Can You Use A Magnifying Glass On A Solar Panel? How To Amplify A Solar Panel!

A magnifying glass amplifies sunlight by concentrating it. Solar panels convert sunlight into energy. Can the two be combined to boost the energy production from a solar panel? It is not possible to use Magnifying Glass On A Solar Panel because concentrating light on a solar panel with a magnifying glass burns the panel.

Why does this happen? Let’s look a little closer into how magnifying glass works and why putting a solar panel under it might not be a good idea.

Can A Magnifying Glass Create Electricity?

A magnifying glass does not create electricity. While it cannot directly create electricity, a magnifying glass can be used to concentrate sunlight to produce heat or thermal energy. The heat can be used for different purposes such as heating water.

Heliac is a Danish start-up that is using this concept to provide water to a small village. They use large magnifying glasses that heat water to up to 350 degrees Celsius. Solar panels in comparison, reach a maximum temperature of 120 degrees Celsius. Source

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How A Magnifying Glass Works

A magnifying glass is a convex lens made from glass or plastic. When light hits the glass, it gets refracted towards the center of the lens. When light exits the glass it refracts even further, which concentrates the rays of light.

The concentration of light is so strong it burns up to 1,090 degrees Celsius. A four-foot magnifying glass is so powerful it can melt metal, burn wood, or concrete.

If you placed a solar panel under a magnifying glass, the light would be concentrated and melt the panel or burn a hole through it

So No, it is not possible to Use A Magnifying Glass On A Solar Panel

In 2008, IBM scientists used a large lens to concentrate solar energy onto a small solar cell. Why didn’t this cell spontaneously burst into flame when concentrating the power of 2000 suns is enough to melt stainless steel?

IBM borrowed innovations it uses to cool its computer chips to cool the solar cell from 1600 degrees Celsius to just 85 degrees Celsius. Reflecting light onto solar panels is a branch of solar technology known as concentrator photovoltaics. Source

Commercial solar farms amplify solar panel output using mirrors. This is known as Concentrating Solar Power (CSP). Mirrors focus sunlight onto collectors which convert it into heat. The heat generates steam which turns turbines to generate electricity.

For more on this, we highly recommend that you check out our post ” Can You Use Mirrors To Redirect Sunlight? Why You Shouldn’t!

CSPs are large utility-scale projects that take up large stretches of land. They generate about 1MW of electricity for every 5 to 10 acres of land. Source

How Do You Amplify A Solar Panel?

For a residential home, the most efficient way to amplify a solar panel is to properly install and maintain it. Ensuring correct location, orientation and tilt will improve the yield of a solar panel more cost effectively than any other technique.

The first thing to look at when you want to improve the performance of a solar system is to have it installed properly.

  1. Location is the most important factor in solar panel production. It can’t be stressed enough how much of an influence having solar panels where they receive adequate sunlight will affect production.
  2. Orientation is the direction in which your solar panels face. The optimal direction for solar panels in the northern hemisphere is south. Facing them east or west can deplete production by as much as 15%.
  3. Tilt is the angle at which solar panels should be. Solar panels should be tilted between 30 to 45 degrees to capture the maximum amount of sunlight.

Beyond those 3 main factors, there are several other basic things you can do to amplify your solar panels.

  1. Keep the solar panels clean. This is by far the most important. Dust and dirt can reduce the output of solar panels by as much as 35% in heavily polluted areas. You should be looking to clean your solar panels once or twice or year depending on how dirty they get. Source
  2. Have your solar system components as close together as possible. The further away your solar panels are from your home and the other components in your system the more wiring you need to use. The more wiring you use the less efficient your system becomes at producing electricity.
  3. Pick the right solar panels. Monocrystalline solar panels are the most efficient, maxing out at close to 23%. Polycrystalline is the second most efficient at around 18%. Thin-film solar panels are the least efficient at under 15%.
  4. There are also solar tracking systems. Instead of your solar panels being firmly fixed, a tracking system adjusts them to follow the sun as it moves throughout the day.

Does Glass Affect Solar Panels?

Solar panels used behind glass are up to 50% less efficient. They still produce electricity but their output is affected because they cannot absorb the full spectrum of light through the glass. Refraction and reflection from the glass reduce the available light from which solar panels produce energy.

Solar panels absorb a wide spectrum of light including infrared, ultraviolet, and visible light to produce energy. Placing glass between the solar panel and the light source reduces the amount of light reaching the panel. The less light the panel receives, the less energy it produces.

What Can Ruin Solar Panels?

Solar panels experience the most damage from shading, impact from falling debris, water damage as well as the weather. Those are the four most common causes of solar panel damage.

Shading on a solar panel can create a hot spot by increasing the internal resistance of cells in the panel. Over time this can irreversibly damage the cells and the solar panel. Make sure there are no objects like branches, chimneys, or adjacent buildings casting shadows on your solar panels.

Water damage is usually due to a defective solar panel. A solar panel should be waterproof. When water leaks into the panel, it causes a short circuit. Solar panels have an equipment warranty that covers defects in the panel. If your solar panels have water damage you should be able to get a replacement at no charge.

Extreme heat and cold can damage the cells in a solar panel or crack the glass that protects the cells. There’s also a significant risk of damage from hailstorms and hurricanes.

We also highly recommend that you check out our post titled “Why Are Solar Panels So inefficient? Factors & Comparision To Other Energy Sources!


I am a very well-experienced techie civil engineer who’s extensively interested in solar panel technology and even more captivated by the potential of solar panels in supporting individual residential units.

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