Jason RothmanMay 2, 201832230
People everywhere want solar power but many people are afraid that solar panels only work in the perfect climate, and that is simply not true. Due to advancements in solar technology, today’s panels are more durable, efficient, and can handle all kinds of weather for many years. Solar power is so advanced these days that Germany, a country known for cloudy days, sets records every year with the amount of power generated by solar panels. The question is, how does weather influence the performance of solar panels?
It seems logical to think that the hotter the day, the more power the solar panels can generate, but that is not always true. Solar panel efficiency is actually reduced in high temperatures. There are two basic reasons for this. Heat and heat. The solar panels are getting blasted by so much energy, they cannot take it all in, and secondly, when electric things heat up they don’t work as efficiently because more of that electricity gets lost as heat. The optimum temperatures to run solar panels is 77 degrees Fahrenheit, or 25 degrees Celsius. When you move 10 or 15 degrees away from that optimal temperature, either way, the efficiency starts to drop. They are still efficient enough to completely power a home on the hottest day, they just aren’t as efficient.
Clouds are just little drops of water or ice floating around together. It might cool the temperature down a little, but those clouds do not block the sun from getting to your solar panels. They just obscure it a little. Like I mentioned earlier, if that were the case, Germany, England, The Netherlands and even Seattle Washington would not be the solar hot spots, but they definitely are. Believe it or not, clouds do not completely block the rays of sunshine your solar panels need in order to function. Even on the cloudiest days, your solar panels will continue to generate electricity, albeit at a decreased rate. Think of it this way, if it is bright enough outside for you to be able to see using natural light, and your panels are not obstructed by shade, your solar equipment is still absorbing all that indirect light filtering through the clouds.
Rain is no problem. Just like clouds, the sun’s rays get through and get absorbed by the solar panels. Similarly to cloudy weather, rainy days do not halt the production of solar energy. As an added benefit, the rain will give your dusty solar panels a free cleaning, which will help your PV system be even more efficient when the clouds clear. You also don’t have to worry about water damaging those panels because they are all made with a strong backing sheet, barrier films, and tempered glass.
Just like most things, if your solar panels are directly hit by lightning, there is probably going to be some damage. This can happen, but the instances are extremely rare and homes can install lightning rods to direct the lightning away from the panels. Again this is extremely rare, and if you live in a state that does not have regular thunderstorms, then you probably don’t have to worry.
However, direct strikes are considered rare, and if you live in an area that is frequently stormy, you should be more worried about being hit indirectly. Indirect strikes of lightning close to your solar PV system would induce an electric surge, breaking down the conductors. Such a strike can also cause dangerous sparking, damaging the solar panels and igniting combustible materials. If there is a high chance of lightning storms in your area, you need to consider protective measures early on in the design stages of your system. A good homeowners insurance policy will also guard against those natural disasters, even if something only happens to the solar panels.
Solar panels are strong, and so is the steel racking holding them in place. Hail should not be a problem unless it is big enough hail where it’s a problem everywhere. If the hailstones are just small little pebbles, then there is no problem, those little guys can’t generate enough force to hurt those panels. They are encased in steel tempered glass, and they are tested in extreme weather conditions. However, if you have some storms that can dump hailstones the size of baseballs, then those stones are going to break windows, damaged roofs, and hurt solar panels. If you live in that area, you can buy special panels that are able to withstand that huge amount of force, and Again, it is important to cover them on a good homeowners insurance policy in case an epic storm like that happens to damage even the storm rated panels.
If your solar panels are completely covered with snow, they will stop producing electricity. It is true that light passes through water drops and ice, but when ice crystals are piled on top of each other, as in a snowstorm, the light is so obscured, that it does not get all the way through. Much of it is reflected back into the atmosphere. Fortunately, professional solar installers take snowy weather into account and will angle solar panels in a way that will allow the snow of slide off. If your panels do get covered in a snowstorm, you can either wait for the snow to melt or you can brush it off. Because solar panels are dark, they absorb more heat and can speed up the snowmelt anyway.
Now you have a basic understanding of the effect of weather on the output of a solar powered system. If you visit HahaSmart, you can try out our DIY tool and see how solar panels look on your roof. We can also save you 25 percent off the cost of installation because we deal with manufacturers directly. We also can recommend certified installers who can save you money while giving you the solar power you can enjoy on even the hottest days.
For information relating to going solar don’t forget to visit our solar blog section for more handy guides and articles.
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