Are Solar Panels & its Efficiency affected by Weather Conditions?
Posted on July 12 2019
From humble beginnings in April 1954, today's solar panels are much more efficient and durable. Customers can easily buy them in the market and start generating clean, green, and free electricity, yet a greater part of the general population does not know how these scientific miracles function and in what condition do they work.
Installing solar panels on the roof. via ecomarksolar
When we consider solar panels, we often think it works only on sunny days with blue skies and in warm-weather zones, however, that is not the case at all. Many people think cloudy, windy or snowing weathers cut of the entire electricity production from solar panels, but is it true? We will find out about this in the following text.
How Solar Panels Generate Electricity?
Solar panels work by converting sunlight into direct current (DC). The DC is then changed into alternating current (AC) by an inverter. This conversion is needed because most of our household devices use AC power.
A house with roof-top solar panels. via mnn
In grid-tied solar panels power from solar panels is transferred to the grid and the customer gets credit for it via Net Metering, furthermore, the customer is still using all the electricity from the grid. In off-grid solar panels system, a customer is entirely cut-off from the grid. In this case, most people opt for a battery bank that is charged from the DC from the solar panel and then the battery bank and inverter (converting DC to AC) helps illuminate and run the electrical supply for the house.
Solar Panels and Cold Weather
Some people have this strange idea of solar panels and heat; they always co-relate energy generated from solar panels with heat from the sun, and they think it is of no use to install solar panels in cold and chilly areas. This perception is completely incorrect; in reality, solar panels utilizes sun-rays rather than the heat of the sun. As a matter of fact, cold weather and sunny conditions can actually make the solar panels perform better. According to a report when the temperature is around 77° Fahrenheit solar panels tend to be the most efficient.
Solar panels in cold weather. via sepco
Solar panels produce less power from the same amount of sunlight in hotter areas; the reason is that due to increased overall temperature of the system, electrical generation efficiency drops, therefore in hot areas it is strongly advised to install PC cells on a mounted platform so that air can flow beneath the modules as well to keep it cool. However, this drop in energy output is not excessively noteworthy for small-scale systems; so as long as the sun is shining you will be generating energy and saving money.
Solar Panels on Cloudy Days
Complete or partial shadings from the clouds or any other source can cause a decline in the yield of the solar system, depending on the quality of the solar panel. Contrary to popular misconception, solar panels do not need hot weather to generate electricity, it is the sun-rays that are converted into usable electrical power. Therefore, even on cloudy and overcast days, some sun rays still do get through the clouds and reach the earth. This is why even on cloudy and overcast days solar panels do generate electricity, however in a much lower quantity than its actual capacity. Generally, on a cloudy day when the sun is hiding, good quality solar panels can still generate up to 20%-25% of its rated capacity under full-shade conditions.
Solar panels on a cloudy day. via moixa
On the other hand, modern PV modules are made to work well under partial shadings. If your panel is partially shaded, then only the PV cells in that area will decrease its efficiency while the rest of the system will keep working on its most efficient levels. Modern and advanced solar panels are designed to catch a wide range of sun’s rays including the red and blue wavelengths.
In general, it is advised to place your solar panels away from tree and roof shades, and in an area that is exposed to maximum sunlight throughout the day. FOR MORE DETAILS
Solar Panels and Snow
Another common misconception is that there a solar installation in areas prone to heavy snowfalls is basically useless. This comes from the same school of thought that connects solar panels and heat from the sun together responsible for electrical power generation. Since solar panels rely on sunlight rather than sun heat, it works perfectly fine in winters and in snowy areas to generate energy. However, one thing to consider is that during winters, days are shorter and your solar system will produce less energy as compared to its yield during long summer days.
Solar panels under snow. via gosolargroup
However, if your solar panels are completely covered by snow, then they cannot produce electricity. To resolve this problem, the surface of most solar panels are designed to be smooth and slippery, so that when the sun comes out, the snow will melt quickly and slide off. In fact, the surface of the solar panel gets warm quickly than ambient air which further helps in increasing the snow melting rate. In addition, it is suggested that you always install your solar panels on an inclined angle so that rainwater, snow, and dust can always slide-off easily.
Solar Panels Under Harsh Weather
Solar panels are built to withstand extreme weather conditions which also includes strong winds and hailstorms. Experience installers carefully mount them up after studying the local wind pattern in order to avoid the maximum negative effect caused by strong winds. Internally and externally, they are also equipped with components that have been tested against extreme wind loads.
Hailstorm is amajor concern for solar panel owners. via soprissolar
Some people worry for their solar installation that it might crack or break when they are pelted with high-speed hard ice balls or hailstorm in short. But worry not, as every solar panel in the industry is required to undergo extreme weather condition laboratory testing to ensure its durability. Generally, solar panels are built to last for a long period of time (about 25 years). Furthermore. to satisfy the costumers they should have a certification of Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL) or variation of the same certificate outside of the United States. This certification proves that the solar panel has undergone a number of safety, durability and quality tests and has come out as victorious against extreme weather. Therefore, under such strict industrial standards, you are assured quality and durability. So the final verdict is that solar panels are not affected by a hail storm and other harsh weather conditions.
Read some other common solar mistakes and how to fix them (click here). Also consider reading Portable Solar Panels 101 - What Factors to consider when buying it? If you have any questions please write to us in the comments below or follow us on our social media pages and let us hear from