Do Solar Panels Work on Cloudy, Rainy, Snowy Days or at Night?
The idea of going green with solar panels is appealing to a lot of households. Still, many worry that they aren't in a suitable climate for effective solar power generation. Can you install solar panels in a cloudy climate? Do solar panels work on rainy days or in the snow? This guide will hopefully put your mind at ease about using solar panels where you live.
Do Solar Panels Work On A Cloudy Day Or At Night?
The first consideration when talking about the effectiveness of solar panels is their performance on cloudy days. Solar panels always work at peak performance when angled towards unobscured sunlight. But, they can still work on cloudy days. Just be aware that their performance will vary depending on the model and type of cloud cover. They will struggle with very thick clouds or on stormier days and do OK with light and patchy clouds.
Solar panels can work during cloudy days because there is still light penetrating the cloud cover and reaching the property. If there wasn't, we wouldn't be able to see. Solar cells use what they can to generate power. It is a different story at night because the sun has set and there is no natural light to reach the panels. Some say that they get a little output via artificial lights and moonlight, but this isn't guaranteed. Don't expect your solar panels to work at night.
Do Solar Panels Work On Rainy Days Or In Snow?
Another common concern is whether solar panels will still produce energy during bad weather. We're all going to experience days where there are heavy rain showers and we barely see the sun. The cloud cover will lower light levels. The water from the rain itself shouldn't be an issue when you have the best waterproof solar panel system in place. Some homeowners even like a little rain on their panels as it cleans off any dust and dirt affecting the performance of the cells.
Then there are the snowy days. Snowy days are similar to rainy and cloudy ones in many respects. You have that thick cloud cover that lessens the light levels and the efficiency of the panel. This could increase further during low-visibility blizzards.
However, there is another problem to contend with. We aren't just dealing with a lack of sunshine but also physical snow covering and blocking the panels. A light dusting of snow could soon melt away or get blown off the panel by the wind. But, heavier drifts could bury the panel during a bad storm. You can get high-end solar solutions able to withstand heavy snow loads and continue to work after the storm is over. Don't try clearing the snow unless it is completely safe to do so.
Do Solar Panels Generate Energy When There Is No Sun?
As mentioned when talking about solar panels at night, a solar panel can't generate energy without access to sunlight. All panels rely on a photovoltaic effect to convert sunlight to energy. No light = no electricity. If you have a solar set up on your property, you can't expect to get any power from them at night.
That is why it is so important to have a solar battery bank or other storage solution on-site, rather than sending power directly to appliances. The battery bank can store all the excess power generated during the day and then use that to keep the lights and appliances running through the night. This is much easier to maintain in the summer when there are longer sunnier days and shorter nights. It could be more difficult to bank enough power on short overcast winter days.
How Efficient Are Solar Panels When There Is No Sun?
When asking the question do solar panels work on a cloudy day, we mentioned the efficiency of the panel. This means the ability within a single panel to use its cells to generate as much energy as possible. Cloudier days block direct sunlight to the point where panels produce between 10-25% of their standard output. This isn't ideal, but you will still get something out of them. The output will also depend on the length of those cloudy periods and the thickness of the cloud cover.
Popular FAQs About Solar Panels
Q: Do Solar Panels Always Work Better In Bright Sunshine?
Bright unobscured sunshine is best for the most efficient output from your solar panels. That is why it is important to consider where you place them on your property to catch the most sunlight throughout the day. However, there is a misconception that you also need to be in a hot climate with blazing sunlight. It isn't about the temperature of the ray. In fact, solar panels can experience damage and failures due to poor tolerance to high heat.
Q: Should You Install Solar Power If You Live In A Cloudy Climate?
Some areas are more prone to overcast days and unpredictable weather patterns. But, that shouldn't stop you from installing a green solar panel solution. The best results come from creating a full system that works within your needs and the limitations of the climate. You can still gather plenty of energy when it is sunny and rely on stored power on days when the efficiency drops. In fact, cities in the Pacific Northwest that are famed for their cloudy days perform way due to their long sunny days and milder temperatures.
Q: Are Solar Panels Right For Your Home?
To summarize, while it is true that solar panels are less effective on cloudy days, that shouldn't put you off from installing a solar system for your home. You can still generate enough energy during low cloud cover and store excess energy on sunny days to use a night or during bad weather. Also, rainy days are better for your solar system than you might expect and snow is nothing to be afraid of. You can create effective solar systems with the right installation, battery pack, and careful planning.