Will Wind and Rain Affect My Solar Panels?


Sun Above the Solar Farm(shutterstock/Pixelci)

Installing solar panels come with a lot of benefits. It gives you renewable energy without polluting or harming the environment. Many houses are also eligible to receive tax benefits and credits for installing solar panels, which could save you a lot of money in the long run, especially since the recent Inflation Reduction Act has increased the tax credits available to residential solar.

But before you rush to install new solar panels, it’s worth considering how they fare in different weather conditions. What happens when it rains? Do they come undone when it’s too windy?

Let’s find out.

Solar panels work in most weather conditions

It may be tempting to believe solar panels are only effective on hot days when the sun is at its peak. But several years of research have shown that’s not true. In fact, experts have found too much heat can actually reduce energy output from solar panels. Solar panels work the best during cooler days with ample sunlight, but they can produce moderate energy on other days as well.

While not at peak performance, solar panels can still generate energy on “off” days, so they work year-round in most weather conditions.

You may be wondering, “How would solar panels work on a rainy or cloudy day?” They do.

While solar panels offer the best energy output during warm, clear weather, they also provide some energy output on not-so-sunny days. Even on cloudy days, panels can operate at 10 to 25% of their typical power capacity.

In fact, according to Solar Alliance, “Solar electricity production can also intensify for brief moments on cloudy days due to the ‘edge-of-cloud’ effect, which occurs when cumulus clouds pass by the sun and their edges magnify sunlight, causing more powerful sunlight beams to reach solar panel surfaces.”

This means you can briefly see your solar panels working more effectively during cloudy days, so you don’t have to worry about losing a lot of energy output when the sun isn’t shining so brightly.

Ready for more good news? Rain can actually benefit your solar panels. If you’re not hopping on your rooftop to clean your solar panels regularly, chances are they have accumulated dust and dirt that can affect performance.

Fortunately, the rain will wipe your panels clean, freeing them up for smoother performance, and giving you better output in the future.

Do solar panels work in the wind?

Rainy day(shutterstock/Lester Balajadia)

Windy days typically do not disrupt solar panels’ performance. Unless we’re talking about heavy wind that’s sending things flying, most windy days are actually good for your panels.

“We get asked this quite a bit and the answer may surprise you!” said Devon Bullard of Bullard Exteriors. “Wind and rain (not hurricane force of course) are actually an integral part of making sure your panels perform at the highest level possible for as long as possible. Every day dirt, dust and random other little debris lands on the top of your panels and slightly affect the amount of sunlight that reaches the cells. When a good storm comes through the wind and rain wash off a good portion of the debris from the panels and help them stay clean. Wind and rain are something that helps panels rather than hurt and should not be an area of concern.”

Here are the various ways winds benefit your solar panels.

Wind cools down your solar panels

Just like any other device, solar panels can heat up, causing problems if they become too hot. Considering most solar panels are built to absorb maximum sunlight, they’re prone to get too hot too fast.

Fortunately, the wind can cool them down. Researchers have shown solar panels can “sweat” like humans to cool themselves down. It takes some smart engineering, but it’s a viable solution to reduce overheating and make your panels last long.

Wind reduces humidity

Humidity can be damaging to your solar panels. In excessively humid conditions, small water droplets form on your panels. Scientists compare these to sweat on our skin. Unfortunately, these water droplets that accumulate on solar panels can reflect the sunlight away from the setup, which reduces the energy output.

That’s why you may be getting plenty of sunlight, but little energy production. The good news is wind solves this problem. The wind whisks these humidity droplets away from your panels, freeing up the surface to absorb as much sunlight as possible.

What happens to solar panels in extreme weather conditions

Aerial view of flooded house with dirty water all around it.(shutterstock/Bilanol)

While normal amounts of rain and wind can be healthy for your solar panels, anything at extreme levels is bad. Extreme weather conditions, like stormy winds and flooding rains, can damage your solar panels in the long run.

Different solar panels are made with different materials so some may be more durable than others, but most will take a hit during extreme storms. Some (more expensive) panels are built to take on a lot of damage. These will likely withstand even a hurricane. But most of the cheaper ones will fall apart with too much pressure.

Always have a power backup

While solar panels work well in most weather conditions, they typically need plenty of sunlight and safe levels of wind to function at their best. Unfortunately, this isn't always possible. You can’t guarantee your panels will receive the best weather conditions, so it’s safer to have backup power options you can rely on when things get rough out there. That can include keeping your connection to the electric grid, having a battery backup or a diesel generator.

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