A common concern among first-time solar buyers is the effect of weather on solar panels. For the most part, there is little to worry about. Like your trusty postal carrier, a good-quality solar panel will work despite rain, snow, sleet and hail. However, it would be untrue to claim that weather does not affect panel efficiency. Let’s take a look at what happens when weather and solar panels meet.
Common Weather Events and Their Effect on Solar Panels
Clouds or Fog
Anything that blocks the sun’s rays will affect panel efficiency, including clouds, fog, mist and smog. At noon, the effect of various cloud types on panel production range from almost no loss for wispy cirrus clouds to 30 percent or so less than optimal for typical dark rain clouds.
While 30 percent may seem like a lot, consider that the panel is still producing at 70 percent, and that even cloudy locations get sunny days, too. In fact, some of the locations with the highest per capita concentrations of solar panels include Seattle and Germany — both known for cloudy weather.
Don’t worry — solar panels are designed for their electronic components to be well protected from the weather. Rain can actually help panel efficiency by washing away accumulated dirt and particulate.
Speaking of dirt, dust storms can deposit a heavy layer on your panels that can keep the rays from getting through. If this happens to your panels, a quick hose-down should get them back up to speed in a jiffy. This is a pretty rare occurrence in our area.
Homeowners are often worried that a strong storm might rip their panels off the roof — but this concern is largely unfounded. High-quality panels and racking are engineered to withstand winds of 90 MPH or more. Just be sure to choose a reliable company to install the racking properly.
Like any other electronic device, solar panels are subject to voltage surges due to lightning. However, a competent installer will make sure that your system is properly grounded to prevent surges. If you want extra surge protection, a lightning protection system is a smart and easy upgrade.
Like dirt, accumulated snow can block light from your panels. This is rarely a problem in most areas since snow slides easily off panels, and tends to melt from them quickly in the sun. If snow does accumulate on your panels, it won’t hurt them to brush it off with a broom.
Hail is by far the most common reason for weather–related insurance claims. However, if you end up filing such a claim, it’s not likely to be for your panels. In fact, solar panels can actually protect your roof: The Solar World panels that Renewable Energy Corporation installs can withstand terminal hail velocities of over 260 mph. (Read our post on solar panels and hail to learn more.)
How Does Temperature Affect Solar Panels?
Temperature affects all electronic devices, and solar panels are no exception.
In general, colder temperatures increase panel efficiency. Panels love subzero, sunny weather! As the mercury rises, efficiency falls. On very hot days, your production may flag 1 percent or more for each degree above 87 degrees Fahrenheit. However, since these conditions typically come with sunny weather, you may not notice the dip in efficiency.
If you’ve been holding off on installing panels because of weather-related concerns, breathe easy. Weather does influence solar panel efficiency, but not as much as most people imagine. Don’t let a few clouds keep you from enjoying the benefits of solar energy for your home or business. Call [company_phone] or contact us online to request your free solar estimate today!