The elements can pose a big question for current and potential solar consumers alike - Will my panels still function efficiently even if it’s not a bright, sunny day outside? Everything from cloud to rain to snow can impact differently on the performance of a solar system. Of course, thanks to the rapid development of solar technology in recent times, the solar industry is well equipped to handle any kind of weather. Below, we’ll take a look at how different kinds of weather conditions can affect the performance of your solar system.
When people enquire as to the impact of weather on solar system performance, clouds are often viewed as the most obvious hindrance. Naturally, as clouds obstruct the panels from receiving light from the sun, right? Well, yes, but only to some extent. Will your solar panels still work on a cloudy day? Yes, of course. As anyone who’s ever been sunburned on a cloudy day will attest to, the sun’s rays don’t care if clouds get in the way! Do your solar panels still perform to the same level on a cloudy day? Now this is where things differ. Performance is dependent on cloud density and the type of panels installed, but generally your panels will see some reduction in performance on cloudy days. They will continue to operate, just at a reduced capacity.
Ultimately, this rare day of decreased performance is nothing to worry about in the grand scheme of things. The value of your solar system will come into play across the span of an entire year, not some cloudy days here and there. In fact, Germany is one of the leading solar consumers in the world, despite it’s cold, cloudy climate. Compared to some US states, Germany will get almost twice as many cloudy days. Despite this, the Germans remain frontrunners in the solar industry. So, even if your solar panels face the odd cloudy day, you can be safe in the knowledge that they will more than make up for this dip on clear, sunny days.
What about rain? You might worry that rain could affect performance, or even damage that shiny solar equipment up on your roof. In fact, the very opposite is true! Rain can be a blessing in disguise for solar system owners. It’s natural for solar panels to collect some debris, accumulating things like dust, dirt, pollen and other environmental scatterings. So, when the rain comes along, it actually does us a neat favour and washes that debris away. One of the few regular pieces of maintenance required for a solar system will be an occasional cleaning. If you live in a location with regular spells of rain, then you’ll require these cleanings less frequently as the rain takes care of the work for you. Clean panels are the best performing panels, and the rain plays its part in this.
Some parts of the US can see a decent amount of snowfall throughout the winter months, so you might wonder what this means for your panels. Solar equipment is heavy-duty and designed to withstand, and thrive in, all kinds of weather conditions. Your panels will be installed at an angle, allowing the snow to slide off harmlessly. Only in extreme cases will the snow need to be cleared and there are countless companies who will be more than happy to quickly and easily remove any excess snow. The panels are durable enough to hold the weight and ensure that no damage will occur from snowfall. Indeed, the bright white snow could even serve as a reflective surface and improve panel performance in snowy weather.
The word solar may conjure up images of bright, tropical climates but it’s important to remember that solar panels function thanks to light and not heat. Indeed, a cool, bright day is the optimal solar weather! A clear, winter day is ideal for solar power generation. Indeed, the issue with the winter months has nothing to do with temperature, it’s the reduction in sun hours that affects things. So, hot or cold, as long as your panels are soaking up that beautiful sunlight, you’ve got nothing to worry about.
It's clear that even in places New York, where we’re prone to cold winters and extreme weather events, solar is still thriving.
By Shane Croghan