Close your eyes and picture the platonic ideal of a sunny spring day. Are you smiling?
Not only does stunning weather have the power to energize your body, but it can also save you thousands of dollars by powering your home. The solar power from one lovely, sunshine-filled day produces enough energy to power the entire earth for nearly two years!
But what happens to the solar panels on your roof on a cloudy, rainy day? Does temperature have an impact on power production? Can a storm make your sustainable power solution less efficient?
There is a link between solar panel performance and weather—but it isn’t always intuitive. We’ve created this guide to help homeowners understand what to expect from their solar panels, rain or shine.
Keep reading to learn about the ideal conditions for powering your home.
Hot or Cold?
When you think of solar power, your mind conjures visions of toasty summer warmth. While a hot, sunny day provides plenty of fuel for your solar panels, constant heat is not always ideal.
Like most other electronic machinery, your solar panels function more efficiently in lower temperatures. Think about a laptop with a broken fan. If it overheats, it needs to divert resources to prevent a meltdown or can even break down completely.
Your solar panels are no different. The higher the outside temperature, the less voltage your solar panels can produce.
Most home solar panels lose efficiency in temperatures exceeding 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Sunny, cool climates yield the most energy overall.
With that said, your solar panels require sunlight, and efficiency isn’t a factor if there isn’t any light to convert into energy! Thus, most solar panels will still produce the most power in the spring and summer, even on hotter, less efficient days.
Clear or Cloudy?
Your solar panels need direct access to light to produce power. Anything that gets in between your roof and the sun can potentially make the process less efficient. That includes clouds, shady trees, or poorly located bird’s nests!
In other words, the clearer the day, the more efficient your solar panels will be. A partly cloudy day might yield 10% less power than a clear, cloudless day.
On an extremely overcast day, your panels may be unable to produce any power at all. As a general rule, if there isn’t enough light to cast shadows, there isn’t enough light to generate power.
One exception is the “edge of cloud effect.” If you’ve ever used a magnifying glass to produce smoke, you might already understand how prisms can help concentrate sunlight. Fluffy rainclouds function in the same way, directing an intense beam of light directly onto your roof.
All that to say, clear days are ideal, but don’t underestimate a cloudy day!
Generally, solar panel installers will incorporate environmental shade (permanent structures like large trees) into their initial assessments. A resource like solar panel installation made easy is a great place to ask related questions.
Dry or Wet?
For all the reasons above, a rainy day only negatively impacts solar panel performance if it’s also a cloudy day. Even so, the occasional rainstorm can make your solar panel system more efficient. Clean solar panels work better than dirty ones, and a light rainstorm is a safe, natural way to keep environmental dirt from accumulating and impacting efficiency.
As a general rule, however, rainy days provide less sunlight, and the average home will not produce much solar panel power on those days.
A more significant consideration is snow, which can accumulate and block your panels entirely. With that said, snow is reflective, and bright sunlight following a snowstorm can sometimes encourage snow to melt.
Companies are aware of the link between solar panels and the weather. They know snow is a challenge in seasonal climates and will correct for it.
During installation, technicians may tilt your panels to encourage snow to fall off quickly. Clear panels can resume collecting power immediately.
In general, locations with less precipitation will produce more power.
Is My Climate Right for Solar Panels?
Solar panels are a sustainable, money-saving solution for homeowners living in nearly any climate zone. The key to making your solar panels work for you is proper placement. Any ethical installation company will consult with you about the ideal angle and location for your panels.
What Is the Ideal Climate for Solar Panels?
If you look at the data, it might surprise you to learn that locations with a reputation for cloudy weather aren’t always outliers. For example, you may associate cities like Portland, Oregon, with rain and temperamental weather. In reality, it has about as many days of full sunlight as Miami, Florida!
Homes near the equator will necessarily receive more direct light than homes closer to the poles. With that in mind, distribution is about equal across the United States. Due to efficiency caps and temperature, the entire continental US is well-suited for solar energy.
The Many Moods of the Solar Panels on Your Roof
When it comes to the solar panels on your roof, a few hours of sunlight can go a long way. Still, some homes are uniquely positioned to collect extra power, which homeowners can sell back to the grid for financial compensation. We hope this guide helped you determine whether installing roof solar panels can help save you money while you save the planet!
We take saving money seriously. Browse the rest of the blog for more posts with tips to help you save up and live your best life—in any weather!