What Happens to Solar Panels During Cloudy Weather?|
Article - January 21, 2019 By LarsonElectronics.com
What Happens to Solar Panels During Cloudy Weather?
Solar panels are very effective, when deployed in locations that experience sunny weather. But what about areas prone to rainy and cloudy conditions?
Contrary to popular belief, solar PV systems will still work during hazy outdoor environments. However, there are some considerations that should be accounted for to ensure the panels can generate electricity.
Clouds and Solar Panels
During cloudy conditions, solar panels still harvest sunlight. Generally speaking, PV systems will produce up to 25% of the rated capacity when exposed to cloudy or foggy weather. If you’re powering small appliances and electronics for short periods of time, hazy conditions should not affect such activities.
Locations that frequently experience the “edge of the cloud” phenomenon are in the best position to harvest natural sunlight in hazy conditions. This effect occurs when cumulus clouds pass over the area when the sun is out. The edges of the clouds interact with sunlight, magnifying the beams as they hit the solar panels. Such conditions could actually cause output of PV panels to exceed their rated capabilities.
Optimizing Solar PV Systems for Cloudy Conditions
In order to effectively factor in cloudy weather, it is recommended to consider outdoor conditions on an annual basis. Some cloudy days are expected, regardless of one’s location; therefore, if sunny days exceed the number of expected cloudy days, it could still be worth setting up solar panels to offset electricity usage.
Additionally, homeowners may also consider utilizing panels with thin films, which are designed to address cloudy weather. By comparison, units that rely on crystalline panels are most suitable for areas that experience direct, persistent sunlight. This type of solar panel will still work during hazy outdoor conditions (but not as effective compared to variants with thin films). PV panels with thin films are capable of leveraging a wider range of light.