Do solar panels heat and dry the ground


We all know the basics of how solar panels work. They absorb light and heat. Panels are dark in color (black and blue, to be exact), which is advantageous since dark colors readily absorb both. Therefore, it’s natural to wonder, “Do solar panels heat up the ground?” The simple answer is no. But many factors contribute to the heat a solar array can produce. And with severe heat and droughts currently wreaking havoc in the West and upper Midwest, it’s important to look at solar panels’ impact on your land. So first, let’s peek under the hood of a solar panel.


The way solar panels create electric power is essentially a physical one. As photons from the sun hit solar cells, they move electrons from their atoms. Solar panels are designed so that this creates a circuit that then generates electricity through a solar array. Interestingly, the heat created by the photons is a byproduct of this process, not the main component. So, while solar panels may attract more heat than, for example, grass, they do not heat the ground beneath them.


As a farmer or rancher, you may be concerned about the heat factor if you’re thinking about installing a solar system. Specifically, you may want to know whether solar panels heat up the surrounding vegetation, killing grasses and increasing the risk of fires. Thankfully, the opposite is true. Solar panels provide several benefits:


1: They provide shade to areas normally exposed to intense sunlight.

2: This cools vegetation during the day while warming it at night as panels help retain the heat lost to contact with the cool night air. 

3: While a solar system can change the light dynamics of an area, crops grow at approximately the same rate with or without solar panels.

4: In many cases, a panel system can provide opportunities to grow shade-tolerant or shade-dependent crops that might otherwise struggle to develop.

5: Some ranchers even like to graze sheep and cattle around panels as a simple way to maintain overgrown vegetation.

Just be mindful that your panels must be positioned at least 7 feet off the ground for needed clearance. Otherwise, all your good solar efforts could be destroyed.


Solar panels can negligibly increase air temperatures in the immediate vicinity, though areas under panels remain cooler than they would otherwise. The only scenario in which solar power might significantly increase temperatures is when the widespread global adoption of solar darkens the overall color signature of the earth. Fortunately, we’d only see this in a sci-fi movie or if theoretical plans to turn the Sahara desert into a massive solar array actually happened.


So, do solar panels heat up and dry out vegetation? Not usually. If you’ve been planning to install solar modules on your property, rest assured that plants can still grow around and underneath solar panels when properly spaced and professionally installed.


Solar panels also:

1: Protect your soil by blocking the wind and limiting erosion

2: Preserve soil nutrients and water

3: Provide habitat and food for bees and butterfly pollinators

4: Save your irrigation water from evaporation


Contact us today to see how you can achieve all your goals and increase your profit margins.


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