We all know the basics when it comes to how solar panels work. So, does this mean that the solar systems don’t work if it stays overcast and cloudy for days at a time? In other words, do solar panels work in the rain? Do they work in low light and rain? The answer to both questions is yes, they do.
The panels soak up solar energy from the sun when it’s bright and sunny outside, then store that energy so that you can use it when you need it for the next 24 hours. Solar power systems also have a battery bank that you use once it gets dark outside, which is where the energy is stored.
How Do Solar Panels Work in the Rain?
It is easy to assume that solar panels won’t work if it’s cloudy or raining outside but that simply isn’t the case. In fact, you might be surprised by how much of the sun’s power and heat can leak through clouds and even thunderstorms. If you’ve ever developed a sunburn on a cloudy day, you can understand this philosophy. Infrared light is one source that gets through clouds and rain even faster and this can happen without you even knowing it.
More evidence for solar panels being able to soak up sun and energy even though it’s raining outside can be found in the fact that even in states and countries that are seen as places that don’t tend to get a lot of sun, the use of solar power is working perfectly. Here are some examples:
● New Jersey and Massachusetts now rank third and fourth respectively in the amount of solar power being utilized.
● Germany now produces 20% to 30% of its power daily from solar energy, which is a very high number.
Simply put, clouds do not stop the sun’s rays from getting through to your panels and being soaked up by your solar energy system. It may seem as if this isn’t the case, but it is. Those sneaky sun rays will creep through clouds, rain, and darkness faster than you might think. Those same rays that can give you a terrible sunburn even when it’s dark outside are also able to get through to your solar panels so they can be soaked up and stored for energy to be used whenever you need it!
Some Things to Keep in Mind About Solar Panels in the Rain
With all that said, there are definitely things that you need to understand about solar panels operating in the rain:
Inconsistent Production: Energy production will not be as consistent as a bright sunny day. This means that instead of the normal bell curve you would see on a sunny day, you will end up with inconsistent peaks and valleys in the amount of energy that is produced.
Reduced Energy Production: Because the solar panels are not exposed to full sunlight, there will be a reduction in the amount of energy that is produced by solar panels. This can be a reduction of 75 – 90% depending on the weather conditions and time of day.
Risk of Power Surges: Since we are talking about rain, we need to make sure we cover thunderstorms. There is a risk of lightning strikes during them and if your solar panels are not properly grounded, you can send a large power surge through your system which would be a costly mistake. Be sure that the solar installation company properly grounds the panels or upgrade your system to include a lightning protection system.
Risk of Water Damage: You know as well as I do that water tends to get into everything and since solar panels are run with electronic components, there is a big risk of water damaging your electrical system. A proper solar installation company will make every effort to waterproof the electronic components.
Some Things You May Not Know About Solar Panels
By now you might have asked yourself, do solar panels work in rain even at night? The answer is “no,” right? Actually, the answer to this question is still “yes.” Believe it or not, even heat and light from the stars and the moon can still get through to your panels to get soaked up and stored as energy.
Naturally, direct sunlight will always result in larger amounts of energy being soaked up by the panels but the fact is that any amount of light and heat, no matter how minute, gets soaked up and stored. This essentially means that solar power systems soak up light and heat 24/7, although most of that light and heat comes from the daytime hours.
What all this means is that solar panels, for all intents and purposes, will soak up both direct and indirect light and heat, which is the main reason why they can still soak up energy even if it’s raining, cloudy, or even dark outside. This also means that solar panels can even generate a charge using artificial light. Today’s panels are actually made up of a series of photovoltaic (PV) cells. Even on dark or stormy days, these cells can generate energy at roughly 10% to 25% of their normal capacity.
Now that you know that your solar power system will work to soak up heat and light even on cloudy days, you’ll likely get a better appreciation for this amazing system. Most systems even have a type of “reserve” that allows you to enjoy their use for weeks at a time even if you have to go that long without a bright sunny day. At least now you understand how and why this is possible.
If you are interested in learning more about solar power then I would suggest checking out our other Beginner’s Guides on the website.