How Can Weather Affect Solar Panels? - Central Homes Roofing
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How Can Weather Affect Solar Panels?

Cloud cover can reduce the effectiveness of solar panels
Read Time: 4 minutes
Aug 17, 2022

How well your solar panels work depends on the weather conditions. They can only produce as much energy as they can absorb from the sun’s rays, so on cloudy days, they won’t be as effective. There are other ways in which the weather can impact solar panels, as well.

Clouds and Shade Reduce Solar Panel Output

The more sunlight shines on your solar panels, the more energy they can take in and then output. Anything that blocks the sunlight from reaching the panels will reduce the amount of energy they produce, whether it’s clouds, the rotation of the earth, or shade from trees.

Do Solar Panels Work at Night?

Solar panels do not work at night. You would need to store energy in solar batteries or draw energy from the grid to power your home when it’s dark outside. If you don’t have solar batteries, many electric companies offer net metering options so you can sell excess solar energy to them in exchange for credits towards any power you do need to buy from the grid.

Do Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days?

a solar panel on a tile roof with the sun shining on it and clouds overhead

Depending on how thick the cloud cover is, it’s possible that solar panels may work even when it’s not particularly sunny out. You can still get sunburned when it’s cloudy out because some sunlight can still get through the clouds. However, the solar panels won’t be as effective and won’t produce as much energy.

How Can You Tell If It’s Too Cloudy for Solar Panels?

If you can’t see shadows outside, then most likely your solar panels won’t be able to produce any energy. If there is enough sunlight to produce shadows, there is enough for your solar panels to get some sunlight, even if it’s not as much as usual.

How Much Do Clouds Affect Solar Panel Output?

Clouds can reduce solar panel output by as much as 25% if it’s partly cloudy out. If it’s completely overcast, then your solar panels may only produce 10% of their normal energy. Your solar panels may actually get an occasional boost from clouds, however, if it’s the right type of cloud. Wispy edges of cumulus clouds can act as a magnifying glass when they pass over the sun.

Do Solar Panels Work in the Shade?

If shade only partially covers the solar panel, then it could still produce energy, but at a lower rate. If a solar panel is completely covered in shade, it may not be able to produce any energy at all. It’s best to install solar panels somewhere that they won’t spend any time covered in shade in order to maximize their output.

Temperature Can Affect Solar Panel Output

The temperature outside can also impact how well a solar panel works. Solar panels are actually more efficient when the temperature is colder than when it’s warmer. This means that solar panels may work more effectively during the winter or in more northerly locations.

How Much Does Temperature Impact Solar Panels?

One degree equates to one percent of effectiveness, meaning that one degree colder results in 1% more effective solar panels while one degree warmer results in 1% less effective solar panels.

Rain Can Keep Solar Panels Clean

Rain can be good for solar panels. This is because the raindrops can wash away any dirt or dust that may have accumulated on the surface of the solar panels. Not only does this reduce the amount of cleaning the homeowner would have to do but it also ensures that on sunny days, the solar panels can work at peak efficiency. However, the rainclouds themselves would reduce the output that solar panels could produce.

Solar Panels Are Hurricane Resistant

a map showing a hurricane approaching Florida

Florida can be an optimal location for solar panels due to the numerous sunny days. It’s known as the Sunshine State for a reason and solar panels installed on homes there can produce a lot of energy. However, the state is also known for its hurricanes. Fortunately, modern solar panels are designed to be weather-resistant so there’s a smaller chance of them getting damaged when a hurricane strikes.

Can Solar Panels Withstand Strong Winds?

If you live in Florida or another hurricane-prone state, it’s a good idea to check that your solar panels are certified as wind-resistant. Cities in hurricane-prone areas usually have their own regulations for wind speeds that solar panels would need to be able to handle. For example, while most solar panels should be able to resist winds of at least up to 140 mph, Florida cities may require certification for 160 mph instead.

What Damage Can Hurricanes Cause to Solar Panels?

Just because a solar panel is certified as wind-resistant doesn’t mean that it’s not possible for it to get damaged in a storm. Hurricanes can knock over trees and blow around outdoor furniture and other heavy items. Many solar panels are resistant to debris falling on them and are tested against hail, so damage to solar panels is actually rather unlikely even in a hurricane.

Will Solar Panels Work After a Hurricane?

Thanks to solar panels’ weather resistance, they’re less likely to get damaged due to a hurricane, but that doesn’t mean they’ll immediately provide power for you. If your solar system is connected to the grid and the power is out in your area, then you won’t be able to use your solar panels unless you’ve got power stored in solar batteries. This is because solar systems connected to the grid automatically shut off when there’s a power outage to avoid injuring electrical workers.

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