Post By
Samarth Gara

How does the weather affect solar panel Efficiency?

December 16, 2020

Solar panels are an efficient roof addition that help minimise energy costs and benefit the environment as well. Solar panels are based on solar cells that absorb sunlight, and convert it into renewable energy. Here, we explore how the weather affects a solar panel’s efficiency.

 

Every manufacturer says that positioning the solar panel in a way that will ensure that it is always exposed to the sun, is extremely important. That is rational, since in order to do its job, it requires as much sunlight as possible. So what happens one day when there is no sun? What if the rain has overtaken the sky?

 

The response is that nothing occurs. Solar panels will continue to transform photons into electrons, or direct electricity. There's a huge misunderstanding, that if there is no direct sunlight, the solar energy system won't be able to produce the power we need. In fact, solar panel cells do not actually need direct sunlight, they just need certain sun-emitted photons.
The impact of the weather on solar panels is a common concern among first-time solar buyers. Despite rain, snow, sleet and hail, a good-quality solar panel will work to the best of its capacity. 

Modern-day solar panels are designed in such a way that they can withstand various weather conditions, such as heavy rain, snowstorm, hail, severe wind, and extreme heat. When they are built, they are subject to testing, and in order to say that they are immune to bad weather and extremes in that sense, they need to get a TUV Rheinland Certificate in India. 

 

In fact, most solar panels can withstand winds of up to 140 mph, which is around 2,400 pascals (the unit in which solar panel wind resistance is measured). This is strong enough to withstand a hurricane of Category 4, whose wind speeds range from 130 to 156 mph. They can also only benefit from cold temperatures, because light can reflect the whiteness of the snow and boost the efficiency of the panels. It is just important that they are clean, and not settled on by tonnes of snow.

 

Since they are made to last and face multiple obstacles, solar panels can for example, be damaged by hail or storm. But you should be protected by your warranty or insurance policy in that situation. The effectiveness of solar panels, however, can diminish in extreme hot climates.

 

Let us look at different conditions:

1. Night

Now in order to work, solar panels require sunlight. When the night arrives, they appear to go into sleep mode, and remain that way until the sun starts to rise again. However, some experts say that solar panels will operate on the basis of some other light sources, such as the moon, or some powerful street lights, but since the production would be extremely low, it is negligible.

 

2. Rain

In order to produce electricity, solar panels are designed in a way that enables them to use direct and indirect sunlight. This means that even if the sun is obscured by clouds, they will be able to continue with this process. So yes, they can work in the rain - the question is just how much power can they produce. Rain will not have a negative effect on solar energy production, but dense layers of dirt will, considerably.

 

Therefore, the rainy season requires occasional cleaning of your panels, to get rid of dirt and other things that reduce sun exposure. 

 

4. Snow 

Accumulated snow will block light from your panels, just like dirt. In most cases, this is rarely an issue, as snow falls off panels easily, and tends to melt in the sun rapidly. If snow does accumulate on your panels, sweeping it off with a broom won't hurt. The whiteness of the snow would reflect light and boost the efficiency of the solar panels. 

 

Colder temperatures usually improve the effectiveness of the panel. Subfreezing temperatures, and sunny weather are perfect for solar system installation.

5. Hurricane

This natural force will cause some serious harm to your whole house, not just the solar energy system. The power of the wind might dislocate your solar panels, separate them from the roof and rip some wires, but most likely, the insurance will cover that. Solar panels are built to withstand winds of about 140 mph, but in general, every brand has its own, more unique assessments. 

 

6. Lightning 

Solar panels, like any other electronic system, are subject to voltage spikes due to lightning. The odds of lightning hitting your roof on its own are slim. Even in such a case, a danger that may occur is transient voltage. A professional installer, however, can make sure that the device is adequately grounded to stop surges. A lightning protection system is a clever and simple upgrade, if you want extra surge protection. 

 

7. High temperatures

Many people believe that unlike rain and clouds, high temperatures are highly advantageous for panel efficiency. It really seems contradictory to assert that high temperatures reduce production. 

Higher temperatures however, do tend to lower the output of electricity, also known as the drop in voltage. Power is generated by voltage and current, and high temperatures tend to increase the current. However, they also have a decreasing influence on electrons. Increasing temperature therefore means raising the electrons' remaining state, which results in lower voltage, and is equivalent to lower performance. 

If you live in warm places, however, this doesn't mean your panels aren't successful. Ultimately results will level out, and the panels will produce the savings.

 

8. Hail

It is a fair subject to be concerned about, given that hail could hit your panels. Hail can represent the most physically intense of all natural conditions. The most important aspect when it comes to the damage that hail causes, is the nature of your solar panels and their installation. Most panels are made to withstand harsh hail, however. Try to invest in high-quality solar panels that are sturdy enough to prevent damage caused by hail storms.

 

9. Cloud cover

Panel functionality would be affected by anything that blocks the sun's rays, like clouds, fog, mist and smog. The impact of different cloud types on the output of panels at noon, ranges from almost no loss for wispy cirrus clouds, to 30 percent or less than ideal for traditional dark rain clouds.

Although 30 percent might sound like a lot, remember that at 70 percent the panel is still producing energy, and that even cloudy places get sunny days. For example, Germany is a place which has a lot of cloud cover all round the year, but is still one of the top places with maximum solar system installations. 

 

Conclusion

In severe weather conditions, even though solar panels look very fragile and super sensitive, they are actually used as roof protectors. There are some potential hazards to your solar panels' performance and stability. Advanced technologies and skilled contractors, however, help you still plan ahead. Panels are designed to endure extreme weather conditions today. Combined with proper installation, and quality manufacturing, it will ensure you have zero problems with your solar panels' performance. 

Once you have zeroed on an installation company, make sure that they have all the licensing as well as registrations. The company should be reputable and known for their work. Not all of them know what modern solar systems technologies are based on, or they are not well informed about local wind movements and other climate conditions that are normal or exceptional. Also it is necessary to consider the regulations that are  to be taken into account when carrying out a task like this. This needs to be kept in mind with the right angle that is required when one has to position a solar system to ensure maximum capacity is delivered. The advanced wiring systems they require can be a challenge for certain individuals. 

It is important to check if the house's roof is suitable and sturdy enough to hold the entire solar energy system.

The fact that solar panels function with the help of sunlight, raises the problem of bad weather and its effect on the solar energy system. We concluded that on a cloudy day, panels will still continue to turn the sun's power into electricity. This too, however, has its flaws, just as with any other renewable source and its use. But the truth is that the benefits are so fantastic, that you can certainly live with that. Since your solar panel can generate more energy than you need on those super sunny days, all that surplus can be stored and saved for days when they simply can't deliver.

A solar plant produces clean, renewable energy throughout the year in any weather condition. It is a healthy investment, and helps to cut back on energy costs, and generate power for the entire house in a sustainable way. 

 

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