Solar panels and cloudy weather

Solar panels and cloudy weather

Solar panels are excellent renewable energy solutions. However, if you’re thinking about investing in a solar array for your property, you may be wondering, “How does weather affect solar panels?”

Solar panel systems provide peak efficiency on cool, sunny days when they can receive plenty of sunshine without excessive heat or humidity. Other weather conditions, such as cloud coverage and snow, can reduce the amount of power an array provides.

The best temperature for solar panel efficiency

Sunlight consists of solar energy particles known as photons. Solar panels contain photovoltaic cells that collect photons and convert sunlight into electricity. When photon particles make contact with solar panel PV cells, electrons create an electric current that travels to an electric distribution box and supplies power to homes and other buildings. Temperature does not affect how much energy a solar panel receives, but it does impact how much power that energy will produce.

As solar panels receive more heat, they produce less power from sunlight. Electrons are normally at rest, which means they carry low energy. Sunlight activates them and stimulates a higher energy output. A solar panel’s power production depends on the difference between an electron’s resting state and its sunlight-activated, high-energy phase.

Do solar panels work in cloudy or rainy weather?

The exact amount of energy generation depends on the factors like – the density of clouds and the quality of solar panels. Some panels work efficiently in diffused and reflected light, meaning they can capture a broad range of the solar spectrum – the red and the blue wavelengths. It helps them generate more energy output even on overcast days. As per the trusted resource, solar panels can still operate at 80% of their maximum output.

Edge of cloud effect – A unique phenomenon

There is an unusual phenomenon called the edge of the effect which suggests that solar panels produce more electricity than they do on usual sunny days. It happens when solar radiation passes over the edge of clouds, magnifying its capacity and power. As sunlight gets magnified through the process of refraction when the sun is emerging from clouds covered or hidden behind them. The intense light causes the panels to generate more energy and dramatically boosts the solar output. This phenomenon balances out the losses during full cloud days. So, a few cloudy days are not as critical as the total of sunshine over the year.

How do you store this energy for future use?

There are a couple of options to consider:

  1. You can store surplus energy in a solar battery. When you add a solar battery to your residential solar installation, any excess electricity can be collected and used during hours of suboptimal sun exposure, including nighttime hours and exceptionally cloudy weather.
  2. You can use a net metering program. Net metering programs enable you to transmit any excess power your system produces into your municipal electric grid, receiving credits from your utility company.

Those credits can be cashed in to offset any electrical costs you incur on overcast days or at night when you cannot power your home with solar energy alone.  Net metering can ultimately be a cost-effective option and can significantly lower your electricity bills.

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