall effect on ambient temperature. The only time that you should worry about your home receiving solar panel glare is if you live on the floor of a building that is taller than a neighboring building with a solar installation. This might happen if you live in an apartment block next to a small business or home with solar. If, however, you don’t live next to, and above, a solar installation, you shouldn’t have any problems. 

Does Solar Panel Glare Make My Neighborhood Look Bad?

This is a tough one to answer since it ultimately comes down to personal preference. There may be some in your neighborhood who think that a solar installation is ugly. They may say that it ruins the look of the neighborhood, or provides a hazard. Others, however, view solar panels as a sign of progress, representing a sustainable future. Should you worry about your neighbors being upset about a potential solar installation, it is recommended that you speak to them about the benefits of solar and why it won’t hurt their property values. 

Are There Any Health Problems Associated With Solar Panel Glare?

Some are worried that the glare associated with solar panels may bring potential health hazards, such as damaging eyesight or causing skin cancer. The answer to this worry is the same as the answer to the first question. Because solar panels are treated with anti-reflective measures, they actually reflect less light than regular glass, such as windows or car windshields. 

Because of this anti-reflective treatment, solar panels are less hazardous for your health than windows, cars and swimming pools. Damage to your eyesight is more likely to come from the windows of other houses than a solar installation, and skin cancer is more likely to occur at a pool than from solar panels. 

Large-Scale Solar and Solar Glare

Commercial solar projects are almost always larger and more intense than a single home’s residential solar installation. Is glare from a large solar installation a problem? 

Do Large Solar Projects Impact Airports?

One of the main objections to large solar installations is that solar glare can be dangerous for airplane pilots. However, this is simply not the case. Discounting the sun itself, which makes up the vast majority of glare incidents for airline pilots, fresh snow and bodies of water are far more reflective than solar panels. Even things such as concrete and glass on buildings are more of a nuisance for pilots than solar panels. In fact, many airports have installed their own solar panels to help supply the vast amounts of power that airports require. Some airports in America that have their own solar installations are the Denver airport and the Nellis Air Force Base. At the time of construction, the Nellis AFB installation was the largest solar panel system in the US.

Does the Glare From Large Solar Projects Make the Area Hotter?

There is not any evidence to show that glare from solar panels will make the surrounding area hotter. While there is mixed evidence about whether large PV systems make an area warmer or cooler, it comes down to a variety of local factors such as vegetation being removed and the soil composition is changed. The reflected light from panels, however, has nothing to do with it.

Will the Solar Glare From a Large PV Installation Impact My Quality of Life?

It’s unlikely that you’ll find yourself living next to a large solar installation. However, if you do, you will find that not much changes. As we’ve seen, the glare is unlikely to affect your life any more than the windows of your home will. You’ll have nothing to worry about, according to the NREL.

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