How Does Bad Weather Affect Solar Energy Production?
Do Solar Panels Work Hail or Shine?
Despite the popularity of solar energy, there are still a handful of misconceptions regarding its efficiency. Many people still believe that solar panels only work when the sun is beating down on them. If you’re from an area that isn’t all sunshine year-round, you’ve probably wondered about the effects of bad weather on solar performance.
It’s time to set the record straight. Solar systems are more adaptable than you think. In fact, New York and New Jersey, which are prone to extreme weather events, even belong to the top 10 solar states. Let’s take a look at how solar panels perform during different weather conditions:
1. Solar on a Cloudy Day
A common question asked by solar shoppers is whether or not the system generates electricity when there’s no sun. The simple answer is yes. Just like sunburns happen on cloudy days, solar panels can still collect energy from the sun even if the skies are overcast.
Photovoltaic panels are actually designed to use direct or indirect sunlight to generate electricity. This means that they will still perform even if sunlight is partially blocked by clouds. However, if the density of cloud coverage is high, they might only produce 10-25% of their rated capacity.
2. Solar in Colder Weather
Solar panels extract energy from light, not heat. Cold weather has little to do with how solar panels perform. If anything, solar panels are more efficient in chilly temperatures than in hot areas. This is according to a study sponsored by San Francisco Department of Environment. It was found that as solar panels get hotter, they begin to generate less electricity from the same amount of sunlight.
3. Solar in Snowy States
A thick layer of snow covering solar panels could significantly affect energy production. Nevertheless, do not let winter weather discourage you! As stated above, solar panels can actually perform better in colder temperatures, and the white snow can also reflect light and help improve PV performance. The panels are usually installed at an angle, so the snow and ice will also slide off on its own accord, especially as they heat up. The panels are designed to handle a certain amount of weight, and snow is typically not heavy enough to cause issues.
4. Solar and Hail Damage
Hail storms tend to be the definition of unpredictable. As a shopper, you may picture your panels cracking the first time a hail stone lands on them. Since manufacturers can’t control the weather, they control the quality of panels instead. Every solar panel undergoes mandatory testing for extreme weather conditions including hail. It would take a really extreme hail storm to cause harm.
Solar panel systems are built to last and endure all types of weather. At Sun Path Electric, we perform a sun analysis that is climate accurate to determine what size solar package is the best fit for your home. We even use the past 10 years of data from the local airports to determine the best system for your home and ensure production. Our Home Solar Consultants will walk you through every detail of the plan to optimize maximum efficiency.