Solar power is a revolutionary way to generate electricity. To maximize the power of the sun, solar panels are usually attached to the rooftops of houses and other buildings all over the world, which means that they are subjected to all kinds of weather. How do these panels hold up when bad weather hits?
Rain and Clouds
When it’s cloudy, UV rays can still get through the clouds and cause sunburns. By the same token, sunlight—although weaker in intensity—can still reach solar panels. So when it’s raining, your photovoltaic panels are still working. However, depending on the amount of rain and cloud cover, the rate of efficiency will be about 40 to 90 percent less than it would be on sunny days. Rain is apparently the biggest factor in drops of efficiency—a heavy San Francisco fog will cause efficiency to drop only about 15 to 20 percent.
Strong Winds and Hurricanes
Strong winds can quickly tangle up power lines, rip off roof shingles, and uproot trees. When strong winds hit, electricity can be the first thing to go—sometimes for hours on end. Fortunately, solar panels are sturdier—they’ve successfully remained intact through hurricane winds that have torn up the roofs around them! With the right installation, they can withstand up to 150 miles per hour.
The crystalline cells that make up photovoltaic panels can crack. Hailstone damage to solar panels is rare, however, since most photovoltaic panels are covered with acrylic, glass, or laminate. In areas that are more likely to have hailstorms, thin-film panels are recommended since they can withstand direct, violent impacts from rock-sized objects. In one test, a panel protected with glass casing was able to take on hailstones that were being shot at velocities of 260 miles per hour! What’s more, most solar panels are installed at a rooftop angle, which means they won’t be taking direct hits from hailstorms anyway. Additionally, most hailstorms come from the north while most solar panels are installed on the south side of a roof.
Snow can be heavy, but that doesn’t mean your solar panels won’t be generating any electricity in the winter months. In fact, you might see an increase after a big snowfall. Snow can actually increase the production of solar energy by reflecting sunlight and solar panels are said to produce more energy on cold sunny days than on hot ones. Keep in mind though, that the days are shorter in the winter, which means that overall solar production from your system will still drop.
If installed correctly, solar panels work in all kinds of weather and all kinds of climates. Sometimes, they continue working even when other energy transmitters don’t. Those are a few more reasons to switch to solar, if you haven’t already.