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Do Solar Panels Work in the Rain?

By Benjamin Strusnik February 16, 2022

Do solar panels work in the rain

Solar panels convert the sun’s rays into solar energy that we can use to power our homes and businesses. 

However, not all days are sunny days and so, we might wonder how different weather conditions affect the energy output of your solar panel.

In this article, we’ll take a look at how clouds and rainfall affect your solar panel’s energy production, and specifically address the question: do solar panels work in the rain? 

Energy Production of Solar Panels in Different Conditions

Energy Production on Sunny Days

If you map out the statistics of a solar panel on your average beautiful sunny day, you will see that a bell curve will appear. 

It will show low energy production in the early hours of the morning as the sun rises. The curve will then gradually increase upwards until it reaches its peak at around noon when the sun’s light is at its strongest.

Then it will gradually decrease again as the sun starts to set. It’s on sunny days like these that your solar panel has the highest energy output, so these are the days that every solar panel owner looks forward to the most.

But that doesn’t mean you have to frown when the weather is inclement. The answer to whether solar panels work or cloudy days and even if they work well during Winter might surprise you.

Energy Production on Cloudy Days

Rain and cloudy weather generally go hand in hand. That’s why it’s important to compare the energy output of your solar panel on a sunny day with its energy output on a cloudy day. That way you can determine if your solar panel works on rainy days and what the difference between the two is.

Regardless, your solar panel will definitely still work on a cloudy day. This is because your panel is able to capture different segments of the sun’s spectrum of light. 

do solar panels work in the rain

Even though clouds may be obstructing the path of some of the sun’s rays to the photovoltaic cells on your solar panel, most of them still filter through clouds and are then captured by your solar panel. 

That’s why the energy output of your solar panel will depend on cloud density, and on whether there was rainfall on that day. 

Rainfall will also serve as an obstruction. On cloudy or overcast days, your solar panel will generally generate about 30-50% of its optimum power output. But on days with heavy rainfall, your solar panel will generate around 10-20% of its optimum power output.

If the amount of sunlight your solar panel is exposed to is reduced, so is the amount of energy that your solar panel can produce.

Surprisingly, solar panels will even produce energy underwater, so they’re more than capable of handling a little bit of rain.

Energy Production at Night

Other frequently asked questions with regard to the power output of solar panels in conditions that are not optimal are whether they work at night or if they can get enough energy from the moonlight.

Once again, your solar panels will still work at night with the moon or artificial light as an energy source. However, their output will not be as high as during the day, nor will they produce enough energy to power your house during the day.

What if Your Solar Panel Does Not Produce Enough Energy?

It is possible that in bad weather conditions with dense clouds and rainfall your solar panel might not produce the amount of energy that you need to power your home or business for the day. This is by no means a complete train smash. 

Solar panels are actually designed to produce more energy than what is required of them in a day. On sunny days where the weather accommodates optimal energy production, your solar panel will produce a surplus of solar energy. 

This energy surplus can be stored and used on such occasions in one of two ways: battery storage and net metering.

You might be tempted to power your solar panels with artificial lighting, but you should know that this is a bad idea. You’ll lose far more energy than you gain thanks to those pesky laws of energy conservation.

Battery Storage

If you have a complete off-grid solar system, a battery bank will be integrated into your solar panel system. All the excess energy that is produced on days with favorable weather will be stored either for use during the rainy seasons. 

will solar panels work in the rain

Net Metering

If you have an on-grid solar system, you can still store excess energy even though there are no batteries integrated into your solar system. Here all excess energy that your solar panel produces in the sunny seasons can be exported to the grid.

In this way, you can store the economic value of the excess solar energy that your solar panels produce. This energy is stored as credit, which is then used to purchase grid electricity to power your home or business in the rainy seasons where power production is not sufficient to power your home.

In short, the municipal provider buys the excess energy that your solar panels produce that then offsets the cost of any electricity you buy from them.

Optimizing Your Power Output During Rainy Seasons

There are three factors that you should consider before installing your solar system that will help you get the most out of your solar panel during the rainy seasons.

Where Should You Install Your Solar System?

Firstly, we recommend doing a shadow analysis of your roof. You should determine which area of the roof receives the most shade, and which area of the roof receives the most direct sunlight, for the longest period of the day. 

If you install your solar system in the least shady area of your roof it will receive optimal sunlight, even on rainy and cloudy days

What Type of Solar Panel Should You Install?

Here we can briefly distinguish between two different types of solar panels: monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels.

If you live in a region that is prone to receiving monsoons and heavy rainfall, then we would recommend installing monocrystalline panels. Monocrystalline panels are known for having a higher power output in lower light conditions when compared to polycrystalline panels.

How Big Should Your System Be?

Technically speaking, the bigger your system is (i.e. the larger the surface area of your roof covered by surface panels) the higher your energy output will be. This is true in optimal and poor weather conditions. 

Installing a bigger solar energy system will allow you to produce more energy on both sunny and rainy days.

Conclusion

As can be seen above, although your solar panel’s overall performance will be negatively impacted by rainy and cloudy weather, your panel will not stop working altogether as a result of bad weather. 

Your solar panel continues to produce energy in the rain, but it just might not produce enough energy to meet the energy requirements of your home or business. 

That being said, through the use of battery banks or net metering that store the excess energy produced on sunny days, this problem can be solved. 

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